So I was flipping through the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans and most of the top 10 are centibillionaires:

Jeff Bezos $201 billion

Elon Musk $190.5 billion

Mark Zuckerberg $134.5 billion

Bill Gates $134 billion

Larry Page $123 billion

Sergey Brin $118.5 billion

Larry Ellison $117.3 billion

Warren Buffet $102 billion

Steve Balmer $96.5 billion

Michael Bloomberg $70 billion

Despite being 2 to 3% of America, Jews are an astonishing 60% of the top 10! Given that Jews have likely the highest IQ of any U.S. ethnic group, this dramatic overrepresentation suggests centibillionaires have very high IQs.

And indeed two members of the top 10 (Gates and Balmer) scored a perfect 800 on the pre-recentered math SATs which equates to a math IQ of roughly 154+ (U.S. norms). Elon Musk never took the SAT but if he had, he too would have likely scored 800 also considering he got the highest score they had ever seen on IBM’s computer aptitude test (at least if the tweets of his doting mother can be believed). Mark Zuckerberg is widely believed to have scored 800 on both sections of the SAT but the only source for this is the biopic The Social Network, and even if true, he took the easier recentered SAT, though still extremely impressive!

So let’s say about 30% of the 10 richest Americans (according to Forbes) have math IQ’s of 154+. In the general population, the top 30% are about 8 IQ points smarter than the average American, so assuming something similar in the centibillionaire population, the average math IQ should be 146.

Now usually when dealing with group data, it matters little whether you’re looking at math IQ, verbal IQ, spatial IQ, or just IQ. All these measures are so intercorrelated that they’re essentially interchangeable at the group level, however given that all these high math IQ centibillionaires earned their fortune in high tech, math IQ might give a biased measure. But given about a 0.9 correlation between math SAT and composite SAT, we can conservatively assume they have an average IQ of (0.9) 46 + 100 = 141 (U.S. norms; 140 U.S. white norms) though this feels like an over-correction.

To put this in perspective, the average U.S. homeless person has an IQ of about 80 (U.S. white norms).

If there were a perfect correlation between IQ and money, we’d expect a 129 point IQ gap between the 10 richest Americans and the poorest 0.17% (the homeless) but instead we get just under half of that, consistent with a correlation of 0.48 between IQ and permanent income, at least in men (the correlation in women is distorted by the fact that many enjoy money through marriage instead of direct earnings)

To quote Daniel Seligman, “people who are at the top in American life, are probably there because they’re more intelligent than the rest of us”

As I’ve said many times, intelligence is arguably the ability to adapt; to take whatever situation you’re in and turn it around to your advantage.

As for the conspiracy theorists who think there are secret billionaires even richer than Jeff Bezos, any errors on the Forbes list would likely have the effect of underestimating the correlation between IQ and money (unless this supposed hidden wealth is inherited or illegal).