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Distribution of Magical Talent

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Skeletaure, Sep 6, 2021.

  1. Skeletaure

    Skeletaure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Holy autism batman. Putting aside the fact that the original comment was transparently a joke...

    1. Tonks using a single slang term when all the rest of her dialogue is not regionalised does not mean she has a regional accent.

    2. McGonagall is Scottish, yes. Her name gives you that. But she is never written as speaking with an accent.

    I think the only three characters who are written with an accent are Hagrid, Stan Shunpike, and Fleur. And Fleur is foreign rather than British, so really the only 2 regional accents depicted in HP are Hagrid and Stan.

    And Hagrid is very clearly not an academic fellow or very bright.
     
  2. Alistair

    Alistair Seventh Year

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    I reckon that without external interference there'd be the usual normal distribution of magical power, just the same as height, IQ, etc etc.

    No reason to think that there isn't, anyway.

    As such, a 160+ wizard is vanishingly rare but for every one of them there's 20 who would sit around 150, maybe 5000 in the 130 range and then 50,000 in the 100 range.

    Depending on the curve fit and where Dumbledore and Voldermort actually sit on the scale (170 vs 200 for example) they could be genuine 1 in a generation anomalies, or a rarefied group of say 10-100 worldwide.

    I'd maybe lean towards a group of say 10 on that level alive at any one time under normal circumstances.

    Now for the other factors. It takes time for a wizard to develop their knowledge, understanding and spell repertoire to become a 160+ wizard. Voldemort at 40 is one, Voldemort at 17 is a highly impressive wizard, but still only in the 140-150 range. It might also be said that a degree of danger and conflict is required by these Wizards to act as their crucible. If that's true, I expect a lot fall on the journey in times of war.

    That brings us onto the second factor. During this learning and devlopment phase, such persons are both vulnerable, and a serious potential threat. Europe has seen the rise of two Dark Lords and significant conflict between 1930 and 1981. Both Dark Lords spent time travelling and learning magic, presumably from masters in their field in the 140+ range. If I was Voldemort, I'd not only take that time to find, learn from, then kill, many impressive witches and wizards, but also preemptively kill off any young talent who may threaten me. That'd severely thin out that funnel of potential 160+ persons before they ever got to that level.

    Plus of course, of the three wizards of that level we do know of, Dumblerdore and Grindelwald have a duel to the deat, Dumblerdore and Voldemort have a duel to the death and ultimately Voldemort kills both of them (at least indirectly). It's a occupational hazard of the 160+ wizard that every aspiring dark wizard is gonna try and off you, unless you're a dark lord yourself, which is hardly a risk free career with a long life expectancy.

    This I think is what gives this gulf in talent between normal wizards and Dumbledore. Loads of the ones who would sit there, especially the young and upcoming ones like Lily, also represent the only viable magical combatants and so got offed in the war at a massive rate of attrition. Even if they survived, they spent their best years of development specialising on combat, not exploring a deeper understanding of magic which might contribute to their elevation. Bellatrix especially would likely be a significantly more impressive witch if she hadn't launguished in prison for 13 years during which time she went bat shit insane and cast no magic.
     
  3. James

    James Unspeakable

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    it’s not like high (or even extreme) IQ makes you an automatic polymath. You still have the nurture part - even if e.g. Augusta was Dumbledore level wizard, she still has to learn and hone the skills. The same way there probably have been 300 people with da Vinci level potential, but they haven’t had the needed background or interest or (more than likely) options.

    yes, but there’s also multiple books for any given (or perhaps any multifaceted) spell - given that Harry reads like three books just for accio, so there’s a knowledge and intelligence and creativity part to being good that’s often ignored in fanfiction
     
  4. kinetique

    kinetique Headmaster

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    It's an interesting question. Historically there've been a few individuals that would be analogous to a Voldemort or Dumbledore, and we simply don't know where they'd lie on the bell curve. IQ tests are fairly controversial, and while we can say something like 140+ is "genius" level, the difference between 140 and say, Euler is substantial. The other problem for this is measuring IQ really isn't equivalent to measuring horse power. It's just a measurement of where you land statistically. It might well be that the difference between Terrence Tao and an ordinary person is a 1% difference in brain power, we have no way of measuring the differences currently.

    I suspect that the James Potter's, Snape's, and Sirius Black's of the world would fall into that borderline genius range of 140-160, and that the truly brilliant individuals like Dumbledore and Voldemort would be above 180.
    We actually kind of do have answers for this. IQ measurements test a pretty wide barrage of things and give you a final number. The breakdown of the number would tell you that Augusta sucks at charms but is amazing at transfiguration.
     
  5. walpe

    walpe Squib

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    I always treat magical prodigies like geniuses in academic and artistic fields. With adequate talent (adaptation, not internally lazy, moderate intelligence), you can become a productive member of your own field. Hermione, Snape, Potters, Mcgonagall...

    Maybe with some luck, you can win a magical version of the Nobel prize. But you will never become a magical version of von Neumann, Ramanujan, Wigner, etc.


    The difference between the muggle world genius and the magical world genius is that great wizards seem to be able to more competent in broad fields (generalize?), while lesser wizards have to specialize in their own field. And it makes the gap much bigger between the normal pool (Stan ~ Snape) and the genius pool (Grindelwald, Voldemort, Dumbledore).

    Hermione, Harry need books to understand spells. But geniuses have 'instincts' that many muggle-geniuses have in magical fields. I know many people in the fandom treat these instincts as a disease because of the magical core things etc, but there are people who are just great at their known fields from the beginning and some of them are just irreplaceable.

    It is more imbalanced because it seems some of the instincts or adapt are inherited through bloodlines.
     
  6. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti High Inquisitor

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    Sure, and Harry also successfully casted Sectumsempra first try, with no other information than the incantation and a note "for enemies".
     
  7. Garden

    Garden Supreme Mugwump

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    @Taure

    Instead of IQ as the sole factor explaining magical genius, I like the multiplicative model for genius that Jensen proposes here for the tip-top of ability .

    If you skip to pg 404, he proposes:

    High ability × high productivity x high creativity = genius.

    This accounts for the real-life power law distributions of scientific citations and the highly skewed distribution of achievement.

    For someone like Voldemort, Dumbledore and Grindelwald, they're all immensely talented and hard working,, creative as well, given that Dumbledore invents new uses for dragon blood and new spells, and Voldemort invents flight.

    This accounts for the huge gap between those 3 and others: not only are they more innately talented, they're also all intensely interested in magic and hard-working:

    Evidence for this:

    creative: all are noted to explore magic in school and all three carried out ambitious projects in school or after (Dumbledore publishes an article while in school; Grindelwald gets expelled for experimenting with dark magic; Voldemort explored Hogwarts and likely did more).

    productive: In various way we are told they're very driven and productive- Grindelwald to raise an army, Dumbledore to lead Hogwarts and the Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort starts a terrorist group, etc.

    talented: all three are noted to be very talented at magic.

    With this framework, let's reexamine others: Sirius and James are repeatedly noted to be somewhat lazy or not as studious as others, even as they do extremely well in class. They do seem to be quite creative, as they create the Maruader's Map. Perhaps a bigger dose of drive and they'd come closer to the top 3. I still think they're clearly not as talented, but part of the apparent gap is likely personality, not just talent.

    Someone like Percy seems somewhat talented, very hard-working, but not creative at all. In fact, he is very conventional, to the point of parody.


    I also like the idea Taure proposed once of Voldemort killing off his near-peers in the decades before his public rise. It nicely fills in the missing chunk of the bell curve from 140-160.
     
  8. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti High Inquisitor

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    This is pretty much what I was considering, too.

    I would add "access" to that list. Voldemort had the advantage of staying in (pre-Dumbledore-purge) Hogwarts library for the summers of his schooling, Sirius and Bellatrix likely had access to whatever knowledge the Blacks had hidden away, while someone like Hermione would have to make do with whatever was publicly available. Even worse would be someone happening to be born in a country with no program for finding muggleborn wizards. There could be a potential Voldemort driving a taxi in Bogota, unconsciously cursing bad fortune to drivers around him...

    Also I'd say that the drive to exellence is pretty much the most important aspect here. For example Harry clearly has no wish to become the next Dumbledore, even if you could argue that he shows glimpses of potential to become one.
     
  9. Skeletaure

    Skeletaure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    The point of the "IQ scale" was not as an explanation of magical ability, but rather as a numerical scale to represent and compare magical ability, regardless of its cause.

    When I said the scale was "for the purposes of facilitating discussion", the intended message was "I am not saying that magic is actually measurable in this fashion, but it is convenient for the sake of discussing the distribution of wizarding skill to put some numbers on it".
     
  10. moribund_helix

    moribund_helix Third Year

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    What's the point of the "IQ scale" when you can just use a scale with Stan being on the lower limit and Dumbledore on the upper?

    Anyway, there's no apparent reason for the magical ability to not follow the normal distribution. And if JKR makes it look like Dumbledore, Grindelwald and Voldemort are on a different playing field altogether, were
    not similarly on another level? It's just that mathematics is purely theoretical and the talent does not have much to show in a practical way. Look at musical geniuses for something more practical.

    I believe that there are wizards "bridging" the gap, however the closer to Dumbledore you get, the fewer those wizards are, like the bell curve.

    As for the second question, there must be equally exceptional wizards in other parts of the world. Perhaps one or two. Magical britain is I think said to have one of the largest communities and we don't really see equally talented wizards in Europe.
     
  11. Dubious Destiny

    Dubious Destiny Seventh Year

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    I view talent as the natural ability at something, after taking out luck, rote learning and other factors.

    If I grade HP character on this curve, Nicholas Flamel is the highest on my list by a large margin (180+ ).

    Then comes Tom Riddle (170-180). Dumbledore and Grindelwald come next (160-170).

    I'd put Lily Potter, James Potter, Harry, Remus, Snape and Sirius after that (140-150).

    Hermione and Ron are a 100.

    I don't know enough of the others to make a call.
     
  12. haphnepls

    haphnepls Seventh Year

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    And then there's noodlehammer's Harry Potter, comfortably resting at 5000, give or take a few.
     
  13. Zvohunter

    Zvohunter Third Year

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    What's 5000 magical IQ in monster cocks?
     
  14. Scarat

    Scarat Fourth Year

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    Why place Flamel so high? I feel like that may be valuing a focused skillset a bit too highly for something like this.
     
  15. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    He created a unique, invaluable, priceless item that no one can replicate after centuries of trying.

    Implies that he's on the upper end of this scale. It doesn't matter if he could win a duel or not.

    But that said, I don't think he's a clear winner for the top spot. We never hear about his overall skillset. So while I'm happy putting him into the upper tier there's no reason to think he beats out the other three we're putting there.
     
  16. jitenshasan

    jitenshasan Second Year

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    Was Flamel a brillant man in all disciplines like Dumbeldore who is a bit of a polymath?
    Or was he brillant like Snape, who is really good in potions, spell-creation and dark arts, but not so great in other areas in which he isn't talented in / isn't passionate about (doesn't know his dark creatures so well for example). It may be because he's too young (and busy surviving syltherin as an impoverished nobody and then being a double agent) and didn't have the time for it. Or it could be a question of taste, since he doesn't seem to be interested in arts and culture either, implying he has some... narrow interests.

    Whatever the case is, after 600 years Flamel is bound to be better than most people, if only because he had so much time to get better.
     
  17. Dubious Destiny

    Dubious Destiny Seventh Year

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    My definition of talent values people who can come up with something out of the box or perform inexplicably well. I didn't give priority to any particular subject or look for strengths over many disciplines.

    I think the philosopher's stone is clearly worth the rating. Countless dark wizards have searched for ways to extend life and this one man has managed to achieve it.

    I think he should be 190+ tbh.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2021
  18. moribund_helix

    moribund_helix Third Year

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    I think the biggest issue with your rating, as well as the others' is not where you place Flamel, but rather that your scale largely correlates with the wizard's age. Dumbledore and Grindelwald are said to be exceptional even younger but we only see them when very old. Voldemort is again said to be exceptional as a student in Hogwarts but we only see him when he's like 70.

    I think this is because JKR just didn't want to focus on this aspect, I think she's argued that Hermione is a genius even though we don't really see this in the books (well it *is* Harry's story).

    Another point I want to argue is how most of you in this thread think of wizards that are "generalists" or "polymaths" versus others with narrower interests & skills. I don't think this can actually be true, magic as a field does not appear to be as extensive as real life science is. Even in duelling are not Transfiguration & Charms used? We see Snape duelling McGonagall using Transfiguration for example, so apparently he does not have such a narrow focus.

    What I'm trying to say (perhaps not managing very well) is I can't believe that someone like Flamel who has obviously a deep understanding of magic & skills since he created the philosophers' stone (we never hear of anyone else who has managed to do so), could suck at Transfiguration/Charms/Potions/Herbology/etc. If not exceptional at those subjects he at least has an encyclopaedic knowledge and is well above average.

    Perhaps someone average, slightly above average with a specific interest, or someone very specifically gifted could end up being known for being great at something particular. Great wizards though, like Flamel, must be good at most everything.
     
  19. Alistair

    Alistair Seventh Year

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    I'm a little torn on Flamel.

    Obviously, he's very, very good at Alchemy, and I'd expect that he's pretty good at adjacent fields like poitions and transfiguration, but I don't think that he's necessarily great at everything. He doesn't seem to be regarded in that light anyway, although obviously our information is limited.

    Take Hagrid or Sprout as an example. Both of them are genuinely great in narrow fields. As an example, if I really, really neded to make friends with a centaur or take care of a manticore to save my life, I'd seriously consider picking Hagrid over Dumbledore. Ditto if I really, really needed to grow a prize winning magical marrow, I'd pick Sprout over Dumbledore. The same can be said of Snape. If I wanted the best possible wit sharpening potion to save my life, Snape gets the nod, not Dumbledore.

    They're great at their field, rivalling any of the geat wizards. But that's not enough to put them on the level of Dumbledore (or even enough to make them a good wizard in Hagrid's and possibly Sprout's case). Flamel could be like that. A Snape level talent, best in his narrow field, but otherwise only impressive, not spectacular. He could even be an idiot savant, with an intuitive grasp of Alchemy, but otherwise fairly mediocre. Taking it to the extreme, maybe he jut stumbled across some massive breakthrough whilst tinkering under the influence and bumbled his way into eternal life. Then woke up the next morning with a splitting headache and no memory of whatever the hell he actually did. That'd certainly fit the whimsical HP setting and magic system.

    By contrast, Dumbledore is more of a generalist. He's better at Transfiguration than McGonnagal, better at Charms than Flitwick, better at the dark arts than Snape. This grasp of many wanded subjects makes him a seriously formidable combatant, not to mention a seriously impressive wizard. This idea of his greatness does seem to be based more on his talents as a duellist than anything else as well, although I think that'd do him a disservice more generally. Certainly beating Grindelwald is what seems to have put him on the map, academic achievements notwithstanding.
     
  20. jitenshasan

    jitenshasan Second Year

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    I suppose it depends also if beating Grindelwald was truly a great achievment or not. (Or I suppose if Grindelwald was really that super-dangerous-wizard-who-conquered-europe or just a a-bit-better-than-average-and-ruthless wizard who piggy-backed muggle WWII)
     
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