IQ, biology and culture bias

An ideal study of IQ and environment might be as follows:

Find 300 Bushmen babies being raised as hunter-gatherers and randomly assign them to three groups of 100 Bushmen each:

Group 1:  Gets sent to the United States where they are raised by billionaire Ivy League PhDs and the full-blooded children of these adopted Bushmen are also raised by billionaire Ivy League PhDs.

Group 2:  Remains in their hunter-gatherer environment, but gets weekly visits from doctors and nutritionists  to make sure they, and their babies have the exact same First World medical care, health and nutrition as Group 1, but these health professionals are not allowed to speak to them in English or explicitly educate them in anyway; their only role to make sure the Bushmen reach their biological potential which means doing regular health checkups and supplementing any nutritional deficiencies, especially in pregnant women.  If the health professionals do their job, we’d expect the second generation of group 2 to have the same birth weight, infant head circumference, adult height, and perhaps adult MRI brain size as group 1’s second generation.

Group 3:  Remains in their hunter-gather environment with no intervention at all.

Several decades later, the children of all three groups would be administered the Wechsler intelligence scales (in English for group 1, translated into a Khoe language for groups 2 and 3, though for the Vocabulary subtest they would still have to define English words, none of which they would have heard before, but they would define them in their native Khoe)

If this were done, I would expect the subtests of the Wechsler could be divided into the following categories:

Type 1:  subtests where the group 1 > group 2 gap far exceeds the group 2 > group 3 gap.  These would likely be subtests like Information and Vocabulary which requires exposure to Western culture which groups 2 and 3 lacked.

Type 2:  subtests where the group 2 > group 3 gap far exceeds the group 1 > group 2 gap.  These would be subtests where exposure to Western culture and education matters much less than the physical development of the brain.  These would likely include some of the hard-core Wechsler performance subtests where you have to use your hands to quickly fit objects together in a spatially competent way.

Type 3:  subtests where all three groups would score relatively equal.  These are subtests where neither the cultural nor biological environment matters much unless it’s pathological.  Skeptics would deny type 3 tests are even possible, but perhaps some of the Wechsler auditory short-term memory subtests might be type 3.

We don’t have to give the three subtest types names, but it’s tempting to use adjectives like crystallized, achievement, and culturally loaded to describe type 1 subtests, and fluid, aptitude and culture reduced to describe types 2 and 3.  The difference between 2 and 3 being that the former show more phenotypic plasticity, but for biological, not cultural reasons.

The Raven Progressive Matrices is a test which showed enormous phenotypic plasticity over the 20th century (the Flynn effect) even though it was intended to be culture reduced.  This can be partly explained by the fact that Flynn effect is partly biological (Richard Lynn noted that improved nutrition has increased brain size since WWI) and by the fact that the Raven is partly cultural, as James Flynn has argued.

If even the Raven is culturally biased, is a truly culture fair psychometric test even possible?  If we define culture fair as tests where group 1 and group 2, but not necessarily group 3, score equally, these might be possible, but I think the reason the Raven failed was a) it’s boring nature made it too sensitive to test motivation which is a culturally sensitive variable, and b) as James Flynn implied, it relied too much on hypothetical thinking:  people in less modern cultures only apply their intelligence to clearly defined practical looking problems with tangible solutions.

Some of the Wechsler auditory short-term memory subtests or hands-on spatial subtests might come a lot closer to culture fair than the Raven did.


They’re all gona laugh at you!

A popular theory among U.S. elites:  Trump ran for President because he was so humiliated by Barack Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner that it was the only way to save face.  Explaining the theory Dan McLaughlin writes:

Despite being born to wealth, he’s lived his whole life as the nouveau riche kid from Queens whose fame, fortune, Ivy League degree, fashion-model wives, TV shows, casinos, beauty pageants, football team, political largesse . . . none of it could get his old-money Manhattan society neighbors, the smart kids, the political movers and shakers to treat him as a peer, an equal, a man of consequence.

Partly because of this,  The New York Time‘s Charles M. Blow argues Trump is jealous of Obama:

Trump wants to be Obama — held in high esteem. But, alas, Trump is Trump, and that is now and has always been trashy. Trump accrued financial wealth, but he never accrued cultural capital, at least not among the people from whom he most wanted it.

Therefore, Trump is constantly whining about not being sufficiently applauded, commended, thanked, liked. His emotional injury is measured in his mind against Obama. How could Obama have been so celebrated while he is so reviled?

The whole world seemed to love Obama — and by extension, held America in high regard — but the world loathes Trump.

Obama was a phenomenon. He was elegant and cerebral. He was devoid of personal scandal and drenched in personal erudition. He was a walking, talking rebuttal to white supremacy and the myths of black pathology and inferiority. He was the personification of the possible — a possible future in which legacy power and advantages are redistributed more broadly to all with the gift of talent and the discipline to excel.

Given this backdrop, when Obama lured Trump to the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner to be laughed at to his face by a room full of  U.S. elites and on international TV, he snapped, according to The New Yorker‘s Adam Gopnik:

On that night, Trump’s own sense of public humiliation became so overwhelming that he decided, perhaps at first unconsciously, that he would, somehow, get his own back — perhaps even pursue the Presidency after all, no matter how nihilistically or absurdly, and redeem himself

Explaining further, McKay Coppins writes:

On the night of the dinner, Trump took his seat at the center of the ballroom, perfectly situated so that all 2,500 lawmakers, movie stars, journalists, and politicos in attendance could see him….But as soon as the plates were cleared and the program began, it became agonizingly clear that Trump was not royalty in this room: He was the court jester. The president used his speech to pummel Trump with one punchline after another…When host Seth Meyers took the mic, he piled on with his own rat-a-tat of jokes, many of which seemed designed deliberately to inflame Trump’s outer-borough insecurities: “His whole life is models and gold leaf and marble columns, but he still sounds like a know-it-all down at the OTB.” The longer the night went on, the more conspicuous Trump’s glower became. He didn’t offer a self-deprecating chuckle, or wave warmly at the cameras, or smile with the practiced good humor of the aristocrats and A-listers who know they must never allow themselves to appear threatened by a joke at their expense.


Instead, Trump just sat there, stone-faced, stunned, simmering — Carrie at the prom covered in pig’s blood.


It’s ironic that Coppins seems to hint at Trump’s lack of social intelligence in this situation since commenters on this blog often praise Trump as one of the greatest social geniuses of our time, a reasonable opinion given Trump beat the top politicians in America at the their own game, despite no political experience.  Perhaps Trump was just too angry to display his social skills on that night, or perhaps his type of social savvy can’t adapt to upper class environments.

More interesting, given it’s Halloweek, was Coppins’s reference to Stephen King’s first novel.  In Carrie, after being lured to the prom by the elite kids only to be publicly laughed at, a high school senior takes her revenge by becoming the most powerful girl in the World (destroying the school with her telekinetic powers).

Similarly, after being lured to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner by U.S. elites to be publicly laughed at, Trump got his revenge by becoming the World’s most powerful man, displacing the President who mocked him.

He who laughs last, laughs best.

Did modern humans evolve from killer apes?

Homo Erectus

In honor of Halloweek, I thought I’d share a terrifying little tidbit I learned from a great lecture by professor Henry Gilbert.  At the 1 hr 14 min mark in the below video he mentions a theory that the really thick crania observed in Homo Erectus may have been an adaptation to the fact that they were bashing each other’s heads in.  This is wildly speculative but this might also help explain extreme selection for brain size we see in Erectus, since 1) winning fights requires brain functions like intelligence and physical coordination, 2) head butting people requires a large cranium, 3) some research claims big brains can absorb more insults though this is disputed, and 4) selection for brain size was paralleled by selection for height, which is also useful in combat, especially head butting.

Another point Gilbert makes is that the huge brow ridges of Homo Erectus might be explained by their  robust cranium combined with small frontal lobes (compared to modern humans).

In my last article I discussed the opening scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, which really emphasized Raymond Dart’s killer ape theory that was popular in the 1960s but has since fallen out of favour, which is a bit surprising given the facts that 1) violence is an obvious selection pressure for intelligence 2) humans are incredibly violent creatures and so are our ape relatives the chimpanzees, and 3) genetic evidence confirms that anatomically modern humans rapidly replaced all other “human” species with only minimal admixture.  On the other hand, there isn’t much evidence the replacement was violent, other than a controversial claim that we ate Neanderthals and the fact that caves occupied by Neanderthals were often taken over by modern humans quite rapidly.

One problem with the killer ape theory is that a recent paper claimed that contrary to Gilbert, cranial thickness was not exceptionally extreme in Erectus.

2001: A Space Odyssey

In honor of Halloween eve, I thought I’d show an eerie clip from one of my favorite movies of all time (2001: A Space Odyssey):

What I love about this scene is just the haunting beauty of life before proto-humans evolved higher intelligence.  Even though the scene is very violent, there’s just something extremely peaceful about it:  For millions of years, generations of African apes would just lived there simple repetitive pointless lives under the quiet glare of the rising and setting sun, and then died, allowing their kids to repeat the same pointless cycle.

The film implies it took an alien intervention for apes to evolves into humans, which as former commenter “Race Realist” has noted, is a common conspiracy theory, perhaps because the human mind is such a complex entity that it’s hard for people to imagine how a process as random as natural selection could have produced it.

Indeed commenter “Mug of Pee” often cites the failure to beat Secretariat’s records as an example of how  even artificial selection for relatively simple traits like horse racing speed eventually hits a brick wall where natural selection runs out of mutations to exploit.  This may explain not only Stephen Jay Gould’s punctuated equilibrium theory, but the hundreds of thousands of years in the fossil record where the genus homo showed no progress in tool making and it’s also an argument HBD deniers like commenter “Swank” have used to argue all races must have equal intelligence, at least at the high end, because intelligence is so complex that any mutation that would increase its upper limit would take hundreds of thousands of years to appear.  This in sharp contrast to scholars like Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending who argued Ashkenazi Jews were selected for high IQ mutations that emerged only about a thousand years ago.

Even though the theme of aliens intervening in human evolution sounds kind of cheesy, it’s handled deftly by director Stanley Kubrick, who never shows us the aliens, instead focusing on the featureless black monolith that mysteriously enhances the IQ of the apes who touch it.

Some claim Kubrick, who was Ashkenazi Jewish, had an IQ of 200, and even assuming the old age ratio IQ scale that gave ridiculously inflated results, this is probably a huge exaggeration.  Nonetheless, he may have been the smartest major director of his generation so it’s interesting to note that like “America’s smartest man” Chris Langan,  he’s quite interested in a scientific definition of “God”, and that’s what the aliens were meant to be in his film.

Readership hits record highs as Charles Murray comments on my blog

A few hours ago I noticed an explosion of traffic on my blog and rushed to twitter to see where it was coming from.  It seems one of the most influential people on the planet had recently commented on a blog article I wrote.


A man who co-authored the most famous IQ book of all time (The Bell Curve) and whose 1984 book Losing Ground revolutionized U.S. social policy. What a great honor it is to have the man who Bill Kristol called America’s leading living social scientist commenting on my blog.

So everyone please be on your best behavior.  You never know who’s reading.


The Paleolithic Black-White IQ gap

One reason people think the black-white IQ gap is at least partly genetic is its durability over time.  The roughly one standard deviation IQ gap (15 points) between blacks and whites living for centuries in the United States was first observed in World War I during a time of extreme racism.  It was thought that after decades of racial progress in civil rights, the IQ gap might diminish,  but the most recent high quality IQ data shows the adult racial gap remains over 15 points  (though the gap has narrowed to 12 points in children).

As Arthur Jensen noted, what makes the consistency of the U.S. black-white IQ gap especially striking is that it has endured over a period of such extreme environmental chance that the entire U.S. population is now performing as much as two standard deviations higher on IQ tests because of some combination of increased schooling and media making folks more test savvy,  and increased health and nutrition causing brain size and function to improve.  So even though Americans of all races today score some 30 points higher than their great grandparents in WWI,  the U.S. gap between blacks and whites adults is still 15 points!

Of course one could argue that even a century of IQ gaps proves little, because even though the environment for black Americans has improved dramatically since WWI, they continue to lag way behind white Americans on most measures of socio-economic well-being.

What is needed is data going back much further in time and space.  Obviously, we can’t get in a time machine and return to the paleolithic to give IQ tests to the ancestors of today’s blacks and whites, but what we can do is check the archeological record for evidence of prehistoric intelligence.

On page 134 of his landmark 2007 book Understanding Human History, Princeton astrophysicist Michael Hart documents some of the greatest achievements of the Upper Paleolithic.


Hart notes that with the exception of pottery, all of these inventions were made by people dwelling in Europe.

On page 135 he writes:

None were made by Negroids,  nor by any other group living in tropical regions.

These facts are consistent with–and most easily explained by–the hypothesis that the groups that were living in cold climates had already evolved higher intelligence by 40 kya…

Critics dismiss IQ as just a score on a silly little test with no relevance to real world intelligence, however if racial differences in IQ predict real world creativity tens of thousands of years ago,  this suggests the tests are measuring differences that are very real, very important, and very genetic and ancient in origin.

One problem with Hart’s book is that he credits the bow and arrow to Europeans.  As commenter Jm8 likes to remind us, archaeologists working at South Africa’s Pinnacle Point cave site found evidence that humans had already invented the bow and arrow 71,000 years ago, likely before the major races had diverged.  However preeminent paleoanthropologist Richard G Klein finds the evidence for this unconvincing (see the 28:06 mark in this video).

Another problem is Hart’s exclusion of the Ishango bone from his list of important paleolithic inventions, as some believe this 20,000 year old African object preserves the earliest known example of math, however skeptics believe the notches on the bone “may in fact be meaningless, simply scratched in to create a better gripping surface.”

When did humans become smart enough to survive the cold?

What sets humans apart from the great apes? The ability to survive the cold.

Humans are an African primate.  Darwin inferred that Africa was the cradle of mankind because it was the land of our closest relatives: the great apes.  All living hominoids, including us, evolved in the tropics, and with the exception of modern humans, no living hominoid is capable of surviving the cold. Gorillas, bonobos and chimps all live in Africa and orangutans, gibbons and siamangs live in southeast Asia.

Apes first appear in the fossil record 25 million years ago in sub-Saharan Africa, so the hominoid body has had tens of millions of years to become perfectly, exquisitely, well-suited  to tropical life, so any hominoid that dared to leave Africa and face the bitter cold of the ice age, needed to be incredibly adaptable to survive an environment so opposite of what his ancestors spent 25 million years specializing in.  It’s likely that such rapid adaptation could not occur until the hominoid brain reached a certain size, giving us a high capacity to learn, invent, and create culture.

This was the transition from ape to man.  Indeed the ability to survive the freezing cold seems to be what separates humans from the apes.  For centuries people have speculated about a giant bipedal ape surviving in the Pacific Northwest,  but the fact that sasquatch is just a myth further shows that apes can’t survive the cold.

When in our evolutionary history did we become smart enough to do so?

“Humans” first entered Europe 1.8 million years ago, but there’s no evidence we were smart enough to survive Northern Europe until 780,000 years ago,  when the climate was similar to today’s southern Scandinavia, and it’s only within the last 40,000 years that humans have proved able to survive the arctic.

Of course even once humans evolved the intelligence to survive the cold,  some could survive it more efficiently than others, and as commenters MeLo and Phil78 have pointed, out competition may have been the decisive variable.  But competition may have been especially intense precisely because it was cold and thus there were fewer natural resources, while in the tropics, selection pressures were more relaxed because there was less need for shelter and more food to go around.

A 2010 article in the guardian describes archaeologist Brian Fagan’s view that Neanderthals lacked the cognitive ability to adapt to the cold as creatively as modern humans:

This meant, says Fagan, that we learned to use local materials – antler, bone and ivory – in ways Neanderthals simply could not imagine. In one case, this resulted in “one of the most revolutionary inventions in history: the eyed needle, fashioned from a sliver of bone or ivory,” he adds. While Neanderthals shivered in rags in winter, humans used vegetable fibres and needles – created by using stone awls – to make close-fitting, layered clothing and parkas: the survival of the snuggest, in short..

In 2012, paleoanthropologist Rick Potts said:

Whenever glacial habitats invaded Europe and Asia, it appears that the Neanderthals moved south, into Iberia and the Italian peninsula, to take advantage of the warmer places. Overall, their bodies show evidence of cold adaptation. Yet during one cold period, when the Neanderthals retreated, populations of Homo sapiens began to infiltrate the cold regions. How could they do this, especially since these populations were dispersing from tropical Africa? The difference is that these early populations of our species had developed the ability to invent new tools, like sewing needles that were useful in producing warm, body-hugging clothing.

In a 2013 article in the BBC, Oxford university professor Robin Dunbar is quoted as saying the following about Neanderthals:

They were very, very smart, but not quite in the same league as Homo Sapiens. That difference might have been enough to tip the balance when things were beginning to get tough at the end of the last ice age

In 2014 paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London told National Geographic how much harder it was for humans to survive in freezing Eurasia compared to warm Africa:

If temperatures drop 5-10 degrees in Africa, you’re not going to die; there may be changes in rainfall and desert and forest and so forth, but that temperature drop probably won’t kill you.

In Britain, or Siberia, these populations were constantly under pressure. When it was really cold, they were surviving in pockets in the south—in the Iberian Peninsula, the Italian peninsula, the Balkans, maybe in India and Southeast Asia. All the area to the north would empty of people. Then when it warms up, people would start to expand north and grow their numbers. But often they only had 3,000 years before the temperature dropped all the way back again. So I think it is the climate that was shutting down the diversity of those populations; they couldn’t maintain large numbers because of the climate wearing them down.

In March 2015, Chris Stringer told Oxford university that when the ice age got really bad, all humans in Britain simply died out (see 17:20 mark of the Oxford podcast) and Britain had to be recolonized.

And as I noted back in July,  The BBC wrote in 2016:

…Neanderthals, with their shorter and stockier bodies, were actually better adapted to Europe’s colder weather than modern humans. They came to Europe long before we did, while modern humans spent most of their history in tropical African temperatures.  Paradoxically, the fact that Neanderthals were better adapted to the cold may also have contributed to their downfall.

If that sounds like a contradiction, to some extent it is.

Modern humans have leaner bodies, which were much more vulnerable to the cold. As a result, our ancestors were forced to make additional technological advances. “We developed better clothing to compensate, which ultimately gave us the edge when the climate got extremely cold [about] 30,000 years ago,”…

A puzzling comment about Neanderthal IQ

It’s very likely these Neanderthals, although able to interbreed with humans, and probably capable of speech, will be on average considerably less intelligent than humans. If I had to guess I would suppose their average adult IQ to be about 70, or -2 SD relative to modern humans. You might wonder how they could have survived for 300k+ years with such modest intelligence, but based on my experiences with 5-10 year old kids I don’t think that a sub-adult level of maximum intelligence precludes the ability to form societies and function as hunter-gatherers. (Apes survive with even less cognitive ability.) I just don’t think that higher developments (e.g., invention of writing) are likely for such a population. What Homo Sapiens accomplished in 50-100k years far outstrips Neanderthal accomplishments over a much longer period of time.

I find this comment very confusing, because why is he comparing what Homo Sapiens have accomplished in 50-100K years to what Neanderthals have accomplished “over a much longer period of time”?  Shouldn’t he be comparing what the two species accomplished at the same time?

All the higher developments Hsu speaks of (i.e. invention of writing) didn’t occur until about 35,000 years after Neanderthals went extinct and even “advances” like agriculture didn’t occur until about 30,000 years after.  If the IQ of our species is judged only by the accomplishments we made at the same time as Neanderthals,  we had no higher developments either.

But Hsu seems to be saying “it’s not when you accomplish something that reflects IQ, but how long it took you to accomplish it.”    Obviously a more intelligent species will be expected to learn, invent and discover things faster than a less intelligent species,  but Homo Sapiens have been around a lot longer than 50-100 K.

I don’t doubt Homo Sapiens are smarter than Neanderthals and that we accomplished more, even contemporaneously, I’m just puzzled by the achievement rate over  50-100 K years being compared to “a much longer period of time”?

Perhaps you could say that anatomically modern humans first appear in the fossil record somewhere between 195 kya and 300 kya, depending on how you define “anatomically modern” and still exist today.  Let’s split the difference and say we’ve been around for 248,000 years.

Meanwhile Neanderthals first appear in the fossil record between 400 kya and 600 kya.  Again, splitting the difference, about 500 kya, but since they vanished 40 Kya, they lasted 460,000 years.

So maybe one could say our species accomplished far more in 248,000 years than Neanderthals accomplished in 460,000 year,  but this doesn’t really tell us much about our differing rates of accomplishment.

What is needed are achievements that Homo Sapiens made that Neanderthals also independently made, but at a later date, so we can compare.

For example, Homo Sapiens started engraving quite a complex geometric pattern” by about 70 kya at Blombos Cave in South Africa.  Meanwhile Neanderthals started carving “abstract, almost geometric shapes” by about 40 kya in Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar.

So could one argue that Homo Sapiens acquired this skill when our species was just 178,000 years old (248 kya – 70 kya) while Neanderthals didn’t acquire it until their species was 460,000 years old (500 kya – 40 kya)?

It’s tempting to apply the old age ratio method of calculating IQ to claim Neanderthals had an IQ only 39% as high as modern humans (178,000/460,000 = 0.39) but that’s clearly nonsense, and one of the reasons it’s nonsense is it’s not as if we were starting from scratch when we became our species 248,000 years ago, nor were Neanderthals starting from scratch when they became Neanderthals 500,000 years ago.  Both species were building on the accomplishments of ancestral forms.

So perhaps instead of starting the clock at the speciation point, we should start it at the last common ancestor of both species.  Research suggests “the early predecessors of humans diverged from those of Neanderthals between 550,000 and 765,000 years ago — too far back for the common ancestors of both to have been Homo heidelbergensis, as some had posited”.

Let’s split the difference and assume the two species diverged 658 kya, which means it took Homo Sapiens (and our ancestors) 588,000 years to create geometric designs (658 kya – 70 kya), while it took Neanderthals and their ancestors 618,000 years to do the same.  Applying the old ratio IQ method would now suggest their IQ was 85% as high as ours.  A lot more believable than 39%, but possibly still nonsense.


The IQs of everyone in Friday the 13th (1980)


In honor of it being Friday the 13th weekend, and so close to Halloween, I decided to estimate the IQs of every single character in Friday the 13th (1980).  I knowing this is boring nonsense to some readers, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and now is perfect timing.

I began by counting how many biologically normal characters there were in the film and in a creepy coincidence, there were exactly thirteen!

Why do I separate the 13 biologically normal characters from the one pathological one (Jason)?  Because IQ tests have traditionally been normed on the biologically normal and typically (white) American or British population from which a normal bell curve is derived.  This is for statistical convenience but also reflects the view that one’s IQ reflects a great many genetic and environmental variants, which like the flip of a thousands coins, randomly determine whether you accumulate good or bad luck in the cognitive lottery; but since the effect of any one variant is so tiny,  most people will be in the middle and only a tiny percent will have an excess of good or bad brain luck.

However people like Jason have genetic disorders that so override the normal sources of polygenetic and environmental variation that they skew the bell curve, and are thus excluded from the norms of IQ tests.

Now assuming the 13 biologically normal characters in the film are a roughly representative sample of biologically normal white America, the next question is what would be their expected IQ distribution?   Since by definition, the IQs of biologically normal (white) American have a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15,  a random sample of 13 such people might have something like the following IQs:


Now the fun part! Assigning each of the above 13 IQs to each of the 13 biologically normal characters.

In order from highest to lowest:


Alice IQ 126 (Superior intelligence)


I assigned the highest IQ to the heroine Alice because she was the only camp counsellor with the alertness and quick thinking to beat the killer at her own game.  We also learn early in the film that she’s a talented sketch artist, suggesting she would do well on the Draw a Person IQ test.  And while her wide eyed innocence may seem naïve, this is a common trait in high IQ people who have the luxury and integrity of staying innocent longer, yet the fact that she adapted so quickly to unfolding horrors despite her charmed life, suggests high IQ.

Enos  IQ 116 (Bright Normal)


Although truck drivers aren’t known for their high intelligence,  Enos strikes me as the second brightest character in the film simply because he had the long-term memory to rattle off the camp’s dark history off the cuff: boy drowning in 1957, two counselors killed in 1958, bad water in 1962.  Most people can’t recall local history with such precision and speed.

Pamela Voorhees IQ 111 (Bright Normal)


One of the smartest killers in the history of slasher films.  Her ability to lure her victims to their death by correctly predicting they would take the bait is unsurpassed in the genre.  Also impressive was her ability to find Alice anywhere she hid in the camp, even though Alice was running, and always had a head start, and Pam was merely walking.

However whenever the two women would physically battle, Alice always won, even though Pam had the physical advantage in size, strength and height, though not in speed, suggesting Pam wasn’t smart enough to exploit her advantage.

Nonetheless, Pam’s creative use of lights and weapons, knowledge of the camp’s emergency generator, and ability to communicate effectively (“I can’t help you if you don’t calm down”) all point to high IQ.  I would even credit her with great acting skills, given how well she feigned innocence when Alice first met her, except I don’t think she was acting.  I think Pam was so detached from reality that she would sometimes forget she was the killer and act like a normal woman.  Such psychosis reveals a malfunctioning brain, and puts a ceiling on her likely IQ, as does the sheer irrationality of killing camp counselors for allowing your son to drown,  even though most of them were not even born at the time.

Ned Rubenstein IQ 109 (Average intelligence)


This guy reminds of the typical dorky goofball you knew in high school, who everyone thinks is dumb until he helps you with your math homework;  the kind of guy who feigns stupidity to get a cheap laugh.  And yet Ned doesn’t really show intelligence unless being good at archery is a sign of smarts,  but the fact that his idea of flirting is nearly shooting a girl’s head off with a bow and arrow, shows reckless stupidity.  Also showing stupidity was his inability to defend himself against female killer, despite not really being caught by surprise.

Nonetheless, he’s Ashkenazi Jewish, and these are thought to have genes associated with high IQ.  For that reason alone, he might be in the upper end of the average range.

Marcie Cunningham/Stanler  IQ 107 (Average intelligence)


When a snake that was terrorizing a cabin was chopped by a machete (I hope a real snake wasn’t killed for this movie), she delivered the funniest line of the film: “At least we know what’s for dinner”.  Such quick wit may imply a triple digit IQ, at least before the axe to the brain.

Barry Jackson IQ 100 (Average intelligence)


When asked by his girlfriend whether she kissed as well as another girl they knew, he replied “how would I know?” which was the perfect answer to an awkward question and worked like a charm.  This may imply an IQ above 100.

However given that he was likely one of the original camp counselors who made love instead of saving Jason from drowning, and thus was indirectly responsible for decades of mass murder, indicate a level of criminal negligence so extreme he’s likely not above 100.

Bill Brown IQ 99 (Average intelligence)


Bill is likely very close to triple digit IQ because he showed two signs of intelligence: 1) he’s one of the few who learned how to use the camp’s emergency generator, and 2) he successfully killed the snake that was terrorizing one of the cabins.

Claudette Hayes IQ 97 (Average intelligence)


Like her lover Barry Jackson, she can’t be too smart if she was making love when she should have been saving Jason from “drowning”.  On the other hand, the fact that she’s the only character who displays musical talent (playing the guitar) suggests she’s not too dumb either.

Brenda Jones IQ 96 (Average intelligence)


She showed some intelligence in suggesting a fun game the others counselors enjoyed (strip monopoly) and knowing the rules,  and the fact that she was ethical enough to go out into a thunderstorm to respond to cries for help, may indirectly imply she’s not dumb (since high IQ people tend to develop better character), even though it was a deadly trick she fell for.

Steve Christy IQ 88 (Dull normal)

The fact that he wastes his life trying to save a camp that is doomed, indicates low IQ.  Also the fact that he never figures out who the killer was, despite the fact that she is a family “friend” and is the only person with an obvious motive, also implies Dull Normal IQ.

On the other hand, the mere fact that he was born into a family rich enough to own a camp implies some high IQ genes.  Also fixing the camp keeps him in shape and lets him cunningly placate his perversion for very young women, so he’s at the upper end of Dull Normal.

Jack Burrell/Marand IQ 87 (Dull Normal)


The fact that he’s one of the few characters who knows how to use the camp’s emergency generator implies he’s not completely dumb.  However the fact that he has sex on the bottom bunk of bunk beds, when a dead body lies on the top bunk, and he’s too dumb to notice (despite being taller than the top bunk) implies Dull-Normal IQ.

Annie Phillips IQ 84 (Dull Normal)


Annie is completely adorable in a way that only dumb women are.

Crazy Ralph IQ 81 (Dull Normal)

The fact that he’s known as the town lunatic indicates low IQ, though ironically, his crazy ramblings are proven true.  Also, the fact that he rides a bike all the way to the camp suggests he’s either not smart enough to drive, or not smart enough to get the money for a car, and not wearing a helmet (or normal biking attire) also shows low IQ, though was probably a common mistake in the 1980s.  Though in Ralph’s defence, biking is good exercise and good for the environment.


Jason IQ 50 (Trainable (moderate) Retardation)


Because Jason was a hydrocephalic, he’s not part of the biologically normal population, and thus his IQ can not be guessed from the normal distribution of scores.  Nonetheless, as I wrote in 2014:

In the very first Friday the 13th movie (1980) (one of the best horror films ever) it was very subtly hinted by his mother that Jason was a special needs child when she used the euphemism “he wasn’t a very good swimmer”, and indeed the makeup artist who created Jason’s appearance described him as “hydrocephalic, mongoloid pinhead”. In Friday the 13th part 2, the main character mentions that Jason never went to school as a child. According to IQ expert Arthur Jensen, the minimum IQ needed to attend a regular school was 50 though Jason can’t be much lower than that because he manages to survive on his own in the woods from age the age of 11 to 34 and at age 34, kill a platoon of teenagers using a wide variety of weapons.

But Jason’s low IQ is revealed by his extreme gullibility. In Friday the 13th part 2, a college psychology major manages to trick Jason into thinking she is Jason’s mother simply by putting on his mother’s sweater, even though Jason personally witnessed his mother being beheaded and the college girl is more than a decade younger than Jason and thus can’t be his mother. In Friday the 13th part 4, Jason is tricked by a little boy who shaves his head and pretends to be young Jason himself, only to hack Jason to death. The fact that Jason was outsmarted and killed by a little kid half his size shows Jason was not too bright. Despite being killed at age 34 (short life span is another sign of low IQ, though a weak one) Jason returned in part 6 as a zombie.





Friday the 13th (1980)


Pumpkin Person rating: 9.5/10


In honor of Friday the 13th being tomorrow, and falling so close to Halloween this year,  I had to review one of my favorite movies of all time:  Friday the 13th (1980).

Shortly after Halloween (1978) became the most successful independent movie of its time,  a platoon of slasher films rushed into production, hoping to replicate Halloween‘s success.  Of these, the most successful and influential was Friday the 13th.

Like Halloween before it, Friday the 13th was a movie about, and for, white America.  That’s not a good thing or a bad thing, just the reality of American culture circa 1980.

Both films revolved around most quintessential white experiences.  Halloween was about teenagers babysitting in the suburbs of a small Midwestern town, and Friday the 13th was about summer camp.

Both films had not a single non-white character.

Although Friday the 13th was set in 1980 (the year of its release),  it seems symbolic that its opening murder takes places in the 1950s: the glory days for white America, and the film begins by focusing on camp counselors who are unapologetically blond and blue eyed.  They sneak away from guitar duty to “fool around” in the upstairs of a cabin, not knowing someone is stalking the camp.  We see from the killer’s point of view that someone is walking through camp bedrooms as people sleep, and that someone is climbing up the stairs to punish the young couple.


The moon is full.

Fast forward to 1980 and a fresh batch of camp counselors is coming to work at what has been nicknamed “camp blood”.  One by one they are killed off,  as a demented old man named Ralph tries to warn them they are doomed if they stay there.

Unlike the original Halloween which relied more on suspense than gore, Friday the 13th reveled in blood and guts. We’re talking spears stabbing you from under your bed,  bloody corpses pinned to doors, and axes to the face.

But what made this disgusting display so brilliantly ironic, was that when the face of the killer was finally revealed, it was not the hulking hockey masked man we associate with the franchise, but an All-American 1950s style mom!


She was the lady next door, the girl scout leader,  the June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver.

In a riveting performance by Betsy Palmer, we watch as this all American mom (Mrs Voorhees) from our TV dreams, who we think is there to save the day, slowly reveals herself to be the machete wielding homicidal slasher of our horror nightmares.

Driven mad with grief after her mentally retarded son Jason was allowed to drown because camp counselors were busy making love, she had been vengefully stalking the camp for a quarter century.

But if that weren’t enough of a twist, Friday the 13th has perhaps the best surprise ending of any horror film ever.  After surviving the night of camp blood and beheading Mrs Voorhees,  the heroine, Alice, gets into a canoe, and just drifts aimlessly.  In one of the most beautiful scenes in horror history, she wakes up in the boat to a glorious new morning.  Although supposedly June, the autumn leaves reflect multicolored hues in the morning lake, as she looks up to see the police there to rescue her.

And just when you think it’s a happy ending, the corpse of Mrs Voorhees drowned little hydrocephalic son, Jason,  jumped from his underwater grave to pull Alice into the lake.

Alice wakes up screaming in a hospital.  Apparently she must have just dreamed being pulled into the lake

But what makes the dream so utterly creepy is that in Friday the 13th part II,  Jason shows up at Alice’s home and murders her, except he’s not the corpse of a drowned little boy she saw in her dream,  but a grown-ass man in his thirties!


Apparently the mentally disabled Jason had never really drowned at all, but survived in the woods, too low in spatial IQ to find his way home, or, too low in social IQ to realize going home was the thing to do.

And just as Jason’s mother murdered teenagers at the camp to avenge the perceived drowning of her son, in the sequels, it’s Jason who kills teenagers at the camp to avenge the beheading of his mother.

Despite being just another brain dead horror franchise, it requires a certain intelligence to appreciate such plot symmetry.