Increase IQ

How to increase IQ? Solving problems by selective encoding.

Human beings are the only animals that can consciously decide to choose what and how to think, the mindset to have or the mood to adopt. All other animals act automatic.

In order to think effectively ‘Mind fitness is essential’ says John O’Keeffe. He has given the following exercise in his book, ‘Your one week way to Mind fitness’:

Part I

Imagine the following situation. A boy and his father are driving along in a car and are involved in a severe head-on car crash. They are both very badly injured and trapped in wreckage. The ambulance arrives and manages to get the body out first and drives him away rapidly to hospital with sirens blazing. The boy is put in a cubicle, looks at the boy and says: ‘Oh dear, It is Peter, my son’.

What is the relationship between the doctor and the boy and what has happened?Please do not read further. Think about this for a few moments and find out the answer.

People think of various solutions to this problem. For example they think of stepfathers and stepsons. They think of situations in which the father is released from the wreckage and is flown by helicopter to the hospital and the father is actually the doctor who sees his son. Some people think of solutions that involve priests who might call someone ‘my son’ in a clerical way or even priests who might be called ‘Father’ in the first place.

The simple solution is that the doctor is the boy’s mother.

It is quite shocking to see how many people do not find the solution easily.

If it took you longer than a millisecond to get it, then the problem is your mind-set, even your prejudice.

The logic of the problem is incredibly easy: the boy has two parents, a mother and father. If the father is still in the wreckage, it is clear that it must be the other parent who is the doctor and that is his mother.It makes even more sense because the medical profession is one in which many females work.

Take one more problem.

In a country that allows polygamy, a man married three women. Each woman had only one husband, and each woman had a legitimate child. Yet none of these children were at all related to each other. How is this possible?

Is it baffling? In order to solve this problem selective encoding is required for its solution. Once you master selective encoding technique you can solve the complicated problems.

The answer for the above problem:

The man performed the marriage ceremonies. The critical word in this problem is ‘married.’ The man married the various women,but he did not himself become married to them.

Robert J Sternberg in his famous book A Triarchic theory of Human Intelligence explains in detail about selective encoding. Apart from the above cited problem he has given many more interesting problems to solve.

We will see them in our next article.

Santhanam Nagarajan


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Part II

This is in continuation of the article titled, ‘How to increase IQ? Solving problems by selective encoding -Part I’ published earlier.

Can you make one word out of the letters in ‘new door’?

Duration: One minute only.  If you are not able to find out the answer, please see below:

The answer is: One word.   If you rearrange the letters you will get: One word.

Even though the problem is very simple very many people could not solve it. Because they are lack of the problem solving technique. Can it be developed?

Yes, definitely!

Robert J Sternberg has selected carefully well- structured mathematical and logical problems.  Given below are some of his selections.

Each of the following problems requires selective encoding for its solutions.

Problem no 1: Calendars made in England do not show Lincoln’s birthday, of course.  Do these calendars show the fourth of July?

Problem no 2: A man was putting some finishing touches on his house and realized that he still needed one thing.  He went to the hardware store and asked the clerk, “How much will sixteen cost me?”  The clerk in the hardware store answered, “They are a dollar a piece, so sixteen will cost two dollars.”  What did the may buy?

Problem 3:  In the Howard family, there are four sisters, and each sister has one brother.  If you count Mr.Howard, how many males are there in the Howard Family?

Please contemplate. If you are successful, it is OK.  If not, answers are given below:

Answer for Problem 1: Yes. The fourth of July is not marked as Independence Day, however.

Answer for Problem 2:  The man was buying housing numbers.  There are two numbers, one and six, to be bought, so the total cost is two dollars.

Answer for Problem 3:  Two.  The only males in the family are father and his one son, who is the brother of each of his sisters.

How to solve the problem?   First list the relevant information for solving each problem.  Then analyse the problem and apply selective encoding. You will get the answers.

We will see more problems in the next article.


Part III

This is in continuation of the article titled, ‘How to increase IQ? Solving problems by selective encoding -Part II’ published earlier.

Here is an interesting problem. Cross out six letters from the following sequence so that the remaining letters, without altering their sequence, spell a well known word:

B  S  I  A  N  X  L  A  E  T  N  T  A  E  R  S

Duration: Five minutes.  If you are successful it is OK. If not please refer the answer given below:

The answer is ‘B A N A N A’

You will get by removing the letters ‘S I X L E T T E R S’ from the sequence.  It requires selective encoding approach to solve the problem.

How much sand is there in a hole of one foot wide one foot length and one foot deep?

Duration: Thirty seconds

The answer for the above problem is given below:

A hole is a hole only when there is no sand. Hence in a hole there will be no sand at all!

We may quote two more problems analysed by R.J. Sternberg for selective encoding. Please try these two problems.

Twenty three students are studying in a class room. All but seven of them went on a museum trip and thus were away for the day.  How many of them remained in class that day.

An airplane crashes on the U.S.-Canadian border.  In what country are the survivors buried?

These problems again require selective encoding for their correct solution.

Take the first problem.  People frequently immediately subtract seven from twenty-three to obtain sixteen as their answer.  But this answer is incorrect.  The critical word in the problem is “but”. It is not the case that seven students went on the museum trip but rather that “all but seven” went on the trip.

In the second problem the critical word is “survivors”.  The correct solution to this problem requires careful reading and selective encoding of the word “survivors”.

Unless you read the problem very carefully, you will not come up with the correct answer that the survivors are not buried.

Now the readers can list out their own problems for selective encoding.


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