IQ Roundup

This week, some interesting posts about IQ:

From Pumpkin Person

The SAT is said to correlate about as well with IQ as two different IQ tests correlate with one another. In his book Real Education (pg 69-70), Charles Murray claims that only 17 year olds capable of getting an 1180+ on the post 1995 SAT (Critical Reading + Math) are true college material. Although 35% of American 17 year olds take the SAT, he estimates that only 10% of 17 year would score 1180+ if all of them took it.. In other words, 1180+ is equivalent to an IQ of 120+.

In his book Coming Apart (pg 375) he estimates an SAT score of 1400 is equivalent to an IQ of 135. From these two data points, we can create the following formula for converting SAT into IQ equivalents:

That’s a pretty high threshold according to Murray, but others say college is ‘dumbed down’, so it can’t be both. I suppose the threshold would apply to STEM an not other majors? Maybe Murray was referring to college back in his days, which had more rigorous standards, whereas today college may be easier. Nonetheless, the college dropout rate today is still very high (approx 60-50%), suggesting that even ‘dumbed down’ courses may prove too challenging for many, in agreement with Murray’s findings, although people leave for reasons besides the coursework being too hard.

From Evolutionist-X : Is Genius Fragile?

Environmentally, it is already obvious that genius is fragile–that is, it is much easier to drop someone one their head and subtract 40 IQ points than to find any intervention that will reliably add 40 points, but this does not necessarily preclude a variety of interesting genetic findings.

Entropy. Easier to break an egg than reassemble it.

The best ‘intervention’ we have is positive eugenics, since we know there is a hereditary component to IQ.

From Captain Capitalism: Viewing the Liberal Arts from Another Perspective

I remembered vaguely a rule of thumb you needed an IQ of about 115 to be an engineer, but I checked first before consulting and found I was wrong. It was more like 120, with some of the higher level engineers having an average IQ of around 128 (Economics, ahem, ahem, also came in at 128). Regardless, he had more than the raw potential to become any kind of engineer he wanted.

But as I looked down the list I noticed the dramatic drop in IQ as you went from STEM to the liberal arts. Matter of fact if you took the average of the top STEM fields and compared it to the bottom of the humanities your average roughly dropped form 128 to 106, a full 22 point or 1.5 standard deviation drop.

However, this does not necessarily prove STEM is harder. I imagine to be a competent writer, you at least need an IQ of least one or two standard deviations above average, just as you need to be fairly competent to do advanced math. There is a skill or intelligence in involved in forming cogent sentences, captivating plots, and other aspects that go into quality literature. Given that the college dropout rate is so high, maybe those ‘easy’ humanities courses are not easy as commonly assumed. As I can recall, in college the hardest class I took was composition, not calculus. Definitely not ‘dumbed down’ by any stretch.

In the comments, someone posts:

Ultimately, test scores mean nothing. The real test of intelligence is production: what you’ve produced, what you’ve done, what you’ve created.

It just so happens that people with high IQs tend to produce more economic value than those with lower IQs. They create companies, technologies, research, etc. Funny how that works.

From Robin Hansen Hive Mind:

Over the last few decades, economists and psychologists have quietly documented the many ways in which a person’s IQ matters. But, research suggests that a nation’s IQ matters so much more.

As Garett Jones argues in Hive Mind, modest differences in national IQ can explain most cross-country inequalities. Whereas IQ scores do a moderately good job of predicting individual wages, information processing power, and brain size, a country’s average score is a much stronger bellwether of its overall prosperity.

I haven’t read the book, but it would seem obvious that is makes no difference to the prosperity of America if my or your IQ is 30 or 130, but I imagine if enough people have low IQs it would eventually cause problems. A nation of smart productive people can support some dullards, but a national of dullards will probably fail (or at least suffer stagnation with high inflation). That’s what’s happening to South America, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey right now; low IQs are becoming problematic now that the 2002-2011 commodity boom is over and these low-IQ countries have little to offer economically. Also the cognitive capital flight, as the handful of smart people in these low-IQ countries move to America in search of better opportunities.