RIP Mary Tyler Moore


Yesterday the World was rocked by the devastating news that TV icon Marry Tyler Moore had passed away.  As a man in my 30s, I personally didn’t know too much about her, but for working women coming of age in the 1970s, this woman was an incredible inspiration, especially for women in television like Oprah who was just coming up through the ranks in the cut-throat world of TV news, working with an older male co-anchor who simply didn’t want her. The theme song of Mary’s show was “you’re going to make it after all” and would end with a liberated Mary tossing her hat in the air, and 22-year-old Oprah would watch every Saturday night when she didn’t have a date.

Oprah did a tribute to the show’s famous opening where Oprah too would toss her hat in the air just like Mary, but with Oprah playing the part,  the “you’re going to make it after all” theme took on special meaning.

With the exception of her best friend Gayle, no one thought Oprah would make it when she left a successful talk show in Baltimore that she was co-hosting with Richard Cher, to host her very own show in Chicago in the mid 1980s.  People told her she was crazy to walk into Phil Donahue’s hometown and challenge the king of daytime TV in his own backyard.  This was considered a suicide mission for anyone, especially an overweight black looking black woman.

And yet to everyone’s astonishment, she was successful immediately.  The low budget morning talk show she took over went from dead last in the ratings to #1, practically overnight, and the rest is television history.  She would go on to become not only the World’s most influential woman, but the richest African American of all time. She made it after all.

The time Marry Tyler Moore surprised Oprah on live TV goes down as one of the all time greatest moments in television.


Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful…beautiful brain

In the age of MRIs, a new form of art is emerging.  Capturing the brains of people at their most intimate moments, like this mother and child:


(credit: Rebecca Saxe and Atsushi Takahashi / Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT / Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT)

But the ultimate brain scan art would be if Oprah posed intimately with other luminaries, since Oprah’s arguably both the biggest brained member of both her race and her gender and the most successful member of both her race and her gender.  The MRI scan could be displayed in the Oprah Winfrey wing of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture.


The reason brain size tripled in 4 million years of evolution is that our bigger brained ancestors were not only smart enough to help themselves survive and prosper, but also their tribe.

Oprah helped her tribe just by being such a visible example of success for so long, but also by building the most beautiful school in Africa and by using her incredible influence to elect a black President who brought health care to millions of the working poor.

For the first time in history, hundreds of millions of blacks could see themselves in the most powerful and prestigious job on Earth and this changed the trajectory of their lives.  Millions of people of all races, for the first time in their lives saw that a black could be king of the World and stopped seeing blacks as inferior.

And not only was the king of the World black for eight wonderful years,  but SO WAS HIS WIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A black woman was First Lady.  And not just any black woman, but a homegirl who liked to shoot basketball and give people fist bumps.  For the first time on a global level, this unique brand of black femininity was validated at the highest level. Millions of blacks were validated because she reminded them of their auntie and the type of everyday black woman they saw on the bus.

As the former editor of the Harvard Law Review, President Obama probably thinks he was the mastermind behind his and Michelle’s success, but I suspect the real brains was the woman with the World’s largest black brain:


AP photo

But coming from poverty, sexual abuse, and a very humble college, Oprah worships the Ivy League Obamas like brilliant black Gods, not realizing she was the true Genius behind their throne.

Trump’s co-author gave TERRIFYING interview

Tony Schwartz, the  co-author of Trump’s massive best seller The Art of the Deal claims to be the person who knows Trump the best, outside his family, since he spent so much time observing him for their book, and he’s spent the last year or so going on a media tour trashing Trump; insulting Trump’s character, intelligence, vocabulary, morals, implying he doesn’t love his kids, even calling him a racist and an anti-Semite, and publicly fearing that a Trump Presidency will cause a nuclear holocaust.

In the interview below he says that he and family are ready to leave the country if Trump gets elected, which Trump has, because Schwartz is so afraid of what Trump would do with all that power.  As someone who does consulting work with the federal government, I understand his concerns, and the level of power the U.S. President now has in the post-9/11 age of big data is absolutely unprecedented.

Trump goes ballistic over even the mildest of insults, so imagine how offended he might be over these incredibly personal attacks by someone he trusted so dearly.

Schwartz must be shaking in his boots.


Meanwhile Oprah’s freakishly huge brain size gave her the intelligence to stay on Trump’s good side.  I remember when big brained Rosie O’Donnell (though not as big as Oprah’s)went on a televised tirade against Trump, Oprah was watching from the treadmill, and while everyone else was laughing hysterically and Rosie’s comic shtick, Oprah said “WHOAH! He is going to hear about that, and he is not going to be happy.”

The next day Oprah’s prediction came true, with Trump going on every media outlet imaginable to call Rosie a fat pig, a slob, a loser, not very bright.  And he just wouldn’t stop; the insults went on for weeks.

Trump does not like being made fun of, and many speculate that he ran for President to avenge  Obama mocking Trump at the White House Correspondents dinner.

Meanwhile Oprah very shrewdly stayed on Trump’s good side by inviting him and his kids on her show during the final weeks she was on the air and it was an honor Trump has never forgotten.  When Trump asked Oprah to appear on his hit show The Apprentice, Oprah skillfully appealed to his ego by saying “you got the #1 show on TV. What do you need me for?”

Trump beamed with pride that the most successful person in the history of television was calling his show #1.  He already greatly admired Oprah because Trump worships winners, but now his admiration went through the roof.  Whether the show really was number one or not, Trump said it was, and Oprah knew better than to question it.


Despite being raised by an unwed welfare mother, Oprah’s freakishly huge brain size allowed her to learn the politics of America’s elite very rapidly and know that there are some people you just don’t fuck with, and Trump is one.

Some might say Oprah was not being smart, she was just being cowardly, but as J.R. Ewing used to say to people who claimed he didn’t scare them:

it takes brains to know when to be afraid. And since those seem to be in short supply, let me help you out.  Be afraid. Be very afraid.


JR Ewing

As the late J.P. Rushton once told me, everyone in life makes mistakes, but smarter people get ahead in life because they make fewer of them.

One of many, many mistakes Oprah shrewdly avoided was not overstaying her welcome.  Oprah was smart enough to know that America can only handle one obscenely successful black person at a time, so after electing Obama, she very shrewdly ended her daily talk show while it was still #1, and retreated to a less visible role of running a cable network.  She also likely instinctively understood that a backlash against visible minorities was imminent.

T.I. endorses Oprah for President

Hip-hop superstar T.I. has endorsed Oprah for America’s highest office.  When asked why Hillary lost to Donald Trump he said:

I just don’t think she was the right woman. I think Oprah Winfrey should [run]. I think Oprah should be the first female president

Some people might be surprised that a rapper as hard-core as  TI would be an Oprah fan, but as someone who is EGI aware, I saw this coming a mile away.  Black men tend to highly respect Oprah because the black race is like a family, and as the richest and most influential African American of our time, and the one woman who almost single-handedly put a black couple in the white house, Oprah’s like the overachieving big sister who makes the family proud. Meanwhile Michael Jackson was kind of like the effeminate little brother that you have to look out for, Bill Cosby is the dad, Barack  Obama is the too cool for school Kenyan cousin who they weren’t sure was part of the family until he got the Oprah seal of approval, Michelle Obama is the auntie, Joe Jackson is the crazy uncle, Maya Angelou was the mother and Nelson Mandela was grandpa.

EGI might partly explain why Hillary failed to become President twice.  In 2008 when she was running against a black man, she  needed black women to vote gender over race, and in 2016, when she was running against a racially polarizing white man, she needed white women to vote gender over race, and in both cases they did the opposite.  From an inclusive genetic fitness perspective, the explanation is very simple.  There’s no genetic benefit to helping your gender, but there’s enormous genetic payoff to helping your race.

As a man in my 30s just like TI (the generation that grew up watching Oprah) I’m old enough to remember the OJ Simpson trial, where a famous black man was accused of abusing and then killing his wife.  Prosecutor Marsha Clark wanted the jury stuffed with black women because she thought they’d be more sympathetic to victims of domestic abuse.  Big mistake!  Despite being a highly sophisticated lawyer, she was simply unaware of how genes trump gender.

No matter how smart you are, if you don’t understand EGI, at least on an instinctive level, you suffer from bounded cognition and are at a huge disadvantage in life.

IQ & academic success

This is a revision of a post from my old blog, substantially updated and expanded.

According to a recent meta-analysis, the correlation between IQ and school grades in the general population is nearly 0.55. Meanwhile the correlation between IQ and years of education in the U.S. is also 0.55.  Given the similarity between these two correlations, we can think of them both as just the 0.55 correlation between IQ and academic success.

So in a typical elementary school class (where you have the full range of cognitive ability, including dull students who will drop out later), you might have 30 students, which means that the lowest IQ in the class should be 28 points below average and the brightest in the class should be 28 points above average (IQ 72 and 128 respectively). However because IQ and academic success “only” correlates 0.55, the best and worst students in the class should have IQs only 55% as extreme: 85 and 115 respectively (U.S. norms).

Of course, elementary school grades are only one way we can quantify academic success in the general population. Another way, as mentioned above, is years of schooling or highest degree obtained.

High school dropouts: IQ 85 (U.S. white norms)

In 2006, roughly 17% of American adults, aged 25+ lacked a high school diploma or equivalent.  That means that the median high school dropout was in the bottom 8.5% of education.  If you’re in the bottom 8.5% of IQ, you’d have an IQ of 80 (U.S. norms), or 20 points below the U.S. mean of 100.  But since the correlation between IQ and education is only 0.55, we’d expect high school dropouts to be only 55% as far below the mean, thus have an average IQ of 0.55(-20) + 100 = 89 (U.S. norms)

According to a source provided to me by commenter C, the actual average IQ of Americans with only a 9th to 11th grade education (age 20-90) tested in the WAIS-IV 2006 norming was just as expected: 88.77 (U.S. norms); 85 (U.S. white norms)

University grads: IQ 108 (U.S. white norms)

By 2006, roughly 26% of American adults, aged 25+ had a bachelor’s degree or more.  That means that the median university graduate, is in the top 13% of education.  If you’re in the top 13% of IQ, you’d have an IQ of 117 (U.S. norms), in other words, 17 points above the U.S. mean of 100.  But since the correlation between IQ and education is only 0.55, the expected IQ of university grads would be 0.55(17) + 100 = 109 (U.S. norms).

How close does this prediction come to the actual data?   The actual IQ of U.S. university grads (age 20-90) tested in the WAIS-IV 2006 norming  was 110.77 (U.S. norms); 108 (U.S. white norms).

PhDs: IQ 119 (U.S. white norms)

In the U.S., a PhD roughly marks the top 1% in years of completed education, which suggests that the median PhD is in the top 0.5% in education level. If there were a perfect correlation between IQ and academic success, we’d expect the average PhD to have an IQ of 138 (the top 0.5%), but since the correlation is “only” 0.55, each point above 100 must be multiplied by 0.55, reducing the expected average IQ of PhDs to about 121(U.S. norms); 119 (U.S. white norms).

The only actual recent data on the IQs of U.S. PhDs that I’m aware of comes from Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart, which reported that for PhDs turning 25-29 in 2005-2009, the average IQ is 124 (U.S. norms).  However this is probably too high because (1) Murray’s sample was limited to white PhDs, and (2) the test used was the AFQT, which is arguably an achievement test, not a conventional IQ test, and thus might over-correlate with education.  The true average IQ of PhDs is probably several points lower, just as simple regression would predict.

Harvard students: IQ 125 (U.S. white norms)

Are there academic achievements more impressive than getting a PhD? Yes. Getting acceptance into Harvard: the world’s most prestigious university. Out of the 4.1 million 18-year-olds in the U.S. in a given year, only about 1600 go to Harvard. So if there were a perfect correlation between IQ and academic success, the dumbest Harvard student would have an IQ of 150 and the median might have an IQ of 153. However because the correlation is only 0.55, the median Harvard student should be only 55% as far above 100. Thus, simple regression predicts the typical Harvard student should have an IQ of 129 (U.S. norms).

Actually a sample of Harvard students studied by Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson and her colleagues clocked in at IQ 122 (U.S. norms); 120 (U.S. white norms) on an abbreviated version of the Wechsler intelligence scale.  On the other hand, Harvard undergrads are rumoured to average 166 on the LSAT, which equates to an IQ of about 132 (U.S. norms).  The abbreviated Wechsler estimate is perhaps too low because of ceiling bumping, poor sampling, and an over-emphasis on spatial ability, but the LSAT score may be too high because it’s too much of an achievement test.  Averaging them both gives an IQ of 127 (U.S. norms); 125 (U.S. white norms). Very similar to the predicted level.

I completely ignored the stratospheric SAT scores of Harvard undergrads because being selected by this test, it’s an outlier on which they score high by definition.

Tenured professors: IQ 127 (U.S. white norms)

Another form of academic accomplishment that’s about as exclusive as attending Harvard is becoming a tenured university professor. Scientist Steve Hsu wrote:

…when an attorney prepares a case it is for her client. When a Google engineer develops a new algorithm, it is for Google — for money. Fewer than one in a thousand individuals in our society has the privilege, the freedom, to pursue their own ideas and creations. The vast majority of such people are at research universities. A smaller number are at think tanks or national labs, but most are professors…

So in terms of academic success, being a full tenured professor is a one in thousand level accomplishment. If there were a perfect correlation between IQ and academic success, the dumbest tenured professor would have an IQ of 147, and the average tenured professor would probably be around 150. But since the correlation is 0.55, we should expect the average tenured professor to be around 128 (U.S. norms); 127 (U.S. white norms) with quite a bit of variability around that mean, depending partly on the prestige of the university they teach at and the g loading of the subjects they teach.

Academic Nobel Prize winners: IQ 148 (U.S. white norms)

Are there academic accomplishments more impressive than becoming a professor or going to Harvard? Yes: Winning the Nobel Prize. Many years ago a respected psychometric expert named Garth Zietsman wrote an article about using this type of regression to estimate the IQs of Nobel laureates, though I don’t remember the exact stats he used.

But let’s say only one in a million American adults has a Nobel prize (excluding the Nobel peace prize which is non-academic). If there were a perfect correlation between IQ and academic success, we’d expect the dumbest American Nobel laureate to have an IQ of 171 and the average Nobel laureate to be around 174. But again, since the correlation is 0.55, the average Nobel laureate should have an IQ of 141 (U.S. norms); 140 (U.S. white norms).

The only data on the actual IQs of Nobel level scientists is probably outdated.  In the Roe study, the average IQ of eminent scientists was 166 on a verbal test (the best proxy for IQ in the study).  On the other hand, in the Terman gifted study, the IQ of the two kids who would grow up to win a Nobel Prize was 129 (too low for the study).  The Roe study average was probably too high because of the academic nature of the test, and because the sloppy way the test was normed, while the Terman study suffered from too small a sample of Nobel Prize winners perhaps tested at too young an age.  Averaging both studies together gives IQ 148 as the best estimate for academic Nobel Prize winners.  This is higher than predicted by simple regression from IQ and academic success, perhaps because the data is outdated, or perhaps because at the highest levels, academic achievement becomes more creative, thus increasing the correlation.


Is it already possible to take a biological IQ test?

I often define intelligence as the cognitive ability to adapt, but in neurologists speak of neural adaptability, which has a more scientific definition.  Neural adaptability is measured by hooking your head up to an EEG monitor and calculating the ratio of brain amplitudes evoked from having you hear a clicking sound at random intervals, to the brain amplitudes evoked from having you hear a clicking sound when ever you press a device.

The higher the ratio, the higher the IQ on average.  This is because more adaptable brains conserve energy by not wasting brain activity on what they already expect.

On page 155 of The g Factor, Arthur Jensen suggests that in the general U.S. population, neural adaptability may correlate as high as 0.8 with IQ, which is about as high as two well respected IQ tests correlate with each other.

It seems IQ really is a biological construct and not a cultural one.

Does Italy have the highest IQ and brain size in Europe?


The large brain size of Italian American James Gandolfini may have partly caused his great acting talent. (PHOTO:

In his 2006 book Race Differences in Intelligence, Richard Lynn listed the brain sizes of many different populations (originally published by Smith and Beals, 1990) and to my surprise, the brains of Italians clocked in at 1411 cm3, higher than any other European group in the dataset.  1411 cm3 might not sound that extraordinary, but keep in mind that these figures are probably based on very old skulls because (1) you have to be dead before someone can fill your cranium with lead shot or beads and thus directly measure its volume, and (2) craniometry has been taboo since WWII.

Because Westerners before WWII were 1.3 standard deviations stunted in height (sub-optimum nutrition and disease associated with the rise of agriculture), and probably also in brain size, I would estimate that the cranial capacity in today’s Italy is an incredible 1529 cm3.

Of course it’s possible that some other European countries have caught up with or surpassed current Italian brain size (especially the well nourished and healthy Dutch, who have enjoyed an incredible 20th century growth spurt), but I suspect Italians are still the biggest brained for their body size (most encephalized).

Well, I didn’t think much of it.  Data on subpopulations is often unreliable because of smaller sample sizes and looking for HBD trends within a continent as homogenous as Europe seemed to be cutting the data too thin.  But then I looked at Lynn’s listing of national IQs.  These figures are notoriously unreliable, often based on small unrepresentative samples, and even Lynn admits they’re extremely rough, but uses them only to look for larger continent level trends.

Nonetheless, on a scale where whites in America, Britain and Australia average 100, Italy clocked in at 102, making them the “smartest” country in Europe, or anywhere else outside of East Asia.

Both the biggest brains in Europe and the highest IQ in Europe?  That’s probably not sampling error I thought, and the strong match between brain size and IQ is great news for HBD, as is the fact that both are paralleled by the incredible accomplishments of ancient Rome.

But the big brains and high IQ of Italians is also bad news for HBD because for a long time, HBDers falsely believed Italians to be genetically inferior (a stereotype the pretend to be liberal media continues to push with shows like Jersey Shore).

When they first arrived in large numbers in the United States,  the tall, thin, pale WASP elite felt the newcomers looked primitive.  They were disgusted by their darker more hirsute complexions, and were appalled by their shorter and more muscular physiques.  Making matters worse, the for the first 50 years of the 20th century, Italian Americans confirmed these stereotypes by scoring further below the WASP mean on IQ tests than today’s Jewish Americans score above it.  From Stephen J Cici’s book called On Intelligence…More or Less


Boxing ability & height correlation

I saw some fascinating research in the book Anthropometrica: A Textbook of Body Measurement for Sports and Health Courses showing that heavyweight boxing champions tend to be two standard deviations taller than the average American man of his era.


This is fascinating because I have long estimated that U.S. presidents are about two standard deviations smarter than Americans of their era (IQ 130).

What this suggests is that physical power is to height, as REAL power is to IQ.

The World heavyweight champion is the most physically powerful man in the sense that he can destroy virtually anyone physically in the unlikely event it ever came down to one on one unarmed physical combat, but the president is the most powerful man in a real sense, in that he can destroy virtually anyone politically, economically, or militarily in scenarios that are likely to actually occur.

Of course not all heavyweight boxing champions have been tall, just as not all U.S. presidents, have been smart.  And some heavyweight boxing champions have been absolute giants, just as some U.S. presidents have had IQs above 150 (Jefferson?).

But on average, World heavyweight boxing champions are just as selected for height as U.S. presidents are selected for IQ: + 2 SD, which equals about 6’3″ on the U.S. height scale, and 130 on the U.S. IQ scale.

This suggests that the correlation between height and physical power, is similar to the correlation between IQ and real power: About 0.4

The IQ scale is messed up

Some of my commenters seem to think the IQ scale is like percentage.  That is if you have 90% as many neurons as the average person, your IQ is 90.  Nothing could be further from the truth.


The IQ scale was originally based on the idea that if a child was mentally functioning at 50% of his chronological age, he had an IQ of 50, and if he was functioning at 150% of his chronological age, he had an IQ of 150.

So an adult (age 16 to 19), who would score like an eight-year old, would have an IQ around 50.  The problem with this is that as the above chart shows, an eight-year-old does not have 50% of the brains of an adult, but more like 95%.  I realize there’s much, much more to intelligence than just overall brain size, but assuming the brain size growth curve is typical of the growth of other brain properties, the IQ scale is wildly distorted, in that it makes the moderately retarded mind seem only half as developed as the average mind, when in reality, it’s more like 95% as developed as the average mind.

If the IQ scale were based on the actual linear growth of absolute neurological development, instead of having a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15, it would have a mean of 100 and an SD of maybe 1.7.

This explains why I was having so much trouble mapping chimps to the human IQ scale.  Chimps are about as smart as human toddlers, and as the above chart shows, the neurological development during the toddler years is far greater than in childhood and adolescence combined, but because the concept of IQ is based on linear mental age units, these huge low level differences get compressed, while differences above the human toddler level get extremely exaggerated.

The ideal IQ scale

When Alfred Binet invented the first intelligence test circa 1904, he needed a unit of measurement.  After all, a stadiometer has inches; a spring scale has pounds; but what could be the unit of measurement for a trait as abstract as intelligence?

He decided on mental age.  That is, if you performed as well on his test as an average white six-year old, you have a mental age of six, regardless of what your chronological age.  If you performed as well as an average white ten-year-old, you had a mental age of ten etc.

Sometime later, psychologist William Stern suggest one take the ratio of the mental age to the chronological age, and then multiply by hundred to remove the decimal point, and the concept of IQ was born.

But from the beginning, there were problems with the IQ.  For one thing, intelligence only increases as a function of age up until about 16 or so, and as we get much older our intelligence declines.

Secondly, even in childhood, the increase in intelligence as a function of age is not always linear.

Third, the scale lacked a true zero point.  Someone who had the test score of a newborn baby would have a mental age of zero, but a baby does not have zero intelligence.  It’s brain has been developing in the womb for 9 months prior to birth.

Today we no longer calculate IQs the way William Stern suggested, but we still make sure the average is around 100 and the standard deviation is around 15 or 16, since those were the stats the old age ratio scales yielded.  But I long for the IQ scales of old, because despite their many flaws, at least they represented something tangible.

To once again anchor IQ tests in something tangible, I propose scores be converted not into mental age, as Binet proposed, but mental brain size.  If you perform as well as the average white young  adult male with a brain volume of 1400 cc, you have a mental brain volume of 1400, regardless of your actual brain volume.  If you perform as well as the average  white young adult male with a 1500 cc brain volume, you have a mental brain volume of 1500 etc.

This would anchor IQ scores in concrete physical reality and would be a true ratio scale with a true zero point.

Update, January 8, 2017:

Allow me to clarify the above post with an analogy:

Suppose we had a scale to measure weight, but it could not give us a meaningful number, it could only tell us that person A weighed more than person B.  We didn’t know if person A was 500% heavier than B or just 1% heavier than B, all we knew was that he was heavier than B.  All the scale could do was rank people.

Well, one was could make the weight scale more useful is we noticed that taller people weigh more than shorter people on average (lots of exceptions).  We could then assign each person who stepped on the weight scale, a height, and say person A has the weight of an average 70 cm man, while person B has the weight of an average 60 cm man.  Assuming the correlation between height and weight is linear, this would allow us to say person A is 17% heavier than person B, something we could not say when we only had a rank.

Of course this would not imply that height is the only cause of weight, or even causal at all; nor would it imply height and weight are strongly correlated.  What it would do is provide a concrete easy to understand true ratio scale with a real zero point to which weight could be anchored

Currently IQ tests can tell us who scored higher than who, but they can’t tell us by what percentage person A exceeds person B on the actual ability in question, so the purpose of this post was merely to suggest they too need to be anchored in a concrete scale with a true zero point, and brain size is one such anchor out of many that might be used.