Commenter Philosopher often mocks Bill Gates and other math Geniuses for lacking social IQ, recently stating:
Whenever I see gates in that pink sweater for big interviews i laugh as well. It reminds me of Terry Tao wearing that jumper on Colbert’s show. These people are missing a part of their brain.
This got me thinking: Is our choice of clothing a measure of intelligence? At first glance it sounds silly, but the granddaddy of IQ testing himself, Alfred Binet, included aesthetic judgment on his test, famously asking children to pick the prettiest face from each of three pairs.
This requires the same aesthetic judgement as picking what clothes look best on you. An important part of social cognition.
In 2015 Gates ranked as the 13th worst dressed billionaire on the planet. Of the 562 U.S. billionaires, Gates was the 9th worst dressed. This implies he’s in the bottom 1.6% of billionaire fashion, or 2.13 standard deviations below the billionaire mean.
How aesthetically intelligent is the average billionaire. When it comes to conventional IQ, self-made billionaires recently averaged IQ 133 (U.S. norms), though this number continues to fall as billionaires become more common. Of course only 2/3rds of U.S. billionaires are self-made. Billionaires who inherited their wealth likely average an IQ of 115, given the 0.45 IQ correlation an individual has with his spouse or child. Thus all U.S. billionaires combined likely average IQ 127. Meanwhile, aesthetic judgement has a g loading of 0.6 (see table 6.14) so we might expect them to average 0.6(27) + 100 = 116 in fashion sense.
Thus Gates being 2.13 SD below the average billionaire fashion implies an aesthetic IQ of:
116 – 2.13(15) = 84.
Of course one shouldn’t take these numbers too serious. Gates’s poor dressing might simply reflect a lack of social motivation or a mind with more important things to consider. But if the number is corroborated by other evidence of social obtuseness (i.e. Gates’s distracting hand gestures), it may serve as important proxy.
By contrast in 2005, Oprah was ranked as the third best dressed billionaire on the planet, behind only fashion moguls Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren. She was the second best dressed in America.
In 2005 there were 341 billionaires in America so Oprah’s second place fashion put her near the top 0.5%, or 2.53 SD above the billionaire mean. This implies an aesthetic IQ of:
116 + 2.53(15) = 153.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing Oprah’s overall IQ is higher than Gates’s. Overall Oprah is probably around 140 while Gates could be anywhere from 150 to 170.
But when it comes to abilities related to social IQ, Oprah’s off the charts, as even conservatives admit: