Geniuses Who Can’t Do Higher Math

RL: I have a genius IQ (147), and I struggled to pass high school Geometry and high school Algebra 2. My Mom and all of the siblings all also have genius IQ’s (140+ IQ = genius) and they all struggled with higher math.

Gay State Girl: Have yo been diagnosed with Dyscalculia at all?

No, I am actually better at math than your average person. I scored 70th percentile on my junior college entrance exam. That means I am better at math than 70% of the population. I can calculate figures right off the top of my head so well that it blows away some normie types. My numeracy is just fine.

I just cannot do the higher stuff.

To me algebra and especially geometry never seemed to make sense. I mean I understood the logic behind it but I did not understand why the logic was the logic. For instance, I did not understand why you had to go through X steps using the correct statements in the correct order in order to proof something in a proof statement. My idea was, “Well you just look at and it’s clear that A = B+ C – Z. Just look at the damn thing.” Nope, instead you had to do a precise number of steps with the correct statement in each one with them all ordered in a certain way and none out of place. I never could do it.

Afterwards I would go through the steps and figure out, “Ok I see how they did that.” But my attitude was, “Why go through all that trouble to prove something that is pretty clear a couple of steps of the way in?” I didn’t understand why they were doing it in that long drawn-out way instead of what I considered to be the easy, more logical way.

Algebra 2, never could get the hang of it. Flunked the course, had to take it in summer school, had the teacher himself as my personal instructor with 1-2 other people in the class, finally got a D I think.

But I would think that anyone who has better math skills than 70% of the population could not possibly have Dyscalculia, whatever that is.


Filed under Education, Intelligence, Psychology

67 responses to “Geniuses Who Can’t Do Higher Math

  1. Nineofclubs

    An interesting post. I always found geometry to be straightforward, but struggled with algebra. My IQ – depending on the test taken – is between 125 – 135. My theory is that I learn visually, being able to process ideas more readily if I can ‘see’ them. This lends itself to geometry which is a visual discipline. Algebra, on the other hand, requires a degree of abstraction. The student needs to be able to apply universal rules based on formulae that cannot be seen but must be imagined.
    I’m not sure that standard IQ tests adequately recognise different learning preferences.

  2. Kareem

    Probably just didn’t have enough math exposure and practice when growing up.

    Even if you’re naturally smart, most people only really get good at math beyond algebra, by drilling themselves through countless math problems and having early exposure to numbers and logic early. Math is “hard” even for people who are “good” at it. They’ve just adapted to the amount of effort required.

    This is why you see a lot of smart Asian immigrant kids, getting mediocre to failing grades in English, because they haven’t had much exposure to grammar, familiarity with literary forms and themes, etc..

  3. Gay State Girl

    Dyscalculia is pretty much an umbrella term. Can involve trouble with memorization of complex formulas or application of abstract math.

    I know every deviation is magically turned into a syndrome these days, so it is a bit dubious.

    Myself I have advanced math skills, mediocre (high average) verbal and visual/spatial skill, and the coordination ability of a toddler.

    • I read the definition. There is no way on Earth that I could possibly have Dyscalculia. Forget it.

        based on this book you are right, the normal range of mathematical abilities are between 25th and 75th percentile, no way that 70 percent of the population is legitimately conditioned with Dyscalculia or else it would be considered normal for the most part.

        • Gay State Girl

          My understand of dyscalculia is that it involves difficulty with procedural mathematics or memorization of formulas, and one can have average or above mathematical reasoning skills.

        • That maybe the case but what I’m seeing is that their are actual percentile ranks that defines it as a legit disorder.

        • Then my whole family has it. None of us were good at Algebra 2 or Geometry. We all struggled to get through both of them. My brother wanted to be a doctor but he could not pass the Physics due to all the math. I believe he could not get through calculus either. All of us except my father are geniuses = IQ’s in the genius range. And we all have above average math skills.

        • What does procedural mathematics and memorization of formulae even mean?


          That? I do not know anyone who can do that shit. Everyone I ever met with normal math skills is mystified by shit like that.

        • You trying to say that if I can’t do this, then I have Dyscalculia? Screw that.

        • Is that a procedural math problem? I can do that crap. I can do those word problems. That is middle school math. I was able to do middle school math. I did not like it, but I could do it. I even did well in Algebra 1.

        • Gay State Girl

          Procedural or computational mathematics involves retaining the necessary formulae/procedures within your working memory over the duration of the course. Dyscalculics can be quite adept at conceptual mathematics or science which often require strong spatial and material reasoning.

          I know that getting slapped with a disorder label can be demoralizing, but you can receive extended time on tests and often a formula sheet for tests.

        • Forget it. I don’t have Dycalculia. I am sure it would have been diagnosed by now by the schools. I took so many tests and saw so many counselors.

          There’s no way that just because someone has a hard time passing Algebra II, that means they have Dsycalculia. All the normal intelligence people I knew either failed or barely got through that course. You would have to diagnose 50% of the population with Dyscalculia. It’s madness.

        • I just looked up procedural math versus conceptual math. I can do both of them for sure. It’s more that I hate that shit than anything else. I can definitely do procedural mathematics though.

        • Jason Y

          First of all you have to know the formula, and then you to work problems so you can implement it in any situation that comes up.

        • Jason Y

          The memory is deceptive so you have to go over formulas over and over, and also do a lot of problems, even in regards to the easier formulas and problems.

        • I just looked up a bunch of examples of procedural math. I can do all of that bullshit, and most of my answers will be correct too. It’s not true that I cannot do procedural math.

        • Gay State Girl

          50% failed?

          No doubt the high school academic standards were much higher in the 1960’s than in the 1990’s-early 2000’s, but 90% of the students in my classes received C’s or better and I’m no where near as smart as you (my IQ is 122) or your family, and neither were my classmates.

        • Gay State Girl

          I have dyspraxia, formerly known as clumsy child syndrome as a result of meconium aspiration syndrome at birth. I have the coordination ability of toddler.

        • Jason Y

          Possibly Robert can do procedual math. However, you have to be able to do it in a testing situation, and you have to be able to do it fast.

          Yeah, of couse, anyone can look up YouTube video, and then understand it while watching it. However, school demands that the training wheels come off, and you have to ride the bike.

        • Of the people I knew with 100 IQ’s (normal range), yes, ~50% of them could not get through Algebra II or Geometry or both, correct. People with that IQ and below are 50% of the population. According to you guys, 50% of the population has “Dyscalculia.”


        • Gay State Girl

          I attended a school in an affluent town with 60% (Asian/Jewish) so the average IQ was probably closer to 115, but 95% of students passed the standardized math exams (MCAS) on the first try which included Algebra I and II and Geometry. Even the METCO (bused in inner city youth) students in my year all passed the exams.

        • Gay State Girl

          I’m not a fan of hyper labelling, but there are many more inane labels. Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome have been listed in the DSM. Give me a break.

        • EPGAH

          If it’s a syndrome, it’s “Not Their Fault”, part of our “No Fault, No Judge” society. Then again, I was more shocked a few years back when I read that “Sex Addiction” is considered a mental condition that NEEDS treatment! Or a guy who got disability payments because of anger issues. Being angry is a disability? It’s a surprise anyone ever works then!

          Life’s full of “D-D-D-WHAT?” moments nowadays, isn’t it?

        • Another William Playfair Web

          Yup, EPGAH, I agree. Like non-Hispanic White legitimate dumbasses blaming Affirmative Action, not their own idiocy/failure for the failures. That, along with imaginary “Grade inflation”.

        • Jason Y

          I doubt if affirmative action is the reason whites did not pursue an education and hence are working at Wal-Mart or McDonalds. It could be the case of drug use, broken homes etc.., however, that still isn’t the fault of affirmative action. It could also be the result of laziness, in they don’t want to study, again not the fault of affrimative action.

          Affirmative action would hurt a white trying to get a job at McDonalds, cause he/she would be in competition with a lot of minorities. However, real academic or vocational trades are not affected by affrimative action.

        • Jason Y

          As I was saying in other posts, grade inflation is bullshit, other than it being inflated to D grades which are useless on a resume.

  4. Hasdrubal

    I ended up taking Geometry in summer school, because I fucked off during the school year. It was a 6 week course that covered the entire 2nd semester that I failed. I never made lower than 95 on any test we took until the final where I got a 79. The reason is I didn’t study and basically forget everything we learned the first 2 weeks. I can read something in a history book once and it will stick around in my head for years even if I don’t use that info. Mathematical formulas are far less sticky for me, if I’m not using that formula it will stay in my head for a month at best. It’s not that I can’t do higher math it’s that I just don’t retain those formulas well.

  5. guy from Montréal

    When it comes to retaining information I find it sticks much better when it is something that interests or pleases you, if you really don’t give a shit about the subject at hand it just won’t stick that well.

    • Jason Y

      Right but even most math majors probably don’t give a crap about a lot of what they learn. They’re only interested in some stuff, and of course, they’re always interested in the money once they graduate.

      So you see, they will study even boring crap, if that’s what they have to do, as oppsed to what they want to do.

  6. Jason Y

    Math take a massive amount of repetitive work. Considering a lot of people are unwilling to do it, or don’t have the time, you would see why math grades would be average or bad.

    Of course, if you got some super memory at learning formulas and procedures then you won’t need repetitive work. Anyone like that?

  7. Jason Y

    Algebra 2, never could get the hang of it. Flunked the course, had to take it in summer school, had the teacher himself as my personal instructor with 1-2 other people in the class, finally got a D I think.

    Algebra 2 is incredibly easy. Again, the key is that people who don’t like it, won’t do the work, unless of course, they think it will lead to something better. Algebra 2 is so easy you could compare it kindergarten.

    Niow some really hard stuff would be college level linear algebra, Calculus II and III, simply cause you have to know so many procedures, and you have to know how to get around little quarks that could screw up your problem. Say you know the formula, but something comes up where you need a trig identity,

    • Jason Y

      I always thought teacher educaton courses were boring. They were so boring, they made you not want to do it. I know I would never major in human development stuff unless I thought big money was involved.

    • I worked my ass off in Algebra II, and I still could never get it. I forget why I failed, but I think it never made sense to me and I could never figure out either the problems or the answers or both. It was mystifying.

      The way I see it is that my brain simply does not work that way.

      I could study like a crazed maniac in that subject and I would still fail it or barely pass. I don’t believe in this “anyone can do math if they just do the work” bullshit. It’s nonsense. Some people’s brains are just not good at that stuff.

      • Jason Y

        Possibly you could have learned it if you took it over and over. Some people take longer to learn stuff. However, who has the time to keep repeating a course?

        Yeah, that’s the problem. You have to learn a subject within a certain time frame, but it’s very possible some people, even with hard work, can’t learn certain skills quickly.

        In a sense, that’s the whole thing with IQ. Generaly speaking, IQ doesn’t say you can’t learn something, but only it may take you longer than other people.

      • Jason Y

        You did say that you repeated it (Algebra II), but I bet if you had took it one or two more times, you would have got a B or an A.

      • “In a sense, that’s the whole thing with IQ. Generaly speaking, IQ doesn’t say you can’t learn something, but only it may take you longer than other people.”

        …which can be translated into general efficiency at least concerning that part of the mind.

        “You did say that you repeated it (Algebra II), but I bet if you had took it one or two more times, you would have got a B or an A.”

        But was that at his disposal?

        • Jason Y

          No, probably, the stutation didn’t allow him to take algebra over and over. However, if he could have done that, he probably would have succeded, assuming he worked hard.

          Anyhow, he probably hated the subject and was just glad to pass and get out.

        • Gay State Girl

          Algebra/Trig shouldn’t be required for generic HS or CC graduation. It just drains students. I tutored Pre Calc/Calc I at Community College. The students that I tutored required Pre Calc for business certificates (to run laundromats) or Calc I for basic 2-year medical technician certificates (Phlebotomy or X Ray) and many of these students labored to receive C’s.

          They should replace quantitive reasoning gen ed requirements with business and technological literacy and replace English Lit with Professional/technical Writing especially at the community college level.

        • EPGAH

          Damn, trig to run laundromats, I thought MY alma mater added unnecessary courses to pad the bill!

        • Another William Playfair Web

          Algebra I is required for those types of jobs, not Trigonometry, at least not typically……

        • Another William Playfair Web

          In Pre-Calc; Matrices are calculator material, and linear optimization is, to me, at least, so bizzare, that most non-Math people probably wouldn’t get it. Beyond that is Calculus, and derivative stuff for a business, and that’s just bizzare.
          Pe^rt is Algebra I stuff, so, yeah…

        • Another William Playfair Web

          Derivatives for business is not really, typically, is what I mean.

        • Another William Playfair Web

          is not typical, I mean. shoot.

      • Jason Y

        Geometry is weird cause you have to do proofs. It;s no shock why people would struggle or hate that stuff. Of course, in higher math, past Calculus, it’s all about proofs.

  8. Nebulous Maximus

    I can relate to this. I’ve always sucked at math and barely passed algebra, geometry and trig when I was in high school. And the only way I passed was taking some crash tutoring with my twin bro at the end of each schoolyear. My twin has always been great at math (he’s a college math instructor now) but has little smarts in most other areas; whereas I totally suck at most math but I have a lot of verbal smarts and social competence that comes in handy when I’m actually in the mood to deal with normies.

    • Do you know what your IQ is?

      • Nebulous Maximus

        RL, I don’t know my IQ offhand. I do remember hating standardized tests when I was in grade school, but don’t remember how I did on them. FWIW, I’ve taken a few gimmicky IQ tests online that give me varied results….it could be anywhere between 115-135. I didn’t do all that great on the SAT’s .. somewhere around 1100 maybe but I don’t really remember the exact score…what I DO remember is that the test was super early in the morning and I’ve never been much of a morning person; it’s hard to focus on a test when I can barely keep my eyes open.

        I’m half Jew, half WASP, so it can’t be toooooo low (unless I’m a freakish outlier within those groups) haha 😛

    • Dave

      Does your brother have a squarer jaw? It makes me wonder about testosterone and the developing fetal brain. I had a butch friend who enjoyed doing higher math. You can have identical twins where one is gay and the other isn’t. Supposedly that has something to do with hormonal exposure in utero. The increased estrogen exposure can supposedly skew a developing brain to be more feminine and verbal. Writers are known to feel great passion. They are also more in tune with their emotions.

      • Nebulous Maximus

        Dave, I don’t think his jaw is all that squarer than mine. And he’s a fraternal twin. We’re very different in a lot of ways, personality-wise. He’s way more habitual, prickly, and task-oriented than me. And he’s considerably less intellectually inclined than me, despite his better math and science smarts (not that STEM type smarts necessarily makes one intellectually curious). I’ve always been greatly interested in stuff like history, anthropology, comparative religions and cultures, the arts, ect. I can waste days on end reading new stuff about these subjects on the internet. Whereas my twin is perfectly content entertaining himself with video games and brain teaser puzzles.

  9. James Schipper

    Dear Robert

    The human brain has obviously greater verbal than mathematical capacity. Nearly all of us know more than 10,000 words and nearly all of us have mastered complex grammar, but how many numbers with fewer than 12 digits can we remember? A Hispanic priest in Toronto made it to the Guinness Book of Records for memorizing over 700 phone numbers.

    Not only are human beings generally not very good at math, they also exhibit a reluctance to use quantitative reasoning. For instance, after a brutal rape in New Delhi some time ago, every journalist mindlessly repeated that in India there is a rape every 20 minutes. None of them used that information to arrive at the conclusion that this translates into 26,280 rapes a year. Divide that into India’s 600 million females, and you get 1/22,831, or less than 5/100,000.

    I was talking to a lapsed Catholic recently, who went on and on about big spending by the luxury-loving hypocrites in the Vatican. I asked her if she knew how big the Vatican budget was. She didn’t know. Well, it is about 250 million euros. Assuming that there are 500 million real Catholics in the world, that is half a euro per Catholic, hardly a princely sum. She was taken aback by my simple calculation. I wasn’t supposed to use such reasoning.

    Regards. James

  10. The right term shouldn’t be dyscalculia but dyslogesia or dyslogism, from logizoh, I calculate, I compute. You cannot combine a greek prefix like dys, meaning badly or mistakenly like English prefix mis, with a latin root. When you mean dyslexic you cannot say dyslitterate.

    • Gay State Girl

      Is there a better way to phrase dyspraxia as well?

    • James Schipper

      Dear Judith

      The rule that we shouldn’t combine a Latin and a Greek root is purely arbitrary and is no longer observed by anybody. Dysfunctional, illogical, antidepressant, disharmony, homosexual, subatomic, geocentric, television, perinatal and sociology are all examples of a combination of elements of Latin and Greek origin.

      If we can’t combine Latin and Greek, why should we be able to combine Latin with Germanic elements? Examples: beautiful, misinterpretation, disbelief, underestimate, overpopulated, unnatural, outnumber, frictionless and breakable.

      Regards. James

  11. Gagan

    hey you are absolutly right! i wanted to comment on the prev blog about filthy india which is truly a gutter.and the people? omg they’re sewer monsters! i was wanted to tell you that plz stop them from coming and ruining western countries.protest about it plz or start killing and flushing them out.these Damn 3rd world mofos have no sense or knowledge how to live

  12. Another William Playfair Web

    I know some smart people who have done badly in Algebra I.

    It may even be a confidence thing, they are far better at other subjects, so they falter in Mathematics. I know others and myself who have the opposite problem with writing. I did bad at Algebra I at first (C+), when I took it in middle school, because I did not give a fuck. Later, I did well, however, even in higher mathematics. My IQ is about 120 on U.S. White Norms.

    • Jason Y

      Algebra I is like basic reading to me. How anyone could be bad at is beyond me. Well, actually, I was bad at it in high school. However, I finally learned it on my first shot at college 20 years ago. Since that time, it’s just a skill that hasn’t gone away.

      Now Pre-Calculus might surprising at it can be just as difficult as Calculus. Of course, I think Calculus I is far easier than II and III, but unless your ready and prepared it can also be difficult. Linear algebra can also be incredibly difficult as you have to simpify these big matrices, as well as know a bunch of strategies.

      • Jason Y

        quote by GayStateGirl

        Algebra/Trig shouldn’t be required for generic HS or CC graduation. It just drains students.

        Being unwilling to learn algebra is very wimpy, especially for a community college. It’s really not that difficult. The main obstacle is being lazy. On the other hand, with Pre-Calculus, Calculus, etc.. you might have a situation where someone could work hard and still fail on the first try.

        Algebra one is only about finding a missing variable in simple equations. At it’s most difficult you might have a few word problems. It’s not really a big deal. Also, Algebra II isn’t a big deal. Of course, I forgot what’s in the subject, but I it’s not that much more difficult. Possibly you just have some simple versions of looking at graphing stuff.

        Note however graphing stuff can be a pain in Pre-Calc and can really be difficult, because it goes into more depth in that class.

        • Jason Y

          Ok algeba – basic list (copied from an old 50 cent old algebra textbook for a consignment shop)

          real numbers, solving linear equations, formulas and application of algebra, exponents and polynomials, factoring, rational expressions and equations, graphing linear equations, systems of linear equations, roots and radicals., quadratic equations (some books would have imaginary numbers also)

          Such easy stuff, assuming your willing to work hard enough to produce a heartbeat. No, that’s not sarcasm, LOL

        • Gay State Girl

          I’d prefer the energy be redirected at business and computer literacy. Has far more bearing in the professional world.

      • Another William Playfair Web

        If you take it twice (like I did), it is indeed basically like reading (if I’ve had my Wheaties, of course)…

      • Another William Playfair Web

        I know a kid whose doing bad in Algebra I, because he refuses to show work, he just solves them in his head (and does so accurately).

        He has autism, and that’s perhaps why he is so stubborn in not showing his work.

  13. Stary Wylk

    I was like the kid in AWPW’s post, long before autism was commonly pointed to. I was just considered a bookish smartass. I didn’t show my work because writing it out slowed me down and made me lose track of what I was doing.

    The difficulties I had with math were the results of not understanding definitions. I struggled with trig until I came upon the unit circle; then everything fell into place like a good run of Tetris.The usual misunderstandings came from using the more complex real life definitions while the mathematical definition was much narrower.

  14. Jason Y

    Factoring is always a pain to learn in Algebra. That seems to be the only major problem.

  15. Ken

    Is this an example of what kind of IQ profile you are talking about? Except with a lower mean. A difference of almost 2.5 SD between the verbal and performance has got to be extremely rare(?)

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