Why it seems like many high-IQ people ‘underachieve’

As if their earlier article How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent In Math wasn’t bad enough, Nauseo.us magazine keeps raising the bar in demonstrating stupidity about all matters pertaining to IQ and intelligence, in their latest article If You Think You’re a Genius, You’re Crazy. We need to raise awareness about Nauseo.us magazine in the hope people will stop taking them seriously and stop reading and sharing their articles. Nauseo.us is just anther version of ‘fake news’, but under the veneer of intellectualism and ‘science’. People read Nauseo.us because they think they are gaining some sort valuable scientific insight, but they’re just stepping in the brain droppings of someone who has no idea what they are talking about.

But cognitive disinhibition has a dark side: It is positively associated with psychopathology. For example, schizophrenics find themselves bombarded with hallucinations and delusions that they would be much better off filtering out.2 So why don’t the two groups become the same group? According to Harvard University psychologist Shelly Carson, the creative geniuses enjoy the asset of superior general intelligence. This intelligence introduces the necessary cognitive control that enables the person to separate the wheat from the chaff. Bizarre fantasies are divorced from realistic possibilities.

According to this conception, high intelligence is essential to creative genius, but only insofar as it collaborates with cognitive disinhibition. Exceptional intelligence alone yields useful but unoriginal and unsurprising ideas. Marilyn vos Savant made it into the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s highest recorded IQ, and yet has not managed to find a cure for cancer or even build a better mousetrap.

Often, ‘brilliance’ is conferred upon by peers, not by absolute merit alone. The Nobel Prize is mostly luck on top of existing skill (skill is a necessary but insufficient condition)…many others are equally skilled, but only a handful of people can win, by making the right discoveries at the right time. Had Einstein not discovered the photoelectric effect, some other German likely would have. Einstein gets most of the credit for general relativity, but a handful of mathematicians who are far less famous discovered the underlying tensor math that made general relativity possible. Using awards and public adulation as criteria for intelligence and brilliance is insufficient. Often, a major discovery involves many people who build the foundation of knowledge, but only maybe two or three people get most of the fame for publishing results that use such knowledge.

Also, Marilyn vos Savant’s IQ ‘score’ of 228 is a hoax, discredited by psychometricians, and was a contributing factor in the Guinness Book of World Records retiring the ‘highest IQ’ category in 1990:

Alan S. Kaufman, a psychology professor and author of IQ tests, writes in IQ Testing 101 that “Miss Savant was given an old version of the Stanford-Binet (Terman & Merrill 1937), which did, indeed, use the antiquated formula of MA/CA × 100. But in the test manual’s norms, the Binet does not permit IQs to rise above 170 at any age, child or adult. And the authors of the old Binet stated: ‘Beyond fifteen the mental ages are entirely artificial and are to be thought of as simply numerical scores.’ (Terman & Merrill 1937). …the psychologist who came up with an IQ of 228 committed an extrapolation of a misconception, thereby violating almost every rule imaginable concerning the meaning of IQs.”[12] Savant has commented on reports mentioning varying IQ scores she was said to have obtained.[13]

Anyone who still believes her IQ is 228 (or anywhere close to that) is unqualified to write about IQ.

The author also perpetuates the common misconception that having a high IQ is mostly a waste or meaningless, except for the handful of people who apply their intelligence, to, in words of the author, ‘cure cancer’. This is an example of binary thinking or false dichotomy: either a high-IQ person makes an earth-shattering discovery, preferably all on his own, or his IQ is useless and possibly even a burden–there is no in between. As part of the left’s denial of IQ, they create a hurdle for intelligence that is so impossibly high (making earthshaking-discoveries) that virtually no one can clear it, including most brilliant people. As it turns out, having a high-IQ is good for many things–not just for making those ‘earth-shattering discoveries’, but rather more mundane things such as publishing a book, publishing a research paper, making more money, living longer, etc. From Beyond the Blank Slate: How Libs Turn High-IQ Into a Handicap;

While the Terman study produced no Nobel Prize winners or technology billionaires, statistically speaking, a higher IQ increases the likelihood of success as measured by academic output, creative output (like punishing a book), income, and other indicators. There is a fascinating TedX talk about how standardized tests, contrary to what the left says about such tests being useless, can predict lifetime outcomes such as wages, being published in a journal, level of academic attainment, and so on.

You look at the most successful web 2.0 companies and all of the people involved – from the investors to the founders to the employees – all have above average IQs. The same goes for Wall St., or the vast majority of high-paying professions, where high intellect is required. The next Bill Gates or Zuckerberg isn’t going to have an average IQ. While there are low-tech ways to get rich such as skilled trades, the vast majority of people in unskilled professions, such as the low-paying service sector, make little money and barely get by. That’s not to say we should try to help these people – we shouldn’t, because that would be a waste of resources that could otherwise benefit more useful members of society, and entitlement spending is already too high.

Regarding the part about curing cancer, again the author demonstrates ignorance on multiple accounts. Cancer is not just a single disease–but one of many. To say cancer is ‘curable’ is a misnomer–cancer can never truly be ‘cured’ in the same way most viruses and bacterial infections can be; instead, doctors try to achieve a NED (no evidence of disease) state for patients, and if the disease does not recur, it is considered cured, but there is no guarantee it won’t recur. Developing cancer treatments, like most advanced technologies, requires large research teams and lots of money…no single high-IQ person will ‘cure cancer’ by his or own own self.

But then why does it seems like so many high-IQ people ‘underachieve’…first, as explained above, the left has created an unreasonably high threshold or standard for what constitutes success for high-IQ people. The archetype of the underachieving high-IQ person is largely a social construct or trope that is perpetuated by the less intelligent (but also some intelligent people do it do) who want to feel better about themselves and or to downplay the importance of IQ. But if it seems like high-IQ people ‘underachieve’, there are two possible reasons why:

A child may learn to read at 3 instead of 5, which suggests an IQ of 167 (using mental age), and is a very impressive feat, but there is no obvious proportionally equivalent achievement for someone who is, say, 40 years old (how do you read at a 67-year-old level?). This is why mental age fails for measuring IQ beyond childhood and why mental age tends to be unreliable for the highest of IQ.

Anther problem is that much of the ‘low handing fruit’ in terms of discoveries has now been picked, a problem compounded by the exponential growth of the world population over the past 100 year and the use of computers to automate the research process. This could explain why the age of Nobel Prize recipients in the sciences is increasing.

Gustav Källstrand, a senior curator at the Nobel Museum, told us that 100 years ago there were only around 1,000 physicists. Today there are an estimated one million in the world.

Now only is there more competition due to larger population size, but there is so much more requisite material to learn. An aspiring 21st-century theoretical physicist must learn quantum theory, string theory, and general relativity, whereas 100 years ago such concepts didn’t exist, and learning this stuff, which is very mathematically intensive, takes time. Due to the aforementioned factors, much of math and physics research over the past half century has been very incremental, often involving a fine-combed search for small adjustments to preexisting ideas–not ‘earth shattering’ breakthroughs. But this applies to all fields–economics, biology, psychology, etc. The average published economics paper is much longer and has many more co-authors than economics papers published half a century ago. Modern papers often run 40-60 pages and involve tons of compiled data and very sophisticated statistical analysis, taking many years and multiple economists to complete, and if that is not hard enough, the rejection rate is very high for prestigious journals due to the oversupply to papers and scarcity of journal space to publish them (as shown below). Like everything else, the market for academic research has become very saturated over the past few decades. Some on the ‘right’ insist the world is dumbing-down, yet all these major prestigious journals are being inundated with more manuscripts than they could ever hope to publish.

Source: Nine facts about top journals in economics

Anyone who is STEM and finance would agree that it’s more competitive and difficult than ever, even for brilliant people hoping to stand out among the ranks of their equally brilliant peers.