IQ: it is about relative success

An IQ of 160 on a normal distribution (as opposed to a ratio score) is very rare, so claims of such high IQ should always be treated with skepticism. Given that mathematicians and physicists IQs tend to max out at 145 or so (they can be much higher, but scores above that are very rare even for STEM fields), so to say Taleb has an IQ of 160 implies he is more brilliant than even some of the best physicists and mathematicians, and having seen Taleb’s work and CV, I can assure you he is not among the best by a long shot. So maybe 120-130 or so, which is still respectable. He was written some popular books, but you don’t need to have a very high IQ to write the type of books Taleb writes. It is possible his IQ is 160, but based on what I have seen, 135 is possibly where it maxes out. Taleb has not provided any documentation about his own IQ, so this leads me to believe it is not that high, especially given that providing a high score would be a major boost to his credibility by proving that his skepticism of IQ is not motivated by envy or resentment by having a middling IQ.

The above tweets prove what I have been saying since as early as 2013, which is that Tooleb is just another liberal who sees racism everywhere. He uses the same rhetoric against Charles Murray and other proponents of IQ research as the SJW-left does. His fanatical obsession with mask wearing and social distancing, is also in accordance with the left.

The crux of Taleb’s argument is that because IQ only has a modest correlation with certain life outcomes (such as wealth , income, career attainment, educational attainment, etc.), and hence the “percent of variance explained by IQ” (r^2) is small, that therefore IQ is almost meaningless/useless. Scatter plots that purport such a correlation have a lot of outliers and noise, as opposed to a nice linear correspondence, so one may be inclined to believe that IQ does predict much. From the post Taleb wrong about IQ and wealth & income , such plots are based off of Taleb’s willful or naive misinterpretation and misconstruction of a 2007 paper Do you have to be smart to be rich? The impact of IQ on wealth, income and financial distress, (Zagorsky, J. L.).

My own take is, correlations are somewhat the wrong way of looking at IQ and outcomes, and such a framing tends to lead people astray in terms of underestimating the importance of IQ, because they are mislead by the the small r^2 and the scatter plots. It is not so much that IQ correlates but that is predicts certain specific things under certain conditions. The reason why the correlations are not that high is because everyone is lumped together. But people cannot be treated as homogeneous blobs, but rather must be separated by variables such as individual preferences and socioeconomic background. So when one disentangles such variables from the collective, the predictive value of IQ goes way up.

From the post Nassim Taleb is Possibly Wrong about Wealth and IQ

Studying popular subs such as /r/wallstreetbets, /r/investing, /r/personalfinance, /r/fatfire, and /r/financialindependence is useful because we have a generally homogeneous population in which everyone tends to have similar individual preferences, that being the accumulation of wealth, so we have already controlled for that important variable. To a high degree of statistical significance, regarding the aforementioned subs, members who accumulate a lot of money at an early stage in life such as through investing and or STEM, again, tend to high high IQs. Even inheriting a lot wealth at an early age is positively correlated with IQ, because of the correlation between between family wealth and IQ.

Taleb fails to account for individual preferences as it concerns the accumulation of wealth. Obviously, if you compare aspiring actors to aspiring lawyers or aspiring doctors, IQ will not be as useful versus comparing aspiring physicists. It’s not so much that IQ predicts absolute outcomes, but rather relative outcomes among a homogeneous population who have similar goals/aspirations for g-loaded activities, whether it’s writing, publishing, stock trading, law, math, FIRE, etc.

IQ is highly predictive for who gets hired by Google, for example, even if the correlation between IQ and career choice or income is not very high. There are many high-IQ people who are unemployed or work in jobs that don’t necessitate a high IQ, hence low correlation in the aggregate but higher correlations for specific jobs.

IQ , as mentioned above, is highly predictive of relative success to one’s peers for endeavors that have a cognitive component. On “FIRE” subs, people who attain financial Independence early almost all are in tech or other professional jobs and have high IQs. Those who take longer to retire or retire with less money at a later age, tend to have lower IQs and work in jobs that do not pay as well. So IQ is highly predictive of FIRE success, which is specific, as opposed to more general ‘life success.’ Of course there are plenty of high-IQ people who take a long time to retire or die penniless, but among people who aspire to retire early with a lot of money, it is almost exclusively all high IQ (with the exception of athletes and entertainers, but these are very rare. There are way more coders getting rich than actors or athletes.).

Aspiring lawyers who have high IQs will have high LSAT scores and GPAs and get into competitive law schools, whereas low-scoring applicants may quit or find it impossible into a good law school and make as much money. On trading and investing Reddit subs, top traders almost invariably have higher IQs than traders who lose money. An extreme example of this is Renaissance Technologies, founded and staffed by some of the smartest people in the world, and by a huge margin the most successful hedge fund ever.

So when IQ is framed as predicting relative, rank-ordered success among a roughly homogeneous population of people who aspire to similar goals that have a high cognitive component, the predictive value of IQ surges. I think this is the correct framing because people do not compare themselves or compete against the general population, but rather against their peers.