Lion of the Blogosphere

The Inappropriately Excluded

I have not read this article before today. I have nothing profound to add to it, but I think it’s worth reading.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 26, 2019 at 9:39 AM

Posted in Biology

44 Responses

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  1. Interesting they touch on assortative mating by IQ. Just as people tend to socialize with similarly intelligent people they tend to marry within their IQ range. I’ve always assumed the !maximum tolerance level was one standard deviation but according to this it’s up to two. I’d take it a step further and guess men are more tolerant of the lower range in a spouse, than are women, but I’m just speculating.

    The tl/dr is anyone with an IQ past 140 will be hard pressed to find friends (because so few people are within 20 points of that range) and will be viewed as a social freak more often than not, and this will have standard of living/ quality of life ramifications for those unable to work around it.


    August 26, 2019 at 11:06 AM

    • A man can be 1-2 SD’s above his wife and she’ll look up to him (“my hubby is so smart”). She’ll occasionally be annoyed when he is inevitably perceived as talking down to her, but that’s the sort of friction in every relationship.

      3+ SD’s and she might start to conclude he “talks like a fag” as they say in Idiocracy. Or they just have nothing to talk about on their first date and things never go anywhere.

      As I’ve pointed out before, male nerds often want their woman to be all things to them, including sharing their nerd hobbies and so on. This is a recipe for inceldom and disastrous relationships. But it’s a real phenomenon driving demand for higher female IQ.

      I remember seeing a lot more smart woman / dumb man couples in high school than out in the real world (and realistically the difference then was likely less than 1 SD in IQ, but a lot more difference in conscientiousness and thus grades).

      I can only think of one adult relationship like this, and they’re Jehovah’s Witnesses. She obviously went for him because of the small pool of single JW’s in the area, and he had his life together despite much lower IQ than her.

      I had a profoundly dumb friend (IQ very likely in 90s) who was a natural ladies man, lots of one-night stands, often with girls much smarter than he. But his relationships were always disastrous, and not just because he never reduced his pace of one-night stands.


      August 26, 2019 at 11:56 AM

      • My sister married a man who is probably a full two standard deviations below her. In high school she did his math homework and I wrote his essays (which we continued to do for him in college).

        But, he probably has the best personality of any human being I’ve met on the planet. Definitely in the top five.

        My sister would occasionally ask nervously, in the first few years of her marriage, did I think —– was stupid? I would always lie and reassure her he was probably dyslexic and not to worry about it.

        Their kids are quite bright but not not on par with my sister. One of my nephews is a jock, the only one to inherit his dad’s ebullient personality.


        August 26, 2019 at 4:17 PM

      • That’s interesting. In all other cases I know about, if there is a big IQ disparity between spouses, it’s always the husband who’s smarter.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 26, 2019 at 4:22 PM

      • “I had a profoundly dumb friend (IQ very likely in 90s) who was a natural ladies man…”

        The great enemy of success with women is OVERTHINKING it. As Game demonstrates, it’s profoundly elementary.


        August 26, 2019 at 7:56 PM

      • Hey Lion, since nursing is your favourite profession to diss for being “prole”, you may be interested to hear that in my experience, I know quite a few couples where the wife – a nurse – is considered by the husband to be the “brainy” one. They usually aren’t that brainy, in comparison to other professionals, but their husbands are really often not too bright.

        S.J., Esquire

        August 27, 2019 at 7:19 AM

      • That would further demonstrate that nursing is prole.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 27, 2019 at 7:37 AM

  2. I have the EP The Inappropriately Excluded put out in 1978 (their detractors like to say 1979, as if TIE were late to the post-punk party; they weren’t, I was there in the studio when the gold tablets written by Moroni were unearthed, so to speak; that day was Boxing Day 1978). No one has heard it. The pressing, of 500 vinyl cookies, was accidentally swapped with a shipment of Bay City Rollers LPs that were pressed at the same time and meant to be sent to Rhodesia. TIE arrived in the Dark Continent and stayed there, for all I know.

    British Weirdo

    August 26, 2019 at 11:14 AM

  3. That was an interesting read. I’d already read or figured out a lot of it on my own. But there was still plenty there I hadn’t figured out. Bookmarked for future study.


    August 26, 2019 at 11:28 AM

  4. Even elite, cognitively demanding professions have a dimension to them that often requires human interaction, i.e. your people skills still matter a lot of the time. It may be that people with exceptionally high IQs don’t “suffer fools gladly,” as the old expression goes.

    Something else may be at work here too: addiction. Dr. Drew Pinsky is a specialist in addiction, and I have heard him remark on more that one occasion that highly intelligent people often have difficulties with alcohol, drugs, or both. Tough to hold down a demanding job when you’re drunk and/or high a lot of the time.

    Sgt. Joe Friday

    August 26, 2019 at 12:27 PM

    • I’ve said it here before, but smartest friend I ever had (significantly smarter than me) opted in the end to largely forego work, instead smoking pot and playing video games at parents’ house.

      I think there’s a dimension of high IQ that can incline you to think “the way the world measures success is irrelevant — I’ll make my own path”.


      August 26, 2019 at 1:15 PM

    • A lot of authors and poets have been alcoholics and addicts.
      There have been a lot of famous mathematicians who were insane or extremely excentric.


      August 26, 2019 at 1:28 PM

    • “Tough to hold down a demanding job when…”
      No, it’s not, friggin smart guy! Hic… What was that guy, you know that guy, what was his name? He told us about the asparagus cooking… Emily! Help! It happened again!

      Silenced Generation

      August 26, 2019 at 9:17 PM

  5. You heard of Flowers for Algernon?

    Someone needs to write the opposite of that.


    August 26, 2019 at 12:39 PM

    • Peter could write it. It would be about a high-IQ but sexless D&D-playing nerd who underwent an experiment to make him progressively dumber, which turned him into a macho, alpha NFL fan who scored with numerous hot chicks. Then the effects would wear off, and he would revert to being an intelligent incel for the rest of his life, forever lamenting the loss of his brief day in the sun.


      August 26, 2019 at 2:00 PM

      • What is so brainy (as opposed to juvenile) about playing Dungeons and Dragons, and what is so freaking sexy about some guy who watches football on TV all the time?

        Mister Triple 800

        August 27, 2019 at 9:28 AM

  6. I doubt the basic premise of the article, that the odds of success drop drastically between IQ 140 and IQ 150. It seems to be based on a purely theoretical calculation assuming that IQ among members of elite professions is normally distributed {which is not what I would expect) with a relatively small standard deviation. This implies the dropping odds of success for high IQ but I see no reason to accept that the assumptions hold that precisely.

    James B. Shearer

    August 26, 2019 at 1:09 PM

    • The premise of the article intuitively strikes me as true. Plus it backs up evidence I’ve seen in various datasets that, after controlling for educational credentials, smarter people have worse career success.

      See this post:

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 26, 2019 at 1:27 PM

      • “The premise of the article intuitively strikes me as true. …”

        It seems intuitively true to you that it is 20 times as hard to get an intellectually demanding job with an IQ of 150 than with an IQ of 140? This makes no sense at all to me and I don’t believe it.

        Wikipedia has a list of Putnam Fellows (who I would expect are mostly 150+ in IQ) who on the whole seem to have to have done pretty well.

        The article has some caveats about math and physics maybe being different but I doubt that for example the very highest scorers on the LSAT are 20 times less likely to become lawyers than the next best group.

        “… , smarter people have worse career success.”

        20 times worse? 20 times is a lot.

        James B. Shearer

        August 26, 2019 at 4:12 PM

      • In order to get a career, you need the right education credentials, then it helps to know someone to get an interview (although you still get some interviews if you don’t know anyone but they’re probably not as good interviews), then you need to pass the so-called airport test.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 26, 2019 at 4:15 PM

      • “In order to get a career, you need the right education credentials …”

        Why would it be 20 times as hard to get the right educational credentials with a 150 IQ than with a 140 IQ?

        James B. Shearer

        August 26, 2019 at 4:44 PM

    • I dunno about the specific IQ numbers, but the basic premise seems true to me. I feel like I’ve often had the experience talking to normal people where I present what seems like a logical argument, and they look at me like I’m a complete idiot. Sometimes it’s because I skipped over what seemed like basic knowledge that I thought they’d know, and sometimes it’s the opposite where I spent too much time stressing explaining things that they did know. It’s just hard to find common ground with the sort of person who struggled to learn basic reading and math skills.


      August 26, 2019 at 1:48 PM

      • Actual logical arguments are deceptively difficult to construct and to present. And they will always benefit from a narrative wrapper that is equally difficult.


        August 26, 2019 at 3:27 PM

    • The math is wrong (he hasn’t accounted for the relative sizes of the population). His conclusion is empirically wrong as well. Lubinski did a study of the kids in the Johns Hopkins talent search – all 99th percentile in IQ – and even within that elite group, achievement scaled with increasing IQ.


      August 27, 2019 at 1:20 PM

  7. The following section resonated with me. I moved to a very different area for 2nd grade, and was accelerated dramatically until 3rd grade. After that I became a real behavioral problem. I bounced myself around schools a bit thanks to accommodating parents, and eventually graduated early from college with no plan. I made it there a couple years later, and did increasingly better as I went. I eventually landed in a profession unrelated to my degree after teaching myself everything I needed to know to get my first job. I still take the occasional detour, but life has been good.

    What was most helpful was in my 30s forcing myself into consulting, where bringing clients along (persuading, selling) is the only way to be successful. Just being right won’t even get you off the blocks. I’m not nearly the asshole I was before that.

    I just had a child, and I worry about these things for them.

    “Leta Hollingworth noted that, if mainstreamed, children with R16IQs over 150 (D15IQ 141) check out and do not excel. Miraca Gross has done a long-term longitudinal study of 60, 160+ D15IQ Australian children. 17 of the children were radically accelerated, 10 were accelerated one or two years and the remaining 33 were mainstreamed. The results were astonishing with every radically accelerated student reported as educationally and professionally successful and emotionally and socially satisfied. The group that was not accelerated she characterizes as follows: ‘With few exceptions, they have very jaded views of their education. Two dropped out of high school and a number have dropped out of university. Several more have had ongoing difficulties at university, not because of a lack of ability but because they have found it difficult to commit to undergraduate study that is less than stimulating’. These children have IQs similar to Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, etc., so the loss from unrealized potential is enormous.”


    August 26, 2019 at 3:41 PM

  8. It’s interesting but probably as false as the idea that gifted people fail at school (Mensa Psy anecdotal story telling).

    There is plenty anecdotal evidence of the contrary : when you see how Math perfect scorers in international Olympiad land jobs at hedge funds …. I also know a guy who scored 800 at the GMAT (much rarer than a perfect LSAT) and became partner at Goldman Sachs.

    Ann Roe studied Nobel prize like winners in the 50 and they had an average 150 IQ (same study that gave 125 to Cambridge personnel, most of them were lecturer from psychology department and social sciences btw if I remember well).

    What may be true is that mental illness rate drop from the lowest IQ to around 135 and then – I guess it starts growing again. My hypothesis is solitude.


    August 26, 2019 at 3:43 PM

    • I scored high enough on the GMAT and the LSAT to be accepted to the Triple Nine Society, but it didn’t get me any sort of job.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 26, 2019 at 4:03 PM

      • It would if high intelligence had been a sufficient condition. But there is a gap with the article saying it’s an hindering condition.


        August 26, 2019 at 5:22 PM

      • Why didn’t you follow through with the Deputy Prosecutor work? You could have succeeded in that field on the civil side certainly.


        August 27, 2019 at 6:10 AM

    • My take is that an ultra-high IQ is extremely useful, and valued, IF you can break into the right circle. If you’re in an elite hedgefund, business school, or science department, people will recognize and understand genius. But it’s hard to break into those circles without getting past all the gatekeepers, and it’s hard for ultra-geniuses to get those because the gatekeepers just think the ultra-geniuses are weird.


      August 26, 2019 at 4:38 PM

      • Money and IQ again. Tell Mr. Einstein to keep buying lotto tickets. That might do the trick.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        August 26, 2019 at 5:37 PM

      • I think the return on high IQ has increased dramatically over the last 20-30 years. See hedge funds playing in global markets, big tech, etc. Algo trading has been around since the 80s, but didn’t really start to be a thing at scale until the late 90s, maybe even later.


        August 26, 2019 at 6:15 PM

  9. I have read the second part of the article when he mentions Ann Roe. The thing is that he has probably not enough data to conclude that high IQ are excluded in the first place


    August 26, 2019 at 3:49 PM

  10. If you scored high enough on the LSAT to join Triple Nine, then why didn’t you go to Harvard Law? Isn’t that a 173?


    August 26, 2019 at 5:37 PM

  11. I find these claims a little hard to swallow. Geniuses are so smart that they can’t figure out how to work the system to enrich themselves and find companionship? They can unlock the secrets of the universe (sarcasm), but are completely incapable of learning how to communicate with normal dumb people? I mean, come on, most people enjoy the company of a dog, but there’s a vastly greater difference between the intelligence of a dumb person and a dog than there is between the intelligence of a dumb person and a genius. Implicit in all of this is that the normal arrow of understanding goes in the opposite direction if your IQ is above 150; the simpler something is, the less able a genius is to understand it. Color me skeptical.

    Do most super high IQ people make a substantial contribution to the culture or to technological progress? I mean, Bill Sidis supposedly could learn a language in a couple of weeks, and came up with new ones, but what was his ultimate contribution to the future of humanity? What about people like Einstein and Oppenheimer, whose intellectual efforts resulted in horrific weapons that might just cause the (real) sixth extinction?


    August 26, 2019 at 7:26 PM

    • No, they can’t. You don’t understand what high IQ is good for and what it isn’t good for. Working the system is more like throwing a baseball than solving a math problem.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 26, 2019 at 8:44 PM

      • I was hinting that it could be the case that there are differences between (some) geniuses and normal people that are pathological, and not the result of simply being smarter. What if some people truly do have amped up brains, while others come by their intelligence at the expense of other cognitive abilities?

        Either way, I’d rather have a 150 IQ than not.


        August 26, 2019 at 8:56 PM

    • “but there’s a vastly greater difference between the intelligence of a dumb person and a dog than there is between the intelligence of a dumb person and a genius.”

      But not an unpleasant difference. Dogs don’t watch CNN, the Real Wives of Whatever or Sportsball. Don’t annoy you with talk about such subjects. And don’t expect you to enjoy the same things. Dogs like walks, belly rubs and the occasional game which are all generally more pleasant than watching tv and talking about ‘the news’ with a dummy.


      August 27, 2019 at 6:18 AM

  12. This IQ stuff is a dead-end and worth nothing.

    No billionaire is going to disown their own kids and write you into their will just because your IQ is substantially higher than his own children.

    A loyal and trusted imbecile who does what he is told and faithfully executes your plan is far more valuable than an indifferent or hostile genius.

    The bottom line is that success depends on tapping into an extensive and trusted network that can easily leverage the brains of all of its members. A brilliant individual can never compensate for this because there is too much for them to do.

    Extensive alliances are what is valued.


    August 26, 2019 at 9:52 PM

  13. Yawn. The higher IQ the higher is the probability that you stop caring about almost all other people and what they think of you, not any more than you care about what gorillas think of your lifestyle. Especially, if you have a comfortable enough situation. Not sure that you’d want super-high IQ folks as your leaders or even advisors to your leaders. E.g., read about Perelman.

    Black-hole creator

    August 26, 2019 at 10:00 PM

  14. Lion,
    “The probability of entering and remaining in an intellectually elite profession such as Physician, Judge, Professor, Scientist, Corporate Executive, etc. increases with IQ to about 133. It then falls by about 1/3 at 140. By 150 IQ the probability has fallen from its peak by 97%! In other words, a significant percentage of people with IQs over 140 are being systematically and, most likely inappropriately, excluded from the population that addresses the biggest problems of our time or who are responsible for assuring the efficient operation of social, scientific, political and economic institutions. This benefits neither the excluded group nor society in general.”

    There is a surface plausibility to this.

    Keep in mind that these elite professions are really rackets. They have a surface plausibility based on some giant in their respective fields, but the professions themselves hide a bunch of pygmies in the shadow of that giant. These pygmies are really producing nothing and are merely riding on the coattails of their respective giants. Those willing to maintain the illusion of “elite” without producing anything elite will go much farther and have a much easier time then the conscientious…even over the conscientious genius.
    The really bright people may not appreciate the essential racket that is their field, so their attempts at substantial contributions are severely stymied, because they rock the boat. That is why the IQ 130’s will run rings around the true geniuses.


    August 26, 2019 at 10:23 PM

  15. “If you are the parent of a child with a D15IQ over 150, immediate and dramatic action is required.  At present, realistic options for individual remediation are severely limited”

    I watched a documentary about very high IQ children and in the case of one particular child the parents hired a psychologist to assist his entry into the real world. The psychologist was little help however as the child possessed a higher IQ than him and was able to run circles around him.


    August 27, 2019 at 5:06 AM

  16. Gwern out-spergs the author in the comments.

    Horace Pinker

    August 27, 2019 at 9:17 AM

  17. I would guess that IQ is just one component of intelligence and if you are fairly smart on paper you know your limitations. IQ test can not determine whether one should be a drafter or an engineer, or better as an aircraft mechanics and some of the technology requires some rational thinking, hand eye coordination, and organization in terms of future time orientation. No test can really measure that.


    August 27, 2019 at 5:35 PM

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