Reaction time is perhaps the most physiological, culture fair measure of intelligence. If your reaction time is slow, it means your brain is probably slow, and you’re deficient in a major component of intelligence. Of course reaction time is only moderately g loaded, so don’t be too depressed if you take this test and find out your reaction time is way slower than you thought. The great thing about this test is that it averages your 5 scores for you. Maybe practice for about five minutes to make sure you’re used to the test and know how it works, and then once you feel comfortable, do an official five trials and consider the average the computer calculates, your official average reaction time.
Ever wanted to determine the IQ of someone who didn’t want to be tested? I have the solution. Simply say “I’m doing a survey, in your opinion, who are the 10 most influential people in history? By influential I mean, had the greatest impact on history and humanity.”
Before reading any further, readers should ask themselves this question, and write down your answers.
While many people don’t like taking IQ tests because they fear they’re being judged, people are more tolerant of surveys, especially short ones, especially when they feel their opinion is being valued. So this is a brief one question IQ test disguised as a survey.
So once you get people to give their opinions, it’s time to score their answers. For each of the 10 people they name who ranks in the top ten of Michael Hart’s list of the 100 most influential persons in history, they get 2 points. For each of the 10 people they name who ranks from #11 to #100, they get 1 point. For each person they name who is not on Hart’s list, they get 0 points. Maximum score 20 points.
Converting these raw points into IQ equivalents will take some research but I suspect this test might have a respectable correlation with IQ because it takes general knowledge and judgement to identify the 10 most influential people in history, and general knowledge correlates highly with general intelligence.
Because history was influenced by science, religion, politics, literature etc, one needs a knowledge and understanding of all those topics to answer this question competently so general knowledge is crucial.
While psychiatrists have long used measures of general knowledge as a rough and ready measure of intelligence, psychologists avoided it, understanding that intelligence and knowledge are two different things. However when the results of the army IQ tests came in during WWI, the big surprise was that general knowledge correlated better with overall IQ than any other subtest. As David Wechsler would later say, the size of a man’s knowledge is not only an index of his schooling, but a measure of his intellect. While knowledge and intelligence should never be confused, it’s obvious that smarter brains can absorb more information, better organize and categorize it, and more quickly retrieve it.
Out of all the negative correlates of IQ, my favorite is weight/height ratio. By negative correlation, I mean that the two variables tend to move in opposite directions, so the higher one’s weight/height ratio, the lower one’s IQ tends to be. Why is this my favorite negative correlation? Because it confirms all the stereotypes we see in movies about the skinny nerd being smarter than the beefy jock, and the completely anorexic space alien invader being way smarter than both. It’s also consistent with our evolutionary history. As humans evolved from dumb apes, we gained height and lost muscle. As scientist Steve Hsu once quipped, “we are the geeks of the animal kingdom” and you can kind of look at the way humans slaughtered the burly neanderthals and are now racing to destroy the planet for all the musclebound animals as a kind of inter-species version of Revenge of the Nerds or what the Lion of the Blogosphere calls beta male rage.
But within humans, how real is this negative correlation between IQ and weight/height ratio, what’s causing it, and how strong is it? Blogger Jayman seems to feel the negative correlation is driven by low IQ fat people, rather than the dumb jocks. Jayman writes:
It is commonly known that poorer (i.e., stupider) people tend to be fatter. It is commonly believed that this stems from things associated with low IQ, like poor impulse control and low future-time orientation, and indeed those things likely play a role. But it’s telling to see just how stark the relationship is.
Satoshi Kanazawa (who, despite the removal of his Big Think page, still very much publishes; see his website) did just that. Looking at a nationally representative primarily White British sample (n just under 10,000 in the last waves, 97% White), he found that IQ measured in childhood excellently predicts obesity at age 51:
Technical points (you may want to skip this part)
While the chart Jayman cites certainly makes it appear as though there’s a strong relationship, I respectfully disagree with Jayman’s claim that childhood IQ “excellently predicts obesity at age 51”. What the chart shows is that people with childhood IQ’s below 75 (probably IQ 70 on average) and people above childhood IQ 125 (IQ 130 on average) differ by 2.9 BMI units. Based on using the standard errors and sample sizes reported this source, I was able to calculate that American white men and women in their 50s both have a mean body mass index of 29 and a standard deviation of 7 to 9. While weight is probably lower in Britain, they also probably have a BMI standard deviation around 8. What that means is that people who differ by an astonishing four standard deviations in childhood IQ, differ by only 0.36 standard deviations in BMI. This implies the correlation between childhood IQ and age 50 weight/height ratio is only -0.09. Squaring the correlation, childhood IQ explains less than 1% of the variation in age 50 BMI. Hardly an excellent predictor.
However it may be unrealistic to expect much of a prediction from childhood IQ, since childhood IQ only correlates about 0.7 with adult IQ. Dividing the -0.09 correlation by 0.7 gives -0.13 which probably better reflects the relation between IQ and weight/height ratio. Still a very weak correlation, but a lot more respectable looking.
Anorexic IQ (technical analysis, you may want to skip)
A second way to estimate the negative correlation between IQ and weight/height ratio is to look at the IQ’s of anorexics. According to this meta-analysis, anorexics have IQ’s about 11 points higher than average when measured on the Wechsler scales and 6 points above average when estimated from a reading test. Normally I would split the difference, but a lot of academics are clueless about the Flynn Effect and are probably administering outdated versions of the Wechsler scales that give inflated scores. Since reading tests are much less sensetive to outdated norms, I will assume anorexics are 6 IQ points smarter than average. And since anorexics tend to be overwhelmingly white, and the whites score about 3 IQ points above the national average, anorexics score only 3 points higher than other whites. On the other hand, anorexics are overwhelmingly women, and women score maybe 2 points lower than the national average, and so anorexics are probably roughly 5 points smarter than other white women (+0.33 SD)
How much skinnier than average are anorexics? Well based on this source, white American women under 40 have an average body mass index of 26.5 with a standard deviation of 8.9. Assuming the average anorexic woman is a white woman under 40 with a BMI of 17, then anorexics are 1.07 standard deviations skinnier than normal (for young white women). Given that they are 0.33 SD smarter than normal, this implies a negative correlation of -0.31 between IQ and weight/height ratio.
The Bottom Line
Based on my analysis of the chart Jayman’s cited and my analysis of anorexic IQ, I estimate that among people of the same country, gender, and ethnicity, the negative correlation between IQ and weight/height ratio is -0.13 to -0.31; splitting the difference, about -0.22. This is may be a low correlation, but small correlations can have big effects, and what this correlation really suggests is that among people of the same age, gender, race and nationality, the scrawniest 2% will be a full 13 IQ points smarter (on average) than the least skinny 2%, though virtually the full range of human intelligence can be found at virtually every body type. So before you condescend to the big bury bouncer, just remember, he might be the smartest man in America.
As we approach the two year anniversary of scholar J. Philippe Rushton’s death, now would be a good time for me to share my memories of this exceptional man. Being Canadian, I had heard about this man all my life, and the news coverage wasn’t flattering. Canada’s a liberal country, and so Rushton attracted controversy for researching whether there was a link between between brain size, intelligence, geographic ancestry, and sex. But as I developed an interest in Oprah, I couldn’t help but wonder what Rushton would think if he knew the world’s most influential woman was arguably the world’s biggest brained woman, and that perhaps the world’s richest black (at the time) was arguably the world’s biggest brained black. To me the absolute symmetry of something that perfectly aligned was so irresistible, aesthetically pleasing, and almost divine, that I had to tell him.
And so I picked up the phone and began dialing the phone number of the University of Western Ontario, but before the phone had finished ringing I hung up. I was terrified that I would look foolish for even trying to discuss something as lowbrow and pop-culture as a daytime talk show host with a learned scholar. I was also terrified that he would be the racist the media had portrayed him as and would be furious that I even suggested a black woman could be brilliant. I realize these fears sound childish, but I was only a high school kid at the time and a pretty immature one. Finally I decided to walk through my fear and dial the number. I think a switch board operator came on, and I asked to speak with J. Philippe Ruhston, and as his direct line began to ring, part of me was hoping he wouldn’t pick up, and then:
“Phil Rushton, here” he answered.
After making a bit of small talk, I asked him if he had ever seen The Oprah Winfrey Show. He had seen it a few times he replied. I mentioned that her head size was enormous.
“I would imagine that a lot of these black entertainers are very intelligent,” he replied.
“Her head is twenty-five and a quarter inches around,” I explained.
“Where did you get that figure?” he asked, quite startled.
I explained that Oprah had mentioned the figure on her show, in the context of explaining why she has to have her hats custom made.
“Isn’t that interesting that hers should be so big. I’ll have to take a closer look the next time I see her on television”
I then asked him what he thought Oprah’s IQ was, given her incredible wealth. He evaded the question, saying only that she was a unique combination of genes, but did finally say “there are always going to be those who are way off in the top 1%. And indeed one would have to be to succeed in a field as competitive as television talk shows.”
It was unclear whether he meant she was in the top 1% of the general population, or the the top 1% of her race, since Rushton was a race scholar, but either way, the conversation went so well that I would start phoning him once every couple months. On cold dark Canadian afternoons, I would make a nice cup of hot chocolate against the cold outside and phone this brilliant eloquent man I regarded (and still regard) as the Darwin of the 20th century. It was the best education you could have, and I think for him too, it was rewarding to finally talk to someone who was interested in his theories entirely for their scientific value, with no political or ideological motivation whatsoever, and even while still in high school, I had a PhD level of knowledge of intelligence research and I would ask questions he considered “stimulating”, questions that required “a great deal of thought”.
But in life nothing lasts forever, and sadly, Rushton and I drifted apart. I developed an interest in the Flynn effect and was interested to learn that Victorians had scored the same as modern Africans on culture reduced IQ tests. I thought Rushton would also find it interesting because he did a lot of cross-cultural IQ testing, administering culture reduced IQ tests to South African Blacks and European Roma…but he didn’t find it interesting, he found it boring and would have none of it.
It turned out Rushton was one of those “The Flynn effect is irrelevant” people. He found it prima facie absurd that we could have been a nation of mentally disabled people a century ago. It simply didn’t make any sense to him, given the outstanding achievements of early 20th century society. But it didn’t make any sense to me why the same tests that were culture reduced enough to measure the intelligence of South Africans could be so wrong when measuring Victorian intelligence. I needed an explanation. The Flynn effect is unrelated to g (general intelligence) and that was enough for him to just dismiss it and move on.
But in one of our last conversations, he told me that he thought my Oprah discovery was absolutely fascinating and encouraged me to publish it in an academic journal. I decided it would be much easier to just publish it on my blog instead; I just deeply regret having waited so long to do so, because I had no idea he would die so young.
I realize many people were deeply offended by his theories and I have great empathy for that, but Rushton deserves great credit for maintaining his convictions and dignity in the face of unimaginable academic, media, and political hostility. And when I see this video, it makes me smile:
I estimate that the average HBD blogger has an IQ around 124 (equivalent to a PhD) and the average HBD blog reader has an IQ around 115 (equivalent to a college graduate). But not all HBD blogs are equal. Some have much brighter readers than others. How does one determine the IQ of their readers? Well you certainly don’t ask people their IQ’s because people constantly exaggerate or selectively report their IQ’s, quite often by over 50 points! People are far more honest about their height, especially in an anonymous poll. This gave me an idea. Polling readers about their height might indirectly reveal their IQ. Of course, the correlation between IQ and height is quite weak (0.2) so knowing the height of any particular individual tells us virtually nothing about her IQ, but knowing the average height of a group is potentially revealing under certain circumstances.
Blogs select people for IQ because IQ largely determines what topics you find interesting and what topics you can understand. But when you select for IQ, whatever happens to be correlated with IQ gets dragged along for the ride. Scholar Arthur Jensen wrote about a study where mice were selected for maze solving ability. After several generations, it was found that the selection caused the mice to have larger brains. More surprising was that the maze bright mice had bigger bodies too, suggesting that the body was serving as a power pack for the brain.
Based on the anonymous poll I recently conducted, readers of brainsize.wordpress.com have a median height of six feet, which is 0.62 standard deviations above America’s tallest major demographic group (white men under 40). Why would Brain Size readers be so tall? NBA players are tall because height is an advantage in basketball, CEOs are tall because height projects leadership, but none of these selection pressures apply to people posting invisibly on a blog. Thus, the only conceivable reason why Brain Size readers are tall must be that they have high IQ’s and height is correlated with IQ. For the same reason, I would expect Brain Size readers to have large heads and a higher than average frequency of myopia, both of which are also correlated with IQ. Assuming that IQ is the only reason why Brain Size readers are tall, it’s possible to estimate their IQ’s.
The correlation between height and IQ is 0.2, and knowing that Brain Size readers are 0.62 standard deviations taller than average, then dividing 0.62 by 0.2 tells us that Brain Size readers are 3.1 standard deviations above average in IQ (IQ 147). What I just did there is called a validity generalization; for an in-depth discussion on the concept, read the comment section of this post where I discussed the topic with Michael Woodley (one of the greatest scientists in the world, in my opinion).
Given that the average IQ on other HBD blogs is 115 in my opinion, it is astonishing that the average IQ here is 147 (more than two standard deviations higher!). The average IQ at Harvard is about 130, so people here are more than one standard deviation higher than students at the most prestigious university in the world! Only one in a 1000 Americans have IQ’s of 147 or higher.
Given these facts, many will be skeptical that Brain Size readers could really be that brilliant (on average). For starters, the estimate was based on height. Even though it’s unlikely people would lie about their height on an anonymous poll, they could still be delusional. While research suggests that self-reported height is about an inch too high, we should also keep in mind that I used white males aged 20-40 as the reference group. Many Brain Size readers are either not white, not male, or not under 40, and to the extent that Brain Size readers come from shorter demographics, their heights actually underestimates their IQ, and so the estimated IQ of 147 is just as likely to be too low as too high.
I think the average IQ here really is around 147. People here are unlike commentators on any other HBD blog. Among Brain Size readers are some of the greatest scientists in the world, a child prodigy, a self-proclaimed BGI study participant, and “Pincher Martin”, one of the most learned and erudite people I have ever seen posting anywhere on the web.
If the radical theory that (genetic) intelligence has been declining by the equivalent of 1.16 IQ points per decade is correct, scientists should hurry up and try to figure out how to clone the Victorians while they still have enough intelligence to do so, because at the rate genetic IQ is dropping, we may need Victorians to run our society before utter collapse. If this theory is correct, in just the last 125 years, we’ve set human evolution back at least 10,000 years and have done incredible genetic damage to our species.
And yet since the 19th century, intelligence as measured by IQ tests has increased at least 30 points, causing the difficulty of IQ tests to constantly have to be increased to keep the average score from rising above 100. This is known as the Flynn effect.
Earlier this summer I though I had the Flynn effect all figured out. Of course it wasn’t me who figured it out, it was scholar Richard Lynn who decades ago noted that the rise in IQ scores had been paralleled by a rise in height (and brain size) so obviously nutrition was causing both. The average Victorian man had an IQ below 70 (by modern standards) and a height around 5’5.8″. The average young white man today has an IQ around 100 and a height of 5’10.4″. So IQ has increased by about two standard deviations, and height has increased by a comparable amount (1.78 standard deviations). It seemed the nutrition theory explained everything quite nicely and I never quite understood why IQ experts kept violating Occam’s razor by searching for alternative explanations for the Flynn effect, when Lynn brilliantly explained it so long ago. And whenever the Flynn effect appeared bigger than nutrition could explain, Lynn noted that the increase in 20th century schooling probably spuriously added an additional 8 or so IQ points to modern test scores.
The problem is that this new theory that genetic intelligence declined by one standard deviation since the Victorian era means that we no longer have to only explain why moderns are scoring two standard deviations above Victorians on psychometric tests, we also have to explain why they’re not scoring one standard deviation lower. In other words we have a three standard deviation IQ difference to explain and nutrition (as measured by height) has only increased by 1.78 standard deviations.
But then I had an epiphany. If dysgenics has caused our genetic IQ to drop by one standard deviation, then why not our genetic height? Well, genetic intelligence has declined because in the absence of natural selection (survival of the fittest), low IQ people have more children than high IQ people because they have trouble controlling their sex drives, planning ahead and using birth control. There’s no similar reason to expect short people to have more children (and in fact the research shows that while short women have more kids, short men have less, so it’s a wash).
But dysgenic fertility is only half the proposed explanation for the one standard deviation drop in genetic IQ. The other half was explained by increased mutation load, and there’s reason to think height might be just as depressed by mutation load as IQ is. So just as mutations caused half the one standard deviation decline in genetic IQ, they likely depressed genetic height by half a standard deviation.
So I think if scientists were able to clone the Victorians, we would not only find that they score about 115 on IQ tests if reared in modern society (as opposed to the sub-70 IQ’s they would have obtained in the 19th century), but we would also find that Victorian men would be taller than white men today and clock in at 5’11.7″ (2.3 standard deviations higher than the 5’5.8″ height they had in their own era). In other words, when you control for genetic decline, we see nutrition has probably actually increased by 2.3 standard deviations, almost enough to explain the three standard deviation IQ difference we would expect between Victorians raised in our time compared to their time.
How can the remaining 0.7 standard deviation be explained? Probably by the rise in schooling, media, parental socio-economic status and other cultural factors that artificially prop up IQ scores without actually increasing intelligence.
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.
It is a common belief, even among some brilliant IQ experts, that educating people, and providing people with knowledge and understanding, can actually make them smarter. But this belief is false.
A Promethean once told a story about how 90% of chess grandmasters could not solve a chess puzzle that many high IQ people who suck at chess can easily solve. If I recall, the problem involved putting many queens on a five by five chess board so that all of the queens would be safe. Grandmasters often have ten or more years of education, knowledge and understanding related to chess, yet were not able to solve a chess problem that high IQ chess beginners with chess ratings about 1000 points lower could solve quite quickly. This demonstrates that education, knowledge, and understanding improve specific skills but do virtually nothing to improve one’s ability to adapt when the situation changes and adaptability is the essence of intelligence. Chess grandmasters are experts at playing chess on an eight by eight board with one queen per player, but all that expertise did not increase their intelligence. It didn’t even increase their chess intelligence because they were no longer chess masters when the rules of chess changed. All it improved was their ability to play the very specific form of conventional chess they had practiced.
Scholar Arthur Jensen cited a study where people practiced over and over to improve their short-term memory. At first people could repeat only seven digits from memory, but with practice they could improve up to 100 digits. But when asked to repeat letters instead of digits, they were back down to only seven. So all that endless training did nothing to improve their short-term memory span, let alone their overall intelligence. All it improved was the extremely narrow specific ability they practiced.
Cognitive abilities are hierarchical. At the top of the hierarchy is said to be g (general intelligence). One level below g is what’s called second-order factors (i.e. verbal ability, spatial ability, and memory). The next level down, these second-order factors are subdivided into primary factors. So verbal ability might be subdivided into primary factors such as verbal comprehension, verbal fluency etc. Spatial ability might be subdivided into primary factors such as 2D spatial reasoning and 3D spatial reasoning etc. Memory might be divided into long-term memory and short-term memory. At the bottom of the hierarchy, the primary factors can be subdivided into specific tests like memory span for digits, memory span for letters, jig-saw puzzle solving etc.
According to Jensen, the research shows that if you train yourself on a particular test, if you’re lucky, you might show improvement on another test dominated by the same primary factor, but the training will have virtually no impact on tests dominated by different primary factors, let alone different second order factors. In short, you can teach people knowledge, skills and understanding, but you can’t teach them how to think.
This is why I’m extremely skeptical when people try to provide educational or psychological explanations for the Flynn effect. Sure education can improve one’s knowledge and vocabulary, but the biggest Flynn effects have been found on tests involving “novel problem solving” and are on different primary or second-order factors from anything taught in school (or taught anywhere else most people experience since such tests were designed to be novel). Thus, to me, the most brilliant explanation for the Flynn effect ever provided was scholar Richard Lynn’s nutrition theory, because it provided a physiological rather than a psychological explanation for the Flynn effect. Richard Lynn is one of those old-school “psychological traits are like height” people that one of this blog’s commentators complains so much about.
A further blow to the “intelligence can be taught” people recently came from a devastating comment by blogger Meng Hu on Dr. James Thompson’s excellent blog:
deaf children are environmentally, severally, depressed, have academic achievement lower than the average children, and are severally depressed in their verbal skills, and yet their performance IQ (assessed by reasoning tests) was about 100 points, exactly the same as in the general population. That means neither school deprivation nor verbal deprivation can cause IQ.
Now the only caveat I should add is that in a recent post, I suggested that chronometric training might improve intelligence, however I consider chronometrics to be on a different level from psychological or educational training, and more similar to physiological training. But the jury’s still out on whether chronometric exercise can make you smarter.
One of the psychometric mysteries is why high IQ people tend to be liberal, even though a lot of liberal ideas are clearly nonsense. Eminent scientist and intelligence blogger Bruce Charlton has proposed that many high IQ people are clever sillies, meaning they use abstract novel problem solving to solve problems that are better solved with common sense, and as a consequence, come up with ideas like liberalism that seem silly to many people.
I think there are four main reasons why intelligent people tend to be liberal (or tend not to be conservative):
1) High IQ people are less criminal. It’s long been accepted that criminals score about 10 points lower than non-criminals, even when reared in the same home. I think the negative correlation between IQ and conservatism (and thus positive correlation between IQ and liberalism) is largely just an extension of the negative correlation between IQ and crime. I’m not saying that conservatives are criminal, but they often are more criminal than liberals. For example, conservatives are more likely to support war, and war involves killing people (a criminal type behavior). Rich conservatives also don’t feel they should pay their “fair share” in taxes which is arguably theft (another criminal type behavior). Just the act of getting rich sometimes involves behavior that some people would consider borderline criminal; hence the saying “behind every great fortune lies a great crime”, and thus the conservative worship of wealth (which I’m more guilty of than anyone, even though I’m not a conservative or a liberal) is to some extent a worship of crime (though intelligent crime). As to why IQ is negatively related to crime, I elaborated on the causal mechanism in one of my earliest blog posts. So just as an IQ 90 might look at an IQ 115 as a “clever silly” for paying for an expensive sweater when he could have just shop-lifted it, an IQ 115 might look at an IQ 130 as a “clever silly” for voting for politicians that promise to raise his taxes.
2) A second major reason why intelligent people tend to be liberal (related a bit to the first reason), is that conservatism is the default position. As Charlton once wrote on this blog “conservatism is natural and spontaneous”. I agree with this; conservatism is natural because conservatism is all about our most primitive self-serving impulses: tribalism, family and children, greed etc. Evolution has predisposed us to feel emotions that enhance our genetic fitness, and these are the conservative emotions, so conservatives are disgusted by immigration because it threatens their gene pool. They worship wealth because historically, the ability to acquire resources enhanced the survival of one’s self, one’s family, and one’s tribe. They are disgusted by feminism because feminist daughters threaten their genetic fitness by being too focused on career to give them grand-kids. Similarly, they are disgusted by gays because openly gay sons also don’t give them any grand-kids. So evolution has programmed us to feel conservative emotions, and thus only people who are intelligent enough to think critically about their evolutionary programming and rebel against it, tend to have the option of being liberal.
3) A third major reason why intelligent people tend to be liberal is that intelligence is the mental ability to adapt and liberalism is all about change. By contrast, those who are not intelligent enough to adapt to a changing society or just new ideas, may fear it, and thus prefer conservatism which seeks to preserve tradition.
4) A final reason why intelligent people tend to be liberal is that liberalism is more complex and ambiguous. By contrast conservatism seeks simple solutions and simple dichotomies like good vs evil, us vs. them. However just because liberalism is more intellectually demanding than conservatism does not make it more correct. I find a lot of smart people really are “clever sillies” in that they embrace theories and ideas that are unnecessarily complex and this is probably a major problem in the IQ 120-140 range that so many of our elites are drawn from. Such people are smart enough to think of complex answers to questions, but they’re not smart enough to understand why the complex solution is wrong. They suffer from bounded cognition, because they haven’t internalized Occam’s razor.
However I suspect clever silliness completely vanishes at extremely high IQ levels. The only person I’ve ever known with a genuine IQ above 180 (one in 30 million level), embraced simple elegant explanations of the world, and communicated with great clarity, succinctness and precision, not the pretentious long-windedness of the clever sillies. I never did ask him if he was a liberal or a conservative. We had far more important issues to discuss.
Recently self-proclaimed BGI study participant and outspoken HBD critic “Duke of Leinster” claimed on this blog that World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Joe Louis, was considered mentally slow by his friends. The Duke felt this was another example of intelligence evaluation being wrong, since the Duke felt Louis had a big head and because the Duke felt that a mentally slow person could never be the greatest boxer. I looked at the wikipedia page on Louis and couldn’t find much about his intelligence, other than the fact that he had a speech impediment and spoke very little before about age six.
However this is the third World Heavyweight Boxing champion I’ve heard of being mentally slow. The first was Muhammad Ali who according to the book A Question of Intelligence by Daniel Seligman scored an IQ equivalent of 78 on his armed services exam. The second was Mike Tyson whose school file classified him as borderline “mentally retarded” which typically means an IQ in the 70-79 range.
What are the odds that three of the world’s heavy weight boxing champions had allegedly such low IQ’s? That can’t be a coincidence. It implies a NEGATIVE correlation between IQ and boxing skill, meaning low IQ people are actually better boxers than high IQ people. But that makes no sense. Intelligence can be defined as the mental ability to adapt whatever situation you’re in to your advantage and few situations require as much real time quick thinking and mental adaptability as physical combat. Obviously we shouldn’t expect a high correlation between IQ and boxing ability because it’s primary a physical ability, not a mental one, and it’s a skill developed through much practice, but we also shouldn’t expect a NEGATIVE correlation between IQ and boxing ability.
So how do we make sense of all these allegedly low IQ boxing champions? For starters an IQ of 78 is actually kind of high when you consider that these boxers were recruited from the poorest, most culturally deprived communities in America. Although scholar Arthur Jensen became famous for claiming that IQ is highly genetic, even he admits that there’s an almost invisible segment of America that lives in environments so bad, that environment actually does matter a lot for this small population. Jensen studied culturally deprived children in the rural South and found that while they started with a respectable IQ of 85, their IQ’s slowly regressed to 70 by adolescence. Something in the environment was dragging their IQ’s down. The obvious suspect was poor schooling, but since even non-verbal IQ showed this massive decline, it may have been a decline in real intelligence, not academic skills only. In a previous post I discussed a groundbreaking theory that reaction time training improves the dynamic component of intelligence, so perhaps the culturally deprived see their IQ’s drop because they lack video games, television, and fast driving parents who take them on chronometrically stimuating road trips on freeways.
So boxers are recruited from cultures so deprived they average IQ 70, but since heavyweight boxing requires a lot of muscle and a violent personality (you must assault people for a living), and since both weight/height ratio and violence are related to low IQ, those who are recruited to box are even lower than 70; perhaps IQ 60, on average. So when you consider that boxers are recruited from the most culturally deprived, muscular, and violent segment of society, IQ is actually a huge advantage in boxing, because IQ 78 is probably much higher than the average for culturally deprived muscular violent people.
However even though IQ 78 is relatively high, it seems low for Muhammad Ali. Scholar Charles Murray felt the score was believable, but many others beg to differ, for example, scholar Tony Buzan ranks Ali as the 32nd greatest Genius of all time! I wouldn’t go that far, but Ali’s IQ of 78 was likely spuriously lowered by the fact that he was dyslexic (and opposed to joining the army) and Tyson’s IQ was likely spuriously lowered by the fact that he couldn’t read.
I also think that once these men started boxing, their IQ’s may have increased because complex reaction time has been hypothesized to improve the dynamic component of intelligence, though I don’t know if this is true or not.
Jensen reportedly claimed that Ali had an average reaction time, however scholar Leon Kamin claimed Jensen was wrong, and that Ali’s reaction speed actually approached the physiological limit of the human species!