As a Canadian with an IQ blog, I have a patriotic duty to report on this latest study showing that on the latest revision of the Wecshler adult intelligence scale, the average American has an overall IQ of 100 (by definition) while Canadians have a mean of 104.5 (hat tip to scholar Emil OW Kirke Gaard on twitter). Assuming both countries were tested around the same time and thus no Flynn effect corrections are required, that’s a pretty fascinating result. While a 5 point difference may sound trivial, a radical theory proposed that the human mind operates in parallel, so a 5 point difference in IQ causes a doubling in problem solving speed. If this theory is scientifically correct, Canadians are twice as smart as Americans.
The concept of intelligence doubling every 5 IQ points is extremely confusing for people because the fastest reaction times humanly possible are not even twice as quick as the average reaction time, so how the heck can the smartest people be tens of thousands of times smarter than average people? But smarter people don’t just have faster minds, the have greater working memory capacity, and each one unit increase in working memory should be regarded as increase in mental bandwidth. The speed with which water can fill a tank is a not just a function of how fast it’s traveling, but how wide the water hose is. Smarter people don’t just have faster nerve conduction speeds, they also have bigger brains that can hold more information simultaneously, but unless you have an IQ above 150 and a background in computer science to boot, don’t even try to understand what I’m talking about, because you don’t have the speed or parallel processing to cope with a concept this complex and abstract.
Back to Canadians being twice as smart as Americans. I think a good example of this was that Canada had the wisdom to oppose the Iraq war, which in retrospect has turned out to be a mistake. Another example is that even students at Harvard (America’s most prestigious university) can’t tell you the capital of Canada.
How does one not know the capital of one of only two countries that border your own, despite having the finest education money can buy? I guarantee that you could walk into any Canadian university and the vast majority of students would know America’s capital. Of course in fairness, Canadians pay far more attention to America than Americans pay to us because America is arguably still the World’s sole superpower.
So if Canadians are so smart, why aren’t we the leading superpower? It’s partly because our population is smaller and our IQ’s are much less variable, so America should have far more incredibly brilliant people than Canada does (the Canadian IQ standard deviation is only 13.4 compared to the American SD of 15). Assuming an idealized Gaussian distribution, the smartest American has an IQ of 187, while the smartest Canadian has an IQ of 177. So while the average Canadian might be twice as smart as the average American, the smartest American might have quadruple the intelligence of the smartest Canadian.