A reader asks:
Are there any cases where an individual’s real-world achievement(s) align(s) with that individual’s stellar high-range test score? If so, what achievement(s), what score, and on what test?
The most obvious example is John H Sununu who exceeded the one in a million level is both Mega Test IQ and real-world power (state governor, White house Chief of Staff under a relatively good President: George H.W. Bush, who unlike his son, was competent enough not to invade Iraq). In 1988 the Washington Post reported:
President-elect George Bush’s new chief of staff, John H. Sununu, is a smart guy by all accounts. His doctarate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one clue. His I.Q. is another. On a scale where “genius” is anything over 140, Sununu has been clocked at 176. That makes him one in a million.
Whether he is smart enough to massage the egos at the top of the administration and smart enough to befriend Jewish leaders and smart enough to outsmart his boss remains to be seen. But there is no question that he is book smart.
In 1985, Sununu picked up Omni magazine’s “mega-I.Q.” test while on a plane flight. At the time he was governor of New Hampshire and was busy with the state legislature, but when the session adjourned for the summer, Sununu got serious about the test. You might say it’s his idea of how to spend a summer vacation.
When he and more than 3,000 other Omni readers turned their tests in, Sununu had tied with two others for second place. He correctly answered 44 of 48 questions, where a score of 15 ranked the contestant as a genius with an I.Q. of 141. His score of 44 put Sununu’s I.Q. at 176.
“This test was one of the most enjoyable exercises I have gone through in some time,” Sununu wrote to the magazine, “a superbly stimulating diversion.”
It should be noted that the Mega Test annoyingly uses a standard deviation of 16, so an IQ of 176 is equivalent to 171 on the 15 sigma scale used by the Wechsler and recently even adopted by the Stanford Binet. It equates to the one in a million level. Since the Washington Post wrote that article Sununu’s score has been upgraded to the one in 3 million level.
Among the Omni reading test takers who reported their SAT scores, only two had 44+ Mega Test scores and only two had 1586+ self-reported SAT scores (not the same two), which at least in the 1980s, equated to the one in 700,000 level, so at the very least, I would put Sununu’s Mega score at +4.67 SD, especially since he achieved it on his first attempt and in the pre-internet era (before answers got leaked or became easier to research). Maybe post-Omni data allowed Ron Hoeflin to refine the score upward. Such a spectacular IQ gave Sununu the authority to belittle the intelligence of a man as intellectually respected as Obama.
Sununu is not the only U.S. governor with a reported test score equating to perhaps 170 (sigma 15). In 2006, Eliot Spitzer told the New York Times that he scored 1590 on the (pre-recentered) SAT and a perfect score on the (old) LSAT. In the Omni sample, I noticed Mega Test takers with self-reported old LSAT scores averaged 722 (SD = 30) on the LSAT and IQ 152 (SD 9) on the Mega Test. Assuming linear extrapolation, that would equate a perfect 800 LSAT with a Mega IQ of 175 (equivalent to 170 on the WAIS).
Sununu and Spitzer were not governor at the same time, and did not achieve their scores on the same test, but perhaps at any given time, about one of the 50 U.S. governors would score over +4.5 SD on any particular highly g loaded test (whether the Mega Test, college admission tests, or conventional IQ tests with sufficient ceiling). Similarly, one in 100 U.S. senators (Chuck Schumer) had a self-reported perfect or near-perfect SAT score, as does about one out of every 100 or so self-made members of the Forbes 400 richest Americans (Bill Gates, Paul Allen). If the top one or two percent of self-made real-world elites have IQs around +4.5 SD, it suggests the average (self-made) real-world elite has an IQ around +2 to +2.5 SD.
Sununu may not be the only Mega Test luminary who has achieved so spectacularly in the real-world. Circa 2000, a highly credible person stated “I am told one member of the Mega Society is a billionaire.” It only took $725 million to rank among the 400 richest Americans, but his person, if he exists, probably never appeared in Forbes, but just as different IQ tests don’t correlate perfectly, different ways of assessing and identifying wealth don’t correlate perfectly. But given how few people have qualified for the Mega society, it would be pretty fascinating if one of them was a USD billionaire by any credible measure.