IQ edition, part 2: big trading win, and Mensa members regressing, Diminishing Returns to IQ

A few days ago I predicted a major decline and shorted BTC on Friday night, the 5th, and sure enough it crashed over $1,200 points, now at $28,200. I covered at $27,300. Big win.

The trade could not have gone better. I broke my own rule by opening the short on Friday night instead of Sunday, but I was confident enough. That is an easy 7% over the weekend, or about one year’s worth of CPI. This proves that the best hedge against inflation is to short Bitcoin, not buy it. All those other people like Balaji keep being wrong, whereas people like myself who are smarter are almost always right.

Since we’re on the topic of IQ, from Cremieux again: Mensa: The Above Average IQ Society.

A common criticism of Mensa and high-IQ people in general is that they have not accomplished much despite being smart. But what does it mean to have accomplished something? Does he mean media recognition? Because these are not mutually inclusive. One has to only look at the replication crisis, the careers and fame of Joe Biden, Fauci, and Greta Thunberg, or the failure of Covid experts–for it to be obvious that the media and academia doesn’t promote the best or most competent people. More accolades and recognition does not mean better research.

I am just so tired of the high-IQ loser meme. What are smart people supposed to be doing that would make them not losers? Be on the front cover of Time or something for promoting a vaccine which clearly does not prevent the very thing it was promised to stop? Create the next Facebook? We’re talking one person out of billions. There are still thousands of people with IQs above 160 or so who will not create another Facebook. (Microsoft, with endless money and some of the smartest people could not copy the success of Google or Apple, so the problem is clearly not one of insufficient brains.) What is the point of this argument but to sound smug or superior?

Regarding puzzles, it’s not like you have to choose between puzzles or serious work. I think puzzles make for a more fun meeting than trying to solve differential equations, and even smart people find those hard.

As to why Mensa members may regress after being retested, here are some possibilities:

1. This is not that surprising that IQ varies on retesting; this is expected and predicted. We would expect that not all Mensa members have ‘genuine’ >130 IQs. The qualifying score of 132 is the ceiling or near-ceiling of professionally-proctored IQ tests, and maybe getting a couple questions wrong equates to only an IQ of 120-125 or so, which is not high enough. So this means that some Mensa members qualified by luck by correctly guessing those questions, but repeating this feat twice would be more improbable, so this means a lot of Mensa members only scoring 120-125 or so instead of 130+ on retest.

Also, people with lopsided scores may be underrepresented in high-IQ societies. So this means people who are really good at spatial or math but bad at verbal, will fail to meet the 132 cutoff (because professional IQ tests tend to have low sub-test ceilings) yet be successful career-wise by specializing, whereas more well-rounded Mensa members are unable to specialize, and are generalists. This was probably the case with Feynman and his purported 125 score, which is meaningless given that we know nothing about the type of IQ test he took.

He writes, “Because of this, many Mensa members near the qualification threshold should not actually be able to join the organization.” That is what the Triple9 society is, which requires a score of at least 145.

2. Some Mensa members qualified on childhood ratio IQ scores, which are based on mental age, but these are known for regressing big time during adulthood when extrapolated to a bell curve. A childhood IQ of 170 based on a ratio score does not imply 1 in a million rarity IQ as an adult as predicted by a bell curve, but maybe only 140 or so (1 in 500 rarity). This is discussed in more detail here.

And a second IQ article this week, from Erik Hoel Your IQ isn’t 160. No one’s is.. He makes some valid points, such as extrapolated IQs of famous historical people are bullshit.

But studies that purport diminishing returns to IQ or that IQ is of low predictive value, are flawed for many reasons:

1. Such studies use old data from decades ago when economic conditions were likely less competitive, so IQ was not as important as a filtering mechanism as it is today. Or such studies sample less competitive countries such as Sweden, Norway, etc. that don’t readily generalize to the economic conditions of the US, which are more competitive and have a much higher ceiling. 30 years ago there was less screening, such as pre-employment personality tests, automated resume filtering, phone interviews, multiple and difficult in-person interviews, drug tests, Wonderlic tests, criminal background screening, etc. All of these act as indirect or direct IQ filters.

2. The phenomenon of diminishing returns of IQ vs income/wealth can be explained by lottery-like systems of wealth, such as YouTube, entrepreneurship, professional sports, Hollywood, or podcasts, in which the intellectual barriers to entry are low, but competition is fierce and consequently huge survivorship bias. Second, some careers have a point of diminishing returns, but not all. I cannot find any evidence of a point of diminishing returns for physics or math. The smartest of physicists are likely theoretical physicists. And then within specialties, there is likely a IQ hierarchy, too. But it’s not like a 150 IQ neurosurgeon or accountant makes more money or is better at his or her job than a 125 IQ neurosurgeon or accountant. Being a 150+ IQ school teacher would not confer much of an advantage over having a 110 IQ for that same profession, it would seem.

3. Taleb’s IQ article is wrong. He ignores conditional probabilities and individual preferences. Not all high-IQ people aspire to high-paying professions. A playwright will earn less than a doctor. A historian will earn less than an actuary. Hence, you end up with a lot of smart people who do not earn that much money. The purported low correlation between IQ and job performance ignores the conditional probability of being hired. The hiring process (as mentioned above) is an IQ filter.

He writes:

If we put the increasingly absurd measurement error together with the lack of clear and replicable real-world difference, the simplest explanation when it comes to IQs of, e.g., 150, 160, 170, is that they simply aren’t real.

So if someone regularly talks about IQs significantly above 140 like these were actual measurable and reliable numbers that have a real-world effect, know that they are talking about a fantasy. And if they make claims that various historical figures possessed such numbers, then they’re talking unscientific nonsense.

People with IQs above 140, even as high as 180, must exist by virtue of the bell curve and the fact that IQ can be rank ordered like any other trait, such as height. But what he means to say, which I agree, is that IQ tests do not have enough fidelity to identify them, beyond 140 or so.

Overall, IQ is useful for any competitive cognitively-loaded endeavor like trading, chess, sports betting, or online poker, in which there does not need to be a ceiling. The fact I was able to make so much money with crypto trading, is evidence that superior pattern recognition goes well beyond just test-taking or puzzle-solving ability. Wall St. is a battle of wits of the best traders with near limitless resources competing against each other, yet alone in my spare time, by being so smart, I was able to find superior strategies, including the best strategy of all of 2023, which even entire teams of staff with advanced degrees are unable to do. [0] This is also why AI will not take my job, because more computational power does not help if you’re looking in the wrong areas. If it gives people comfort believing that superior IQ does not exist, is not predictive of anything, or has a point of diminishing returns past some arbitrary threshold, go ahead and keep believing that. I will keep banking.

[0] Update, since I don’t feel like making a new post, another crash and another huge day of profits on Wednesday today having shorted at 28,000 at the open, now at 27,000 on news of Silk Road coins being moved.

I was not lying about having a 150 IQ. This is based on things that can be extrapolated to a bell curve, it’s likely a lot higher. BTC is going back to $16,000 soon and I will continue to profit with method.