Thoughts about IQ

On quora there are tons of questions about what it means to be smart, to have a high IQ, etc.

To try to answer this, I think it means you you arrive at the correct answer with less time and less effort than most people. You can look at the information provided and then just deduce the correct answer while expending little effort.

I did this with the stock market.I was able to ‘win’ at the market by focusing on FAANG stocks early on. This has been the superlative winning strategy on a risk-adjusted basis for the past decade, and I figured it out. I then told others about it. At the bottom of the Covid crash around April 2020 or so, I had my dad buy the dip. He held through the crash but wanted to add more. But options and individual stocks were off the table because he said they were too risky. So I had to find a solution given these restrictions. I had him put the $80k in one of the accounts into an evenly split mix of the following 3x ETFs: TECL, TQQQ, and FNGU. The positions have since gained around 300%. At an earlier time also had him buy (which doesn’t seem like much but it was the most he would buy) shares of Tesla at $470 (before the 5-1 split). Out of a pool of thousands of stocks to choose from, I picked one of the best stocks of 2020, and also one of the biggest companies in the world. I arrived at this choice without having think about it hard or having do to hours of research.

Same for Crypto. In 2018 having in invested and recommended Bitcoin in 2013 at around $100, I sold and put the money in stocks, which have outperformed Bitcoin on a risk-adjusted basis. In spring of 2021 when Bitcoin was above $50,000 I rightfully ignored the hype, knowing it would crash. The narrative at the time was that stimulus spending and inflation would propel Bitcoin to $100k; instead it fell 40% in May to $34,000, it’s worst month ever going as far back as 2011. It is conceivable that bitcoin surged in anticipation of those things, but once everyone had already bought, who was left to buy?

Maybe this has more to do with domain-specific knowledge than general intelligence, but I think people who have high general intelligence just are able to arrive at the correct answer sooner, owing to improved ability to filter out noise from signal and ability to make inferences from seemingly unrelated pieces of information. You see this with the LSAT: people who score well are not necessarily more literate than the general population, but consume and process information more efficiently. Charlie Munger uses and helped popularize the concept of mental models. I think there is some truth to that, in that once you develop the correct conceptual framework of how the world works, you cannot help but to be right most of the time. People who are wrong all the time are stuck on the wrong track or being fed bad info.


  1. I’m very grateful for your recommendations and observations concerning FAANG, TECL and TQQQ. I also bought TECL and TQQQ at the panic Covid sell-off in March 2020. I sold half of the proceeds in January because it was like dancing with a gorilla at that point, and bought USA, UTF and some other more defensive CEFs. So far, it’s worked well: CEFs (mostly geared to FAANG) and about 15% of my portfolio in x3 bull TECL and TQQQ. If TECL and TQQQ grow again to such a large % of my portfolio I will sell off again.

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