Donald Trump’s IQ is 115

According to Peterson, Trump’s IQ is ‘well-above average’. That can mean it’s as low as 115, or as high as 160. But because he dismisses the latter possibility, it’s probably somewhere closer to 1-2 SD above average (115-130).

There are problems when trying to estimate Trump’s IQ: first, it’s hard to know how smart Trump is, because little is known about his private life, especially his youth; second, you cannot judge someone’s intellect by their public persona; third, Trump’s accomplishments, although significant, are not predictive of IQ, because they are not necessarily cognitive ones. Writing a physics paper, yes, that’s deeply cognitive; a presidential campaign? Harder to know, because it’s a mix of ‘social intelligence’ and ‘crowd appeal’. It seems like candidates are more successful by downplaying intelligence.

Disagree with Jordan Peterson: starring in a successful reality TV show does not require a great IQ, especially given the subject matter itself (celebrities being given contrived business tasks and then afterwards meeting in Trump’s boardroom to determine who gets ‘fired’), and the fact Trump only had minimal involvement; his name is on the marquee but Mark Burnett did most of the work.

Childhood and adolescence provides a lot of insight into IQ, because often there are records, IQ tends to remain stable throughout life, and there is a high degree of conformity and homogeneity before people branch out into their individualistic adult lives. Skipping grades, ebullient praise from teachers, early gradation from college, high scores on standardized tests, mastery of difficult subjects (philosophy, STEM ,etc.), precocity, etc. all suggest superior intelligence, but we see none of that with Trump (or at least not according to any secondary or primary accounts). Although Wharton is a prestigious business school, it’s hard to know how much of a factor Trump’s family connections and wealth played a role, versus raw intelligence on Trump’s own part.

It’s possible the ‘left’ obtained Trump’s standardized scores, but the results are high enough that if made public it would torpedo the left’s narrative of Trump being an idiot. Similarly, Trump may not want to disclose his scores, if they are high enough, because it would hurt his public image of being ‘relatable’.

Trump has a book, but it’s ghostwritten. He doesn’t seem particularly well-read (at least not compared to the likes of Tyler Cowen and David Gelernter), and the evidence suggests doesn’t like to read books, but this is not especially predictive of IQ. Although vocabulary and reading comprehension are highly correlated highly with IQ, reading for pleasure, surprisingly, is not. George W. Bush has an IQ of around 125-130 (using SAT scores as a conversion), and is something of a bibliophile.

115? You have to be kidding. Making money is difficult. It’s a game played by a majority of men, and every single businessman. Competition is fierce. You might read Charles Murray on the subject – this is foundational iSteve material.

If you think that Trump managed to turn a loan of a million dollars into several billion, operating in NYC of all places against very, very savvy people, all with a 115 point IQ, there is something wrong with your reckoning. That this same person managed to star with excellent ratings in a hit TV show and then beat a field of 16 other candidates and a Republican and Democrat political dynasty, against a very hostile media as a political neophyte to become POTUS. He switched out his campaign manager 3 times, with the perfect person for the job each time. He hammered the issues most likely to win him the election, in a country with more non-white voters than ever before in history and so most likely to oppose a Republican candidate.

The evidence shows Trump inherited approximately $40 million from his father, Fred Trump. The paltry $1 million loan was fact-checked as false. He used his inheritance to invest in New York real estate at the depths of New York’s 70’s budget crisis, reaping huge returns when the market recovered. This requires some skill, but here is also some luck. The data also shows that had he invested the money in an index fund, he would have received better or equal returns, although this depends on how wealthy Trump is presently, and no one really knows. The correlation between income and IQ is strongest when comparing people of equal starting socioeconomic backgrounds, and obviously Trump was born wealthy.

Trump ran a masterful campaign–becoming President is no easy feat–but like winning a Superbowl, it’s not necessarily a cognitive one, like, say, winning a Field’s Medal or a Nobel Prize in physics. Having a less-than-genius IQ probably helped Trump connect with voters, whereas ‘smart’ candidates Jeb, Cruz, and Hillary were seen as out of touch. As a plus, Trump seemed to have adequate command the issues during the campaign–there were no campaign-ending ‘oops‘ or ‘Aleppo‘ moments. But being wealthy and savvy is not enough. Rap music moguls, for example, have a lot of money and business savvy, but do they have IQs that are 2+ standard deviations above average (130+)? Probably not, but one standard deviation above average seems more plausible, hence an IQ of 115. 115 is the typical IQ of a college graduate in a non-STEM field, so not a moron, but not rarefied genius either.