I enjoyed the below video with Richard Feynman. I’ve never been a huge Feynman fan, mostly because after being interested in IQ for decades, I’ve grown tired of all the people gushing over how brilliant he is and how he couldn’t possibly have an IQ of “only 125”; he must be lying or playing a clever trick on the World, because clearly he’s the poster boy for genius.

Having said that, I do agree that his IQ is higher than 125 but not because the test wasn’t valid. Rather it is because my guess is he took the Otis IQ test and this was a bit of an anomaly in that it had a standard deviation of only 10. Thus his 125 would have translated into a 138 on the Wechsler or 143 on the old Stanford Binet (which had a mean of 102 and SD of 16.4).

But it’s interesting that he’s so open about what sounded like a sub-brilliant score. Just as the richest people can afford to dress like slobs because everyone knows they have money, brilliant people can afford to admit they under performed on an IQ test because everyone knows they’re smart. It becomes a status symbol. A hilarious example of this was Bill Cosby telling David Letterman that he scored 500 (out of 1600) on the old SAT. Did he score 500 on reading and on math? Yes, he quipped.

Cosby’s confession was all the more impressive because, sadly, people expect black people to test low, but Cosby’s great wealth and quick wit made him so conspicuously intelligent that he had nothing to fear. White America would just say “we all know Cosby is BRILLIANT; obviously he just had a bad day”