Lion of the Blogosphere

Reviewing the association between IQ and success

Charles Murray presented data in a misleading way in his book The Bell Curve, causing commenters on HBD forums (who also tend to be libertarian) to be confused and to think that IQ is more important for success than it really is.

Low IQ predicts poverty and failure much more than high IQ predicts success. Most of the association between IQ and success is because of this factor.

High IQ predicts more education, and more prestigious education, and then it’s the quantity and prestige of one’s degrees which cause success.

High IQ predicts parents with more wealth and social capital, which they use to help their children’s careers.

High IQ increases the odds of winning the super-duper-success lottery and becoming the next Michael Dell or Bill Gates, but only a small fraction actually achieve that type of success despite their high IQs.

Generally, high IQ without good education and parents leads to no more success than a person with an IQ of 100.

* * *

This post is just a quick summary of things I’ve blogged about for the last 10 years. Because there was confusion by some commenters and readers.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 1, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Posted in Politics

106 Responses

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  1. Correct. Though past a certain level, say 150-160 or so, IQ’s affect on success probably spikes sharpy as intellectual ability at that level is truly rare and valuable. IQ in the 130 range, though, is largely useless.


    August 1, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    • Nonsense. The argument is backwards thanks to the left. Midwits love it. It’s wrong.

      High IQ is essential for economic success at given levels ( Top 10% of population 120IQ =1MM USD assets at retirement, Brain Surgeon 155IQ=several million, 175IQ=billionaire etc.) and in my experience correlates very well. I’ve met people like Jobs and Trump and I have no doubt they have Einstein-level IQ’s, which is why college often doesn’t co-relate–they self-educate far better than the rest.

      That doesn’t mean High IQ will directly co-relate to wealth. Some won’t work hard or don’t care. And people of modest intelligence may save like crazy and have their million. And statistically, the extremely wealthy hide it.


      August 2, 2016 at 12:45 am

    • IQ in the 130 range, though, is largely useless.

      Huh, useless? A 130 IQ would get one through a rigorous engineering program or medical school, and on to a lucrative career path. One couldn’t do either w/o at least 120.

      I think an IQ of 135 is the 98th percentile and marks the cut-off for “genius.”

      Even a 100 IQ is necessary to get through a basic 4-year college degree at a real school, and there’s a huge difference between a 100 IQ and a 130 IQ.

      Probably an IQ at or below 90 is nearly useless for anything other than manual labor.

      E. Rekshun

      August 2, 2016 at 11:48 am

      • “Huh, useless? A 130 IQ would get one through a rigorous engineering program or medical school, and on to a lucrative career path”

        One of my points is that IQ is economically useless unless one uses it to get the right degrees.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 2, 2016 at 12:45 pm

  2. “High IQ predicts more education, and more prestigious education, and then it’s the quantity and prestige of one’s degrees which cause success.”

    Ok, but that’s still a connection between high IQ and success. Whether it’s socially optimal or fair or whatever is open to debate.

    “High IQ predicts parents with more wealth and social capital, which they use to help their children’s careers.”

    What do cross adoption studies say? Do adopted children end up with incomes like their adopted parents or their biological parents?


    August 1, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    • steve jobs was adopted


      August 1, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      • His birth father was a young Ph.D. political scientist, yet ended up a restaurateur.

        His birth sister is a famous novelist.


        August 2, 2016 at 12:35 am

  3. on the base of sat scores , i ve found that 45% of students in the top 1 out of 750 (amont test takers who représents 40% of each year) get into Harvard Princeton or Yale . so a 155 IQ gives a person a very high probability to get the most prestigious grade in the USA ….

    Bruno from Paris

    August 1, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    • Yes, probably. But I still didn’t get into the Stanford MBA program with my 720 GMAT (98th percentile) in 1997; and I’m only a little bitter about that.

      E. Rekshun

      August 2, 2016 at 11:51 am

  4. As I told someone on here yesterday, intelligence is necessary for success. But intelligence alone doesn’t guarantee success. There are other qualities as well such as emotional intelligence, perseverance, etc. Someone may be brilliant but if they’re lazy, easily discouraged or difficult to get along with then they’re unlikely to be very successful. Networking is necessary for success as well. People with emotional intelligence realize it’s necessary and make a point to do it.


    August 1, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    • “emotional intelligence” is not a thing. nor is “perseverance”. nor is “laziness”.

      try again.

      and none with emotional intelligence comment on blogs compulsively.

      except me and you…;)

      jorge videla

      August 1, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      • Umm, of course they are things.


        August 2, 2016 at 12:36 am

      • I often thought that JV is an idiot, but he’s right on a lot of things, including this one. The idea of “emotional intellgience” i.e. set of cognitive rules largely independent of IQ that can be used to gauge the second order rules of a social situations and use them to your advanatage in various social enviroments….. well, here it is….when you spell it out, it sounds like nonsense…because it is. How many times did you see that in yoru life? Or even heard about it? I mean, I’ve never heard of such a person in my vicinity.


        August 2, 2016 at 2:22 am

      • “Emotional Intelligence” is just a fancy way of saying “interpersonal skills,” which is seriously lacking in most organizations.

        I recently had to do an analysis at my employer to determine a root cause of why there have been so much management-worker strife and many employee grievances and disciplinary actions. My finding was poor inter-personal skills.

        E. Rekshun

        August 2, 2016 at 11:57 am

      • @bombexpert

        You’ve never met anyone who was smart academically, yet a social retard?


        August 4, 2016 at 12:44 am

  5. I’ll never forget this kid who sat in front of me in history class at famous academic high school. Kind of spergy. When we got our PSAT scores, I thought I’d done pretty well. I asked him what he got – ten points higher. He went on to spend his (ultimately short) life as a photographer at punk clubs, like FabMab.


    Explainer 21

    August 1, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    • I knew a guy in high school who I always thought was pretty cool dude. Didn’t seem to have a lot of focus though. His dad got cancer and died before we graduated, so that didn’t help matters. He also had problems with his older brother who he said “was always criticizing” him. But was able to get decent grades with out too much effort. Got a 740 on the math section of SAT (super old school pre-1994 SAT, back when the scores meant more) and I believe a tad over 500 on the verbal. Our valedictorian who graduated from Stanford, got a PhD in computer science and now teaches a top tier math/science school scored a 660 math on that same exact test.

      I also remember me talking to this guy (the 740 math guy) and he told me didn’t really like math. And near the end of our senior year when we were sending in our decision letters to colleges we wanted to attend, I was talking to him in the library and he goes “Yeah, I’m not sure if I want to go to school X or school Y.” And I’m like—“Uh, the decision letters for school X were due seven days ago…” And he nonchalantly replies “Eh, I guess I’m gong to school Y!”

      I lost all touch with him after high school graduation and he doesn’t have a Facebook account. I don’t know if he did actually graduate from college, but he might have. Ran into his sister at a Christmas party like 8 or 9 years ago and she said he was an HVAC installation and maintenance guy somewhere in Washington State.

      So the guy who out scored the Standford grad computer scientist installs air conditioning units…I think about that sometimes….


      August 1, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      • In 1976 I’d scored 720 Math and 630 English after one year in the country. I never thought it was a very big deal. And I’m an HVAC guy. Only in the last couple of years I got interested in math and science. I could’ve been that guy, lol.

        I would think that that guy is in service and not in installation and is making a six figure salary or at leat he should.


        August 1, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      • Yakov?

        Herb Dregs

        August 1, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      • One of my friends from university was Romanian. His sister made 780 on the math and 800 on the English less than a year after immigrating. I can see the math because math is math. But a perfect score on the English??? When I asked her about it she claimed she had an advantage because Romanian was a Latin based language which gave her an advantage since many English words come from Latin. Maybe so. But that wasn’t the reason. She was just incredibly smart.


        August 1, 2016 at 10:27 pm

      • yakov makes 250k a year as an hvac technician and still has time to study the talmud and post all his comments…and praise the USSR and contemporary america in the same breath whilst using british or australian familiar forms of address like “chap” and “mate”.

        homo sovieticus must have been super-human after all.

        jorge videla

        August 1, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      • Videla, you were absent for a long time so you might have missed the nuances, but chap like you should be thinking in the direction of a rational explanation. I don’t even make a $100,000 yet, only its cash equivalent. I only praise certain aspects of the USSR and contemporary America. Unlike JS, I don’t come here to dis the country that has been only good to me. I’ve read English and Australian literature and I like those expressions, there are Russian equivalents to ‘mate’ and ‘chap’ that are a good fit, so that accounts for it. Learning Talmud comes from 5 years in an Israeli Yeshiva. Everything is perfectly rational, as you can see.

        Destrucrure, where Romanian realy helped was in learning Italian. Smart guys seemed to just be able to communicate from the get go, that was amazing. The girl was a genius, how did she end up?


        August 2, 2016 at 7:32 am

  6. Are you drunk right now? This was a weird, stilted, terrible post. I think you’re trying to say that IQ has diminishing returns past a certain point, but before that point is highly correlation with success. I don’t see how this relates to Charles Murray misleading people, as this is exactly what he says about the subject.


    August 1, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    • Yeah it’s been a few years since I last read The Bell Curve but I remember Murray laying out his case very carefully, almost Darwin-like, and being careful not to draw overly broad conclusions from any of the correlations.

      Jokah Macpherson

      August 1, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      • Darwin was misleading too – he was an Englishman who did not understand Shakespeare, after all, which is like being an infantry or cavalry officer who is not sure why people think Patton was good.

        howitzer daniel

        August 1, 2016 at 9:26 pm

  7. That kind of tracks with my anecdotal observations. Very few real low IQ types do I see become successful, but lots of high IQ types don’t become successful either.

    Mike Street Station

    August 1, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    • what’s “successful”?

      “success” sounds like the quintessential positional good.

      one of the BIG problem facing the economies of the developed world is that further economic growth simply isn’t worth the effort any more.

      life expectancy for non-degreed whites is going down in the US, as is that of the rural population of france.

      “success” has become exactly like purple salt.

      jorge videla

      August 1, 2016 at 7:33 pm

  8. Higher IQ is just something to be (ab)used to train someone into having an artificially high attention span, and combined with docility and compliance this makes for an ideal worker bee. But intelligence is now being selected against, because corporations that traditionally hired the intelligent are now more interested in diversity and equality. They found out that these ideologies produce more docility than intelligence, and that’s what actually counts. Political correctness makes for an easily managed work force, especially when women are brought in.

    IQ doesn’t mean social capital at all. The most intelligent people are worried about entirely abstract constructs, like their GPA’s and college rankings, while the blue collar guys are more interested in the local union or chamber of commerce and networking with the people where they can actually afford to live. Education usually damages one’s perception of real world phenomena, from economics to dating to how politics really works, etc. Even engineers are out of touch with the products they design!

    IQ was only a positive trait being selected for before mass education and mass media. It’s worse than worthless now for becoming popular and well connected, which is how the good jobs are really handed out. And entrepreneurship has been a dangerous pipe dream ever since modern family law destroyed the family business.


    August 1, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    • Barely literate able-to-read-haltingly-aloud not-quite-absolute-dummies who feel destined for success because they’re just a bit brighter than their semi-moron-boyfriends are obsessed with their GPAs. HR departments probably look at GPAs because they demonstrate a girl’s ability to manipulate her “teacher”.


      August 1, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      • Millennials mostly didn’t grow up with the internet, so in a typical school environment the GPA and SAT were the only meaningful measures of merit anyone had to show the outside world. Except maybe football skills. The post-millennial generation (and unlucky millennials who graduated after 2008) is now valued for hard skills and legitimate social skills, while the old ladder of liberal arts soft skills has been pulled up.

        Grades are a joke now, but there were some nasty tough schools with strict curricula that existed relatively recently. They’ve now figured out that easy grading, but heavily emphasized networking opportunities, is a better ticket to success than producing awkward study robots. But proper socialization is a privilege for generation z, not dorky millennials still obsessed with “official” lists and rankings of everything and their precise position in the pecking order.

        IQ only matters if you have a good school to back it up, and that means real connections to the work force. Entirely abstract and theoretical contemplation is a trap for the intelligent, an economic and reproductive trap!


        August 1, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      • Hi Scald — on “proper socialization” and the trap of contemplation: my parents’ religion was Art and Literature, and I grew up believing that Salvation requires becoming an important, well-known artist or writer; at age 50 I have not yet been Saved (it’s hard to give up the religious commitments of one’s youth), and have lost perhaps 50 jobs due to improper socialization (for which there is no doubt a primarily neurological explanation).


        August 2, 2016 at 6:42 am

    • the problem with the “real world phenomena” idea is that such phenomena are for the most part just social conventions.

      they vary enormously over time and place.

      they are one way and not another way…not by necessity, but by accident.

      high IQ women have the fewest children. the same is true for high IQ men, but the trend is much weaker.

      that is…among those who aren’t retarded. retards have no children generally.

      each ecosystem will advance some and demote others. it may advance the siberian tiger or it may advance the cockroach.

      there is the pov that such decisions of the ecosystem have no effect on the individual and his development …his IQ and other psychological traits.

      this is an absurdly simplistic pov which assumes a one way relationship between the individual and his society.

      that is it assumes that…

      1. “who one is” has an effect on who one is within his society, his rank/status/”success”/etc., but…

      2. one’s society has no effect on “who one is”.

      this is just infantile.

      jorge videla

      August 1, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    • Nah. One thing I’ve noticed on the really High IQ is they’re champion networkers. Many don’t do money, just social capital.


      August 2, 2016 at 1:45 am

  9. This will come to be seen as one of the seminal posts of an already valuable blog. How right you are.

    Jack R.

    August 1, 2016 at 7:21 pm

  10. Lower IQ signifies lower civic mindedness, typical of many NAMs, like the ones you find, at the 99 cents pizza parlor.


    August 1, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    • On the contrary, low IQ ethnics live in walkable dense enclaves (ghettos, slums, etc) and are familiar with all of their local leaders and organizations, from the reverend to the NAACP. High IQ whites live in the suburbs and don’t even know who their own neighbors are. They eat at the “local” Papa John’s that makes the 99 cents pizza parlor look great. New York City is the exception to the rule in America.

      Major corporations and the state like the minorities more because they’re not afraid of walking to work, so their consumption demand is more modest and their labor has much more returns to scale and density than sprawling whites who insist on driving everywhere. Hipster neighborhoods are still seen as an eccentricity rather than a status symbol the way big lawns are.


      August 1, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      • This signals an end of White America, which have been eclipsed by low IQ savages in the Feudal matrix scheme.


        August 2, 2016 at 12:36 am

      • Major corporations and the state like the minorities more because they’re not afraid of walking to work,

        LOL, they’re not walking by choice, if you’re attempting to ascribe any eco/green motivations to NAM’s then you don’t known them very well.

        n the contrary, low IQ ethnics live in walkable dense enclaves (ghettos, slums, etc) and are familiar with all of their local leaders and organizations, from the reverend to the NAACP. High IQ whites live in the suburbs and don’t even know who their own neighbors are.

        If NAMs are familiar with local leaders it’s only because they want some sort of handout, services or support. They’re not good citizens at all. They’re only political insofar as they need a lot from government in order to try to keep up with white people standards of living.


        August 2, 2016 at 11:15 am

    • Well,would you even be a world famous blogger if you had ten less IQ points? You should only allow high IQ(130 plus) people to respond to your posts on even number days. This would allow you compare comments and decide if IQ is all that. Seriously, proud lion you think you are smart(not without some evidence) so this gives you the legitimacy(in your eyes) to rule this corner of the internet. High IQ or at least, the belief that your intelligent is basically why Obama is President. He wouldn’t have thought he was such a special snow flake if he was constantly being tested and found to be below average intelligence. Very few major politicians are using their service to this country(fighting forest fires, military or something else) as a claim to legitimacy to rule. They all think their smart though with the possible exception of W. who thought he was unusually pure and unsullied. Yes, Hillary is running on her service but she never wasted her brilliance on positions that would have gotten her hands dirty. Actually, that reminds me management where I work.


      August 1, 2016 at 9:19 pm

  11. I don’t think anyone doubts g matters enormously at every level. The higher the better. From a social policy perspective the big remaining question is how much of g is purely genetic. If it’s mostly genetic the implications are enormous. I’m of the opinion we still don’t really know the answer to that. The “HBD” types on the internet are are sure it’s mostly genes but I’m not. The whole bioinformatics business has proven to be an enormous failure over the last 20 years despite enormous sums of money invested. It turns out we can’t predict anything by sequencing DNA. The other thing is epigenitics and Lamarckism are accruing more and more credence. Did you know that mice populations get better and better at learning complex mazes over generations when you make them run complex mazes? It’s not selection pressure or genes. And it’s obviously not “nurture” because mice don’t do that.


    August 1, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    • IQ is 80% genetic, the same as height.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 1, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      • i hope you’re trolling your own blog lion.

        the gold standard for all these studies is the minnesota study.

        full scale WAIS correlation in middle age = .69.

        height heritability = .86.

        but even this “gold standard” is utter excrement.

        the MZAs in the study, where “A” stands for “apart”, were NOT raised apart…not even close.



        WHY DON’T YOU?

        jorge videla

        August 1, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      • and the heritability for the RPM (the supposedly purest measure of g) was only .55!

        jorge videla

        August 1, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      • the statistic h^2 is the correlation between the scores of identical twins raised “apart” assuming that the phenotype P (in this case IQ) is merely the sum of the effect of genes G and the effect of environment E…P = G + E.

        but the “apart” is always only approximate in these studies.

        that is, there are some MZ twins who really are raised apart, but most are raised by relatives and grow up very near one another geographically and socio-economically.

        the study that would be the last nail in the coffin for the “denialists” is unfortunately “un-ethical” in humans.

        IQ is the most heritable psychological trait…but it’s not even close to as heritable as height.

        jorge videla

        August 1, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      • Twin studies are totally irrelevant as far as epigentics goes. The twins shared the womb and came from cellular cytoplasm from the same man and woman. This is not telling you anything about genes coded in DNA. Twin studies tell you nothing useful about the potential of populations over the course of four generations. It’s only useful if you a-priori assume you’re demonstrating DNA genetics.


        August 1, 2016 at 11:42 pm

  12. I am kinda in the IQ no man’s land at 117. I’m too smart to be happy working a low end job and too stupid to do anything better.

    But through sheer perseverance I’ve managed to land a pretty good job as a web developer despite horrible work history and no CS degree. If you have a good support structure you can get pretty far with just hard work, even if you have no natural talent.

    Greasy William

    August 1, 2016 at 8:36 pm

  13. This post is just a quick summary of things I’ve blogged about for the last 10 years. Because there was confusion by some commenters and readers.

    And in all those ten years have you ever presented any actual evidence?


    August 1, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    • Yes, I presented regression analyses from the GSS, and numerical analysis of papers by Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger plus other scientific sources.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 1, 2016 at 9:16 pm

      • there was also the data from steve shoe on the very smart (identified at age 13) and the data on swedish CEOs.

        jorge videla

        August 1, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      • Don’t forget your hard-hitting commentary on Rick Rosner.


        August 2, 2016 at 12:45 am

  14. I think there is probably a sweet spot for success between 130 and 145, if by success we mean running a business, whether a small family one or a small corporation. But if your idea of success is something that only one out of ten thousand can achieve, then, yes, the odds of any IQ achieving it are pretty low.

    The correlation between IQ and income, btw, is around .4 (as I recall from memory) which doesn’t look too different from the pattern of birdshot at a Turkey shoot if you are swinging the barrel when you pull the trigger. Luck is a major factor, whether chance opportunities or other, complementary genetic traits: looks, conscientiousness, etc.

    Luke Lea (@lukelea)

    August 1, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    • And most the correlation comes from people in the bottom half of the bell curve. Someone with an IQ of 100 will have a job, someone with an IQ of 85 is going to be a poor loser. But without a college education, someone with an IQ of 115 isn’t going to do any better than the guy with an IQ of 100.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 1, 2016 at 9:27 pm

      • On the contrary, a bright high school graduate can stand out and work up above average guys and become the big fish in a small pond. It’s the most reliable path to success. An average college graduate just gets into a white collar rat race to make someone else richer. Being above average in a garbage job still gives one a better chance of making it into management and social prestige than being merely mediocre in a middle class career.

        It’s easy to satisfy an IQ of 85, by the way. They don’t even feel pain the way normal people do. The depressed poor losers are the borderline (but not quite) geniuses who go to grad school.


        August 1, 2016 at 9:45 pm

      • But without a college education, someone with an IQ of 115 isn’t going to do any better than the guy with an IQ of 100.

        Lets see. People with college education earn more than those without. You need a higher IQ to be able to graduate college. So you might think there would be a correlation between IQ and income. But wait, what if you have a high IQ and you don’t go to college, then you can’t get those higher paying jobs, ergo no correlation.


        August 2, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      • If most of the IQ-income correlation were from the bottom of the bell curve, you’d expect the IQ gaps between economic classes to get smaller as you move up the economic ladder but that doesn’t generally appear to be the case, based on some preliminary IQ data i was able to find on seven economic classes:

        Of course things might look different if one controlled for credentials.

        But keep in mind that one reason the GSS data shows such weak correlations between IQ & income is that IQ is measured with a very short test & income is measured with only, I presume, a single year’s salary, & because it includes stay at home wives who earn part of their household income, but lack a personal salary.

        When we sidestep these problems by using full-length IQ tests & when income is averaged over several years & when women are excluded from the analysis, the IQ-income correlation rises to about 0.5

        0.5 seems too high a correlation to simply vanish when you control for credentials

        Now i know you cited a regression equation from the Dale & Krueger study showing, if I recall, SATs negatively predicting income beyond a certain point once you controlled for college attended & SES etc. That’s probably your best evidence but I would caution that among people at the same college, SATs will be an extremely range restricted measure of IQ since students were selected to be especially homogenous on that SPECIFIC test. If the same students took the WAIS-IV their IQs would be more spread out & the pattern might look different.


        August 3, 2016 at 2:53 pm

  15. Great post, Lion.


    August 1, 2016 at 9:24 pm

  16. An exception does not disprove the rule, but Steve Jobs was adopted into a prole family and went to a crappy liberal college and obviously was a great success. His biological sister Mona Simpson is pretty successful as well.


    August 1, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    • and he grew up in silicon valley and knew steve wozniak.


      jorge videla

      August 1, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    • You can’t prove anything with an outlier like Steve Jobs. In the end, he was nowhere near as successful as Bill Gates, who comes from a very wealthy family.


      August 1, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      • Steve Jobs was more of a self actualizer than Bill Gates, whose main goal was to make money off corporations. This is the difference.

        Mick Jagger is also nowhere as successful as Bill Gates.


        August 1, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    • Reed is hardly a “crappy liberal college”


      August 4, 2016 at 12:48 am

  17. The question is how many of the high IQ students actually know where they stand. It’s one thing to go through high school with a knowledge that one is in the top 2% of the population, it’s a completely different experience when one doesn’t know and that experience tends to take years to recover from if ever. Maybe it’s different now?
    Mensa meetings are not majority populated with the most successful people.

    2 Minute Alpha

    August 1, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    • Doesn’t “Mensa” sound like an acronym? I had always assumed it was. I drove myself crazy years ago trying to find the meaning of it. No book or dictionary on acronyms/abbreviations had it listed. I also found out that something I thought was a word WAS an acronym – Scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.)


      August 1, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      • There was a famous episode of Family Ties where Mallory had to know what SCUBA stood for.


        August 2, 2016 at 12:47 am

  18. If someone is unsuccessful and has a high IQ I wonder if others can even detect the high IQ?. Since status is so important in our culture I would guess people routinely underestimate the intelligence of those who are high IQ/low income/low status .

    Jay Fink

    August 1, 2016 at 10:17 pm

  19. Absolutely. My Mom has a female cousin who worked as a trainer in the HR department of a large organization. The woman was a college grad (from an ordinary local Catholic college.) She married a man who worked at her company in some lower level office job and made significantly less money. He was not a college grad. But you wouldn’t know it. He’s an intelligent guy, he speaks well, and you can have a conversation with him. In terms of SES and education, he and his wife seem about the same. If anything, you might guess that HE is the more intelligent and educated. But my Mom is convinced that her cousin married down – mainly because the husband doesn’t have a degree. She acts as if he’s a guido – when no one in their right mind would characterize him this way. I am certain that if this man were the same but had a degree from a prestigious university Mom would have been convinced that her cousin had married up – and been glad that this IA man was a counterweight to the guido stereotype.


    August 1, 2016 at 10:58 pm

  20. I think there is a factor missing that lends credibility to Lion’s argument.

    We are not a society of competing individuals that get ahead by virtue of performance on standardized tests. We are, instead, a society of competing families that have a vested interest in seeing our children get ahead, above all else. Families at the very top of the social hierarchy do not want your kids out-competing their kids, or even being in the same competitive running with their kids. High-IQ individuals from the lower echelons of society are regarded for what they always were: a threat. Thus, social systems are designed to nullify this threat as much as possible by channeling it into absurd paths when and if they cannot be successfully co-opted.

    The “emotional intelligence” that is often said to be valued is really a type of docile personality happy with whiling away its life in useful tinkering for the benefit of the top families. Think of a good scientist or engineer happy to make do-dads for the elite. An intelligence bright enough to manipulate the social systems controlled by elite families is a massive threat. This type of intelligence is to be heavily propagandized and rendered useless by trivia, obsolescence, and celibacy.

    This why you keep seeing this dynamic of high intelligence not predicting success all of the time. There is not enough room at the top for all of these intelligent people and the people that are there want to keep the slots for their families.


    August 1, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    • Worse, our social systems exploit lower IQ NAMs as a bulwark to this threat. America will fall, period!


      August 1, 2016 at 11:58 pm

  21. IQ, and I mean high IQ with the right personality traits, is everything. My father-in-law didn’t go past the eighth grade and was the owner of a brokerage firm with six seats on a major stock exchange. The guy had an amazing command of English and knew how to schmooze, wine and dine and of course he knew his numbers. And that was about it. Eight grades was all it took, Lion. Oh, and he retired by 54-55. Smart guy.


    August 1, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    • Yakov, I think a lot of your experience is tied up in many ways to the advantages of nepotism. Not criticizing or complaining, but your career path and career moves just sound like someone who had a lot of connections he could take advantage of along the way. I am not trying to diminish your hard work or natural ability, but I think this smoother path makes you blind to the problems at hand.

      The biggest issue is getting yourself in front of a decision-maker who is willing to give you a chance. You need an enormous amount of credentialism just to be considered as a candidate for an interview, let alone someone who gets a trial run to do something. If you don’t have a stellar paper credentials, then you need to know someone.

      To even get you on a career path that would eventually lead to owning a brokerage firm starts with a Harvard degree and a stint at Goldman Sachs. No one is going to give a guy with an eighth-grade education the time of day, let alone an entry level job that is not in maintenance, unless there is some inside connection.

      Even HVAC is not something easy to get into, if you’ve worked someone else for 20 years and are entering this field in your early forties. Again, who is willing to take that chance on you?


      August 2, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      • Actually, networking through friends and family is better.


        August 3, 2016 at 2:02 am

      • True, but then this is how you are supposed to live:family, extended family, tribe, community. Blood us thicker then water, as they say.

        Now, my father-in-law in law got a job in the firm owned by his uncle. Im not sure who else would hire that cocky, overconfident Jew with a history of delinquincy. By the age if 40 he took over the operations. Don’t forget it was 50 years ago and not in the US. Being as it may, only a man of superior a ility could have done that.

        I got my entry level interview at a brokerage firm through a connection. True that I’d aced the four interviews, but without getting a chance to be heard, who knows? Might have had to settle for an I surface company or a hospital. I’m not that smart, you know.

        Even HVAC you are right about. After calling up every single company in the phone book and offering to work for free, I got a $10 an hour job through a friend of a freind.

        Bur this is how the world works. Say you find yourself in Portugal or Greece. You know no one, you don’t speak the language – now what? You start hustling, making connections, making yourself useful and something good will happen. In fact, I wanted to make such an experiment out of curiosity. Go to some countries where I don’t speak the language and don’t know a soul and see if I could make it. I’m pretty sure I would be working soon, but then who knows? Gotta try it.


        August 3, 2016 at 10:36 am

      • @map

        You gonna love this story. So I’ve aced the test and 3 technical/personal interviews for my entry level job at a brokerage firm. Now I’m scheduled to meat the head of the IT department for the final interview. The place was very careful at hiring its personal. So I’m scheduled for 4 o’clock. The boss arrives at 7, apologizes for being late and inquires what I’d felt whole waiting for 3 hours outside. So I go:

        – Oh, it was very interesting I didn’t feel the wait. It was a great opportunity for me to observe the workings of the back office of a wall street firm. ( Almost nobody had gone home yet).
        – And what do you think of what you’ve seen?
        – Very intense environment. I’m a very intense person myself. I think I would fit right in.

        I’m not very smart, but smart enough to give the right answer in this situation. The fact that I realy felt thus way helped the matters. Needles to say that that evening I got the job.

        Nepotism is just helping people who need a hand or two to get going. It’s not all negative. I help people that I know. You don’t think one should?


        August 3, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      • Yakov,

        But this is Lion’s point. There is this generalized belief that society operates on merit, yet huge swathes of the population is getting ahead on nepotism. Nepotism is frowned upon because it is not possible for everyone to know everyone. So a lie has to be maintained so that people feel they are invested in the system when they are really not.

        Hustling and whatnot is fine, but you have to meet the monthly payment on your rent and you have to eat every day. The one’s who are “hustling”, it turns out, are, say, getting money from their parents to make ends meet. Great gig if you can get it.


        August 3, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      • I don’t think it’s morally wrong for parents to help their children. But I do think it’s morally wrong to lie about it, and hide the fact that you were helped, and give people with schmucks for relatives false hope.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 3, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      • @Lion and map

        I don’t disagree, but what I’m saying is something different. Nobody can live alone. You go out on the street in Manhattan and look at all these skyscrapers, cars, buses, trucks, millions of people and you are just a little tiny creature. I may feel myself very powerful, but I know that it’s not the reality – my existence is precarious and fleeting. So all these little creatures need to help each other. Someone had to submit my resume for me to have a chance. I’d tried walking into the IT department of a few brokerage firms to hand it in by myself, but never got past the security guard. All I needed and got was a chance at a job, after that it was up to me to succeed in a fair competition. So I think that the society does reward ability and hard work but there is nothing wrong by getting a little help along the way because it’s crowded at the bottom and helping others is very important. In a few years the tables turned and I was in a position to be on the giving end by submitting others’ resumes to the right people and confirming the work experience that they didn’t have. I was able to help a few deserving folks and make a tidy little sum as a modest compensation for my efforts.The proverbial doing well by doing good thing. My second job I got through the NYT help wanted section, I didn’t need anyone at that point. What’s wrong with this picture? This is how the world runs. HVAC is no different, the first job I got with friend’s help, but today I’m turning down offers. Now I’m again thinking of going into my own business and the same scenario repeats itself. I have to network and hustle and find a niche for myself and get contractors and property owners to work with me. Nothing is gonna happen by itself. I have a shot at a few big projects now, I may do it or I may not, but only through connections do I have a chance to bid and have the deck stacked in my favor. Yes, someone is gonna say that they want me and this is how I’m gonna get the bid from the GC without having to undercut everyone. I beleive it’s fair – if an important person wants me, it should be me, but he wouldn’t want me unless I could do an excellent job and he trusted me and felt comfortable with me. So I got to find him, demonstrate my ability and convince him and if he has a financial incentive in helping me, it’s just fine. Life isn’t black and white, it’s peachy.

        It’s true that if everyone could get a chance through connections, it wouldn’t solve anything because you would still have the same amount of people trying to do the same thing. But this is the way of the world and everyone can’t make it, I’m not responsible for this.

        Think, say they gonna graduate 10,000 plumbers and the economy only needs 500, which is what they do all the time anyway. Now what? I say it’s back to Darwin, back to the survival of the fittest, the dinosaur and the doddo will bite the dust. Try not to be amongst them.


        August 3, 2016 at 10:14 pm

  22. So much wrong in this post, please read more Pumpkin Person and a little less Jorge Videla. Or better yet, just read Jayman.


    August 1, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    • the above commenter is a sock puppet for pumpkin person.

      jorge videla

      August 2, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      • ruhkukah is not me. He’s the commenter formerly known known as Lion of the Judah-sphere. A black national merit finalist who originally named himself after LOTB because he admires his work on social class.

        You must know this, having interacted with us both countless times.


        August 3, 2016 at 12:18 pm

  23. Lion, did you see Trump’s tweet this evening? He had KFC for dinner:


    August 1, 2016 at 11:32 pm

  24. Them HVAC guys is kinda smart. I seen em where bifocals. Bifocals, Lion! That means they read.


    August 2, 2016 at 1:27 am

  25. From my perspective, the pluses of comparatively high intelligence are obvious; an ability to see problems at a distance and to avoid falling into traps that ensnare dumber people (mostly). The problems? High levels of both neurosis and frustration/annoyance with more normal people. For instance, I can no longer pretend to enjoy watching sports or even regular TV shows just to make myself fit in with average folks or even girlfriends. Nor can I quit obsessing once I’ve locked into a problem or puzzle I think I might be able to solve no matter how pointless and comparatively unprofitable the end result might be.


    August 2, 2016 at 1:53 am

  26. @Lion: Have considered reading and reviewing Garett Jones – Hive Mind: How Your Nation’s IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own for your blog?

    Garett Jones shows how your personal income is much better explained by national IQ than your personal IQ. (By a factor of six, if I remember correctly) Also High IQ workers increase the productivity of low IQ co-workers even if they all work the same job.

    This proves that there is massive wealth transference from smart people to the less intelligent.
    It also implies that the negative effects of immigration are underestimated. Immigrants don’t just put pressure on wages through supply and demand. They also make the host population less productive and therefore poorer.

    Libertarian economic models and analyses are unable to capture these effects, because they assume that individual income is based on atomistic individual productivity and capital.


    August 2, 2016 at 3:04 am

    • But it’s based on the false assumption that being able to buy more crap makes you happier.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 2, 2016 at 10:22 am

      • I live in an economy where I can not even afford enough dioptric glasses to satisfy my needs, not to say anything about housing. So yes, seeing better makes you happier. You are removed from the reality of 90 % of 1st ..yes 1st! world nations. That’s why you can not see this. Happines is most likely tied to biological standards and is most likely only slightly relative.


        August 2, 2016 at 3:22 pm

  27. “…high IQ without good education and parents leads to no more success than a person with an IQ of 100.”

    Firstly, I’d like to see some sources. Secondly, that may not mean exactly what you think it means. Someone with a very high IQ, who has bad parents and who doesn’t get an education, likely has something else going on. They’ve likely inherited whatever it was that made their parents so inept. High IQ is highly correlated both with having/being good parents and being on the ball, but there are exceptions.


    August 2, 2016 at 4:01 am

    • the correlation between parent midpoint IQ and child’s IQ is ca .5.

      other traits are much less heritable than IQ.

      the correlation of parents’ and child’s income varies enormously by country, but the heritability of IQ does NOT.

      you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

      jorge videla

      August 2, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      • “…the correlation of parents’ and child’s income varies enormously by country…”

        Read Gregory Clarke. That’s not true. It’s roughly .7 anywhere, with a few outliers.


        August 3, 2016 at 8:10 am

      • again you’re either not understanding or simply making things up.

        “intergenerational earnings elasticity” means the correlation of parent and child’s earned income.

        and it DOES vary enormously:

        clarke’s measure of class is much broader. and he has chosen it in order to make the correlation as high as possible.

        other class markers include educational attainment and prestige and wealth…wealth is not the same as earned income obviously. all clarke has really shown is the enormous influence of inherited capital, both economic and cultural…that the in crowd changes slowly over time. and his results do not include the US.

        jorge videla

        August 3, 2016 at 3:56 pm

  28. There is no cut off beyond which IQ is no longer predictive of success.

    While there is a shared environment component in educational attainment it is “hollow” to real-world success. (Twin control studies show that education is pure signaling.) There is NO shared environment component to income or any other major outcome. Parental involvement has no real effect.

    Education depends on other, equally heritable traits in addition to IQ (conscientiousness being a prominent one). So a person with high IQ lacking high education is missing these other important traits.


    August 2, 2016 at 8:48 am

  29. Lion is 100% correct on this one, and the reason was alluded to somewhat in the comments.

    Simply put, there’s no chance someone with IQ 30 will be a lawyer, but there’s a good chance that someone with IQ 150 will have issues that prevent them from having guaranteed success.

    On the higher end of the curve, mental problems tend to relate to what might be called “emotion”, “emotional intelligence”, “affect”, or just the ability to act like a normal human being and maintain a relatively normal life. Serious problems of the emotional/affective sort become amazingly common as you move toward the righthand tip of the IQ curve. Because of this, extremely high IQ doesn’t guarantee success the way that extremely low IQ guarantees failure.


    August 2, 2016 at 9:20 am

    • Citation please.


      August 2, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      • “Citation please.”

        Um, the past couple thousand years of recorded history? The link between high intelligence and mental illness has been noted as far back as ancient Athens. Naturally, there are people with extremely high IQs who are otherwise mentally normal/healthy, but mental illness and autistic-type personalities become WAY over-represented once you get to the far right end of the curve.

        The problem is that people tend to think of high intelligence as something humans are “supposed” to have. They look at the left tail of the IQ curve and assume that it’s the product of natural selection gradually weeding out “bad” genes. This may be true, but it’s also true of the opposite end of the curve. When parents find out that their young child has an IQ of 150, their response shouldn’t be “Oh, great, I’ve given birth to a superior human being”, rather something like “My child’s brain deviates greatly from the norm and I shouldn’t be surprised if that deviance manifests itself in emotional ways, too”.


        August 3, 2016 at 7:50 am

      • I was hoping for some sort of scientific research paper that surveyed a sample of the population and could show it statistically.


        August 3, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      • Toad, maybe be a little less lazy and do your own research.


        August 4, 2016 at 12:56 am

      • I’m not sure if this is something that could be well-represented by individual statistical studies, it’s just sort of a general truth that our species has been wise to for a very long time. It’s definitely supported by evolutionary science. You don’t hear much discussion of this, but even big time liberals like Stephen Gould admitted that natural selection’s primary job (by a wide margin) is to cull deviance from a gene pool, thereby “purifying” various species. Natural selection constantly pushes us toward a genetic norm, and what spills off of that massive, churning norm is deviance, regardless of what end of the IQ curve you’re looking at. This has lots of implications, of course. From a biological POV, life is really about people who are close to the norm. The norm represents what we’re “supposed” to be–those who are closest to it have genetics that are very similar to the basic “plan” for humans which has worked so well for so long. Various selective pressures might push our entire species gradually toward higher IQ, but someone who exists today with IQ 150 doesn’t really represent a step in that direction. They just represent serious deviance.


        August 5, 2016 at 9:34 am

    • the exact opposite of the truth again.

      jorge videla

      August 2, 2016 at 7:45 pm


      A study of 42 people found the worst sufferers of a common anxiety disorder had a higher IQ than those whose symptoms were less severe.


      August 3, 2016 at 3:06 am

      • I was hoping for some sort of scientific research paper that surveyed a sample of the population and could show it statically.

        Generalized anxiety disorder sounds like a fake problem suburban whites have like ADD. Maybe high IQ whites with important jobs and who own assets they have to manage worry more than than the poor with no responsibilities.

        “A study of 42 people” … not very scientific.


        August 3, 2016 at 2:39 pm

  30. Think it was Pumpkin Person who pointed out the nasty undercurrents in this attitude. It’s “oh, they deserve it” when people to our left on the Bell Curve have a hard time. But when people to our right have an easier time, it’s “well, they’re not really smarter”.


    August 2, 2016 at 10:41 am

  31. SAT Scores and Family Income
    There’s a very strong positive correlation between income and test scores. (For the math geeks out there, the R2 for each test average/income range chart is about 0.95.)
    On every test section, moving up an income category was associated with an average score boost of over 12 points.
    Moving from the second-highest income group and the highest income group seemed to show the biggest score boost. However, keep in mind the top income category is uncapped, so it includes a much broader spectrum of families by wealth.


    August 2, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    • the averages should have a perfect correlation of 1.00.

      “very strong positive correlation” is the exact opposite of the truth.

      jorge videla

      August 2, 2016 at 7:44 pm

  32. Parents in good jobs will be high up in the organisation – or might even own the company – and will pull strings to ensure their children get good jobs. If one’s parents are not favourably placed then one has to submit CV’s etc, along with 100 others in the same boat.

    A doctor who selected people from medical school once told me they preferred applications from those where at least one parent was already a doctor. The daughters of Asian shopkeepers were still expected to help run the family business whilst at medical school.


    August 2, 2016 at 4:16 pm

  33. another factor often overlooked is that “success” as it seems to be used here is simply not very important to most people, including most smart people.

    this was chomsky’s main criticism of the Bell Curve.

    even that supposedly very high IQ bouncer chris langan said the same. that is, if getting rich is something you’re willing to sacrifice for, then a high IQ helps, but a minority of smart people have any passion for useful endeavors or for getting rich per se.

    or metaphorically, the winners of the race are usually only those who run the race.

    also “success” is already determined in part directly by test scores, like the SAT or LSAT or GMAT or etc, but less in the US than in most other countries.

    so in a society where admissions, hiring, promotions were more objective, IQ would be more strongly correlated with “success”, but at the same time this would be “the mother of all” self-fulfilling prophecies. it seems, as lion has noted, that few employers actually value IQ in their employees.

    jorge videla

    August 2, 2016 at 10:35 pm

  34. Where did you get that idea? The Bell Curve showed that income (is that what you mean by “success”?) increases in about even jumps as you move up the quintiles of IQ. This is true as you move from “bright” to “very bright,” even though the probability of being in poverty if you’re “bright” is awfully small.

    The Outsider

    August 3, 2016 at 2:13 pm

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