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Thursday, August 07, 2014

The definitive IQ list

I thought it might be useful to have a single place where confirmed IQs of various individuals can be listed. With the exception of the estimate for Barack Obama (whose IQ can only be estimated due to his refusal to release his academic records), only reliably reported IQs based on objective measures should be listed here; remember that the PSAT/SAT only served as an IQ proxy until 1994 and cannot be used to estimate IQ after that date. An IQ score with a plus sign after it indicates a known minimum IQ for the individual. A minus score indicates a known ceiling.

Also keep in mind that various awards and membership in various groups have direct IQ implications. Anyone in Mensa has a 132+ IQ. A perfect pre-1994 SAT score indicates a 168+ IQ. Anyone who is not a National Merit Semifinalist has an IQ below 140. Anyone who is not a National Merit Outstanding Participant has an IQ below 130.

168+ Paul Allen, Microsoft founder
168 Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. Army general
167 Bill Gates, Microsoft founder
166 James Woods, actor
160 Rush Limbaugh, broadcaster
151 Vox Day, game designer
140+ Hillary Clinton, U.S. senator
140+ PZ Myers, science blogger
140 John C. Wright, author 
140 Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy
138 David Robinson, NBA
134 Al Gore, U.S. Vice-President
133 John McCain, U.S. senator
127 George W. Bush, U.S. President
123 John Kerry, U.S. senator
123 Richard Feynman, physicist
116 Barack Obama, U.S. President
103 Bill Bradley, U.S. senator

If you know of sources showing the IQs of other public figures, please put them in the comments along with the relevant citation or a link to the source. This is not for the discussion of the IQ scores of any non-public figures, so please resist the urge to talk about yourself as any such comments will be deleted.

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305 Comments:

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Anonymous Toby Temple August 07, 2014 9:07 AM  

How about this one?

It has Stephen Hawkins, James Wood and Kasparov.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 9:09 AM  

I fear growing up in Minnesota has skewed your view of the National Merit thing. There are whole regions of the country where the SAT just isn't a big deal. Think of the ACT when you were in school. Did you care about it? That's how the SAT is viewed by a big chunk of the population in the South. I can't speak for today... but in the 80s and early 90s in the south I know schools didn't focus on it, or even push the SAT at all. They pushed the ACT instead.

So this is a long winded way of saying... its entirely possible that someone famous is not a national merit whatever... and still has a 2 or 3 sd IQ.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 9:11 AM  

No good. Most are just wild guesses and the Woods IQ is wrong based on his SAT scores. Any site that has an IQ for Stephen Hawking is useless because the results have never been reported, as is anything that reports someone's "nearly perfect" SAT score.

Anonymous JI August 07, 2014 9:12 AM  

123 for Feynman? That source must be screwed up because Feynman was a genius.

Anonymous Doubter August 07, 2014 9:14 AM  

That's fine and all, but how long is your penis?

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 9:18 AM  

I fear growing up in Minnesota has skewed your view of the National Merit thing.

Not in the slightest. I certainly don't conclude that an Italian or German of my acquaintance is below 140 IQ because he isn't National Merit. But most college-educated public figures have taken the tests.

its entirely possible that someone famous is not a national merit whatever... and still has a 2 or 3 sd IQ.

Obviously. The metric applies only to people who took the PSAT. But if you took the PSAT and are not National Merit, then you are below 140 IQ. And if you didn't take it, then there is no IQ information one way or the other.

As it happens, I took the ACT as well.

Anonymous Josh August 07, 2014 9:18 AM  

Bill Simmons at 140? Never would have expected that, given his writing style.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 9:20 AM  

That source must be screwed up because Feynman was a genius.

It's not. The source is his sister, who saw his IQ test results. You're confusing IQ with genius. The latter is much more important. You will note that I have ALWAYS opposed the equation of IQ with genius. I have a high IQ. I am not a genius.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 9:21 AM  

Never would have expected that, given his writing style.

His success is not an accident. And he has a very inquisitive mind. It's a little higher than I would have pegged him for, but not much. I figured he was right around the sub-Mensa 130 level.

Anonymous Stg58/Animal Mother August 07, 2014 9:23 AM  

Well, I AM a genius. I can confirm that through my drill instructors' constant referral to me as such.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus August 07, 2014 9:24 AM  

No, that was Feynman's score. Yes Feynman was a genius, but his intelligence profile was *heavily* skewed toward mathematical reasoning but was relatively weak on the verbal side. I beleive that most IQ tests are biased towards verbal reasoning over mathematical reasoning. Pretty sure Feynman was the first person to ever have a perfect score on the Princeton mathematics and physics graduate school entrance exams.

Blogger IM2L844 August 07, 2014 9:32 AM  

"And if you didn't take it, then there is no IQ information one way or the other."

The documented results of my 3 clinically proctored IQ tests don't count?

Anonymous rienzi August 07, 2014 9:33 AM  

Is there a metric for the estimated IQ of a pre-1994 Nation Merit finalist as opposed to a semi-finalist or was that never/ not broken out?

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 9:35 AM  

The documented results of my 3 clinically proctored IQ tests don't count?

If you're raising that point seriously, and not just as an excuse to play the pedant or to talk about yourself, they're obviously not high enough to bother counting.

Anonymous SlackAttack August 07, 2014 9:37 AM  

Anyone have the IQ of Sheila Jackson Lee? I could use a good laugh this morning.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 9:38 AM  

Is there a metric for the estimated IQ of a pre-1994 Nation Merit finalist as opposed to a semi-finalist or was that never/ not broken out?

No, because it wasn't based on the test results, but other factors. There is a distinction between Scholar/finalist/semifinalist and Outstanding Applicant which works out to about 10 points.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus August 07, 2014 9:40 AM  

Pretty sure Sheila Jackson Lee is both a member of the "Talented Tenth" AND rocking a strong double-digit IQ...

Anonymous Alexander August 07, 2014 9:42 AM  

Hey man, she went to Yale dontchaknow.

Anonymous Mr. Nightstick August 07, 2014 9:42 AM  

Why do I get the feeling that you are getting ready to lay the smacketh down on somebody's roody poo candy ass?

Anonymous Faker August 07, 2014 9:42 AM  

I could be wrong but the last time I looked into it, the College Board only gives out so many National Merit Scholarships, and divides them up by geography. This means if you're in a less populous state you've got a better chance to be a NMS than if you're in Mass. or some other densely populated state.

Anonymous Hong Hu Shi August 07, 2014 9:44 AM  

Anyone have the IQ of Sheila Jackson Lee? I could use a good laugh this morning.

155.

But I can't figure out how to make a cube-root symbol in front of that.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 9:47 AM  

Why do I get the feeling that you are getting ready to lay the smacketh down on somebody's roody poo candy ass?

I'm not, actually. I just came across Simmons's and Robinson's SAT scores again in THE BOOK OF BASKETBALL and I thought it would be useful to have such things available somewhere people could refer to them in one place.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 9:47 AM  

"As it happens, I took the ACT as well."

Really? I was under the impression that most folks in the north didn't bother with the ACT particularly back then. Of course most is certainly not all.

Anyway I was only bringing it up because of this..

" Anyone who is not a National Merit Semifinalist has an IQ below 140. Anyone who is not a National Merit Outstanding Participant has an IQ below 130."

Which is clearly false.

I'm also deeply skeptical of using SAT or PSAT scores to estimate a ceiling for someone's IQ... as we have no way of knowing how much they gave a damn about the test when they were taking it. Now I do believe in Obama's case its reasonable since he was obviously ambitious and wanted to get into the best schools so we can conclude he took the test in earnest and just isn't that bright.

Blogger IM2L844 August 07, 2014 9:55 AM  

If you're raising that point seriously, and not just as an excuse to play the pedant or to talk about yourself, they're obviously not high enough to bother counting.

Ha! Just entertaining myself. You're not in a very playful mood this morning.

Anonymous Josh August 07, 2014 9:55 AM  

Anyway I was only bringing it up because of this..

" Anyone who is not a National Merit Semifinalist has an IQ below 140. Anyone who is not a National Merit Outstanding Participant has an IQ below 130."

Which is clearly false.


It's not necessarily false if "anyone" = "anyone who took the psat"

Blogger Leatherwing August 07, 2014 9:56 AM  

Vox, Have you previously posted your scores on SAT or ACT? I haven't seen them, so not sure if you'd made them available.
I agree with what Nate's comments re:ACT vs SAT. In Arkansas, everyone took the ACT as that was accepted for all the schools in the region. The only place I even heard about the SAT was in the news. It wasn't offered or discussed in my (admittedly very small) school system.

Blogger darkdoc August 07, 2014 9:56 AM  

This list does not pass the smell test. Action speaks louder than claimed testing results.

Anonymous Sheila Jackson Lee August 07, 2014 10:03 AM  

155!! See, I a geniuts you punk ass racisses

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 10:03 AM  

"It's not necessarily false if "anyone" = "anyone who took the psat""

Yes. But that is a curious definition for "anyone". Unless you're a calvinist.

Anonymous Josh August 07, 2014 10:08 AM  

It's not a curious definition when you're taking about national merit scholars.

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 10:08 AM  

So what does the SAT score tell you when you studied for 2 minutes, drank heavily the night before, took the test horribly hung over, yet scored high enough to go to any college of your choice? Or the fact you were in the top ten in your class and never cracked a book because school was a joke and you spent most of your time napping?

Anonymous fish August 07, 2014 10:11 AM  

That's fine and all, but how long is your penis?

Rumor has it that Woods did pretty well in that category as well.

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 10:12 AM  

Bill O'Reilly sat 1585.
http://www.designntrend.com/articles/11455/20140307/celebrity-sat-scores-list-highest-lowest-worst-natalie-portman-will-smith-more-college-test-results-famous-actors-singers-politicians-tv-personalities.htm

Anonymous Porky August 07, 2014 10:13 AM  

Is the Wonderlic test a reasonable proxy for IQ?

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 August 07, 2014 10:14 AM  

You will note that I have ALWAYS opposed the equation of IQ with genius. I have a high IQ. I am not a genius.

You must have a high standard of genius.

I've pointed out that intelligence involves three factors: IQ, knowledge, and wisdom. To me, a genius is someone who is able to maximize knowledge, have a high degree of wisdom (which is not obtained, only given), and have a well above average IQ.

You seem to fit the bill to me. Though this is only my observations based on your writings.

Anonymous Will Best August 07, 2014 10:14 AM  

But Obama is so smart he is bored with the trivial problems of running a country. He wouldn't possibly only have an IQ of 116. At least the argument that gets made. Personally, I would take the under.

---

I didn't know Mensa took LSAT scores. I always felt I got a raw deal on my LSAT because the test was administered about 1/3rd of a mile away from the football stadium during a football game, but apparently I scored high enough that I could stand around and talk about how smart I am anyway.

Blogger James Dixon August 07, 2014 10:15 AM  

> So what does the SAT score tell you when you studied for 2 minutes, drank heavily the night before, took the test horribly hung over, yet scored high enough to go to any college of your choice?

That your an average member of the Ilk.

Anonymous sawtooth August 07, 2014 10:18 AM  

Many people take SATs and/or ACTs and even standard IQ tests more then once. These are the people that place huge value on personal test scores. Even if individual questions and exercises differ from test to test, familiarizing yourself to the tests expected mode of thinking and getting past first time test jitters is a HUGE advantage.

If the test is timed, be sure to bring a time piece. There may not be a clock in the room.

An average midwit can steadily bump up test scores if he/she is so motivated. Midwits, after all tend to hold these kinds of scores in very high esteem.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 10:20 AM  

"It's not a curious definition when you're taking about national merit scholars."

I do believe Vox intended that context to be applied. The language he used however did not apply it. its a leap the average reader doesn't make. Because Anyone actually means... Anyone... not a tiny subset of anyone.

Anonymous Sigyn August 07, 2014 10:22 AM  

You must have a high standard of genius.

I'd be curious to know how you define it, Vox. Any way we can coax it out of you?

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 10:22 AM  

Al Gore is another fine example of how IQ is not genius. He did horribly at school, but obviously he has played politics at the highest levels.

Anonymous Porky August 07, 2014 10:23 AM  

So the formula for Wonderlic to IQ is (W x 2) + 60 = IQ

Johnny Manziel = 124
AJ McCarron = 104

Anonymous Josh August 07, 2014 10:23 AM  

Tiny Tim is CLEARLY the SMARTEST MAN ALIVE

Anonymous Monkey Boy August 07, 2014 10:24 AM  

Isaac Asimov says his IQ was 160

http://talentdevelop.com/275/isaac-asimov-what-is-intelligence-anyway/

James D. Watson co-discoverer of the structure of DNA says his IQ was recorded at 120.

http://www.simonsfoundation.org/science_lives_video/james-d-watson/

Arthur Jensen has been critical of both Watson's statements about his IQ and the stories of Feymann's IQ. Though reports by people who have read his private notebooks state they were littered with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.

Anonymous Josh August 07, 2014 10:26 AM  

So the formula for Wonderlic to IQ is (W x 2) + 60 = IQ

Johnny Manziel = 124
AJ McCarron = 104


Vince Young = 72

Megatron = 142

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 10:27 AM  

Thanks Josh. No doubt smarter, taller, stronger, and more handsome than you on your best day. Just blessed... nothing I did to deserve it.

And funny thing is it is all true.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 10:28 AM  

porky... that gives a ceiling of 160. Not a very good correlation.

Anonymous Porky August 07, 2014 10:29 AM  

Carlos Hyde = 78

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 10:29 AM  

"And funny thing is it is all true."

No.

That's not the funny thing.

Anonymous Mike M. August 07, 2014 10:30 AM  

"You're confusing IQ with genius. The latter is much more important. You will note that I have ALWAYS opposed the equation of IQ with genius."

Quite true. There comes a point at which raw intellectual horsepower must yield to insight, the ability to filter out irrelevant information, and creativity. Robert Heinlein wasn't joking about encyclopedic synthesists. The ability to see the cross-connections between wildly disparate fields can come in very handy. And many people can't do it...including some who do quite well on IQ tests.

And yes, I was a National Merit Finalist. :-)

Anonymous Krul August 07, 2014 10:31 AM  

So this chart is interesting because it shows how various test scores line up with each other, and with population percentile.

Although, there are three different IQ scores there: SD = 15, SD =16, and SD = 23.7. Which are you using, Vox?

Also, Nate's right about SAT versus ACT in the South. I worked my ass off and took the ACT multiple times in highschool, but only took the SAT once. The SAT was almost an afterthought to the ACT.

Anonymous Daniel August 07, 2014 10:33 AM  

I disagree. I would have pegged most of the people on the list with whom I am familiar within a few points of the list.

Hillary is clearly that much smarter than Oboy, for example. Gates and Allen built a company that looks like near 170s had something to do with it (and needed near-170s to sustain it, unfortunately.) Limbaugh was something of an IQ jerk during his rise, and obviously had brains to build a counterculture media empire. Generally speaking, the closer to 100 a political candidate is, the more likely he is to be a successful populist (with the exception being the extremely high IQ candidate who is able to treat the relatively stupid masses like children without them feeling pandered to.)

The only one I am surprised by is PZ Meyers. I find his writings dull, shallow and unsurprising. There's no life to it. I would have guessed him to be no higher than 130, but IQ is certainly no measure of vitality. I guess you don't have to be a dullard to be dull.

Bobby Fischer's IQ score was around 180, according to a teacher at Erasmus who administered his test. People don't believ'e it because he seemed such an idiot to them and didn't achieve anything outside of chess, but his mind was remarkable. On his first trip to Iceland, he could recite a phone conversation he overheard in perfect Icelandic without ever having learned the language. I dont know, maybe his teacher remembered his score incorrectly, and the guy was just a chess genius...but I tend to think he was a high-IQ guy with a bad case of existentialism.

Anonymous Josh August 07, 2014 10:35 AM  

porky... that gives a ceiling of 160. Not a very good correlation.

Good enough for 99.997% of human population.

160+ is 4 SD.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 10:35 AM  

"Though reports by people who have read his private notebooks state they were littered with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes."

which indicates nothing.

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 10:36 AM  

http://www.chess-poster.com/english/mail/mail_2010/robert_fischer_iq.htm

Bobby Fischer - World Chess Champion: 187

For Chess players, some sources list Bobby Fischer's IQ between 180 and 187. This was his Stanford-Binet score when he was at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn before he dropped out.



Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 10:37 AM  

Nate, how's it going big boy?

Like I said once before, your John Wayne routine doesn't play that well in Texas unless you are 15 and hanging with your 13 year old buddies. On here you have been quite successful with it though. The King of the Bad Asses...

Blogger Dark Herald August 07, 2014 10:37 AM  

Asia Carrera -- Former Pornstar IQ 156

Look guys, I was trying to find a citation for Dolph Lundren who I remember as being about 160 and I blundered across this. Which was funnier.

Anyway Jessica Andrea Steinhauser AKA Asia Carrera is a member of MENSA and was at one point a concert pianist, who played at carnegie hall (I am really fighting an urge to mutter about tickling the ivories here). She is half Japanese and half German.

The sources are annoying. They all link back to IMDB and Wiki and the links there are broken. However the MSM seems to regard her IQ claim as valid.

I did find a clip of her playing the Piano, which I am not linking to (this being a family friendly blog). Suffice to say her claim to being a concert pianist (must fight penis joke) has merit. She can actually play...the piano I mean.

God, you guys are filthy.

Anonymous Porky August 07, 2014 10:40 AM  

that gives a ceiling of 160. Not a very good correlation.

That's the failure of proxies. The SAT proxy maxes out at 168.

Anonymous Daman August 07, 2014 10:41 AM  

Gore failed out of divinity school and law school. He's a middling intellect at best.

Anonymous Porky August 07, 2014 10:41 AM  

Tim Tebow = 104

Anonymous Krul August 07, 2014 10:45 AM  

Cataline Sergius - Asia Carrera -- Former Pornstar IQ 156

How's her Verbal score? I bet she's a cunning linguist.

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 10:45 AM  

Sorry I interrupted your black panther party gents... carry on.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 10:45 AM  

"Good enough for 99.997% of human population.

160+ is 4 SD."

99.997 looks really good until you apply it to a number like 6 billion. Then you realize that your system is looking at something like 18 million people and reporting "fiver".

Anonymous Daniel August 07, 2014 10:47 AM  

John Sununu is in the Mega Society, so he had to have scored 171 or higher on their non-standardized test.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 10:47 AM  

'Like I said once before, your John Wayne routine doesn't play that well in Texas unless you are 15 and hanging with your 13 year old buddies. On here you have been quite successful with it though. The King of the Bad Asses..."

Irony...

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 10:48 AM  

This post brought to mind Richard Rosner, IQ 190s, complete nutter. If interested watch some interviews and read some articles on him, dude is out there, in a funny, but sort of pathetic kind of way. Classic example of high IQ not leading to a high functioning, well-adjusted life.

It would be interesting to see what percentage of 140+ IQ folks are successful and high functioning versus guy living in mom’s basement watching porn and scribbling poetry on the wall.

Blogger ashepherd August 07, 2014 10:49 AM  

I took the first course in the University of California on religion, Sociology of Religion. The prof wrote a book showing that the more educational achievements (degrees etc.) a person has the less religious they are. He drew the conclusion that religion must therefore be irrational because, you know, educated people are so rational. An this prof was on the board of a well known denomination's seminary too!

Fortunately (for most of humanity) the one who will judge every human says that the wisdom that counts isn't a product of human-lauded education, wealth or achievement.

Anonymous Josh August 07, 2014 10:49 AM  

Tim Tebow = 104

IIRC he's dyslexic. And he's not the most gifted communicator if you've watched or listened to interviews.

Blogger JDC August 07, 2014 10:50 AM  

Dave Mustaine - 160. I did an exhaustive search and could find no verification. He did however beat George Clinton on Celebrity Jeopardy, so that has to count as much as the ACT.

Really? I was under the impression that most folks in the north didn't bother with the ACT particularly back then. Of course most is certainly not all.

I took the ACT in 1986. In MI one didn't neet to take the SAT unless they were planning on going to college out of state.

Anonymous Daniel August 07, 2014 10:50 AM  

"Though reports by people who have read his private notebooks state they were littered with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes."

which indicates nothing.


"It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word."

Anonymous Salt August 07, 2014 10:50 AM  

But Obama is so smart he is bored with the trivial problems of running a country. He wouldn't possibly only have an IQ of 116.

You're right. He has a golf handicap of about 16.

Anonymous Porky August 07, 2014 10:52 AM  

99.997 looks really good until you apply it to a number like 6 billion. Then you realize that your system is looking at something like 18 million people and reporting "fiver".

These are American pro football players we're talking about. There just aren't going to be a lot of +4's.

Blogger pyrrhus August 07, 2014 10:54 AM  

Richard Feynman won the Putnam by the highest margin ever, and was the greatest American physicist of the 20th century. While he made a lot of jokes about his IQ, it was certainly north of 150 and more likely 170+.

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 10:57 AM  

Does anyone recommend a particular IQ test, even if the results would be 'unofficial'?

Blogger pyrrhus August 07, 2014 10:58 AM  

Note also that IQ scores, particularly for men, only stabilize in the 20s, and men get a boost in IQ which puts them above women, especially in math, after puberty.

Anonymous Cash August 07, 2014 11:00 AM  

I am not surprised to see Feynman have a lower than expected IQ. IQ is a stat. One person's stat doesn't matter nearly as much as a stat of a group of people. If you have Joe with a 140 IQ and Tom with a 115 IQ, Tom may be smarter than Joe. But if you have a country full of "joe's" vs a country full of "tom's" well then the IQ stat will mean a whole lot more.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 11:00 AM  

'These are American pro football players we're talking about. There just aren't going to be a lot of +4's."

The wonderlic is used for a lot more than the NFL mate.

Anonymous Krul August 07, 2014 11:00 AM  

Daniel - "It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word."

Itt iz ae damm pore mined indede witch kant thynck uv aat leest tu waiz tui spel inee whirred.

That's actually harder than I expected with the short words. How many ways can you spell "it" or "at"?

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 11:00 AM  

I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb... I'm smart and I want respect!

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 11:02 AM  

So what does the SAT score tell you when you studied for 2 minutes

It means you're not as smart as you would like to think you are, you are insecure, and you are afraid of failure. That's two minutes more than I studied.

Although, there are three different IQ scores there: SD = 15, SD =16, and SD = 23.7. Which are you using, Vox?

I always use SD=16. Most of the IQ societies do so; hence Mensa's 132 requirement.

I was trying to find a citation for Dolph Lundren who I remember as being about 160

I partied with Dolph in Tokyo. He's a very smart guy. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if he was in that range.

which indicates nothing.

No, it indicates a probability of an unexceptional level of intelligence. You can write how you choose, but you can't change the observable facts. Most people who spell poorly and write ungrammatically are less intelligent than those who write and spell correctly.

Conversely, if I hear someone regularly mispronouncing uncommon words, I know they are probably smarter than their social environment. It means they read, but they don't talk to anyone who knows the correct pronounciation.

Anonymous FaustsBargainSale August 07, 2014 11:03 AM  

Vox-

What's your source for saying that a national merit semifinalist has an IQ of 140+? I tried to google it myself but all I found was an everything2 page whose source lead to a dead link for something called "The Prometheus Society", and some other pages that don't directly discuss the issue.

Finding out that you have a higher IQ than Richard Feynman but a lower IQ than Rush Limbaugh is the kind of thing that threatens to destroy one's entire view of the world. I never though Rush was stupid, but I never put him up in the super-genius level, either. Clearly I underestimated the man. Thank you for putting this together, it is immensely interesting.

Blogger John Wright August 07, 2014 11:03 AM  

Oh, good grief.

I got an LSAT score within the top 1%, somewhere around a 170 or so, and they sent me a piece of paper to frame. According to a random website, this means my IQ is 140, the genius level. (http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/index.php?topic=12022.0)

Now then: I cannot spell, cannot add or subtract simple figures, cannot multiply 17 by any number other than ten, cannot remember my own phone number, or the names of my coworkers I have worked alongside every day for five years. I once got lost on a straight road with no turn offs. Sigh.

But I know the croaking chorus from the FROGS of Aristophanes, and I can pepper my conversation with references to Gilbert and Sullivan. (Not kidding, I actually do know the croaking chorus: Βρεκεκεκὲξ κοὰξ κοάξ).

Now, at this point, you are probably asking, IS JOHN C WRIGHT REALLY A GENIUS? or maybe you are asking, IS THERE ANY CHEESE LEFT FOR A TOASTED CHEESE SANDWICH? The answer is no and no. I am not a genius if that word has any meaning at all, and I ate the last of the cheese.

The LSAT is a test of verbal ability and logic, two areas where I have not only always had a knack and a natural talent, but which I have trained to the peak of acuity.

I used to write Raymond Smullyan style logic puzzles for myself for idle entertainment, so when the LSAT tests me on logic puzzles, I laugh, and I pass with flying colors.

So, for the record, IQ of 140, but deeply skeptical as to whether IQ tests record anything other than one's ability to take IQ tests.

Anonymous Teenage Jail August 07, 2014 11:04 AM  

"Richard Feynman won the Putnam by the highest margin ever, and was the greatest American physicist of the 20th century. While he made a lot of jokes about his IQ, it was certainly north of 150 and more likely 170+."

I was about to say that Feynman was also a Putnam fellow, but how can you know that he "won by the highest margin ever"? They don't rank the top 5 against each other, at least not publicly. Do the top 5 get together and compare scores or something?

Anonymous dh August 07, 2014 11:06 AM  

Pretty discouraging that there isn't even a person listed that's below average.

Anonymous Porky August 07, 2014 11:09 AM  

The wonderlic is used for a lot more than the NFL mate.

Yeah, but not 6 Billion more.

I do wonder if military Wonderlics are available to the public. That could be interesting.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 11:11 AM  

"No, it indicates a probability of an unexceptional level of intelligence. You can write how you choose, but you can't change the observable facts"

I certainly won't argue that someone with an IQ of 60 won't spell as well as someone with an IQ of 130. So i should not have said it means nothing. it clearly means something.

Blogger pyrrhus August 07, 2014 11:12 AM  

Some of these numbers appear to be based on childhood IQ tests, which vary wildly and are unreliable. SAT/ACT/GMAT/GRE/LSAT taken as adults are far more reliable, and confirm James Woods' and several of your other listings.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 11:14 AM  

"cannot multiply 17 by any number other than ten"

one presumes you could also multiply 17 by 1... and Zero... this omission appears to have served to make your point all the more clear though.

Blogger pyrrhus August 07, 2014 11:14 AM  

Hillary Clinton SAT 1200= about 120 IQ Bill Clinton SAT 1050=about 105

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 11:14 AM  

What's your source for saying that a national merit semifinalist has an IQ of 140+

Logic. A semifinalist is the top 1 percent of everyone who takes the test. About half the age-eligible take the test, so assuming that most of those who don't take the test are not in the top 10 percent, (and before Nate jumps in with "but... but.. ACT" I would remind him to think through who else isn't taking the test and observe there are no shortage of National Merit scholars from the South), that means they are the top 0.5 percent. The top 99.5 percent of the population is between 139 and 140.

Now, if we assume that all the non-test takers are as smart as the test takers, that would back it down to around 135+. But I don't believe that is the correct assumption. There are exceptions, obviously, but not enough to matter. In reality, it's probably somewhere between 138 and 139.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 11:15 AM  

" I am not a genius if that word has any meaning at all, and I ate the last of the cheese. "

Mate I read Awake in the Nightland.

If you aren't a genius then indeed, the word is meaningless.

Anonymous Stilicho August 07, 2014 11:15 AM  

its a leap the average reader doesn't make.

Context again. I doubt he had "the average reader" in mind when he wrote it. Needlessly pedantic. The argument with using the ACT as an IQ proxy has always been centered on the fact that the ACT is more of an acquired knowledge test than the SAT, although there is considerable overlap. I recall, in order to properly answer some questions, having to derive mathematical principles from the question and available answers on the SAT simply because I hadn't paid attention in class (or it wasn't covered in class...hey I attended a public high school...). I expect that a similar process could be used on the ACT where it tests acquired mathematical knowledge if A) one has sufficient understanding of mathematical principles and B) the raw power to do it. The converse would not be as common, although still possible with both A and B, because acquired knowledge without A and B is possible and likely more common.

Anonymous Contemplationist August 07, 2014 11:16 AM  

Feynman 123? I don't believe it sorry.

Blogger pyrrhus August 07, 2014 11:17 AM  

I was about to say that Feynman was also a Putnam fellow, but how can you know that he "won by the highest margin ever"? They don't rank the top 5 against each other, at least not publicly. Do the top 5 get together and compare scores or something?

They do determine a number 1, and Feynman won, but the rest is strictly what I heard from a math professor. Probably doesn't matter anyway.

Anonymous Stickwick August 07, 2014 11:17 AM  

JI: 123 for Feynman? That source must be screwed up because Feynman was a genius.

This is kind of confusing. IIRC, Feynman's IQ is based on a test taken in high school, presumably the same sort of test my father took when he was in high school. Dad got 117 on that test, but he got a near-perfect score on the GRE -- 1580, which apparently maps to a 161 IQ. Something is not adding up.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 11:19 AM  

Richard Feynman won the Putnam by the highest margin ever, and was the greatest American physicist of the 20th century. While he made a lot of jokes about his IQ, it was certainly north of 150 and more likely 170+.

You're absolutely wrong. We know for a fact what his IQ was. In fact, his sister's IQ was only one point higher, at 124. Don't fetishize IQ. Feynman is evidence of the fact that IQ is not genius.

I have no doubt that he wasn't actually all that smart, having read some of his books. He commits major logical howlers on page after page. I could absolutely demolish him in a debate about nearly anything but math and physics. But his mind was exceedingly well shaped for grasping those subjects, which is not the same thing as intelligence.

Look, it's no different than writing. There are some people who have a talent for prose. They write beautiful grocery lists. That doesn't mean they are smart. And being smart doesn't mean you can write in a beautiful manner. My writing is evidence of that.

Blogger Steve Moss August 07, 2014 11:20 AM  

By memory, my LSAT was 168. Which is nice and all, but not remarkable.

It certainly hasn't stopped me from pursuing my three favorite hobbies; coaching soccer, reading and drinking good beer.

Blogger Dark Herald August 07, 2014 11:21 AM  

Nathan Freudenthal Leopold and Richard Loeb--Murderers reported IQs 210 and 169 (respectively)

The Leopold and Loeb Murder in 1924 was quite the sensation in it’s day. These two young men were exceptionally gifted in both mind and family background. Both were extremely wealthy. Both were extremely intelligent and both were extremely homosexual (mind you the last is only a plus by modern standards).

In 1924 they kidnapped and murdered fourteen year old Bobby Franks. They were trying to commit the perfect crime.

Super genius; Nathan Leopold lost his $300 ($4000 in current terms) custom frame glasses at the scene of the crime. There were three pair in Chicago, only one in his size and his were missing. The cops while not being quite as intelligent did somehow manage to puzzle this one out.

Daddy hired Clarence Darrow, who got them life sentences when they should have by rights been strapped into “old sparky” to ride the lightning.

Darrow’s speech gets quoted a lot, by anti-death penalty activists. Possibly Darrow should have ride the lightning too.

Mind you their scores are somewhat problematic, given that these estimates date from the 1920s.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 11:21 AM  

Feynman's IQ is based on a test taken in high school, presumably the same sort of test my father took when he was in high school.

Examine your assumptions. Key word: "presumably".

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 11:21 AM  

"so assuming that most of those who don't take the test are not in the top 10 percent,"

I don't have a problem that assumption. The word "most" is precise enough for me. I would point out that the folks that SAT tests were far more common by kids that went to private schools. Those schools pushed the PSAT big time. So yes... of course there are national merit scholars from the South. Its just not all as definitive as you are appearing to assert.

I should point out I'm not talking about myself here. I know what my own IQ is and I don't feign to believe any of you give a damn. I am just pointing out the limits of the system you are creating.

Blogger pyrrhus August 07, 2014 11:22 AM  

"What's your source for saying that a national merit semifinalist has an IQ of 140+

Logic. A semifinalist is the top 1 percent of everyone who takes the test. About half the age-eligible take the test, so assuming that most of those who don't take the test are not in the top 10 percent, (and before Nate jumps in with "but... but.. ACT" I would remind him to think through who else isn't taking the test and observe there are no shortage of National Merit scholars from the South), that means they are the top 0.5 percent. The top 99.5 percent of the population is between 139 and 140.

Now, if we assume that all the non-test takers are as smart as the test takers, that would back it down to around 135+. But I don't believe that is the correct assumption. There are exceptions, obviously, but not enough to matter. In reality, it's probably somewhere between 138 and 139."
At least when I took it, the semifinalists were determined by State, and qualifying scores varied. In Illinois, the cutoff was 146 (equivalent to 1460 SAT), but in some southern states the qualifying scores were much lower, in the 130s.

Anonymous FaustsBargainSale August 07, 2014 11:24 AM  

Alright, that's fair. That matches with my experience: my class of about 350 had around 3 national merit semifinalists, and we had a reputation as being one of the best public schools in the state. The kids who got it all had a reputation for being very smart, but at least one had mediocre grades and a reputation for sleeping through class, which lends credence to the idea that it's a valid measure of IQ as opposed to knowledge, studiousness, or anything like that.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 11:25 AM  

Feynman 123? I don't believe it sorry

PROBING THE MIND OF RICHARD FEYNMAN: A CASE STUDY OF GENIUS

One of the longest running experiments on intelligence, however, suggests that true giftedness may depend equally as much on other factors like creativity and motivation. Since 1921, psychologists have studied a group of approximately 1500 children with an average IQ score of about 150 that were originally selected by Lewis Terman. The members of this group, known as the Termites, all grew up to be highly successful and productive, but not one of them achieved genius-level contributions. Genius seems to elude the best efforts of psychologists to capture its essence in a standardized test. If intelligence quotient scores alone could predict genius, then Feynman would be a curious anomaly. Feynman's younger sister Joan, also a physicist, once said that "[Richard] had a normal IQ. When I was a kid, I sneaked off and got into the files and looked up our IQ’s. Mine was 124, and his was 123. So I was actually smarter than he was!" Feynman himself refused to accept the notion that his success came from being smarter than other people, instead citing his habit of solving problems in his head. Feynman once told the wife of a friend who suggested that he apply to MENSA, an organization whose members must have IQ’s of 150 or more, that he could not join because his intelligence scores from high school were not high enough.


How many times do I have to tell you? Don't fetishize IQ. Genius is much more rare than high IQ.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 11:29 AM  

I am just pointing out the limits of the system you are creating.

It's not even a system. It is a simple heuristic flawed by incomplete information. On the other hand, it does prevent the vast hordes of idiots from claiming that Bill Clinton had a 187 IQ and Obama has a 1200 IQ because both of them would have taken the SAT based on where they went to college and neither of them were National Merit.

Anonymous bob k. mando August 07, 2014 11:29 AM  

JI August 07, 2014 9:12 AM
123 for Feynman? That source must be screwed up because Feynman was a genius.



as i remember it, the PSAT was heavily weighted to the verbal side. i took mine in 82.

Blogger pyrrhus August 07, 2014 11:30 AM  

You're absolutely wrong. We know for a fact what his IQ was. In fact, his sister's IQ was only one point higher, at 124. Don't fetishize IQ. Feynman is evidence of the fact that IQ is not genius.

I have no doubt that he wasn't actually all that smart, having read some of his books. He commits major logical howlers on page after page. I could absolutely demolish him in a debate about nearly anything but math and physics. But his mind was exceedingly well shaped for grasping those subjects, which is not the same thing as intelligence.

Look, it's no different than writing. There are some people who have a talent for prose. They write beautiful grocery lists. That doesn't mean they are smart. And being smart doesn't mean you can write in a beautiful manner. My writing is evidence of that.

Perhaps Feynman was a freak, but a childhood IQ test, reported by his sister, does not at all establish that his adult IQ was not extremely high, especially for a boy. Stephen Hsu's analysis of scientific prize winners (STEM sciences) shows that a great majority are 3+SD above average, and quite a few 4+SD, which would be 160+.

Anonymous Cash August 07, 2014 11:31 AM  

Any notable people under 100?

Blogger pyrrhus August 07, 2014 11:32 AM  

Feynman was definitely not an Idiot Savante and solved a multitude of complex problems.

Anonymous Porky August 07, 2014 11:33 AM  

Pretty discouraging that there isn't even a person listed that's below average.

Entire state of Alabama: 95.7

Anonymous bw August 07, 2014 11:39 AM  

He has a golf handicap of about 16.

No way in hell he plays to a legit 16.
Zero chance. His entire life is a fraud and you can bet
his golf game is.

Anonymous Stickwick August 07, 2014 11:40 AM  

VD: Examine your assumptions. Key word: "presumably".

Perhaps the IQ tests given in American high schools differed significantly in the span of thirty years and/or across the country. In any case, my point wasn't to dispute Feynman's official IQ (or my father's), but to question the use of standardized tests as proxies. There is a 3-sigma discrepancy between my dad's IQ from the test and his IQ inferred from his GRE score. If Feynman had taken the GRE, I wonder if he would've scored similarly high.

Blogger Harambe August 07, 2014 11:40 AM  

Does anyone recommend a particular IQ test, even if the results would be 'unofficial'?

Mensa has a sort of "practice test" on their website. It's not official, but it's pretty much the same type of stuff you get in the actual test.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 11:42 AM  

Perhaps Feynman was a freak, but a childhood IQ test, reported by his sister, does not at all establish that his adult IQ was not extremely high, especially for a boy.

It most certainly does. Your IQ doesn't magically change.

Stephen Hsu's analysis of scientific prize winners (STEM sciences) shows that a great majority are 3+SD above average, and quite a few 4+SD, which would be 160+.

Totally irrelevant. Your argument does not testify well concerning your own intelligence. Look, I know four kids in a very elite math program. The top kid is off-the-charts in terms of IQ and performance. The second kid is very smart. Then there are two kids who are otherwise normally intelligent, but have what the professors call "math minds". They outperform the second kid regularly, and even occasionally outperform the first kid... on the math tests. But they are very clearly not as smart as either of the two kids otherwise.

Hell, if all IQ tested was spatial relations, I'd be retarded. Literally. Feynman had a unique mind, but he wasn't across the spectrum brililant. All you have to do is read his books to realize that. And 123 is hardly an idiot; it's still in the top 6 percent of the population.

Anonymous Salt August 07, 2014 11:42 AM  

The best I found for John Nash (subject of film A Beautiful Mind) is ~150. Nash is a contributor to game theory.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 11:44 AM  

There is a 3-sigma discrepancy between my dad's IQ from the test and his IQ inferred from his GRE score. If Feynman had taken the GRE, I wonder if he would've scored similarly high.

The answer is simple. The GRE is not an IQ-proxy test like the pre-1994 test was.

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 11:46 AM  

I was the smartest guy in my dojo. Just ask my sensei...

I also play the accordion and banjo.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 11:48 AM  

I got an LSAT score within the top 1%, somewhere around a 170 or so, and they sent me a piece of paper to frame.

170 is 138. 173 is 140. However, anyone who has ever read your work can see that your mind is heavily structured towards the verbal, so much so that it's not surprising that calculating 4x4 might prove difficult for you.

Anonymous not bragging August 07, 2014 11:48 AM  

I'm also deeply skeptical of using SAT or PSAT scores to estimate a ceiling for someone's IQ... as we have no way of knowing how much they gave a damn about the test when they were taking it.

One data point: my IQ according to official tests is about 1SD higher than what you'd derive from my SAT score.

Anonymous Stilicho August 07, 2014 11:49 AM  

Working definition:Genius is a combination of raw intelligence, creativity, and the ability to focus that intelligence and creativity to solve difficult problems and/or achieve difficult goals.

Exemplary genius: Newton.
Highly intelligent, but not genius: Richard Rosner.

Working analogy: having intelligence is like having a high-performance sports car--if you can't drive it, you won't win any races, nor will you win if you insist on driving it like a Yugo. It may look nice, but you get any more out of it than the diligent guy driving a Camry.

Anonymous Pat Hannagan August 07, 2014 11:49 AM  

What's the estimate for Jesus' IQ?

Feel free to extrapolate Muhammad, Moses, Buddha etc's IQ as well.

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 11:49 AM  

"Your IQ doesn't magically change."

Does it change, without magic, over time? Or is it a metric that is relatively fixed?

Anonymous FaustsBargainSale August 07, 2014 11:50 AM  

Having read a few of his books, the idea that Feynman's IQ might not have been that high seems plausible to me, though I admit that it's a bit of a shock. In one part of "What do you care what other people think?" he talks about an advanced scientific theory he was presenting before some of the greatest minds of the early 20th century, like Einstein, Dyson, and Heisenberg. The geniuses are less than impressed with his theory, and after spending years on it he finally realizes that they likely saw problems instantly that took him decades to see. Now, "not as smart as Einstein" is something that probably goes for everybody posting in this thread, but there's other evidence for this as well. I got the sense that Feynman was respected for his ability to ask questions and see things that other people didn't see, as well as his complete lack of fear in social situations. Feynman would always tell you exactly what he thought, and it didn't matter who you were. This made him very valuable as a guy who you could count on to give you a straight answer.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 11:51 AM  

" The argument with using the ACT as an IQ proxy has always been centered on the fact that the ACT is more of an acquired knowledge test than the SAT, although there is considerable overlap. "

I took the tests to late to have a valuable opinion on them and their comparison. Both were watered down considerably by that time.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 11:51 AM  

One data point: my IQ according to official tests is about 1SD higher than what you'd derive from my SAT score.

When did you take the SAT?

Anonymous DaveD August 07, 2014 11:53 AM  

pyrrhus, look up "multiple intelligences". Its a theory that there are 8 or 9 different areas of thinking/IQ: verbal/linguistic, mathematics, interpersonal, intrapersonal, kinesthetic, naturalistic, visual spatial etc. It essentially says that people's brains are wired to think/view/act differently. A verbal/linguistic mind learns and performs best when writing, reading, listing or speaking. A kinesthetic learner is best with hands on stuff, athletics, dancing etc. A math guy does well via math. It is not at all difficult to believe that Feynman had problems verbally but excelled in mathematics. Certainly, the "a perfect mind" guy did. Simply put, just because he was really good (great) at math does not mean he was equally skilled at everything else anymore than the fact that I play drums means I'm a good pianist.

Also, an IQ of 124 (+1.5 SD) does not an "idiot savant" make.

DD

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 11:55 AM  

Alright, I'm convinced. I must have my IQ tested to validate my superiority.

I will present the results shortly if all goes well.

Anonymous Monkey Boy August 07, 2014 11:57 AM  

It was Stephen Hsu that pointed out that Feymann's journals were littered with spelling and grammar mistakes. Since someone else has mentioned him.

Anonymous EH August 07, 2014 11:59 AM  

Some things many people don't know about IQ:

Nobody reputable has used any standard deviation other than 15 for decades. (Stanford-Binet form L-M being an occasional exception, with an s.d. of 16 but these scores are inflated by other factors and not directly comparable with other IQ tests)

IQ is not mental age divided by chronological age. It isn't even a good approximation.

IQcores are not a measure of intelligence, but of the rarity of that level of intelligence. These are pretty much the same near the mean, but high scores are not equal interval, that is 5 points in the 130s is a smaller difference than 5 points in the 150s.

Intelligence is not normally distributed, but more like log-normal or Pearson type IV; IQ is normally distributed by definition, but even this breaks down in practice for the top scores. There are more smart people than the normal curve predicts.

Scores are not that reliable: test-retest correlation is usually about 0.9 or a bit better, but correlation between the same people taking two different tests is seldom much better than 0.7. (OTOH this allows combining multiple consistently high scores to yield an even higher score - think of a scattergram ellipse for two tests and a horizontal and vertical line representing the two scores. The corner of the ellipse that is cut out by the lines has a smaller area than that cut off by either line alone, and scores measure rarity.)

IQ scores are generally floors, not ceilings. It is easy to worse than your potential but hard to do better. Scores at or near the ceiling of the test, or even near the ceiling of any subtests are especially likely to be depressed.

Men have a slightly wider population standard deviation than women. Many genes affecting intelligence are on the X chromosome, so women, having two copies (one or the other usually randomly active in any given cell) are less affected by a extremely good or bad set of X-chromosome intelligence genes than men are. For this reason there are a greater proportion of men than women the farther out you go on the tails of the distribution. IIRC, it is about six to one above 150 IQ.

The X-chromosome has a minority of the intelligence genes, though still a disproportionate fraction. There are thousands of genes affecting intelligence scattered throughout the genome, each generally with small effect sizes. Therefore genetic intelligence is effectively continuously distributed. Genetic differences account for at least 70% of intelligence differences, with most of the remainder being not the sort of environmental differences that most would think of but rather prenatal or idiosyncratic; normal environmental differences within a society having significant effects on IQ have been hard to identify.

IQ correlates with just about everything good: looks, money, competence at any job (IQ is the best single predictor by far), morality, academic success, knowledge, judgement, perceptual acuity (though the stereotype of nearsightedness has some validity, and pain thresholds may be lower), reaction speed and athletic ability. Some of these correlations are weak, and there are certainly exceptions. Conscientiousness and friendliness are some of the less correlated traits that add useful information to an IQ score.

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 12:00 PM  

I understand your methodology and it is probably useful in most cases. But most people who personally know Al Gore describe him and dumber than a box of hammers.

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 12:01 PM  

In high school I was lazy. In college I was lazier. Now I am just kicking ass and taking names...

What am I to make of this? Did my superior intellect finally override my inherent desire to do nothing, to impress no one? How can this be explained?

Anonymous DaveD August 07, 2014 12:03 PM  

Good Lord, Tiny Tim, you are a needy little thing.

DD

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 12:03 PM  

I have a hard time believing feynman's score is reflective of his intelligence. The man won the putnam maths competition in his first year at MIT without even preparing. It's possible he just didn't take the test too seriously when he took it.

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 12:04 PM  

What test did you take Vox?

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 12:04 PM  

Little, I am not.

Anonymous Noah B. August 07, 2014 12:06 PM  

"How can this be explained?"

Let's see, lots of bragging, practically zero demonstration of this keen intellectual prowess... I'm going to go with "lying."

Anonymous Pat Hannagan August 07, 2014 12:08 PM  

Tiny Tim August 07, 2014 11:55 AM

Alright, I'm convinced. I must have my IQ tested to validate my superiority.

I will present the results shortly if all goes well.


Lol. I hear ya, mate.

The funny thing about IQ is that the smarter they are the more complex the mistakes.

Blogger pyrrhus August 07, 2014 12:09 PM  

"pyrrhus, look up "multiple intelligences". Its a theory that there are 8 or 9 different areas of thinking/IQ: verbal/linguistic, mathematics, interpersonal, intrapersonal, kinesthetic, naturalistic, visual spatial etc."
The only abilities that have tested out are g, which seems to be essentially brain speed, some differences in verbal vs mathematical ability, and spatial ability. For example, Aschkenazi tend to be strong in the first two, but weak in spatial ability.

Anonymous EH August 07, 2014 12:11 PM  

Oh, yes since somebody brought it up: Howard Gardner's conception of multiple intelligences is not quantitatively measurable. It is basically just hand-waving, not science.

There are multiple component factors into which a moderate portion of general intelligence (the "g" factor) can be decomposed. These are identified through factor analysis. The main two are "fluid" and "crystallized" intelligence. Progressively finer distinctions have less and less statistical validity.

See Cattell–Horn–Carroll theory for a look at the statistically-validated multiple intelligences

Blogger pyrrhus August 07, 2014 12:11 PM  

BTW, Bill Clinton is doubtless considerably smarter than his low SAT score. It is probably a typical example of a bad one-off test in an era when kids did not prepare or retake the SAT.

Anonymous Pat Hannagan August 07, 2014 12:11 PM  

Or as Sherlock Holmes would have put it:

I deduce, my dear Watson, that from the complexity of this monumental dog's breakfast of a fuck-up that the murderer is indubitably a member of Mensa."

Blogger John Wright August 07, 2014 12:12 PM  

@Nate
"If you aren't a genius then indeed, the word is meaningless."

Thanks for the compliment, but let me say this without any false modesty. A modern man uses the word genius to refer to a man like himself with a well trained brain. The ancients used the word genius to refer to a spirit who visited a man, particularly that inspired and divine madness called poetry.

So where we tend to say 'He is a genius', the ancients, who usually spoke with more wit and precision than we, tended to say 'He has a genius' -- which is to say, he is visited by something neither he, nor any mortal, understands.

Blogger Unknown August 07, 2014 12:13 PM  

The Nazi elite had very high IQs. Without a good character, a high IQ is only used for evil

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 12:15 PM  

" On the other hand, it does prevent the vast hordes of idiots from claiming that Bill Clinton had a 187 IQ and Obama has a 1200 IQ because both of them would have taken the SAT based on where they went to college and neither of them were National Merit."

I don't disagree with its utility in that regard... and in fact have employed your argument against both my own self.

Anonymous Pat Hannagan August 07, 2014 12:15 PM  

Bob, your example contradicts itself. You must have a high IQ.

Blogger James Dixon August 07, 2014 12:16 PM  

> That matches with my experience: my class of about 350 had around 3 national merit semifinalists, and we had a reputation as being one of the best public schools in the state.

WTF? My class of about 35 students at a small rural high school in West Virginia had at least two that I know of.

> Does it change, without magic, over time?

From what I've read on the matter, IQ normally peaks sometime in your 20's and then decreases as you age.

Anonymous not bragging August 07, 2014 12:17 PM  

When did you take the SAT?

I think 1993, might have been early 1994. Definitely before they "renormed" it in 1994. My original score was in the 1500s; the renormed score was 50 points higher.

High intelligence allows one to be careless in school and still "succeed". I was careless in the other sense, too; skipped taking the PSAT because no one told me (or I didn't listen) that there could be scholarships on the line. "Mood's a thing for cattle or making love," but mood ruled my life then.

My data point supports your thesis that genius is not determined by or even correlated with IQ. I have a high IQ, but I am generally dissipated and ineffective, lacking ambition and diligence. Kierkegaard might say I have the despair of infinitude.

Genius may not require ambition or diligence, but it does require drive and focus. Leibniz rarely finished anything, but when needed, he could dig in and invent the calculus.

Blogger John Wright August 07, 2014 12:18 PM  

"one presumes you could also multiply 17 by 1... and Zero... this omission appears to have served to make your point all the more clear though."

While one and zero are considered numbers by you young whippersnappers, old fashioned folks like me and Euclid did not define these as numbers.

A number is a multitude of magnitudes, whereas one is a unit, not a multitude. Zero is a freakish Easterling invention whose utility I still find doubtful and discouraging. If you cannot divide by it, it cannot be a number, eh what?

Okay, so I know the difference between classical and medieval number theory. That does not make me a genius. I also have memorized all the episodes of Gilligan's Island. Pfooey on IQ tests! They are science-worship rather than science, a surrender to that peculiar modern sickness of the mind that insists that imponderable qualities can be measured as quantities.

Anonymous Stilicho August 07, 2014 12:19 PM  

which is to say, he is visited by something neither he, nor any mortal, understands.

Which is sometimes indistinguishable from bat-shit crazy.

So where we tend to say 'He is a genius', the ancients, who usually spoke with more wit and precision than we, tended to say 'He has a genius'

And Major Nelson had a Genie. I suspect that is the best way to go.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 12:19 PM  

'So where we tend to say 'He is a genius', the ancients, who usually spoke with more wit and precision than we, tended to say 'He has a genius' -- which is to say, he is visited by something neither he, nor any mortal, understands."

The concept remains today. the hill folk call folks "touched". The notion being that though they may appear slow witted or mute or otherwise retarded... they are so because the Lord has touched them and brought them close to Him and given them some astonishing gift that was more than their minds or bodies could otherwise accept. idiot savants would be few touched who realize what the gift was... the rest have some amazing gift... but may have never found it.

Never the less... Like Vox, and to an extent the ancients to whom you refer, I view genius as something to be judged by fruit.... not some farcical test metric. Awake is fruit enough to earn the claim.

Anonymous Stickwick August 07, 2014 12:21 PM  

VD: The answer is simple. The GRE is not an IQ-proxy test like the pre-1994 test was.

Mensa accepts the pre-1994 GRE as a qualifying test, so I assumed it was a reasonable proxy. I found a few websites that showed how to convert the GRE to IQ; perhaps they are in error, but their conversion is consistent with the minimum GRE score to qualify for Mensa.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 August 07, 2014 12:22 PM  

A number is a multitude of magnitudes, whereas one is a unit, not a multitude. Zero is a freakish Easterling invention whose utility I still find doubtful and discouraging. If you cannot divide by it, it cannot be a number, eh what?

You can divide by zero. The inverse of zero is infinity. But because there is no finite number that results from dividing by zero, then there is no use for it in practical terms, only abstract or theoretical ones.

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 12:22 PM  

"From what I've read on the matter, IQ normally peaks sometime in your 20's and then decreases as you age."

So, is IQ a metric for something that is hardwired? Though IQ may peak and decline as you mentioned, it seems to me that one can educate oneself over time, increase knowledge in various disciplines, etc, Are there other standard metrics besides IQ scores per se to quantify intelligence?

Blogger Unknown August 07, 2014 12:23 PM  

Tried for Nuremberg war crimes:

1 Hjalmar Schacht 143
2 Arthur Seyss-Inquart 141
3 Hermann Goering 138
4 Karl Doenitz 138
5 Franz von Papen 134
6 Eric Raeder 134
7 Dr. Hans Frank 130
8 Hans Fritsche 130
9 Baldur von Schirach 130
10 Joachim von Ribbentrop 129
11 Wilhelm Keitel 129
12 Albert Speer 128
13 Alfred Jodl 127
14 Alfred Rosenberg 127
15 Constantin von Neurath 125
16 Walther Funk 124
17 Wilhelm Frick 124
18 Rudolf Hess 120

Anonymous Krul August 07, 2014 12:23 PM  

Re: John Wright,

Reminds me of Socrates' Apology where he discusses his experience with poets:

I used to pick up what I thought were some of their most perfect works and question them closely about the meaning of what they had written... It is hardly an exaggeration to say that any of the bystanders could have explained those poems better than their actual authors. So I soon made up my mind about the poets too. I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled them to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean. It seemed clear to me that the poets were in much the same case, and I also observed that the very fact that they were poets made them think that they had a perfect understanding of all other subjects, of which they were totally ignorant.

Anonymous Pat Hannagan August 07, 2014 12:24 PM  

They are science-worship rather than science

No, they are a measure of intelligence.

It's like an arm-wrestler will measure himself by those he can out wrestle.

But not all the world's problems are resolved with arm wrestling, neither are all the world's problems problems resolved with IQ. The arm wrestler has his vanity as much as the high IQ'd.

What we need is a measurement of rat-cunning to determine life's winners and losers (since that really is the objective here).

Anonymous LS August 07, 2014 12:24 PM  

Is the LSAT even an IQ-proxy test? According to your originial post, it is not.

Anonymous Pat Hannagan August 07, 2014 12:25 PM  

But, Bob. You've listed good people, on the whole.

Blogger Anthony August 07, 2014 12:25 PM  

A friend of mine once described Mensa as "the society for overintelligent underachievers". There are lots of really smart people in business, the professions, etc., most of whom don't bother to join Mensa despite being eligible.

After intelligence, and maybe as important as it, the most reliable predictor of "success" is probably conscientiousness. I'm pretty intelligent, but I'm a lazy bastard (and prone to depression), so I'm not nearly as financially successful as I could have been had I been more conscientious.

Anonymous 11B August 07, 2014 12:28 PM  

I knew Rush was clever, but I have a hard time believing he is at 160. As for McCain, I never thought he was clever and cannot believe he is at 133.

Anonymous Sigyn August 07, 2014 12:28 PM  

I am not a genius if that word has any meaning at all,

But you ARE the very model of a modern major general.

and I ate the last of the cheese.

The problems of a cheese sandwich don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but you'll always have "Pirates".

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 12:28 PM  

Seriously, all of you use the SAT and ACT to validate your standing in the world?

This is comical, sad but comical...

Blogger James Dixon August 07, 2014 12:30 PM  

> So, is IQ a metric for something that is hardwired?

IQ in the abstract (the g mentioned above) seems to be, yes. The tests are at best an imperfect measure of it.

> Though IQ may peak and decline as you mentioned, it seems to me that one can educate oneself over time, increase knowledge in various disciplines, etc,

Of course. IQ and knowledge are two almost completely separate things. Though a high IQ does correlate to the ability to learn (and possibly store, though that's less certain) knowledge, so the two do tend to go hand in hand. And there's even less of a link between IQ and wisdom.

> Are there other standard metrics besides IQ scores per se to quantify intelligence?

Not really, no. At least not that I'm aware of. If anyone else knows of any, I'm sure they'll mention it.

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 12:31 PM  

Now we are equating the GRE score to IQ.

Took that one hung over too then walked right into the masters program that was more of a joke than the bachelors program.

Are ya'll just screwing with everybody?

Anonymous Sigyn August 07, 2014 12:31 PM  

If you cannot divide by it, it cannot be a number, eh what?

Chuck Norris can divide by zero.

*ducks and runs!*

Anonymous rho August 07, 2014 12:33 PM  

I partied with Dolph in Tokyo. He's a very smart guy. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if he was in that range.

You think you're so smart, how come "partied with Dolph Lundgren" isn't in the Vox Popoli sub-header next to "Billboard-charted"? Hmm?

Anonymous Daniel August 07, 2014 12:33 PM  

John C. Wright - IQ 140, but entirely cheeseless. Even if he's standing on the shoulders of giants, he has enough genius to know how to keep from getting stomped on by them.

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 12:36 PM  

My wife's friends son recently took the test to get into Mensa. He did well enough to pass and has been granted his Mensa Card. He studied for a year.

Is he a genius?

I paid $50 for my name to be put into the "Who's Who in American High Schools".

So there, I have been validated. Bow to my superior intellect.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 12:36 PM  

"I partied with Dolph in Tokyo. He's a very smart guy. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if he was in that range."

Wait.. Was Izzy there? and if he wasn't... if he had been...would Dolph have killed him?

Anonymous dh August 07, 2014 12:37 PM  

Sat next to Dolph Lundgren once on a flight.

I think that means I am only 1 degree from Vox? And I think three degress from Kevin Bacon.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 12:37 PM  

Seriously, all of you use the SAT and ACT to validate your standing in the world?

That's your insecurity talking again, Tiny Tim. I am actually pointing out the the exact opposite. But you so fetishize intelligence, and you are so afraid of coming up short, that you intentionally sabotage yourself rather than take a test without giving yourself an excuse for doing poorly.

I find your sort very amusing. You coulda been a contenda... but you never will be. And not because of your lack of high IQ, but because of your fear.

Anonymous Salt August 07, 2014 12:37 PM  

But because there is no finite number that results from dividing by zero, then there is no use for it in practical terms

Makes my HP41-CV flash. "Error Will Robinson, Error."

Anonymous Sigyn August 07, 2014 12:38 PM  

Are ya'll just screwing with everybody?

"Y'all", genius. It's "you all" contracted, so the apostrophe clearly belongs between "y" and "all".

Anonymous NorthernHamlet August 07, 2014 12:38 PM  

Echoing Nate and John Wright,

Genius' etymology also is about creating and bringing forth. Think Brunellsci with his dome. Think engineering. I forget if it started to take on this more modern meaning during the Renaissance.

Anonymous Stilicho August 07, 2014 12:39 PM  

Chuck Norris can divide by zero.

He not only can, but actually did this once: the answer was "Chuck Norris"

Anonymous Sonny August 07, 2014 12:40 PM  

If Fredo was so smart how come he sleep with da fishes?

Anonymous Daniel August 07, 2014 12:41 PM  

Now we are equating the GRE score to IQ.

Took that one hung over too then walked right into the masters program that was more of a joke than the bachelors program.

Are ya'll just screwing with everybody?


I have a neighbor who just raves about her daughter's intelligence, in relation to the rest of her family. She was shocked at her child's genius when she scored in the 50th percentile of some elementary school standardized test.

It was really cute.

Not as cute as you Tiny Tim. If you were dumb enough to qualify for an idiotic Master's program certification program, you haven't established a floor to your intelligence...

...You've just started digging a very deep basement. I helped a mildly mentally retarded man get into graduate school, and while I doubt he was as smart as you, he sure as heck had better sense.

Anonymous Sigyn August 07, 2014 12:41 PM  

Makes my HP41-CV flash. "Error Will Robinson, Error."

At least it didn't say, "I'm sorry, Salt, I can't let you do that."

Anonymous rho August 07, 2014 12:43 PM  

It most certainly does. Your IQ doesn't magically change.

Based on a memory of a childhood IQ test, Vox's National Merit Semi-finalist metric, and an SAT-to-IQ conversion table, I find this statement to be true within about 5 points.

IQ if reputably measured is pretty stable. Knowledge is a different beast.

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 12:55 PM  

VOX, I have no fear. I am uber confident, warranted or not.

You on the other hand continuously test yourself in various ways to overcome your inferiority complex. It has been a pattern of your life and continues to this day. It seems to have started when you wore parachute pants, mousse, and performed for teenagers.

A test is a necessary evil, say to get into school, nothing more. School was never a validation of my intellect. I always scored the highest if I gave one iota of effort. I am fine with that.

As far as being a contenda... I don't value contrived achievement, which you seem to pursue constantly for self assurance and applause from the ilk. You obviously need it and are threatened by those who recognize it for what it is... silly.

It is a sham, a farce, the bastion of the insecure folk, of which I am not.

I posit that you are vertically challenged as well. That could be the source of your insecurity.

Anonymous Porky August 07, 2014 12:55 PM  

Morris Claiborne = 68

That would have qualified him for compulsory sterilization had he been born just a few years earlier.

Anonymous Tiny Tim's Brain August 07, 2014 1:00 PM  

I could kick Dolph Lundgren's ass in a street fight with my pants around my ankles.

Anonymous Don August 07, 2014 1:02 PM  

Vox two very important questions. Does Dolph really sound like Lurch and is he really as big in person as they bill him? I know this relates to IQ in very important ways.

Anonymous rho August 07, 2014 1:02 PM  

I came for the Dolph Lundgren stories, but I'm staying to read Tiny Tim's next post about how self-assured he is.

Anonymous Philalethes August 07, 2014 1:04 PM  

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their IQ scores, but by the content of their character." – Martin Luther King

(Well, I paraphrased it a little.)

Anonymous LS August 07, 2014 1:06 PM  

"Your IQ doesn't magically change"

That may or may not be true but we can't really know since no one can "see" IQ. All we can do is test for it, and if the test is flawed or the test taker does not perform for whatever reason to his actual IQ, then the test results are not accurate. And the test results often do show discrepancy for the same person. So either that is the result of (or some combination of) changing IQ over time or the result of flawed testing methods or some other factor (e.g., temporary impairment from too much drinking the night before).

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 1:08 PM  

How do y'all determine who gets to carry Vox's nut sack each day? I'm just curious.

Anonymous Josh August 07, 2014 1:11 PM  

I went to a small school that never discussed the SAT - it was ACT only. I took it twice. I also had to take the GMAT for my MBA, neither of which translate as well for IQ. On the GMAT verbal side I was in the 92 percentile. I didn't even look up what the GMAT was when I took it because the state school I attended accepted a pretty low score if your undergrad GPA was high. I wish I would have prepped just a bit for the geometry. It had been about a decade since I had done any geometry. Just a little refresher would have put my GMAT over 700. Also the philosophy professor who was my counselor my first semester suggested my scores/grades/interactions were all good enough (and not concentrated in one area) that I would be fine with any major.

The best approximation I can make is that I am about 125. This is nothing to brag about, but it is good enough to become reasonably successful at most professions a person might try. Any deficiencies I have are due to lack of drive, or passion. It sounds dumb and patronizing, but being (mostly) a lurker on this site the last few months has helped me recognize that, so thank you. Since reading this blog, I've started working on launching a side business, something I would have never attempted in the past (always taking the comfortable but soulless corporate gig instead). I'm keeping my expectations low, but even if it fails, merely getting it launched will have been a huge step in the right direction. It should be launched around the turn of the year.

Anonymous rho August 07, 2014 1:13 PM  

How do y'all determine who gets to carry Vox's nut sack each day? I'm just curious.

Cutthroat Connect Four tournaments.

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 1:14 PM  

"How do y'all determine who gets to carry Vox's nut sack each day? I'm just curious."

midwit alpha vs 3SD sigma.

Results: predictable

Outcome: As expected

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 1:15 PM  

"I went to a small school that never discussed the SAT - it was ACT only."

pick a new name kid. We already have a Josh.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 1:16 PM  

I have no fear. I am uber confident, warranted or not.

Yes, you're really demonstrating that here today. I'm sure we've all enjoyed listening to you talk about yourself. It's a truly fascinating subject. I mean, if there is one thing people enjoy, it's listening to a man talk about a hypothetical situation concerning the inevitable glory days he would have had if only he had applied himself.

Anonymous VD August 07, 2014 1:18 PM  

Does Dolph really sound like Lurch and is he really as big in person as they bill him?

No and absolutely yes. He got so hammered I had to half-carry him up to his hotel room. There is a funny picture of my girlfriend at the time and I with me wearing Dolph's leather jacket. It nearly goes to my knees.

Anonymous EH August 07, 2014 1:18 PM  

Googling "famous IQ" led me to this totally unsourced and dubious list.
Some of the lower score estimates:
Andy Warhol: 86
J.F.K : 117
U.S. Grant: 110
George Washington:118

Some of the estimates are inflated, of course, with 20 on the list over 190 and 9 at 200 or over. For a standard deviation of 15, 200IQ is 1 in 76 billion, 190 is 1 in 1 billion.

Here are the 200+ IQs from the list:
Sir Francis Galton, Scientist & doctor British 200
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, philospher / scientist / lawyer Germany 205
Hugo Grotius (Huig De Groot), Jurist Holland 200
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, [writer, scientist and diplomat] Germany 210
Emanuel Swedenborg thologian/scientist/philosopher [nut] Sweden 205
Kim Ung-Yong, [living, engineer] Korea 200
Leonardo da Vinci, Italy 220
Thomas Wolsey, Politician [Cardinal] England 200
William James Sidis USA [underachiever and collector of trolley transfers] 200

Some others not listed that I think belong in the same category:
Hermann von Helmholtz [scientist]
Cardinal Nicolas of Cusa, [philosopher, astronomer and jurist]
Thomas Young [physicist,polymath]
Robert Hooke [scientist, polymath]

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 1:19 PM  

"..... so please resist the urge to talk about yourself as any such comments will be deleted."

"In high school I was lazy. In college I was lazier"

@Tiny Tim

And I guess still too lazy to resist the urge and follow simple instructions ....

Blogger Done with it all August 07, 2014 1:21 PM  

Vox, you seem upset. I guess I got the mousse thing wrong. Correction "hair gel" with a spritz of Z-14...

Blogger Nate August 07, 2014 1:24 PM  

"He got so hammered I had to half-carry him up to his hotel room. "

Actually... this is a better tag line than beating up Izzy Stradlin would've been. "I carried Dolph Lungren to bed"

Anonymous Anonymous August 07, 2014 1:27 PM  

Dolph Lundgren

He certainly has the brawn but Dolph Lundgren also has the brains - lots of them. Lundgren earned a chemical engineering degree from Sydney University before being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Mensa lists him as having an IQ of 160.

http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity-life/these-celebrities-are-smarter-than-they-look/story-fn907478-1226482660623
Source:

Anonymous EH August 07, 2014 1:33 PM  

Blaise Pascal and Carl Gauss also belong in the top category.

Any others?
The thread seems to have drifted into exactly the sort of ego-fest it wasn't supposed to.

Anonymous JI August 07, 2014 1:34 PM  

VD, you said in a comment above that Feynman wasn't so sharp based on your readings of his books. I know what you mean re. his autobiographical works. But does your statement apply to any of his lectures on physics that he gave at CalTech (these are in a three-volume set, I believe)? I suppose it's possible for someone of 1.5-sigma intelligence to write such works, as long as they spend enough mental energy thinking things through. It would just be easier for a genius to write them.

Anonymous Manthor August 07, 2014 1:35 PM  

IQ of people in the past:

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: 210
Gottfried Leibniz: 205
Thomas Wolsey: 200
Blaise Pascal: 195
Voltaire: 190
George Berkeley: 190
Friedrich Schelling: 190
Isaac Newton: 190
Galileo Galilei: 185
Leonardo da Vinci: 180
René Descartes: 180
Francis Bacon: 180
Erasmus v Rotterdam: 180
Immanuel Kant: 175
Baruch Spinoza: 175
Johannes Kepler: 175
Martin Luther: 170
Georg Friedrich Händel: 170
Michael Faraday: 170
Johann Strauss: 170
Richard Wagner: 170
David Livingstone: 170
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 165
Ludwig van Beethoven: 165
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: 165
Thomas Hobbes: 165


IQ of living people:

Michael Kearney: 200
Christopher Michael Langan: 195
Benjamin Netanyahu: 180
Sharon Stone: 155

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