Different opinions about Leta Hollingworth’s Communication Range

The communication range of +/- 2 standard deviations or 30 points (60 points total) has originally been suggested by researcher Leta Hollingworth and popularized by Grady M. Towers, Michael J. Ferguson and Darryl Miyaguchi. It denotes the range of difference on intelligence between two individuals where meaningful human interaction is possible. Note the word “meaningful”. Not all human interaction is “meaningful”.[1]

I am smarter than others, therefore I can’t speak with creatures lower than myself because the bandwidth and high complexity of my symbols are no match for their simple brains.

It is very well known that people can empathize with creatures of lesser intelligence, as an extreme example we bond with pets by just transmitting emotion. Dogs are even hard-wired to pick up our mood changes.

One does not need to be able to speak about highly complex topics or at full bandwidth in order to bond with someone. Human beings have a core set of experiences that characterize their life: romance, family, personal development, etc.

The communication range thus denotes the range of IQ within which all meaningful human interaction occurs (including: friendships, marriages, organizations cohabitation, employment, hobbies, interests, any discourse deeper than a coffee cup). It does NOT mean that any communication over that 30 points’ gap was impossible; things such as small talk, customer service, discussion over irrelevant matters, everyday communication, patient-doctor relations, client-service relations etc are perfectly possible over that 30 points’ range. But they are meaningless interactions — they do not convey meaningful messages.

The communication range is far more a qualitative than quantitative thing. It also is not about how you communicate. It is about what you communicate.

To put it bluntly: I am not interested in pro wrestling and they are not interested in history re-enactment.

In a hostile situation: one will feel talked down upon and the other will feel the other is a complete dullard.

What very very intelligent people can lack is a special feeling of propinquity.

You can share this feeling of propinquity on many things. The propinquity vector can take many variables.


As you can extrapolate — through a linear model like this — one could say that there could be a state of max propinquity.

If your personality as a very high IQ individual includes a really high value in very-high-IQ related propinquity, you’re going to have a lonely existence.

Acquaintance: “I don’t like the guy.” (referring to someone with a high GPA)

Leonard: “Why? Did he do anything wrong to you?”

Acquaintance: “No, I just don’t like him. There’s something off about him, I just don’t like him.”

Bunk-mate: He said he didn’t like you and wants to punch you in the face.”

Me: “Why, did I offend him? I’d like to make peace if I did.”

Bunk-mate: “He’d been complaining about you the past week and how he can’t stand you. He just didn’t like you and your face from the first instant he saw you.”

Me: What don’t you like about Leonard? What did he do to you?

Acquaintance: He’s just weird. I can’t really like him, and I don’t think I will.

Me: But did he do anything to explicitly or unintentionally offend you?

Acquaintance: “No, he’s just weird, and I can’t stand him.”



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