I recently listened to an excellent discussion between Spencer Wells and Razib Khan about the civil unrest we’re seeing in the United States.
I already loved their podcast because of the fascinating discussions about genomics and human evolution, but this show, which had nothing to do with either, turned out to be my favorite episode yet.
As a horror fan, I’ve also enjoyed listening late at night to dark discussions prophesying the breakdown of civilization, but usually such shows are hosted by nutty survivalist types. This is the first time I’ve heard a high IQ show discuss this.
To make this list I looked at all the living people who had ever been Time’s person of the year, person of the decade, person of the century, or included on Time’s list of the 100 most influential people of the year, the century, or all time. Points were allotted as follows:
One of the 100 most influential of the year = 0.01 points
Person of the year: 1 point
One of the 100 most influential of the century = 1 point
Person of the decade = 10 points
Person of the half-century = 50 points
Person of the century = 100 points
One of the hundred most influential people of all time = 50 points (since recorded history is 5000 years and there are 100 people)
If they shared any of these honors with someone else, the points got divided by the number of people. So for example James Watson got 1 point for being one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century and got 50 points for being one of the 100 most influential people of all time, but since both honors were shared with Francis Crick, his total was 25.5 points making him the most influential living person ever (according to the collective wisdom of the World’s most prestigious magazine).
Number 1: James Watson 25.5 points
Number 2: Mikhail Gorbachev 13points
Number 3.5: Paul McCartney 12.75 points
Number 3.5: Ringo Starr 12.75 points
Number 5: Barack Obama 2.11 points
Number 6 George W. Bush 2.04 points
Number 7: Lech Walesa 2 points
Number 8: Bill Clinton 1.535
Number 9: Bill Gates 1.36 points
Number 10: Oprah 1.1 points
Number 11: Angela Merkel 1.08 points
Number 12.5: Vladimir Putin 1.06
Number 12.5: Pope Francis 1.06 points
Number 14: Jeff Bezos 1.05 points
Number 15: Mark Zuckerberg 1.04 points
Number 16: Donald Trump 1.04
Number 17: Ben Bernanke 1.01 points
Number 18: Stephen Spielberg 1.01points
Number 19: Bob Dylan1.01
Number 20: Greta Thunberg 1.01 points
Number 25: Jimmy Carter 1 point
Number 25: Queen Elizabeth 1 point
Number 25: David Ho1 point
Number 25: Newt Gingrich 1 point
Number 25: Rudy1 point
Number 25: Tim Berners-Lee1 point
Number 25: Pele 1 point
Number 25: Ted Turner 1 point
Number 25: Peter Ueberroth1 point
Number 30.5: Henry Kissinger 0.5 points
Number 30.5: Ken Starr 0.5 points
Number 32: Bono 0.34 points
Number 33: Melinda Gates 0.33 points
Number 34: Hillary Clinton 0.1 points
Number 35: Hu Jintao 0.1 points
Number 36: Kim Jong-un 0.08 points
Update june 23, 2020: an earlier version of this article incorrectly ranked Gates too low
Updated July 5, 2020: earlier versions of this article accidentally omitted Newt Gingrich
Many people think IQ tests do not measure creativity. This belief is ironic because IQ tests are backed by the statistical concept known as g (the hypothesized general factor that causes all mental abilities to positively correlate) and the most g loaded tests are those that require you to see associations between seemingly unrelated things: Pattern recognition.
Even g loaded tests as tedious as vocabulary or general knowledge require creativity because acquiring a large fund of information requires you to make some creative associations. For example, if someone asks to borrow some “dead presidents”, you must associate borrowing with money and then be creative enough to associate money with the pictures on currency which are of historical presidents. Hence “dead presidents” enters your vocabulary as a synonym for money.
But because IQ tests all have the same right answer that all high IQ people by definition converge on, many feel that they can’t be measuring creativity (which implies original thought). As a result, psychologists have created divergent thinking tests which supposedly measure creativity. A typical divergent thinking test is to ask people to name as many uses for a brick that they can think of in two minutes. Such tests do not have one right answer or even 100 right answers. The number of right answers is potentially infinite. Original answers like “for a short man to stand on when kissing a tall girl”, or “to put in your suitcase when you leave a hotel without paying so they think you’re still there” get more credit than unoriginal answers like “smash a window”, or “help build a house”.
Although divergent thinking tests correlate positively with conventional IQ tests, the correlation is low (and some say it vanishes altogether above IQ 120).
But one reason for the low correlation could be that divergent thinking tests are not measuring a cognitive ability but rather a personality trait. According to Arthur Jensen, in order for a test to be measuring an “ability” (physical or mental), there must be a clear standard of proficiency. Everyone can agree that remembering five digits is more impressive than remembering two digits or that solving a puzzle in 2 minutes is more impressive than solving it in 3 minutes. But can everyone agree that using a brick to kiss a tall girl is more impressive than using a brick to build?
There are humor tests where there is no single right answer. For example people are asked to write a caption to a cartoon and the funnier the caption, the higher the score. This potentially does have a clear standard of proficiency because although humor is subjective, laughter is involuntary, and if the test participants knew the objective was to make as many people laugh as possible, this might make a good psychometric measure of creativity.
Of course it would be completely impractical because every time someone was tested, you’d need to poll a representative sample of the public on whether the person’s answers were funny. But given that stand-up comedians have high IQs, I highly suspect this test would correlate at least moderately with g.
A follower of the online right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory appears to have a straightforward path to winning a U.S. Congressional seat from a district in Georgia, setting the stage for what could be the first open supporter of the “deep state” conspiracy theory taking a seat in the U.S. legislature.
In case you don’t know, QAnon is a conspiracy theory that the World is run by a large group of baby eating Satanic Pedophile child trafficking elites who hate Donald Trump because he’s the only one who can destroy them and restore morality to the World. They believe the elite is run by the Saudi Royal Family, the Rothschild family, and George Soros.
Q stands for information you need Q level government clearance to access and they believe an anonymous person(s) with such clearance drops this information to his followers on the dark web.
Among their other beliefs:
Angela Merkel is Hitler’s granddaughter.
Hillary Clinton had JFK jr killed because he might have run for the senate in New York (a seat Hillary wanted and acquired), but JFK jr. may have survived and could be Q himself.
Hillary was running a child trafficing ring out of the basement of a pizza parlor.
The stay-at-home orders of the coronavirus is a way of hiding the fact that many Hollywood elites are on house arrest for their crimes (a theory they prove using photo-shopped images of prominent celebs wearing ankle monitors).
On a scale where white Americans average 100 with an SD of 15, I estimate Q people have an average IQ of about 90 (about the same as creationists, and indeed there’s considerable overlap between the two groups).
The media has featured them a few times(which should be a clue that they’re useful idiots for the elite because they make inquiry into legitimate conspiracy theories (the Epstein case, neocon wars) look absurd.
QAnon might have made an intelligent conspiracy theory if meant to be taken metaphorically, but it’s taken all too literally.
Here CNN tries to interview Q followers:
An excellent interview about the Q movement with a man who studies it. Well worth a listen as they get into the psychology of conspiracy theorists:
[This article was updated on June 15, 2020, to remove a statement a commenter found misleading]
As Mark Stein once noted, no major event in the history of the Republic occurs unless it’s validated by her presence, and the George Floyd controversy is no exception. Tonight Oprah is hosting “WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE??”:
will simulcast on OWN and across all of Discovery’s 18 other U.S. networks… It will also stream for free on the Watch OWN and Discovery Family TVE apps, as well as OWN’s Youtube, Facebook and Instagram channels and be available on Discovery’s global platforms in more than 200 countries and territories.
Imagine the POWER it takes to get your show simulcasted on all 19 Discovery owned channels. I could just picture the secretary at Discovery telling the CEO “Oprah’s on the line, and she’s PISSED!”
CEO picks up phone: “Oh hi Miss Winfrey, great to hear from you.”
Oprah: “Cut the crap. What’s this about my discussion only being broadcast on my cable network. I want the biggest audience possible so it needs to broadcast on ALL your channels”
CEO: “But, but the people watching the food network tune in to see food. We can’t just broadcast Oprah, that’s not how it works”
Oprah: “That’s how THIS will work.”
CEO: “Yes Mam!”
I assume you can watch it below when it starts tonight:
One of the most fascinating case studies in the anals of WAIS history was a 17-year-old male known only as D-2 who was tested sometime in the 1950s, presumably at the legendary Bellevue psychiatric hospital where the great David Wechsler himself worked as chief psychologist from 1932 to 1967. So legendary is the Bellevue mental hospital, that Bellevue has entered the culture as slang for “nut house”.
D-2 scored in the “mentally defective” range which Wechsler defined as below IQ 70 (bottom 2% of America) .
Wechsler wrote of this patient:
Patient’s present admission followed a long history of aberrant behavior. At age of 8 committed by court to institution for mental defectives because of antisocial behavior. At that time considered by the court to be a “psychopath”. Discharged after about two years, but soon recommitted for stealing. Mother of dull-normal intelligence; likewise father. who had frequent incarcerations in penal institutions for various crimes, and had been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic.
Since average range intelligence is considered 90 to 109 (the middle 50% score in this range), the term dull-normal described those with IQs in the 80s. Here we see an example of how regression works both ways. Just as the children of mentally impaired parents (IQ < 70) tend to score high than their parents, but not as high as the average American; the parents of mentally impaired children tends to score higher than their children, but also below 100.
Reported psychometric, is a re-test given on admission to present institution. On examination patient reported to be very distractible and showing generally poor attention. Impression of examiner was that one was dealing with a psychotic rather than a defective individual, and same was confirmed by projective tests. Patient was preoccupied with sexual fantasies, many of a primitive sort. During the examination he asked examiner if she would have sexual intercourse with him.
Wechsler then goes on to explain that D-2’s WAIS profile was far more variable than that of the typical “defective”:
His scores range from 0 on Digit Symbol to 9 on Digit Span. He was hardly able to get started on the Digit Symbol Test; his attention wandered. He was at once confused and frustrated by the task. At first approach, one might suspect that the over-all low performance might be ascribed to the psychotic process but while this undoubtedly served to interfere with his “efficiency,” the systematic poor performance on Vocabulary and Similarities, as well as the Block Design, support the view that in addition to any mental disturbances we are dealing with an individual of basically limited mental endowment. Diagnosis of psychosis with mental deficiency would seem accurately to sum up his mental status. Whether this patient might not do better in a state mental hospital rather than an institution for mental defectives needs to be considered. In this connection it should be noted, however, that a substantial percentage of patients in feeble-minded domiciliaries are undoubtedly also psychotic.
Once again we see how essential the Digit Symbol subtest is at detecting deficiencies other subtests miss.
Below are D-2’s WAIS scores. Note that the IQs (stated in bold) are set to have a U.S. mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. The subtest scores are expressed using a scale with a mean of 10 and a SD of 3. This is somewhat analogous to the distribution of adult male height in Western countries, where the mean is 10 inches above five feet and the SD (typical difference from the mean) is 3 inches. Subtest scores can be converted to IQ equivalents by multiplying by 5 and then adding 50.