William (2019), directed by Tim Disney

I promised various readers I would do articles about Ted Kaczynski, the Columbine shooters and someone’s WAIS-IV results, but since I’ve been way too busy to write anything in depth, I thought for now I would write a brief article about a new movie that’s coming out about a couple that clones a Neanderthal and raises him in our modern society.

I can’t wait to see this movie, though I don’t feel like flying to New York or LA just to do so, though perhaps after this article goes public, I’ll be either sent a free plane ticket or a copy of the film itself.

I’ve been waiting for a film like this all my life so naturally I’m a bit disappointed by the trailer (oops, there goes my free plane ticket).

For one thing, his cranium is too round and Sapien-like. They should have found an actor with a really low forehead and then added prosthetics at the back of the cranium to make his cranium longer. Also his face is too flat. Only anatomically modern humans have flat faces that are tucked under the brain-case. Neanderthals were much more prognathous and looked like their faces were literally pulled out, giving them a snout. Also, he’s not supposed to have a chin.

It’s good that they cast a short actor, but I’m not sure if he’s bulky enough. I believe a Neanderthal raised in our steroid obsessed culture would have looked like Lee Priest.

Why’d they get so many details wrong? Apparently the film is directed by Tim Disney, so perhaps he got the job because of nepotism instead of ability (there goes my free copy of the movie). Walt Disney was probably the brains of the family, and by the time you get to grandnephews like Tim, there’s regression to the mean.

On the other hand, the film might be more accurate when it comes to portraying non-physical traits. Neanderthals left behind no representational art so scientists (especially Noam Chomsky) believe they were much less symbolically and linguistically gifted than we are, so the Neanderthal boy in the film takes everything too literally and talks strangely. There’s a scene in the trailer where an expert is explaining his cognitive profile, which I can’t wait to see,


Aleister Crowley’s IQ

(special tanks to commenter Mikey Blayze for suggesting this article)

Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was a British occultist, writer and mountaineer. Calling himself “the Beast 666”, he founded the religion Thelema, which may have paved the way for New Age, Wicca, Discordianism, Chaos Magick and Satanism.

Arguably the most influential religious leader of the last century, he’s been credited with inspiring a 1960s counterculture characterized by “hippies, social justice warriors, free love, rock music and copious amounts of psychedelic drugs, particularly cannabis and LSD” and is cited as an influence by such counterculture figures as Timothy Leary, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, The Doors, David Bowie, the Beatles and sexual revolutionary Alfred Kinsey.

Dubbed the wickedest man in the world by the British press, Crowley practiced “every form of sexual deviancy known to man”, in addition to “eating feces, cannibalism and promoting human and animal sacrifice” according to blogger Matt Frohlich.

Crowley also had a very sadistic side. According to historian Gary Lachman, when on a mountain climbing trip, Crowley would whip the South Asian servants to remind them the white man was in charge. When his fellow climbers got tired of this sadistic racism and decided to dump him, Crowley warned that they could never survive the trip down without him, and then sat in his tent drinking tea, as he listened to them die.

Lachman describes an “autistic exactitude” and literalism that caused Crowley to debunk the saying “a cat has nine lives” by killing a cat nine times.

So what was his IQ?

I typically try to estimate people’s IQs from their most salient biological or demographic traits, and then see if there’s any psychometric data to confirm or debunk the statistical prediction. The most salient bio-demographics for Crowley were his incredible influence (as commenter Gypsy advised me), his elite education, and his sexual deviance.

Bio-demographic prediction

Influence is hard to measure, but in 2002, the British public worshiped Crowley enough to elect him one of the 100 greatest Britons of all time. He was the 73rd most worshiped Brit of all time and the 42nd most worshiped of the 20th century (at least at the time the poll was taken).

To understand how impressive that is, consider that about 11.5 billion people lived in the 20th century. Assuming about one in 114 of them were Brits (that’s the current ratio), then nearly 101 million Brits lived during the 20th century, so ranking 42nd is a one in 2.4 million level achievement!

If there were a perfect correlation between IQ and popular influence, we’d expect Crowley to have an IQ 74 points above the British mean of 100 (the one in 2.4 million level) but the correlation between IQ and worldly power is kind of like the correlation between height and physical power. There’s a noticeable connection between the two, but lots of huge noticeable exceptions as well. With a correlation coefficient of only about 0.4, instead of having an IQ 74 points above 100, we’d expect Crowley to have an IQ 0.4(74) points above 100. In other words an IQ of 130.

However this is likely an underestimate because Crowley was not just spectacularly powerful (in terms of popular impact on society) but highly educated. Even when you compare him to other 20th century Brits that ranked among the most worshiped Brits of all time, Crowley’s Cambridge credential puts him behind only 3% of these super elites [Alan Turing (who graduated from both Cambridge and Princeton), Stephen Hawking (who graduated from both Cambridge and Oxford)] and comfortably ahead of the 84% who have neither an Oxbridge nor Ivy League background.

Thus even when compared to the most worshiped Brits of the 20th century, the greatest of the great, Crowley’s in the 91st percentile academically.

If there were a perfect correlation between IQ and academic credentials, we’d expect Crowley to be 20 IQ points smarter than the average IQ 130 super influential person, since in typical samples, the 91st percentile is 20 IQ points above the mean and assuming elites have similar variability, that should be the case for them too. However the correlation between IQ and education is far from perfect, though until recent decades, it was a potent 0.7, just like the correlation between height and basketball ability.

But because super elites are slightly restricted sample in terms of both IQ and education, the correlation would be slightly less; around 0.64.

So instead of being 20 IQ points smarter than the average most worshiped 20th century Brits, Crowley would be 0.64(20) points smarter, and since the most influential Brits of the 20th century likely average about IQ 130, that would put his expected IQ at incredible 143!

On the other hand, Crowley was a sexual deviant, and these tend to have IQs about 10 points lower than their non-deviant counterparts, so we might expect Crowley’s IQ to be 133 instead of 143. Whatever biological damage messed up the sexual part of his brain, likely hurt the cognitive parts of his brain as well, making him somewhat dumber than other equally educated 20th century icons.

Psychometric data

I often estimate IQs from drawings, since this is a readily available way people have demonstrated cognition for tens of thousands of years, and drawing a person is one of the oldest and simplest psychometric tests. Commentary gypsy informed me that Crowley left behind such drawings and so I found one here:

I would give this about a 9 out of 12 on the “Quality scale” of the Goodenough-Harris Draw-a-Person test, which is about 1.35 standard deviations above the sex-combined norms of 15-year-olds (roughly on adult level); equating to an IQ of 120.

But since the above norms are from circa 1962 and Crowley’s drawing is from circa 1921, and the Flynn effect increased scores on this test by 0.26 IQ points per year (at least in Brazil), Crowley’s score likely would have equated to an IQ 131 if measured by the norms of his era. It’s also possible that Crowley’s drawings were deliberately primitive for stylistic reasons.

Of course Draw-a-Person is one of the least accurate IQ tests ever made, so we should supplement it with another measure of ability, this time preferably a verbal one to add variety. Although Crowley never took a verbal IQ test that I’m aware of, he did leave behind his writings.

According to historian Gary Leachman, Crowley’s poetry was “derivative”. From this we might guess he had only average verbal IQ for a writer, but since writers average superior IQs of 120, we might tentatively assign him a verbal score of 120.

So if writing samples gives an IQ of 120, and a drawing sample gives an IQ of 131, it’s tempting to average these to an IQ of 126 (top 5%). However it’s much more rare to average in the top 5% on multiple tests than it is to score in the top 5% on any one test. On the WISC-R IQ test for example, people who average in the top 5% on all subtests, score above the top 1% (IQ 137) on the composite score. Thus I tentatively assign Crowley an IQ of 137. This is 4 points higher than the 133 I predicted from bio-demographic data above, but both suggest an IQ in the mid 130s.

Such an IQ is above the average at even the most prestigious universities in the World, and may help explain why a young Crowley beat the President of the Cambridge chess club at chess.

Skateboarding, IQ & starting an online business


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Few sports embody what Howard Gardener called bodily-kinesthetic intelligence quite like skateboarding, where champions seem to defy the laws of gravity. But how smart are the best skateboarders in the conventional sense? How would they score on an actual IQ test? describes the negative stereotype:

Skateboarders have never been accused of being the smartest people in the room. They are creative, artistic, and resourceful, but most are high school or home school drop-outs incapable of basic reading comprehension.

Average IQ of the 10 best skaters

While your average skater may have only average intelligence, those who dominate the sport might be quite a bit smarter. The following video ranks the ten best skaters:

Even though skateboarding is a physical skill, it requires far more coordination than most sports, which means the brain is highly involved.

Since the best skaters must be young enough to be physically active, but old enough to have decades of practice, the majority of the most skilled are from Generation X (the 84 million Americans born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s). About 1.7% of U.S. youth are core skaters (defined as people who’ve skated 52+ times per year). Assuming this was the case when generation X was young, roughly 1.4 million Gen Xers were core skaters.

Thus, ranking among the ten best skaters in America is roughly a one in 140,000 level achievement, and the median top ten skater would be at the one in 280,000 level (or roughly 4.5 standard deviations above the mean). And because performance correlates about 0.82 with talent, the top ten skaters likely average 0.82(4.5) = 3.69 standard deviations above average in raw physical coordination. And since physical coordination correlates 0.35 with IQ, they likely average 0.35(3.69) = 1.29 standard deviations above average in IQ.

In other words the 10 best skaters in America likely average an IQ of about 120 (smarter than 90% of Americans their age), however the Gaussian curve predicts that in a group of 10 people, the dullest is roughly 20 points below the group’s average and the brightest is roughly 20 points above, and so America’s 10 best skaters likely range from around a normal IQ of 100 to a genius IQ of 140.

Perhaps one of the smartest on the list is Rodney Mullen:

As a child, he used Erector sets to build a complete control center for his room, which used pulleys and strings to allow him to turn on the lights and open the door from the upper bunk of his bed.

High IQ may run in his family: His mother “graduated high school at age 14 and then earned a degree in physics, while also being an accomplished pianist.”

It’s interesting to note that the #1 skater on this list (Tony Hawk) actually took a professionally administered IQ test and scored an incredible 144! Described by the psychologist as a twelve-year-old’s mind in an eight-year-old’s body, Hawk would grow up to build a $140 million empire.

It’s sometimes claimed that high IQ people only get rich because IQ predicts education and it’s the latter that’s rewarded by the market, but Hawk has little formal education and started getting rich while still in high school. He’s an example of a high functioning braining causing money directly, first by having the neurological ability to master a lucrative sport, and secondly, having the mental ability to parlay that talent into a huge brand.

Starting an online business

Of course we can’t all be the next Tony Hawk no matter how high your IQ might be, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make some money off skateboards, or whatever your passion may be. Who would have guessed that a small web site made a few thousand dollars last year and expects to double that this year.

“I was shopping for a scooter for my son and noticed that a lot of the sites were affiliate sites so I wanted to get in the game,” the owner explained.

“I’ve actually tried many of the products myself because I want to give unbiased reviews of them. Hover boards are the hardest product to ride because everyone wants to ride one but don’t automatically get the concept of how it works.”

For those who want to learn from his business model and start their own affiliate site, his advice is to just jump in because you’ll “never learn unless you try it.” He also notes that education can be overrated since the internet can teach you anything. He advises not giving up because your luck can change, just when you think something’s a lost cause.

As the super high IQ Marilyn Vos Savant once said, failure tends to be a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.

What would you rather have: more height or more mass?

I always find it fascinating when status hierarchies contract themselves.  Take a billionaire prostitute like our very own Marsha for example.  When it comes to wealth she’s at the top of the hierarchy, but when it comes to occupational prestige, she’s rock bottom.

When it comes to men, physical status is determined by both height and body mass.  Both tall men and muscular men act like they superior to short and scrawny men, patting them on the back like their kids and addressing them with condescending terms like “buddy,””chief” and “tiger”.  

But what happens when these hierarchies conflict:  A tall skinny man vs a short muscular man.  Which one has more status?  Who condescends to who?

I once read an anecdote about some huge bodybuilder of mediocre height who was yelling at his girlfriend from so far away it was impossible to tell who he was yelling at.  Meanwhile some tall scrawny nerd walked by and said “I know you’re not talking to me in that tone.”  The bodybuilder was furious that despite being built like a tank and devoting hos whole life to working out, some scrawny nerd was acting like he was tougher, simply because of height.

Among white American males, one standard deviation of height is 2.9 inches, meaning men typically differ by 2.9 inches in height.  The comparable standard deviation for fat-free body weight is 27 lbs.  If you could permanently increase your height, but only by a comparable and permanent decrease in lean weight, would you do it?  If you could permanently increase your lean weight, but only by permanently decreasing your height, would you do that instead?

Lee Priest is an example of a guy who’s about 2 standard deviations below average in height, yet about 2 standard deviations above average in lean weight, making him both the biggest and shortest guy in almost every room he walks into.  How does that affect his place in the male status hierarchy?

Teejay Briton is at the opposite end of the spectrum:


Arthur Jensen’s IQ

In his book, A Question of Intelligence: The IQ Debate in America, the late journalist Daniel Seligman describes a four hour conversation he had with the late Arthur Jensen.

Seligman couldn’t resist asking the man who had not only launched the IQ debate in America, but dominated it for decades, what his own IQ was. From page 63 of the book:

I once asked Jensen if he knew his own IQ. It turned out that he had never taken any of the standard tests, like the WAIS. The question of testing him first arose during the year of his Maryland internship, but by then he could not take the WAIS because he was too familiar with it (having administered it to others perhaps a hundred times). Of the various mental tests he has taken over the years, the Terman Concept Mastery Test (CMT) __ a high-level measure of verbal skills__probably provides the best approximation of an IQ test. Jensen took it when he was forty-three. He declined to tell me the score__and seemed distinctly unhappy at my interest in the subject__but did finally mention that his CMT score was about at the average of those members of Terman’s Gifted Group who had gone on to earn Ph.D.s.
Poking my nose into volume 5 of Terman’s Genetic Studies of Genius, I learn that this subgroup of the gifted had Stanford-Binet IQ equivalents of 156, well into the 99.9 percentile. Which possibly helps to explain why Jensen has been such a dominant figure in the IQ debate.

Because 156 is a truly stratospheric IQ, even for a man as intellectually influential as Jensen, I wanted to know more. And how would a test given to adults be assigned a Stanford-Binet equivalent, when the Stanford-Binet (at the time of the Terman study) was scored using age ratio scores (a method that only works up to adolescence).

Luckily, I found a (poorly formatted) copy of volume 5 of Terman’s Genetic Studies of Genius. Table 15 shows the adult CMT scores of the Terman Gifted Group who obtained PhDs. Contra Seligman, the average score for this group appears to be 159, not 156, and it appears to be a raw score, not an IQ equivalent.

What IQ does a raw score of 159 on the CMT equate to? Ideally, you’d want a sample of the general U.S. (white) population to take the CMT, but since general population samples are hard to get, and are often too small to norm rare scores, psychometricians (including Ron Hoeflin) often use a technique called score-pairing, where a sample of convenience takes two tests, one of which has already been normed, and it’s assumed that the IQ distribution of the test with known IQ equivalents will match the IQ distribution of the test with unknown IQ equivalents. This assumes of course that relative to the general population, the convenience sample (as a group, not necessarily as individuals) would score equally high, and equally variable on both tests. This assumption is justified in cases where there’s no reason to assume a particular convenience sample would have an advantage on one test over another.

In a 1985 study, 150 Berkeley students were tested on both the CMT and the Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM). Their raw scores (means and standard deviations) on the CMT and APM (set II, time limit up to an hour and 15 minutes) were M = 81.69, SD = 32.8 and M = 27.24, SD = 5.14, respectively. From these equivalencies, score pairing suggests that Jensen’s CMT score of 159 (+2.36 SD relative to the Berkeley bell curve) equates to an APM score also +2.36 SD relative to the Berkeley bell curve:

The APM equivalent of Jensen’s CMT score = 2.36(Berkeley APM SD) + (Berkeley APM Mean)

The APM equivalent of Jensen’s CMT score = 2.36(5.14) + 27.24

The APM equivalent of Jensen’s CMT score = 39

In other words, Jensen’s CMT score equates to an APM score that is 3 raw score points above the APM’s ceiling of 36!!! This does not mean Jensen would have hit the ceiling on the APM of course (most high scores on one test regress a lot to the mean on the other); rather it means that if he scored as well on the APM as he did on the CTM, he’d be above the APM ceiling (under a 75 minute time limit).

Thus, to determine Jensen’s IQ equivalent on the CTM, we must determine the IQ equivalent of an APM score of 39.

In the same study, another group of Berkeley students took both the APM and the WAIS. Their scores were M = 28.23, SD = 5.08, and M= 122.84, SD = 9.3. Because the WAIS scores were expressed as IQs, not raw scores, we can use score pairing to assign WAIS IQ equivalents to APM scores, but before doing so, we should note that WAIS norms were several decades old by 1985 (in the Minnesota transracial adoption study, parents in 1985 scored 5 points lower on an abbreviated WAIS-R than they had on an abbreviated WAIS ten years earlier, suggesting the WAIS was 5 points to generous by 1985). So deducting 5 points from their WAIS IQs of Berkeley students, score pairing tells us that APM set II score (75 minute time limit) of 28.23 = IQ 117.84, and every 5.08 points above or below 28.23, add or subtract 9.3 IQ points.

From here, we can estimate that a 39 on the 75 minute APM in 1985 (and thus a 159 on the CMT) equaled a WAIS IQ of 138.

One problem though is Jensen took the CTM at age 43 circa 1966 while the Berkeley students took in their early 20s (on average) circa 1985. On the one hand this might give Jensen an unfair advantage since middle aged adults do slightly better on verbal tests than younger adults. On the other hand it might have given him a slight disadvantage since older birth cohorts sometimes do slightly worse on verbal tests than newer cohorts. Likely both factors cancel out.

A king among men

To realize just how impressive an IQ of 138 is, it is useful to compare it to our best and brightest: the students at the most elite universities in the entire World:

After correcting for old norms, a sample of Harvard students averaged IQ 122 on an abbreviated version of the WAIS-R . After correcting for old norms, a sample of Dartmouth students averaged IQ 122 on the WAIS. Meanwhile a sample of Oxford students apparently averaged IQ 116 on the Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM). On average, studies of the most elite university students show a mean IQ of 120.

Of course It’s likely this is an underestimate. The samples who volunteer for such studies might be disproportionately drawn from psychology students, leaving higher IQ STEM students underrepresented. Some tests may not have sufficiently high ceilings in all domains for the brightest students in the samples to show their full ability. Tests like the APM might be biased against more verbally oriented intellects. In addition, correcting for old-norms may over-correct, because the Flynn effect has been exaggerated in my opinion.

Given all this, perhaps the true average IQ of the World’s most elite universities is actually 125-130. Even still, with an IQ of 138, Jensen could have walked into any one of them, and cognitively towered over most of the students and professors.

He was not just a king among men, as the journal Intelligence christened him, but a king among the intelligentsia. A man who took a field as fluffy as psychology, and turned into rigorous science. There’s no one who even comes close; no heir apparent on the horizon.

“He’s probably a Genius,” gushed the late J.P. Rushton, who many regard as a Genius himself.

Even Geniuses make mistakes

And yet for all Jensen’s Genius, he did make three mistakes in my humble opinion, reminding us that even IQ 138 minds have their limits. The first and most egregious was citing regression to the different population means (when predicting offspring IQ from the IQ of parents) as evidence of racially genetic IQ differences (see section nine of a paper he co-wrote). Regression to the mean is caused by imperfect correlations, it has nothing to do with genetics per se. Charles Murray understood this in his book Coming Apart, but so many HBDers do not.

The second mistake (as described by commenter Mug of Pee) was failing to adequately consider reaction norms in any of his writings, even though it could potentially alter the interpretation of heritability studies. Time will tell if this mistake was a serious one.

Lastly, when he was first told about the Flynn effect, he dismissed it as artifact of culturally loaded tests and predicted it would be less apparent on culture reduced tests like the Raven Progressive Matrices. It turned out the Raven showed the greatest Flynn effect of all, according to James Flynn, so Jensen was not just wrong, but the opposite of right. Of course I suspect the Flynn effect on the Raven has been exaggerated.

If Jensen’s is the only book you ever read, that will be enough

When people visit my home, the first thing they do is going running through the halls like a kid in a candy store searching for the library. “My God, you know so much,” one disappointed woman told me, “I was expecting to find the library of Congress in your basement”

Soon she was sobbing: “I just want to know what you know, I want to see what you see, I want to be where you’ve been mentally.”

The truth is I haven’t read a lot of books, I explained. I’ve read one book a lot. And I hand her an old crumbling copy of The g Factor, by Arthur Jensen.

Fermi’s paradox & the existence of God

Sometimes late at night, I turn on a podcast and just lie in bed listening to it until I fall asleep. Perhaps the best podcast I’ve ever encountered is After On, hosted by Dan Reid because the host really takes the time to thoroughly familiarize himself with the research of whoever he’s interviewing.

On episode 8, which I highly recommend any science types listen to, Reid interviewed British astronomer Stephen Webb about the Fermi’s paradox, which is the mystery of why why we haven’t been visited by aliens yet, given that life on other planets is so probable.

Well, my first question has always been why does anyone think life is probable? Yes it emerged on Earth as soon as conditions were right, but it only emerged once. All life on earth, as far as we know, is descended from a single biogenesis so that right there tells me that life is not that probable, because if it were, then why on even this planet, perfectly suited to life, did it not occur at least twice? Maybe the original life had such a head-start that no new biogenesis could compete?

A popular estimate from the Drake equation is that there are 10,000 intelligent species just in our galaxy alone, with many having had far more time to evolve (both genetically and culturally) than we’ve had. So why haven’t they visited us? One theory is that once life gets intelligent enough to build technology, it destroys itself through nuclear war long before it figures out how to travel to distant planets.

Another theory is that intelligent life is out there watching us, but they want to give us a chance to develop on our own, without interference. While it seems plausible that one advanced species might take this ethical attitude, Webb finds it implausible that thousands of intelligent species would all agree.

However Reid mentions near the end of the show, that all the aliens wouldn’t need to agree, because the first (and thus most advanced) of the intelligent species would call the shots and make the rules. I was thinking the same thing during the interview. Many countries in the World don’t agree with the foreign policy of the United States, but all have to live with it because the U.S. (or those who lobby it) call the shots. so intragalactic politics might work the same way. Webb however thinks that the reason no one’s visited us is because we’re alone.

Existence of God?

The strangest part of the interview comes around the 1 hour and 7 minute mark when Webb starts talking about the universe having about a dozen parameters, each of which are precisely set to allow galaxies and stars to form and so the odds of the universe as we know it is only one in ten to the power of 229. Since such slim odds are unlikely to have occurred by chance, Webb argues that there might be a creator (not necessarily God per se, but a more advanced life form) who created or simulated our universe.

I’m no astronomy expert but this argument sounds fallacious. No matter what parameters the universe had, the odds of it having those precise parameters would be be extremely slim, so by Webb’s logic, anything that would have happened would be evidence for a creator. How do we know that something even more impressive than life (as we know it) would not have occurred with a different set of parameters?

An alternative possibility Webb argues is that there are 10 to the power of 500 universes, and by definition, we just found ourselves in that rare one that supports life.

IQ of Oxford undergrads

Many times on this blog I have tried to estimate the IQs of various groups or individuals using simple regression, or in some cases multiple regression (a technique suggested to me by a Promethean).

Back in 2017, commenter Gypsy asked me to apply simple regression to Oxford and Cambridge students. He estimated that only one in 58 UK 18-year-olds qualify for these schools and said the correlation between IQ and GCSE was 0.7.

I replied by saying:

If one in 58 UK teens achieves A*A*A or better, then this implies that the median teen who obtains A*A*A or better is at the one in 116 level in academic achievement.  If there were a perfect correlation between IQ and academic success in the UK, we’d expect the median IQ of these academic superstars to be 36 points above the UK mean of 100 (white norms), but since the correlation is probably about 0.7 (using the correlation between IQ and GCSE as a proxy), their expected average IQ would be 0.7(36) points above 100, or IQ 125.

Well it’s very rare that one of these theoretical statistical predictions gets tested by actual empirical data but when Gypsy recently inquired about the Raven scores of UK university students in general, I stumbled upon a startling fact. The median Oxford undergrad obtained a raw score of 27 out of 36 on the Advanced Progressive Matrices Set II:

As table 16 shows, that equates to the 75th percentile among the general young adult population of both the U.S. and the U.K.(circa 1992-1993) which equates to an IQ of 110 (U.S. & U.K. norms).

However the Oxford students had a 40 minute time limit and the general population could stay almost as long as they needed to. How big a difference does the time limit make? In one study, raw scores increased by about 2 points when people had unlimited time compared to just 40 minutes.

source: Ronald Hamel & Verena D. Schmittmann

Thus, it seems reasonable to assume that if given unlimited time, Oxford undergrads would have averaged 29 instead of 27, moving them up to the 84th and 86th percentile of U.K. and U.S. norms respectively.

I estimated how Oxford undergrads would have scored untimed because it’s hard to find a general population sample in the U.S. or U.K. who took the test in 40 minutes like the Oxford students did, however table 16 does have timed stats for UK retail managers, which seems like the kind of average level occupation that would reflect the general population. A score of 27 in 40 minutes puts one in the 85th percentile of this group (virtually identical to the percentile of their estimated untimed score in general population samples).

This equates to an IQ of 116 (UK norms). This is 9 points lower than the IQ of 125 I had predicted in 2017, however it should be noted that the the Raven is a uni-dimensional test that only correlates 0.74 with more comprehensive tests like the WAIS. Thus it’s likely that on the WAIS, instead of scoring 15 IQ points above 100, they would have scored 15/0.74 = 20 IQ points above 100.

We also don’t know when the data was obtained. I’m assuming it was in the 1978 to 1993 era, however if it was substantially before then, the Flynn effect might have greatly deflated the score.

We also don’t know how representative the Oxford undergrads were. I’m guessing they were psychology students, who are likely fairly representative because I know at least at the University of Toronto, 60% of all undergrads take psychology.

But taking things at face value, it seems the most prestigious university in Europe has an average IQ of 120. No wonder David Wechsler defined IQs of 120+ as “superior intelligence”.

Octopus IQ & just-so stories

I was listening to Quirks & Quarks  on CBC radio in my car a few months ago and they were discussing the incredible intelligence of octopuses. As my old chemistry teacher would say, they can adapt: take whatever situation they’re in and turn it around to their advantage. For example:

In 2016, an octopus named Inky made a daring escape from the national aquarium in New Zealand. The eight-armed Houdini squeezed through a tiny gap a maintenance worker left at the top of its tank.

Inky slithered across the floor and made his escape down a drain pipe that exits into the ocean. 

Source: a CBC web page

The guest, Piero Amodio, was explaining that their high intelligence was surprising because as commenter Melo has noted, intelligence is often selected in social animals and octopuses are very solitary. Also, as r/K theory would predict, bigger brains are more common in long-lived species and octopuses have short lives.

But because intelligence is arguably the ultimate evolutionary adaptation, it seems to have evolved even under very different selection pressures from other intelligent animals like primates and crows.

One possibility suggested by Amodio is that octopuses needed to be smart because they didn’t have a shell to protect them from predators. If commenter RR were conducting the interview, he would immediately complain that that’s a just-so story as he does for all attempts to explain how intelligence evolved.

However Amodio plans to test the hypothesis by seeing if there’s a correlation between cephalopod brain size and the number and variety of predators in their environment. If a positive correlation is found, the hypothesis made a meaningful prediction and is not a mere just-so story. That wouldn’t satisfy RR, but it would satisfy the scientific community.

A lot of us tend to think of intelligence as a property of the brain but commenter Melo has argued it’s a function of the entire nervous system. I suspect Amodio would agree with Melo because an octopus can move its arms without getting signals from its brain, or one could even argue most of its brain is in its arms. Amodio states:

Two thirds of their neuron cells, they are not located in the brains, but they are located in their arms. In octopus, there is a big level of independence of movement for the arms. It’s something completely different from our way of thinking about brains and of course about apes and crows…

You can listen to the brief interview here.

Oprah’s interview with Jackson accusers gets 2 million views & that’s just on youtube

Meanwhile Oprah’s best fried Gayle King Bumpus is getting praise of her own for keeping her cool during an interview with R Kelley:

Oprah and Gayle became best friends 43 years ago, when Oprah was just a local anchor woman in Baltimore and Gayle was just a production assistant. Gayle approached Oprah to tell her how honored she was to be working on Oprah’s team. During a snow storm, Gayle crashed at Oprah’s apartment and the two women stayed up talking all night, and have been talking every night since.

Oprah left, Gayle right

After a stressful week at work, the two women would hit the Baltimore bars looking for love in the heart of the 1970s.

Was Michael Jackson a child molester?

In the aftermath of HBO’s shocking documentary Leaving Neverland, people are asking whether Jackson was really a child molester.

Jackson has never denied sharing his bed with young children, but has always maintained these were innocent sleepovers.

But in 1993 Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy named Jordy Chandler. This resulted in a police raid of Jackson’s home (Neverland) and a strip search of Jackson’s body. The evidence reportedly found in both convinced me he was a child molester.

Neverland raid August 1993

The first major reason for believing Jackson was a child molester are the items police found in Jackson’s bedroom in 1993.

Most incriminating is the nude photo believed to be Jonathan Spence. According to page 130 of Diane Diamond’s book Be Careful who you Love, Spence was a “small angelic blond boy” who lived with the Jacksons at their Hayvenhurst house in the 1980s. Spence has always denied being sexually abused by Jackson.

Dec 1993: Strip search

On Sept 1, 1993, law enforcement asked Jackson’s 13-year-old accuser Jordy to draw a picture of Jackson’s erect penis and to locate on that drawing any distinctive marks he recalled.

On Dec 20, 1993, police came to Jackson’s Neverland mansion with a search warrant allowing them to photograph his private parts.

According to an affidavit by Santa Barbara district attorney Thomas Sneddon, the boy’s drawing matched the photos taken in the strip search:

From Sneddon’s affidavit

Some might argue that this only proves Jordy saw Jackson naked, not that he was molested, however others argue the spot Jordy drew was only visible when Jackson’s penis was lifted (as in arousal). If that’s true, it’s especially incriminating.

Jackson fans claim Jordy incorrectly identified Jackson as circumcised but they never cite any legal documents proving it. But even if true, an erect penis can look circumcised, especially to a child.

About a month after the strip search, Jackson settled the Jordy Chandler case for approximately $25 million according to CNN. About $42 million adjusted for inflation.

Below is a rare interview with Jackson’s sister Latoya in 1993 (she would later walk-back her comments):