Lion of the Blogosphere

Very high IQ correlates with worse life outcomes?

I’ve previously blogged about the evidence that higher IQ leads to lower income when educational credentials are held constant.

@BBQ_W_Football on Twitter directed me to this blog post that alleges some pretty dire outcomes indeed for people whose IQ exceeds 133.

I would add based on my own research that even up to one SD below an IQ of 133 (118-133), without educational credentials the IQ doesn’t help at all.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 25, 2017 at 9:06 pm

Posted in Politics

103 Responses

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  1. The Bell Curve repeatedly noted weird breaks in the social stat trend lines for women with very high IQs, like infant mortality spiked up, for example. I guess really smart women find babies too boring.


    January 25, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    • Did they hold age constant? Really smart women are likely to delay childbirth increasing the risks in a pregnancy.


      January 25, 2017 at 11:00 pm

      • I don’t remember, but even if that’s the case it amounts to a nitpick on the more central point. Narcotics and alcohol abuse and other social problems also go up. Very high IQ seems to be maladaptive in a bunch of ways. It can’t just be social ostracism.


        January 27, 2017 at 10:46 am

  2. I suspect that high iq is a burden in any social strata below the middle class. Being smart in a prole community invites loneliness, misunderstanding and ridicule. Life is hard when there is no one to relate to and can make one internalize inferiority or depression.


    January 25, 2017 at 9:42 pm

  3. I agree with the theory, but disagree with the author’s assertion that society is somehow “harmed” by not harnessing these people in professional fields and the political realm. My experience is that people with extremely high IQs are more attuned to the futility of life and less able to block out the more pessimistic aspects of our existence (like, for example, that our entire concept of “self” is probably just a neurological trick). These are not the sort of people you want shaping a society. Even the 118-133 IQ might be too dangerous if we look at how the Northern European nations are all committing national suicide and the Japanese seem to have lost all interest in sex.


    January 25, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    • The Israelis got away with it. Maybe the threat of danger adds common sense?


      January 26, 2017 at 8:35 pm

  4. It’s not IQ, it’s being normal. Most of your success is getting alone with people. High IQ guys may have a problem here. My dad had very high IQ and he had this problem, I’m low IQ and I get along with practically everyone including all the folks he couldn’t stand. Talmud tells us that the legal decisions of Rabbi Meir were never accepted because his reasoning was too deep and other scholars couldn’t understand it. There is a story in the Talmud of Choni Hameagel, who’d slept for a hundred years and when he woke up he had no friends left. So he just died because he couldn’t learn without partners (others could, but he couldnt), so I think this is a major contributor. Remember, we evolved and survived as a group, nobody could survive alone. If you are to smart to fit in with your group, you are too smart for your own good and may find yourself at an evolutionary disadvantage.


    January 25, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    • Yakov: no way you are low IQ. Come on, who are you kidding – you might be wrong on important issues, but you are not even only average IQ ! Anyway – I post here a lot less than many commenters and I get called stupid a lot less often for that reason but it always cracks me up when some one tells me I am stupid…But here is this, call me stupid for saying it if you want: there is not a single loving and intelligent mother or father on the face of this earth who, if asked to give up a standard deviation of IQ in their children for any prize – any prize at all, including Hall of Fame sports skill, supermodel looks, PUA uber-expertise, legendary political instincts – would take the exchange. So…Anyone who tells what I just said is stupid, in a way that is not self-evidently clueless, will gladden my heart. Nobody will, for the following reason. The thing is, the only real thing “high IQ” means is “greater ability to help others”. The only reason this world is not a more disastrous dystopia is because of good-hearted high-IQ people. Looking out on a world that is better because of them is their reward, and anybody who has tasted that reward sort of does not really care all that much about the lack of easy access to low-IQ sexual partners. Lack of understanding what I just explained accounts for these periodic outbreaks of “it is sad to have a high IQ” mania.

      howitzer daniel

      January 26, 2017 at 2:14 am

      • “The only reason this world is not a more disastrous dystopia is because of good-hearted high-IQ people. Looking out on a world that is better because of them is their reward,”

        “Good-hearted” people are a nuisance who often make things worse.


        January 26, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      • Who is more good hearted high IQ or low IQ people? Also, there is quality and quantity to consider. I think high IQ people’s good deeds are of a higher quality, but the average IQ folks just seem to be more empathetic. They are more likely to feel for a sick turtle then a brainiac, or at least this is what I think. A 150 IQ guy probably thinks that a turtle is very stupid and is nothing, a regular guy like me would never think like this, just give it some weed (like grass not marijuana) to munch on. What’s IQ of a turtle? They live long so they must know something. I think this is why the old people were respected in the past. When the average life expectancy was like 28, if you lived to 70 it meant that you were something special. Today it means nothing. Any one can grow old today with drugs and this is why old people are treated with disrespect. They are no longer special.


        January 26, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      • I meant good-hearted in the Aristotelian, teleological sense. i.e., people who do good because they know that is what their hearts are for, regardless of how it makes them feel to do good. I did not mean people who are good-hearted because it makes them feel good – which is the group of people who are such a nuisance.

        howitzer daniel

        January 27, 2017 at 12:52 am

      • Daniel, so when you are saying good-hearted, you realy mean having a high IQ? So heart means mind? Interesting. In Biblical and Medieval Hebrew that is what it’s meant. For example, the name of the famous ethical book ‘The Duties of the Heart’ is misleading in a literal translation, it should’ve been translated as the ‘Duties of the Mind’ as is evident from its content.

        Now if this is your usage of ‘good-heart’, then I’m not sure. Who are these good-hearted i. e. high IQ people? I think to philosophers it’s one’s understanding, not one’s actions that are paramount. The people who engage in actual doing good are seldom aware of Aristotle. This is confusing.


        January 27, 2017 at 6:42 am

      • I did not define my terms, Yakov, but I agree with your definition of heart – the best Bible verse explaining that the heart is where we think is “the fool says in his heart there is no God.” … Often a young feeble Hasidic student, or a not very bright young priest or nun, will, after years of meditating in their heart on the words of the Lord, and after years of being charitable towards others, become what are called wonder workers. Whether or not they perform actual miracles of healing and insight, people recognize the intelligence of their heart is great: and just as we don’t expect Einstein to busy himself, like an ambitious classics grad student, in memorizing the variations in the received texts of the ancient physicists such as Archimedes and Ptolemy, we don’t expect those wonder workers – or, to a lesser degree, the people who I called “high IQ” due to their greater ability to help others – to excel in following the ins and outs of the generic analogies and logical puzzles that make up a huge portion of IQ tests. Not that IQ tests are not important but, as an analogy, they are to true wisdom (and, hence, real-world high IQ) what an optician’s test is to the ability to appreciate visual arts; or, otherwise put, someone walking thorough a city just once, on a foggy day, can often understand the architecture of that city much better than someone who walks through it on many sunny days. In brief, the heart is the way in which we align our will to the will of God, and by doing so we finally become actually intelligent, and understand how the created world itself, the gold standard of tests, really works; if we don’t do so, we can remain high-IQ but will eventually devolve to intellectual kings in an idiocracy world of Sudoku and pointless but complex video games. That devolution, no matter how clever, is not what the heart is for (hence my reference to Aristotle and teleology). Finally, if you have a few minutes, google “Taleb” and “IQ” or “Bruce Charlton” and “IQ” for some fascinating insights, by people who understand the validity of IQ tests, into real world intelligence.

        howitzer daniel

        January 27, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      • the life expectancy at ~ 10 years was more like 40 years, i.e. 50 yo were common, 70yos not so much


        you are ignorant of the nature of modern (post WWII) IQ scales (not tests)


        January 28, 2017 at 7:26 am

      • I disagree

        howitzer daniel

        January 29, 2017 at 3:30 am

    • You are not “low IQ”, Yakov.


      January 26, 2017 at 6:59 am

      • (no offense; we all do it)


        January 26, 2017 at 10:41 am

    • You need to retake the IQ test.


      January 26, 2017 at 9:07 am

    • Thanks mates, but the tests are good only in a general sense. I think my IQ was rated at 129, I’m not sure, but I doesn’t realy matter. What matters is what you can actually achieve and with what effort. This is how you know your true worth. Whether they think you are a genius or a moron doesn’t matter for your actual evolutionary fitness. The proof is in the pudding.


      January 26, 2017 at 10:18 am

      • Or maybe it was 119? I’m not sure, I remember the first and the last digits, but not the middle. So I dunno. 119 is good enough for me, what do you mates think it is 119 or 129? Maybe something in the middle. I took it in jail, so I’m not sure what effect that had on the results. I don’t think it had any, but just for full disclosure.

        Anyway, here you have two American plumbers explaining how a hot water boiler operates (Bruno from Paris pay good attention). I think these are excellent specimen of perfectly normal people doing a perfectly normal trade.


        January 26, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      • That’s not ‘low’. That’s a standard deviation above the *Askhenazi Jewish* norm. Knock it off.


        January 26, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      • 129 is not low IQ. I’m consistently the same as tested (130-133). Though, I agree that it is a problematic IQ.

        It isn’t intelligent enough to ensure a social / career protected place, with other intelligent individuals, in an math-heavy STEM profession; but it’s too high for most other careers and relationships that aren’t found at the margins of the distribution.

        It seems to very much be in the IQ wasteland, so to speak. I sometimes wish that if it couldn’t have been higher, that it would have been lower. And then I don’t out of some appreciation for what it does give me and a want not to be ungrateful to whatever gave it (ancestral suffering, god, etc.). The incompatibility is especially bad when you grew up prole and haven’t yet permanently escaped that social setting. Proles often dislike me, though I was raised as one of them. When my pretend game is on, they like me very much. When it isn’t, I’ve been provoked or challenged to fights.

        For instance in regard to general incompatibility and its consequences, I was scapegoated in a graduate program for a clinical science degree in a manner that has delayed my graduation; the precursor to which was a woman confronting me to tell me that she thought that my speaking syntax was pretentious. I had never noticed it. It’s that type of financial and social injury that one can be vulnerable to when, in my estimation, you have any significant interaction with influential individuals that score in an SD below your own.

        Due to copious practice, I can mimic social behavior for individuals down to perhaps 110 IQ, though the act falls apart outside of a certain time-frame (I get too bored to keep acting believably). Below 110, it begins to get difficult to pretend to relate. I’m comfortable within ten points higher or lower than myself (actual friendships can form) as I expect most people are. I had three friends within that range, the higher IQ friend (likely 135-140) essentially falling off of the map after consistently sociopathic behavior put a dent in his life. I miss the companionship of his intellect. I’m sure that I bored him in some ways, as do my 120-125-ish IQ friends tend to bore me outside of relatively smaller doses.

        In short, it’s without a doubt a tougher life within the beginning of the margins of the distribution. I have empathy with those further out, and often much envy due to their greater chance at enabling their own place in a more suitable social and work environment (an elite programmer’s environment, a physics department, etc).

        Gifted kids should have at least as much attention given to their needs as special education kids have. Also, I agree with map, lack of direction due to being born to prole / parents of lesser intelligence can profoundly harm one’s life arc. All school districts should have specifically trained counselors ready to guide these kids as they traverse high school undergraduate, and graduate school.


        January 26, 2017 at 9:45 pm

  5. There you go. The meritocracy notion is debunked.


    January 25, 2017 at 10:23 pm

  6. It’s not so much of having high IQ that leads to worse outcomes, it’s the nature of capitalistic America, where very smart people do not want to engage in the status signaling-rat race or be exploited by our voracious parasites for a buck. Their interests and values are more of the intangible realm, and America is not conducive in this type of engagement. Furthermore, the average-urban White American lives in a parochial bubble of ignorance, when compared to their White Canadian and European city dwellers.


    January 25, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    • And I would like to add that the UK is in the same dire situation with that of America.


      January 25, 2017 at 10:56 pm

      • JS you’re too high on Canada, a country that in my opinion is very bland compared to the US. There’s wasteland suburbs and no go ghettos in the US, but there’s intense cultural richness as well. Canada as a whole is much more white-bread.


        January 26, 2017 at 1:00 am

      • Roli — What kind of cultural richness are you talking about? Anyplace in America, with the exception of Manhattan, is just as bland as Canada.

        I’m really high on Québec, when it comes to the Great White North, because it’s the only place in North America that resembles the Old World. Anglophone Canada is a lesser United States, although I have to say, it is very orderly — a quality which you cannot say about America.

        The main groups of racial minorities in Canada are East Asians/South Asians, First Nations and Middle Easterners. America’s minority groups/non-whites are much more dangerous and contentious.


        January 26, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      • I was in Anglophone Canada not so long ago, and it seemed very clean, very white.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 26, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      • That’s correct. Toronto and Vancouver are the only exceptions, but pale in comparison in diversity, when compared to NYC, Chicago, LA and SF.


        January 26, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      • Native Montréalers who speak French call their Anglophone counterparts, Angryphones, or what I call Angry Proles for Americans.

        The Anglosphere should now be the called the Angry Sphere and your readers should know what are the reasons behind this term.

        The only Western nation that ranks dead last in quality of life measures is enough to make Americans angry.

        Trump would be the quintessential high-profile angry prole.


        January 27, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      • Lion, why didn’t you blog about the Canada trip? We like to know more about Canada and not just from JS.


        January 26, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      • I don’t know anything about Canada just because I visited briefly.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 26, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      • In my opinion, you should avoid Anglophone Canada, if you are a cosmopolite.

        It’s either Québec or Continental Europe for me.

        If I had no choice, but to choose between a Midwestern town vs a Prairie Canadian City, I would choose Winnipeg or Saskatoon over let’s say Milwaukee or Indianapolis.

        Rosenmops is irked by the large Chinese population in British Columbia — again, this is really an Anglosphere problem. The same reason why other non-white immigrants flood English Speaking Countries, because of crony capitalism and cheap labor.


        January 27, 2017 at 12:34 am

    • Not wanting to engage in the status signaling-rat race doesn’t seem to be related to high IQ, although I don’t doubt such people tell themselves that’s why. People like that (non-rat-racers) usually just want to sit around creating art and using drugs.


      January 26, 2017 at 6:59 am

      • It goes to show you that America is culturally primitive — because it’s narrative is that of frivolous consumption via wealth accumulation.

        In Manhattan, which epitomizes the highest zenith of American Culture, its status signalling residents worship European trends and goods, to separate themselves from the average mortals.


        January 26, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      • zenith already implies highest. There’s no need to say “highest zenith.”

        Fact Checker

        January 26, 2017 at 11:46 pm

      • You’re correct – I was about to use apex.


        January 27, 2017 at 1:14 am

  7. It seems to confirm what we already knew. That there are not enough jobs of self actualization (intellectual elite professions) but those with high IQ who do get them excel. From the article;

    “While increasing IQ, especially over 140, is inversely correlated with elite membership, 140-150 IQ is also characteristic of eminence (Nobelists, Fields Medalists, etc.). While there are a number of anecdotal and inferential citations, the most definitive study was that of Dr. Anne Roe (1952) in which she gave 64 of America’s (U.S. born) most eminent scientists an IQ test that ETS had created for that purpose. As best as can be determined (there were methodological problems) the test rendered a 15 point ratio IQ and the average IQ of the group was 152. This corresponds to a modern deviation IQ of 144 which agrees with the anecdotal and inferential evidence.”

    So basically success at the higher IQ levels is more bar belled than the 100-133 zone.


    January 25, 2017 at 11:08 pm

  8. This is probably a selection issue. The set of people with high IQs who don’t have strong educational credentials probably have traits that harm them in the market, even if the high IQ helps them.

    James Miller

    January 25, 2017 at 11:27 pm

  9. The linked article is crap. No, there are not a substantial number of physicians in the USA with 112 IQs. Big studies of high IQ youth have shown them to be on average quite successful in adulthood.

    There are a lot of random weirdos on the internet who claim to have very high IQs like the Grady Towers mentioned in the article who claim they are losers because the world is cruel to people with very high IQs. In fact, if you have a very high IQ you can get perfect scores on standardized tests and free rides to very good colleges, then good grades, then a large number of jobs are open to you.


    January 26, 2017 at 1:52 am

    • This is mostly true.


      January 26, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    • You might be surprised at how admissions standards have fallen off for medical professions, which logically leads to some of the social and intellectual incompatibility issues, which are under discussion here, within graduate programs.

      Imagine being a student with a perfect GPA, at the top of your class, and with high admission test scores, being supervised by a person who managed to squeak into school with a lower GPA and after retaking the admission test several times.

      That’s what they are allowing for in some programs in this day and age. Your clinical supervisors are often not your peers, academically and intellectually speaking.

      After working together for some time, feelings of inadequacy and spite may creep into the mind of the more powerful, yet less intelligent, person. The issue can be somewhat mitigated by avoiding women.


      January 26, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      • They may be true. But the author is an idiot himself if he thinks people with 112 IQs can become physicians in the United States and do so in large numbers.


        January 28, 2017 at 12:58 am

    • Unfortunately, the world often doesn’t work out so cleanly. IQ doesn’t necessarily lead to high standardized test scoring for the test that you need to take. Differing tests test different aspects of intelligence and / or knowledge. What test you will want to take does not depend on your specific IQ given talent, but more often rather on the whims of the job market.

      Higher IQ brains often don’t fully develop until an individual’s early to mid-twenties, often depending on race. Races with higher testosterone will generally reach full brain maturation earlier. While I was always smart, I can tell you that I had a major leap in intelligence in my mid-twenties. Or, perhaps, is was a leap in executive function that better allowed me to harness it. Whatever it was, it came after my undergraduate degree and after any major career planning took place. I also have a 63 cm head. Brain / head size, hormonal profile determined brain maturation, education, upbringing and access to good advice, and other factors may all lead to outcomes that throw off any type of multi-step rational as to what happens to make smart people successful early in life if at all.


      January 27, 2017 at 1:47 am

  10. People who are high IQ (say in the 120-130 neighbourhood) tend to greatly underestimate the IQs of people who are super high IQ (say in the 150+ neighbourhood) The mechanism is simple: those with high IQs are used to being smarter than almost everyone they interact with, so when they run into someone who says things they don’t understand easily and immediately, they assume that person is less intelligent then themselves. They don’t understand super high IQ people, and so tend to assume they aren’t that bright. In other words, the high IQ correctly perceive the IQ gap but get the sign wrong.

    I’ve seen this dynamic play out many times and I suspect it accounts for some of this effect
    since virtually all institutions are controlled those in the 120-130 neighbourhood, to the detriment of the super high IQ.


    January 26, 2017 at 2:30 am

    • I don’t know about this being smarter than everyone around you because your iq is above 120. Where I’ve worked in the past I would peg the average iq around 145 (quant fund). Smarter people tend to work around smarter people.

      I do think it’s true that people underestimate ability at the top end.


      January 26, 2017 at 11:58 am

  11. The only problem is that the idea is not tested with many facts. The average IQ of elite universities is controversial. At Harvard, you ve got an average of 125 for students, and 135 for faculty. And it’s true that Nobel Laureates (economy, physics, field medal) have an average of >145.

    Antohter point wich is suspect is that the audience of high IQ societies is filled with adults who are looking for self actualization : many feels to have failed either personnaly or professionnaly. The others almost never stay. So this kind of article is a perfect fit for the audience : “we were discriminated against and our situation is not our fault”. When a theory is so self serving and feel good, it’s probably false ….

    Bruno from Paris

    January 26, 2017 at 3:14 am

    • “hen a theory is so self serving and feel good, it’s probably false”

      Yeah, good point. If you are a moderately smart person and you feel that you have not realized your potential, it’s seductive to believe you are a genius who was failed by the education system.


      January 26, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    • Your IQ estimate for Harvard students is not even close to accurate. This isn’t a hard thing to do either given it publishes the standardized test scores of incoming students.

      A lot of the posts here posit that high IQ people are not doing well on standardized tests, however this is just about the most IQ loaded task anyone ever does.


      January 28, 2017 at 1:02 am

      • I agree that high IQ people do very well on standardized tests, and that it’s the best way to discover them.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 28, 2017 at 12:15 pm

  12. – Another thing which seems contradictory in the article with the discriminaton beginning at 133 and 97% complete above 150 (1 out of 2300) is that the best scientist in Amerca had an average verbal IQ (the one that counts for theory) of 166 (i don’t remember if its sd15 or sd16) but it’s at least 1 in 30 000 with deviation gaussian IQ of 16 and an average of 1 in 2300.

    Then the argument of saying the few who passed through were the more succesfull is either a contradiction or a auto-immune argument for the theory : if you’are are very intelligent, you’re discriminated among the elite group, but if you’re not, you belong to the super elite. The author takes the 152 average (verbal math space) to imply that this average, even high, imply a discrimination because it should be super high. But if you buy the theory of groups forming each other with a 1.2 sd , there should be no limit to it ….

    – Pumpkinperson has many convincing articles stating the exact opposite. The one about Ted Kaczynski is amusing but evaluates his IQ among homeless group and not Harvard stem graduate. That’s so controversial – in the opposite direction and simple – that it made me laugh for 5 minutes when i read it !

    Bruno from Paris

    January 26, 2017 at 3:53 am

  13. I work with a very talented Ashkenazi computer programmer who has no college degree, entirely self taught, and commands a very good salary.


    January 26, 2017 at 8:16 am

    • I know some people (gentile, though) in a similar situation.


      January 26, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    • Sounds like Zuck.


      January 28, 2017 at 1:03 am

  14. When the reality is actually the exact opposite of that. A Danish study looking at all the working males there found that, between MZ twins, educational differences don’t predict differences in income.

    Similar studies have found the same for IQ differences between MZ twins.


    January 26, 2017 at 8:29 am

  15. Very high IQ people sometimes have peculiar interests and passions, and because of this they find most well paid jobs too boring and socializing with people that don’t share their interests boring, both of these make it hard for them to get motivated to advance up the ladder.

    High IQ people need to master the skill of pretending to find boring people interesting. Those that can do that can do very well in the job market and in the dating market.


    January 26, 2017 at 9:29 am

    • Americans are consumption pigs — this is the problem.


      January 26, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    • The average White woman in the Anglosphere, is parasitic, intellectually and culturally inferior, let alone with an inkling of femininity.

      How many American women have you met, who are sous chefs and translators?


      January 26, 2017 at 10:03 pm

  16. Based on my experience, I think Yakov is probably right. I was a good deal smarter than most of the other kids in my elementary school and I was pretty much an unpopular outcast. Things changed when I got to middle school and high school and we were tracked into accelerated and honors type programs. After that, I had much fewer problems making friends and fitting in.

    So yeah, I think the disadvantage to being smart is in connecting with people around you. And so much of success (and happiness) in life depends on connecting with people around you.


    January 26, 2017 at 10:24 am

  17. Anyone here read the Jeeves stories?

    Explainer 21

    January 26, 2017 at 11:48 am

    • “Anyone here read the Jeeves stories”

      How funny that you should mention that. I literally started reading a Jeeves and Wooster anthology this week, after a gap of more than two decades, and it has made me aware of how much this blog and others like it have influenced my thinking (I have no idea if that’s why you mentioned the stories, but it is really weird that they reminded me of this blog and you mentioned the stories)

      In their own way a great many of the stories have themes that Lion and his readers would be familiar with–the idle children of the very rich wanting self-actualising careers as artists and actors, for example. Even though the stories are getting on for a hundred years old they are still very relevant to the world as we know it. And it is the funniest book I’ve ever read; the language and his use of upper-class slang are hilarious. There is something about the character of Wooster that is very appealing. He is utterly shallow, but in a way that is so completely naive and without guile that he seems like a very verbose child.

      prolier than thou

      January 26, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      • Nice, but Wooster is not utterly shallow. He never breaks any of the Ten Commandments. He gives Jeeves full credit for his cleverness, even though the parts of the stories narrated by Wooster reveal a man with almost complete mastery of the English language and the parts of the stories quoting Jeeves reveal only a very clever man. Wooster was clearly the genius; Jeeves his clever and admiring gentleman’s gentleman.

        howitzer daniel

        January 29, 2017 at 12:18 am

  18. Crap math. When you select a subgroup from a normal distribution you do not get a normal distribution, which is the key assumption for all the authors math. One of the commentators on the linked website described exactly how this works and how the supposed proof is wrong. Not technically wrong and mostly true, but technically wrong and totally false.


    January 26, 2017 at 11:55 am

  19. IQ seems a much better predictor of success for groups than for individuals. Beyond having a large sample, I figure it’s the group average that sets “the window” everything happens in. If you can’t squeeze into that window for whatever reason as an individual it causes major problems living in a society that’s not designed for your needs.

    Giovanni Dannato

    January 26, 2017 at 2:26 pm

  20. Define a “worse life outcome”. I have the feeling you and many of your readers would label anyone who is not an investment banker, a lawyer in a top law firm, some high-paid surgeon or entrepreneur or some other breed of filthy rich asshole or glittering celebrity a “loser”.

    Jimmy Kangaroo

    January 26, 2017 at 2:45 pm

  21. Let me agree with several other who earlier said that Yakov was not an average person, IQ wise. No one who visits here regularly was raised more prole than I. My father was an alcoholic and never finished the 8th grade. He worked as a laborer all his life. My mothers family were quite successful farmers in the Midwest. She finished HS and didn’t work outside the home until she and my father divorced after I’d left the house.

    There was little to separate me form the rest of the students in my elementary school except I could read before I attended school. At about age 10 while going to a baseball game I was struck by a car, which resulted in a law suit against the driver. In the aftermath I was tested by a psychologist to see if there were any lingering damage to my brain. I guess not, I tested out with an IQ of 135, much to everyone’s amazement.
    In the general hubbub of life this fact was quickly forgotten and I resumed being a regular brand kid for my neighborhood.

    Physically I was unremarkable as well, the only thing above average about me was that I could run a little faster than most. And also I was an angry kid who would fight at a drop of a hat. I managed to graduate, from HS (2.01 gpa) and went into the Air Force where they made me into an accountant. It was a job I hated but the service did at least two things for me. One, it allowed me time to grow up and mature. Two, it allowed me to finally workout my inner anger by letting me box the entire time I served.

    When I got out of the Air Force I hadn’t a clue what I’d do, my mother got me a job as a janitor at the place she was employed, working from 3 pm until midnight. Never underestimate the power of luck because shortly after going to work I met a guy I knew from HS and he suggested that I should start attending EWC out in Cheney,Wa. It cost only $45 bucks a quarter so, I figured what the hell and enrolled. No tests, no transcripts, just showed up paid my money and started going to class. This was 1960,and that first quarter I got all C’s. Not an auspicious start, but I got better and I liked it, enough to graduate in 3 years by attending 3 summer sessions. I continued to work from 3 pm to midnight all this time.

    Upon graduation I got married and went to work for the Dept.of Social Welfare in Idaho. That first year I made $3,100.which was $100 too much to receive the donated commodities our agency handed out to welfare recipients. Luckily, I was soon promoted to being a County Director of a small county office in Southern Idaho. Where in another years time I was adjudged ready to return back to grad school on their dime. Which I did attending the University of Minnesota school of Social Work. The test I had to take for
    was the Miller Analogy Test I think I scored 45 on it.

    Let me end by saying with luck and the guidance of a good woman I was able to over come my early beginning in life.

    Oden's Raven

    January 26, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    • Nice story, thanks for sharing.

      E. Rekshun

      January 26, 2017 at 5:51 pm

  22. “I would add based on my own research that even up to one SD below an IQ of 133 (118-133), without educational credentials the IQ doesn’t help at all.”

    A quibble: those engaging in tech entrepreneurship benefit from an IQ higher than an IQ of 133, even without a degree. I suspect the same is for other fields too, as long as one is willing to start their own business.


    January 26, 2017 at 5:26 pm

  23. The point is that high-IQ’s are mostly useful in essentially tournament professions. These are professions that have a small number of winners and a very high number of losers. There are not enough slots for high-level scientists and engineers or surgeons, top investment bankers, top lawyers, etc., to employ all the people with stellar IQ’s so a lot of smart people will be filtered out of these jobs. This is made worse by the fact that society is organized around families, and the most powerful and connected families do not want to disadvantage their kids even for obviously smart and talented strangers.

    This is compounded by the fact that lots of smart people are born to working or middle class parents or lower that really don’t know how the world works and they give their kids terrible advice. I know one family that advised their son to attend a university ranked sixty slots below the university he actually got into. I know another family whose kid got into the University of Michigan Ann Arbor medical school but their advising her to attend a third-tier medical college. These people operate under the theory that “medicine is medicine” and “engineering is engineering” and they basically set up their kids for a world of unnecessary suffering.

    Then there is the oft-discounted poo-pooing of status and social skills. Status counts for everything. Properly projecting status to the peer group is essential because you want to provide others with a useful shorthand in deciding whether or not to deal with you. Absent proper status, selling others on your value becomes very, very difficult.

    The result is that a lot of very smart people migrate into jobs where their intelligence is at a surplus to what the job requires. This can create all kinds of problems, primarily from the psychological burden of being nowhere where you want to be or are capable of being.


    January 26, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    • So true. So many highly intelligent commentators on this blog, you know?

      The Shepherd

      January 27, 2017 at 11:38 am

    • America sucks for the academic types simply because it has an anti-intellectual streak — I called it a low intellectual coefficient.

      You have regions in the Midwest which are very conducive for Academia, with their ubiquitous college towns and lower costs of living, but are starkly contrasted by the large contingent of working class proles who live in the peripheral areas or worse NAMs. Inversely, cosmopolitan cities in the Northeast and the Left Coast have all the elements for intellectual and cultural stimulation, but are too cost prohibitive, because these elements have been set by capitalism and not for their inherent value.

      America is lovely country full of contradictions — just look at your insane politics.

      Tribal Whites tend to vote Republican and tribal minorities vote Democratic. One group believes in socialism for low IQ savages, and the other believes in more severe policing for its citizens.

      How about being punched in the face, while someone breaks your kneecaps?


      January 27, 2017 at 3:49 pm

  24. Tall people make more money, but super-tall people have bone problems and are less successful. I think with most traits even if the trait is generally good you can have too much of a good thing.

    I do wonder if part of the advantage groups like Ashkenazi Jews had was creating social environments where you hit the ‘nerd cliff’ at, say, 145 instead of 130, so you were able to have smarter leaders. But that’s pure speculation.


    January 26, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    • An urban Ashkenazi family is an excellent place to be a child with a 150+ IQ. A lot of biographies of them you will see the parents are often teachers themselves and devoted to their education, and later get them tutors from local colleges.


      January 28, 2017 at 1:11 am

  25. However, not worse in their opinion. Raising children and accumulating wealth are irrational behaviors that high IQ humans do not normally engage in.

    My Two Cents

    January 26, 2017 at 8:45 pm

  26. Why shall very high IQ people want to pursue “career”, “wealth” and “success” as measured by normal society? The difference between 150IQ super genius and average person is greater than gap between average person and chimpanzee.
    If you lived on Monkey Island, would you feel like failure because you are not the chief of all chimps and you do not have the biggest pile of bananas of all chimps?


    January 26, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    • Because without a successful career, you can’t have a career where your co-workers are smart, and you can’t live in Manhattan where you can find other smart people.

      I suppose that people who don’t care about wealth and status, but really like writing academic papers, can have satisfying lives as professors, assuming they are lucky enough to make tenure.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      January 26, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      • Correct, which is why America sucks and I’ve been saying it all along.

        For a long time, Manhattan doesn’t really have many interesting people and now that it’s very expensive, it’s a city for careerists and the super wealthy.


        January 26, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      • I don’t think people with super high IQs would enjoy being around smart people in Manhattan who tend to be professionals like investment bankers and businessmen like Trump. The latter are smart but not genius level and tend to be interested in money and worldly success, which is less interesting to genius level IQs.


        January 27, 2017 at 1:36 am

      • Unfortunately, getting a tenured academic position at a decent college or university is a classic example of the few winners/many losers scenario that “map” alluded to. University teaching and research is an ideal career for a very high IQ individual, but it was a viable and comparatively remunerative option only during that golden period when higher education was expanding between, say, 1945 and 1970. The balance of payments was in our favor during those years after World War II, not only allowing industrial workers a bigger share of the pie but also allowing what would now be considered superfluous professions to flourish, such as scholarship, scientific research and the arts and humanities. It also helped that scientific literacy and “intellectualism” in general were considered a bulwark against Communism during the Cold War. Since 1970, our country has slowly but surely regressed to its fundamental philistinism.

        Jimmy Kangaroo

        January 27, 2017 at 10:28 am

      • I don’t think people with super high IQs would enjoy being around smart people in Manhattan who tend to be professionals like investment bankers and businessmen like Trump. The latter are smart but not genius level and tend to be interested in money and worldly success, which is less interesting to genius level IQs.

        I have a 148 I.Q. and I find investment bankers and businessmen vastly more interesting to talk to than most academics (at least outside my field of CS).

        Business and investing have meaningful and objective measures of improvement and success, while 99% of academic study is complete drivel. (The parts that aren’t drivel, Google or Goldman Sachs or Intel or Exxon-Mobil will gladly pay 7-figure salaries to skim off the high-IQ cream before Harvard gets to them).

        I’m tempted to go back to school for a PhD so I could get a job at one of the better-regarded quant funds.


        January 27, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      • Business and investing have meaningful and objective measures of improvement and success, while 99% of academic study is complete drivel. (The parts that aren’t drivel, Google or Goldman Sachs or Intel or Exxon-Mobil will gladly pay 7-figure salaries to skim off the high-IQ cream before Harvard gets to them).

        I’ll add, with all due respect to Lion and the many other lawyers I know or admire, that law is one of the few complete-drivel fields where it’s nevertheless possible for the driven and high-IQ to make 7 figures.

        But this has much more to do with America and the Anglosphere’s plaintiff-friendly civil law, and the immense regulatory apparatus of America and the EU, than the intrinsic usefulness of the knowledge.

        Knowing how to persuade an audience and how to win an argument in front of an audience are useful knowledge of course, but meta-conversation isn’t IMO all that interesting a conversation topic. Political lawfare is interesting, but only useful inasmuch as the Founders neglected to safeguard against it.


        January 27, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      • If you’re a CS guy with an interest in quant funds, then that’s different. Also, there’s a cultural divide between ordinary investment bankers and businessmen and quant traders, even if they’re in the same professional field of finance. They don’t necessarily get along or work together. I don’t know about you specifically, but many high IQ types with an interest in quant trading would not be comfortable in more ordinary investment banking which involves more salesmanship and little technical work.


        January 27, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      • Not saying I’d be a good investment banker — I stuck to STEMier pastures for a reason! — I’m just saying I tend to find them more interesting to talk to and their work more interesting to talk about than most academics.* Which is damning with faint praise.

        It’d be overselling me to say I’m a “CS guy,” since I’ve published no papers, conduct no research and hold no postgrad degrees. I probably should’ve said “my major” instead of “my field” — I work in software development. 🙂

        *I think this is a very WASPy attitude to have; c.f. Silent Cal.


        January 28, 2017 at 1:35 am

      • Also, they’re much more likely to hold right-of-center views; even talking to neocons or libertarians provides a welcome respite to having to constantly tiptoe on eggshells and nod along with every bullshit thing (gem from yesterday: “I don’t know if it’s even worth it to complete my master’s [engineering @ Brown] now that they’re banning science“).

        I think that’s most of it. If I grew up and lived in Texas instead of Massachusetts, I’d probably enjoy talking to academics more than bankers. I’d probably be an SJW too. I’d like to think I wouldn’t have blue hair. Alt-me, if our timelines ever cross, please at least take my advice on this stick to wigs.


        January 28, 2017 at 2:08 am

    • It’s true but nihilism gets really old after a while…

      If the meaning of life is, before dying, to have made the world a slightly better place than when you were born, then you need power for that. (Status and money).

      An Islamic jurist summarized my feelings by saying: “A man is not perfect if he cannot save a friend from the gallows, or help a friend reach a position of power”.

      Of course there is probably some hubris in the idea that anything humans do will matter in the end (save for the scientific findings that paved the way for Skynet).


      January 27, 2017 at 2:43 am

      • The older I am, the more clearly I understand that “the world” was going fine long before me, and will be going fine after me. You may call it nihilism, but to my mind this kind of thought brings peace and quietness, not existencial angst and despair. Maybe it is result of my low IQ, I never counted myself among the geniuses of the world.


        January 27, 2017 at 11:14 am

      • HBD tends to correlate with the different schools/sects of Islam. Higher and lower IQ populations in the Middle East embrace more liberal forms of the Muslim religion (similar to the United States with high IQ Liberal Whites/Jews and low IQ NAMs embracing liberalism).

        Besides, the Turks and Balkan Muslims with their Hanafi adherents, the Muslims of North Africa tend to follow Maliki Sunnism and Iran is majority Shi’i, both regions with an ounce of sanity, surrounded by a sea of fanatical Muslims who embrace the Hanbali/Wahabi sect.

        It’s quite interesting to note that most of the extremists are found in the midpoint of the Middle East, basically, violent/irrational Islam comes out of individuals who are neither stupid nor smart, but in the midpoint of the IQ spectrum, specifically the dark skinned Arabs of the Arabian peninsula. Similarly, one could also make the same observation with White proles in America who lean Republican.


        January 28, 2017 at 12:23 pm

  27. “Worse” outcome as defined by income? That might be true but it’s just one metric. And it’s a flawed metric.
    Income is only a good metric to differentiate between low income and high income, between people barely surviving and people who control their own destiny. It’s not a good metric to differentiate among the high income earners (financial independent).

    To determine that you need some other metrics such as:
    1. Hourly rate (people can make a lot of money with overtime pay, working more than 1 job, etc. so annual income is a bad metric)
    2. Effort per hourly (as measured in term of risk: physical, psychological, stress, reputation, legal).
    Dumb people make more money than smart people all the time. How did they do it? It’s easy.
    Simply, they do things that others don’t want to do. Such as:
    1. Things that are illegal: selling drugs, selling fakes or illegal goods, high end prostitution, pyramid schemes, etc…
    2. Things that are dangerous: playing football, being a hit-man, cleanup crew at Fukishima or other disaster areas
    3. Working in stressful environment for long hours

    They take on more risk for better income in essence trading their life for money. So a good metric would be lifespan. If you made millions but you’re dead by 40 and didn’t get to enjoy the fruit of your labor, is that proof that you’re really smart?
    If life is an IQ test, then income is not a good metric but longevity and life satisfaction (do you enjoy life?).
    It’s hard to reach 100 years old being a moron unless you have some really smart people around protecting your every move.
    The longer you lived, the more chance that you will make a fatal mistake that will do you in.

    So, there needs to be a better metric for determining “worse” outcome than just income.


    January 26, 2017 at 11:08 pm

  28. Thanks for the link to the article. The problem with it is that both data and methodology are suspect, especially the data set used is not well-defined. The author does acknowledge these problems, but what can you do when IQ is declared to be an evil concept and the IQ-related research has been essentially banned since 1960s ?

    While the first article “feels” right to me, based on my personal observations, what I find funny is that the only other article in that blog is a complete crock-of-shit. That kinda discredits this article too.

    Nice blog, dude

    January 27, 2017 at 2:50 am

  29. I have the combination of high IQ/low income. Part of this is by choice. In my previous career I made a lot more money. Today, I don’t have pressure to earn a lot and prefer to do easy work where I get to socialize with people. So I am pretty happy despite the lower income.

    I find it interesting that few of my low paid co-workers are stupid. Most seem to have average IQs and some are smart. This leads me to believe that welfare/SSI and to a lesser degree prison are how most low IQ people survive these days. We often hear about how labor participation is dramatically shrinking. For those of working age, I would guess those with low IQ are driving this trend.

    Jay Fink

    January 27, 2017 at 2:57 am

    • Office “fake make” work in America is painfully boring to anyone under the age of 30, who are tech-savvy, multitasking and impatient.


      January 27, 2017 at 10:06 am

    • High IQ and low income seldom jive in America today. Do you mean relativly low? Because if you have high IQ and you are industrious, you go far regardless of what you do. I’m low IQ but I’m doing fine, a high IQ guy should be better then fine.

      I was working in the Bronx today. Fixed two hot water boilers and a chimney. Rain had gotten in through the chimney and ruined the gas assembly of both boilers. Total neglect by the old landlord. The new landlord sent me in to fix it. So they finally have hot water, which they hadn’t had since the beginning if the winter. Think they are happy? No! The building is full of Dominicans and they haven’t been paying rent at all and they don’t want to pay. They got used to living like this and were upset that it got fixed. The bastard kept closing the faucets when I would open them to make the water circulate in the building.

      But let me get to the point. There was a tax prepartion office on the first floor and the Dominican girl doing taxes was absolutely striking! So she and I were chatting and I tell her that I do my own taxes and that I’d studied accounting but prefer doing plumbing. She’d never met a plumber who could do his taxes by himself. The girl was totally blown away. So she tells me that she loves doing taxes (I can understand that in her community the position has status, pays well and is very empowering), but gets a headache from all these numbers. Now, she is the smart one, but after five minutes I had nothing to say to her because she was just so dumb. This is low IQ mates, real low IQ. Not good genetic material. Lion, stay away from the Bronx.

      So I don’t know what’s low income to you. I think that with high IQ you automatically float to the top provided your have a good disposition.


      January 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      • Low income? For me it means I cannot afford things I need, this means food, shelter and Internet connection ( in no particular order).


        January 27, 2017 at 6:58 pm

  30. High IQ people tend to excel at planning and executing on those plans (when they can defeat indecisiveness).

    The problem is that they often fail to account for social factors that can throw those plans off at any point in the execution.

    Their plans tend to be fragile as opposed to anti-fragile.

    Their extraordinary success often largely depends on the success of one or, if truly exceptional, possibly two paths. All of their paths to success tend to take excessive amounts of time and effort to implement (schooling, innovation and invention, business, etc).

    This is one reason why it helps to have a high IQ mentor to assist in making better decisions (ie: pursuing money over intellectual interest at critical junctures, other bad decisions that younger people might be vulnerable to). Better decisions assure better rates of success, or perhaps less outright failure, along fragile paths.

    Lower IQ people, who do exceptionally well, are often leveraging social talent. From my observation, their paths tend to be more haphazard but often successful nevertheless.

    Their paths to success tend toward antifragility, instead of fragility.

    They can fail, but quickly bounce back due to the social talent, having learned from the failure, and lack of prior extreme educational (time, money) investment in a single path. They sometimes can be valuable to smarter individuals, politically speaking, in a respect that cannot reliably be attained through Ivy recruiting.


    January 27, 2017 at 2:57 pm

  31. I love the mix of self-aggrandizement and self-pity in this post. “I’ve failed at life, it must be because I’m just too darn smart to succeed.” Lol, get real.For every person who’s “too smart,” there are hundreds who failed because they weren’t smart enough to achieve their goals. That’s your problem–anyone who reads your blog can tell you lack social awareness and that you’re nowhere near as smart as you think you are. You’re Dunning-Kruger with a dash of class snobbery thrown in.


    January 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

  32. I’ve noticed that the Polymathic Institute , that hosted the post Lion linked to seemed to have had big plans for the near future and then.. nothing. Tried to subscribe and got no email reponse. Anyone know anything? Did their PDF magazine ever come out , etc?


    January 28, 2017 at 5:55 pm

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