Open thread: Kanye West’s IQ

Liberals have been complaining about what a fool Kanye West made of himself yesterday, by ranting incoherently at the white house and allowing himself to be used as a prop by President Trump.

However during the rant West claimed to have seen a psychologist and scored at the 98th percentile in IQ, but “only” the 75th percentile in repeating numbers.  If this self-report can be trusted, it sounds like he was administered the WAIS-IV and got a full-scale IQ of 130 but a 110 in the working memory index.

Of course West also claimed to be a billionaire,  so he seems prone to wild hyperbole (or confusion), however the IQ results sound more authentic because he gave a percentile (unlike many people who just claim an IQ) and it wasn’t astronomical (unlike most false high IQ claims), and because he also admitted to scoring mediocre in the repeating numbers section.

Of course liberals will consider him dumb not just because he’s a conservative, but because as a black man he should know better.   However he might be smart enough to realize that unlimited (low-skilled) immigration is bad for the black community because it drives down wages, and thus may have given his Trump support more thought than meets the eye.  And Trump’s tax cuts are certainly good for him as a business man.

There’s also the fact that West is supposedly very good at drawing, and might easily score 130+ on the Draw-a-Person IQ test.

It’s always interesting when a super rich person has some special talent that’s completely different from the talent for which they got rich, because it implies they have general intelligence, and are not just one-trick ponies who were in the right place at the right time.

Of course West doesn’t talk like someone with an IQ above 130, or even above 100, but having grown up middle class home with a PhD mother (high IQ DNA?), he may feel the need to sound especially ghetto to prove he’s part of hip-hop culture and not some privileged elite.  Add to that his mediocre working memory (75th percentile) and long sentences might not be his forte.  In addition, like a lot of creative people, he might be mentally ill, causing him to seem much dumber than he is.

Trump described him as a smart cookie, but whether that was sincere or condescension, I know not.  Whatever Trump’s flaws, he’s probably very good at reading people.

Anyway, I hope West really does have a 98th percentile IQ.  It’s always fascinating when a high IQ person gets rich in a field that has nothing to do with academics and required no academic credentials.  It shows IQ tests really do measure intelligence and predict real world adaptive behavior and not just narrow book smarts.



Open thread: New Forbes 400 out

[Please post all off-topic comments here.  They will not be posted in the main articles]

Forbes just released their annual list of the 400 richest Americans.  When they first started this list in 1982, you needed just $100 million to make the list and $2 billion to be #1 (Daniel Ludwig).  Today, you need $2.1 billion just to make the list, and $160 billion to be #1 (Jeff Bezos).  If you’re not a billionaire by age 60, you can consider yourself a loser.

If you go by SAT scores, at least three people of the 400 have IQs of around 170:  Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and our very own Marsha Murphy (listed under her husband’s last name,  the only listee to have made her fortune in prostitution,  proving that IQ predicts success in even the most unlikely of professions).

Open thread: More thoughts on Donald Trump’s IQ

Commenter pumpkinhead made a series of points about Donald Trump’s IQ that I thought were worth responding to in a new article.

1. SAT scores correlate highly with IQ, I believe the correlation is around 0.86. There are SAT to IQ conversion charts online. So using that as a metric we can work out his IQ based on the Wharton school minimum SAT requirements. It is not clear what his score is or whether he even has any but he did gain entry(albeit as a transfer student) which is one more piece of “evidence” in his favor.
2. According to this,
the average IQ of the top 12 universities in the country is around 142.

The 142 figure is from The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. It’s based on the fact that elite school students scored 2.8 standard deviations above the general U.S. population on the verbal SAT, which equates to 142 on the IQ scale.  For years I’ve argued that this is a massive overestimate because you get a selection bias effect when you measure the IQs of a group by the very test used to select them.  Thus I was happy to see that buried in the notes on page 712 of The Bell Curve, they state that the correlation between verbal SAT and IQ is 0.65, and so students from elite schools should regress about a third of the way to the mean.  This would reduce them from +2.8 SD to 0.65(+2.8 SD) = +1.82 SD or IQ 127.  And that’s more or less what we see in a study of Harvard and Dartmouth students.

Now there are studies where the SAT correlates much higher with official IQ tests or g (general intelligence) in academically homogenous samples, but if you gave the SAT to all U.S. 17-year-olds (including high school dropouts with no test prep & little interest or knowledge in algebra) the g loading might drop a lot.

Of course in Trump’s case, the SAT would be a valid proxy for his IQ if it were discovered randomly,  but the average SAT of elite students in general is an inflated IQ proxy because the only reason we know their average score on the SAT (and not some other test) is precisely because they did well enough to get into an elite school; thus it’s not a random sample of their ability and thus we use regression to predict their score on a random test.

3. He is a billionaire, albeit with a good head start but he has basically multiplied his bankroll/inheritance 100x over in his lifetime. That is nothing to scoff at especially since a lot of people squander their entire inheritance in their lifetime.

Just yesterday The New York Times reported that Trump was given $413 million in today’s money from his father.  As of Oct 3. 2018, Forbes estimates his real time net worth to be $3.1 billion so I’d say he multiplied his inheritance by 7.5 times.  That’s still quite impressive, but nowhere near 100 times.

4. He comes from the cutthroat business/real estate world AND he managed to become a successful entertainment personality. In retrospect it all may have played into his long term plan to win the presidency. This may be more a testament to his grit and social status/contacts but if by some happenstance it is easy to get in(entertainment & business worlds), i’m pretty sure it is exceedingly hard to stay in, a certain level of intelligence is a must. Any way you slice it though, that is no small feat.

I’ll grant him that.  I define intelligence as the cognitive ability to adapt (turn situations to your advantage) and there’s virtually no public figure who has made it to the top in three completely different domains (real-estate,  media, and politics).

But at the same time, because there are so many factors that can influence life outcomes, the correlation between IQ and worldly success (money, power, status) is only moderate (0.5 at the most) and Trump had a huge head-start.

His father was one of the 400 richest Americans (and self-made) and such people average IQs around 132, which means their kids have IQs around 116 (assuming about a 0.5 correlation between father and child).  His father was about 4.73 standard deviations above average in money (one in a million level) and given the 0.47 correlation between father and son income in the U.S., we’d expect Trump to have been 4.73(0.47) = +2.37 SD in income (and perhaps worldly success in general).  Instead, as both a multi-billionaire and a President, he’s arguably the most successful of all 215 million American adults (age 25+) and thus +5.73 SD in worldly success, which is 3 SD higher than expected.

Given a 0.5 correlation between IQ and worldly success and assuming it applies within social classes, that would give him an expected IQ that is 3 SD(0.5) = 1.5 SD above that of other trust fund babies (average IQ 116) and thus IQ 139.

5. Interviews from when he was younger reveal a much more linguistically and cognitively adept individual. His fluid intelligence has taken a hit with age but that is to be expected. IMO certain aspects of his working memory took the biggest hit.

Indeed, which is why although his biggest accomplishment (becoming president) came in old age, I would only apply the above IQ estimate to his younger years.  Given the imperfect stability of IQ over the life time, his current score could be wildly different (even adjusting for age).

6. He won the presidency as a complete outsider, going up against the media, corporate, and deep state favorite during a time of “first black”, “first female”(what’s next, first gay?) national infatuation(very un-meritocratic but i’m glad logic prevailed). In my view that is unheard of in the last 100 years, or maybe ever in US politics.

He certainly showed incredible adaptability in becoming President.  Being President?  Not so much.

7. The reason I give him a high math/visual IQ is because he seems to be the sort of person that thinks in pictures. People that think in images formulate their thoughts in that way and then try to put words to those images. If their verbal is not too high and old age has impacted their working memory even further, they struggle to find the words while the conceptualizing may be stellar. They then try to make up for this and convey their competence(of which they are internally sure of) in a braggadocious way. Of course not all big ego types are of this sort, one has to look at all the evidence…which is found in the obvious competence it would take to gain a degree in business from Wharton, a degree that leans far more into math/logical and visual acuity than it does linguistic.

8. In any case I think that his greatest asset is his interpersonal intelligence a must for any business/real estate entrepreneur let alone a president of the US. This won’t be measured by any IQ test but given the high correlation between respective facets of intelligence it is not much of a stretch to think that the underlying cognitive foundation that allows one to excel in one area can lend itself to facilitating excellence in other areas too(though admittedly this is not a strict rule).
So using all the above I would say there is enough evidence to safely say that he is more likely >125 than he is <125. I’ve settled at 140(a far cry from the reported 156) and while I admit I may be wrong, I doubt I am wrong by much. So peak 140, current 130.

I can agree with a peak IQ of 140.  A current IQ of 130 sounds way too generous (even adjusting for age) in my humble opinion but anything’s possible.  Let’s see if he’s smart enough to get re-elected.


Open thread: Hell Fest (2018)

pumpkin person rating: 4/10


The killer in Hell Fest wearing his very uninspired mask

(this review contains minor spoilers, but honestly there’s nothing to spoil)

A bunch of coworkers and I went out to see Hell Fest (directed by Gregory Plotkin) last night.  The concept was good but unoriginal:  a masked killer slashes people at a horror themed amusement park and gets away with it because most people think it’s part of the show.  The film could have been made in 1981 in that it followed almost every one of the tropes of the 80s slasher sub-genre (masked slasher stalks & kills young people one by one until the heroine battles and subdues the killer, only to discover the threat has not been vanquished, cue sequel).

The main difference is that this film had higher production value than 80s slasher films, it relied on CGI for at least one of the graphic kills, the cast was much more racially diverse (a black girl and a guy who looked to be of Filipino descent were among the main characters) and the lingo was much more up-to-date (“dude” now refers to guys and girls, and “dope” is no longer just a noun that refers to drugs, but an adjective to describe anything positive).

If you watch slasher films from the early 1980s, late 70s, you’re lucky to find even one non-white as even an extra in the background, let alone in the main cast.  By the 90s you got a token minority in the cast, but the joke was that the black guy always gets killed first.  We have now reached the point where there are not one, but two non-whtes, and one of them could very well be the lead character.  Sadly, not everyone welcomes this change.

The film could have been a lot better if they put a bit more creativity into the killer’s mask, and maybe told us a bit more about him.  There was a twist at the end, but it wasn’t good enough.

Would I recommend this film?  There are so few old school slasher films that if you’re a hardcore fan of this sub-genre, I guess it’s worth the time and money just for the atmosphere, but if you’re only a casual horror fan, don’t bother.


Combining IQ scores & composite standard deviations

Commenter pumpkinhead asks:

What would be the general formula for working the composite IQ from 3 or more sub-tests?

Let’s say your verbal IQ is in the top 1% (135), your spatial IQ is in the top 1% (135) and your working memory IQ is in the top 1% (135).  One might think your composite IQ is also in the top 1% (IQ 135) since that’s the average of all three,  however this ignores the fact that it’s much harder to score 135 in three completely different tests than it is to score 135 on just one, so someone who is in the top 1% in all three tests is perhaps in the top 0.3% overall (IQ 141).

Because IQ is simply the number of standard deviations you score above the mean, multiplied by 15 and added to 100, in order to calculate your composite score on multiple tests, you need to know the mean and standard deviation of the composite score.  Knowing the mean is fairly straightforward.  Since the mean IQ by definition is 100, the mean of a composite of three tests is just triple the mean of each sub-test, which would be 300.

The standard deviation of the composite is trickier, because unless the correlation between subtests is perfect, you can not simply triple it.

Instead you supposedly use the following formula:

Composite σ = SQUARE ROOT OF:  σ12 + σ22 + σ32 + 2r12σ1σ2 + 2r13σ1σ3 + 2r23σ2σ3

σ refers to standard deviation, r refers to the correlation (between any pair of the three subtests in its subscript) and subscripts refer to tests 1, 2 and 3 respectively, so for example r12 refers to the correlation between subtests 1 and 2 and σrefersto the standard deviation of subtest 3.  This formula can be extrapolated to any number of tests.

So applying this formula to verbal + spatial  + working memory IQ and assuming a correlation of 0.67 between verbal and spatial ,  0.57 between verbal and working memory, and 0.5 between spatial and working memory:

Composite σ =  SQUARE ROOT OF: 152 + 152 + 152 + 2(0.67)(15)(15) + 2(0.57)(15)(15) + 2(0.5)(15)(15)

Composite σ = SQUARE ROOT OF: 225 + 225 + 225 + 301.5 + 256.5 + 225

Composite σ = SQUARE ROOT OF: 1458

Composite σ = 38

So someone who score IQ 135 on all three subtests has a total score of 405 (135 * 3 = 405) which is 105 points higher than the average person who has a total score of 300 (IQ 100 * 3 = 300) and with a composite SD of 38,  they are 2.76 standard deviations above average (105/38 = 2.76),  which equates to an IQ of 141 (because 2.76 * 15 = 41 and 41 + 100 = 141)

Of course I have serious doubts about this composite σ  formula but I’ll save that for another day.



Open thread: planet of the mutants? The rise of left-handedness

Commenter pumpkinhead recently mentioned that five out of the last eight presidents were left-handed, stating :

This does not make them superior to right handers, it just means that they can more readily tap into to those brain regions that give them that edge over others in a presidential race.

An article by Lance Welton describes a terrifying theory about why humans are supposedly becoming more left-handed:

Between 1968 and 1973, a fascinating experiment took place at the University of Maryland. Led by the startlingly creative scientist John B. Calhoun(1917-1995). Its aim was to understand what would happen if Darwinian selection massively weakened. [Death Squared: The explosive growth and demise of a mouse population, by John B. Calhoun, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1973] In creating this “Mouse Utopia” (pictured right) the experiment replicated post-industrial conditions in the West, where child mortality has fallen from 40% to about 1% since 1800, due to dramatically improved medicine and living conditions. The results were horrifying: increasingly bizarre behaviour patterns, a collapse in reproduction, eventual extinction. Are we in our own “Mouse Utopia” in which Darwinian selection has collapsed? The latest piece of evidence for this: we are becoming more left-handed….

…being left-handed is associated with numerous markers of “developmental instability”—that something has gone wrong; a situation generally reflective of “mutational load.” Left-handed people display elevated levels of depression, autism, slightly lower IQ (an average difference of about one point), outlier high IQ (which often happens due to mutation as it is associated with poor mental and physical heath) or outlier low IQ, psychopathic personality, homosexuality, pedophilia, transsexuality, and of numerous physical conditions, such as allergies. Unsurprisingly, southpaws thus end up with low a lower average socioeconomic status…

So, if Darwinian selection has collapsed, then we should be becoming more mutated and, therefore, more left-handed and higher in all of the correlates of left-handedness, including low intelligence. And this is exactly the finding of a recently-published study by British psychologist Michael Woodley of Menie and his team. [Sinistrality is associated with (slightly) lower general intelligenceA data synthesis and consideration of secular trend data in handedness, By Michael Woodley of Menie et al., HOMO, May 2018].


Open thread: Trump had a very high IQ in the 1990s

I’m watching the below interview of Trump on Charlie Rose back in 1992 and I’m stunned by how much brighter he seemed back then.  His vocabulary is much more varied, his facts are much more detailed and precise,  his sentences more complex and less repetitive, his thoughts much more interesting, and he speaks much more quickly and fluently.

He was clearly in the top 5% of his age group back then (IQ 125+), possibly the top 1% (IQ 135+),  but sadly, I doubt he’s above the top 50% of his now much older age group (IQ 100+) unless he’s feigning stupidity for political or legal reasons.

This begs the question: What correlates most with lifetime success?  IQ in childhood, IQ in young adulthood, or IQ in old age?

Open thread: So excited about the new Halloween film

John Carpenter’s original 1978 Halloween (not to be confused with Rob Zombie’s underrated Halloween reboots) was arguably the best horror film ever made (even though it could have been better).  It’s about Michael Myers, a six-year-old boy who stabs his babysitting older sister to death on Halloween night, spends 15 years in a mental hospital, then escapes and returns to his hometown to slaughter more babysitters on Halloween night, the only survivor being virgin Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis.

In Halloween II we learn that Laurie is actually Michael Myers’s (yes you use ‘s after a name that ends in s, contra my beloved grade 10 English teacher) long lost sister, but Halloween (2018) is ignoring Halloween II and all the other sequels, so in this film, she’s not Myers’s sister, she’s just the one surviving babysitter from his original massacre.

Carpenter never liked the sister plot-twist (even though he wrote it) because giving Myers a motive ruins his mystery.  But the motive itself was so mysterious that to me it added to his mystery, causing me to diagnose Myers with autism.  But my autism diagnosis does not necessarily apply to Halloween (2018) since the sister motive is gone.

Another way this film rewrites Halloween history is that at the end of the original film,  Myers is shot six times then vanishes.  In Halloween II we learn he just got up and walked away and is apparently un-killable.  But with Halloween (2018) replacing Halloween II,  he’s no longer supernaturally invisible; instead he vanished because he was taken into police custody after being shot.

So in Halloween (2018) Myers has been in a mental hospital since 1978!  What kind of life has Myers had?  Confined to a mental hospital from age six to age 21 (never speaking a word to anyone), escaping for one day of killing, and then spending the next FOURTY YEARS in confinement (presumably also never speaking to anyone).  In total, Myers has been institutionalized for FIFTEY FIVE years!  I wonder how many tax dollars have been spent not on this man who’s done nothing but kill people.

In all that time under psychiatric care, you’d think someone would give him an IQ test like the WAIS.  But he doesn’t speak so you can’t give him any of the verbal subtests, and a 61-year-old man who’s been hospitalized since age six has very little opportunity to learn general knowledge.  Did he even watch TV?

They could give him the performance subtests but Myers moves so slowly that he would never assemble the blocks within the time limit, even if he figured out the solution.  They could give him one of the power subtests like Matrix reasoning, where all he needs to do is point at the correct answer, but unschooled people are perhaps not motivated to engage with such abstract tests.

Even though the average IQ of people with no formal schooling at all is very low, in the past I estimated Carpenter’s Myers to have a respectable IQ of 92 since his sister was the brilliant Laurie Strode.  But since Laurie is not his sister in Halloween (2018) I need a new estimate for this version.


Open thread: Revisiting Trump’s IQ

Back in 2016, I estimated that Trump had a genius verbal improvisational IQ of 140 but an arithmetic IQ of only 94 (average range).  This gave a composite score of perhaps 121 (borderline genius), but that composite score was not very reliable, since it was based on only two cognitive functions and there was such a huge gap between them.

Now I have evidence for a third cognitive function, long-term visual memory, and sadly, it will pull down the composite score quite a lot.

Apparently Trump doesn’t know the colours on the American flag.

How can he not know something this basic?  On page 513 of Wechsler’s Measurement and Appraisal of Adult Intelligence Fifth Edition, it’s reported that 100% of the the WAIS standardization sample in the 1950s passed this item.  Perhaps in Trump’s age group it would be a little less, maybe 98%, but failing an item that 98% of his age group can pass would give an IQ of only 70, in long-term visual memory.

So my updated estimate of Trump’s IQ:

Verbal improvisation: 140

Arithmetic: 94

Long-term visual memory: 70

Full-Scale IQ: About 100

Of course I’m not a professional, so hopefully my estimate is wildly wrong and Trump is every bit as smart as the brilliant Chris Langan thinks,  because if he really does have only average intelligence, the neocons are going to take advantage and trick him into starting another war, which is not in his or America’s interests.  They already got him to rip up the Iran nuclear deal.

IQ & body type


Weight/height ratio is negatively correlated with IQ, meaning the more you weigh for your height, the lower your IQ tends to be.  Almost everyone in the HBD-o-sphere assumes this correlation just means fat people tend to be dumb, which I don’t deny, but I’ve always thought it would be more interesting if low IQ muscular people were also driving the correlation.

A few weeks ago I discovered an interesting passage on page 321 of Wechsler’s Measurement and Appraisal of Adult Intelligence Fifth Edition:

…most studies report a small, but significant correlation (r of about 0.25) between IQ and Sheldon’s body type, with individuals of “tall and narrow build” (ectomorphs) earning on the average higher S-B or WAIS IQ’s than persons who are either chubby (endomorphs) or more muscular and athletically built (mesomorphs)…

This is interesting because:

a) as we evolved from ape to man, we lost muscle but gained height.


Indeed in the film Quest for Fire,  set 80,000 years ago, the most advanced tribe had the least muscle, and would point and laugh at the more primitive muscular cavemen they captured.


b) When we imagine advanced life visiting from other planets,  they are devoid of muscle.




c) the stereotypical smart guy is a scrawny nerd while the stereotypical dumb guy is a roided up wrestler or football player.