IQ: More than Just a Number

This post isn’t topical, but it’s been sitting in my draft folder for awhile, so I may well publish it. It isn’t a stretch to saw we’re in a slow news cycle, with the usual Hilary and Ferguson headlines. The Obamacare subsidy Supreme Court decision won’t be announced until June (!), despite the justices having rendered a decision last week. Why not have the justices announce now and then write the statements later? The whole system is so archaic.

We can delineate the basics of IQ, with hopefully little controversy: Among a homogeneous population of individuals that have been tested for IQ, high-scoring people perform better at a set of skills as measured by the IQ test (memorization, pattern recognition, etc) than low-scoring people, and individual differences in these skills manifest themselves in various aspects of life from income, to educational attainment, to success at various fields, with higher-scoring individuals tending to excel and rising to rarefied preeminence and lower scoring people making up the hidden ‘bulk’ of society. It’s like Nixon’s silent majority, but it’s the silent intellectually average majority. But at the same time, there is perhaps a tendency of people in the ‘HBD community’ to overestimate the IQ threshold necessary to perform various intellectual tasks. People with low IQ scores are quite functional in ways that may belie their low score, high-IQ people are very exceptional, and the vast majority of people are inbetween.

From Penelope Trunk: Stop thinking you’ll get by on your high I.Q

But it sure as hell helps.

Robert Lindsey in a post Why You Don’t Want to Be a Genius, writes:

Furthermore, brains have zero value in US society, hence bragging about them is proscribed. If brains were as valued as money and you could get you just as many chicks and as much validation as cold cash, bragging about would be the like soup du jour, an everyday thing.

Maybe that was so in the pre-2008 era, but not in our post-2008 high-IQ aristocracy, smartist era, and rise of nerd culture. Bragging about brains is proscribed because it makes people mad out of envy, not because brains have no value.

But he’s correct here:

Since they are such a great big negative, why all the fuss about “bragging” about brains? I suggest it’s sour grapes. Even though your average moron says he hates brains, and every day he sets out to prove just that, deep down inside, he resents the brainiacs.

People are envious because deep down they know that brains do matter, and that IQ is not just a number but a measure of self-worth in an economy and society that increasingly rewards intellect. Being smarter makes you more evolved, with a higher sensory perception to the world around you, versus, say, being oblivious like a potted plant. This is why Gladwell is so popular because he tells the masses what they want to hear: that IQ is not barrier to success, practice is. And if some people are better at intellectual tasks than others, it’s solely because of environmental factors, not because some people are innately better than others. People want to believe they have free will. Even if few are smart enough to be a rocket scientist, we feel good knowing that we have the potential to become one, if only we practice enough.

They’ve turned off way more women than they turned on. They’ve hardly made me a nickel.

More brains = more potential to make money. It’s no guarantee you will make money, but it certainly helps. Like being 7 feet tall, it helps if you want to be in the NBA, but of course it’s no guarantee.

Although the left denies it, many people would without hesitation choose higher IQ over better social skills. Sure, social skills can help you get a raise at Mcdonalds or a large tip or Applebee’s, but high-IQ is what makes you millions, gives you recognition, or merely makes you better than your competition at your intellectual endeavor of choice. It’s like, yeah, these social skills are great for asking the guy at the window if he wants fries with his burger. Whoopie doo. Give me an high-IQ and I can appreciate the depth of David Foster Wallace and Prouse, predict the direction of stocks and made thousands a week trading options, code an app and possibly make millions or even billions of dollars, enjoy the warm, smug feeling of self-assuredness knowing I’m the smartest person in the room, and understand the world not merely as a patron or an extra in the movie that is reality, but as an actor, screenwriter or director that shapes it.

Average folk are analogous to the helpless and oblivious laypeople who take their broken car to a repair shop, and high-IQ people are the repair men and engineers who demystify the complex machinery that makes the world tick. So to some degree there is an onus on high-IQ individuals to improve and serve the world, but most people if given a choice would prefer to not assume the helpless role, even if it’s human nature to want to take the path of least resistance. Like the myth of practice making perfect, people want to believe they can control their fate, that they can change the world.

And finally, a reasonably intelligent person should be able to feign good social skills when the situation calls for it, just like anyone with a room temperature IQ can fake a personality test.

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