Monday, October 26, 2009

Killer IQ Part 3: A Way With Words

The third category of intelligence according to Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences is verbal-linguistic which involves using words, spoken and written.  Those who rank high on this form of intelligence are typically skilled at reading, writing, and in using words whether it's to tell stories or recall words and dates.  Learning is done via listening to lectures, taking notes, reading, and through discussing and debating with others.  This form of intelligence makes individuals that rank high in it good teaching, explaining, speech making, and persuading others through also implies a skill at playing "word games" (understanding and being able to manipulate words, syntax, and structure).

Wicked Wordsmiths

Dennis Rader, aka The BTK Killer, fancied himself a, seriously.  In one of the many letters (this one sent in 1978) he wrote to police and press he suggested "POETIC STRANGLER" as a possible name that he could be referred to as and also enclosed a poem of his.  Now whether or not the poetry was any good is hard to say - art is in the eye of the beholder and all - but there's no doubt Rader was a word-oriented person and and he's not the only serial killer to use words to his own advantage.

Zodiac also did his fair share of corresponding via letters with the press and police as well and he even added his own creative spelling ("Christmass" instead of "Christmas", "Fry" instead of "Fri", the abbreviation for Friday) and punctuation (which was to not have much).  Part of this could, of course, just be an effort on the part of the killer to have a flair, so to speak, but either way he's playing with words and their meanings just like a person who'd scale high on verbal-linguistic intelligence might.

But even for those killers who don't write letters to law enforcement or the press, it would seem that a great many do fairly well with activities involving this intelligence.  Provided the killer isn't a blitz-attacker or simply waves a gun in the victims face with orders to obey it's likely they rate as good as the average person...and some possible better than average.  Both ruses, which require the creation of a story, and being able to be discounted as a suspect after being interviewed by authorities (recalling names, dates, and explaining your whereabouts along with lying aka "story-telling" to some, etc) would require skills related to this form of intelligence.  In fact it's likely serial killers' potentially high ratings in this category is what's mistaken for interpersonal intelligence (the ability to deal with/relate to others)...they talk a good enough game to the everyday person that they can seem very sociable and, well, normal, when they're anything but.  They know the textbook definitions and proper uses of words yet not the true meanings behind them but, in passing, that's enough to fit in and go unnoticed.

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