Re: A study comparing 150 IQ+ persons to 180 IQ+ persons

From: Michael Vassar (
Date: Mon Aug 21 2006 - 20:33:28 MDT

I think that IQ tests do a fairly good job in identifying which decile of
the population a person fits into. The better tests are essentially never
going to put a person into any decile that is not appropriate, althought
they will not identify highly capable people with learning disabilities
(Neils Bohr, for instance) or with fairly narrow forms of genius
(surprisingly few of these. According to Howard Gardner, primary advocate
of "multiple intelligences" the population in the top decile of IQ basically
includes almost everyone with prominant talent in any of his
"intelligences". Mohommed Ali probably counts though, not just as a boxer
but as a source of pithy sayings, but he may have thrown his IQ test). Even
George W Bush tested in the top decile
(the link also highlights limitations of IQ tests in distinguishing within
the top decile)

I think that IQ tests distinguish meaningfully, though not highly
accurately, up to about the 98th percentile. The Terman study placed both
Nobelists in the cohort in the 98th percentile.

Your sense that it is impossible to loose points primarily reflects your
failure to accurately model the abilities of ordinary people.

It is, however, a shame that we don't seem to have any better metrics for
predicting very important mental achievements.

>From: "Philip Goetz" <>
>Subject: Re: A study comparing 150 IQ+ persons to 180 IQ+ persons
>Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 18:45:14 -0700
>I recently took an IQ test - unfortunately, it was to help someone in
>training, and so they couldn't tell me what my score was - but there
>were hundreds of questions, and maybe 3 of them required thought, and
>the only part of the test on which it seemed possible to lose points
>was a speed-test in copying figures which seemed to have nothing to do
>with intelligence. There were some obvious problems and cultural
>biases with the questions, despite the fact that the test has been
>refined over many years by many psychologists. (I think it was the
>I would say that
>1) IQ tests are designed for placing people into one of 3 categories:
>below average, average, or above average. They are neither designed,
>nor able, to distinguish between 2 sigma and 3 sigma above average.
>2) If a person whose IQ "should" be 180 takes one of these tests, and
>gives an answer different from the one that is considered correct, I'd
>trust the answer of the 180-IQ test-taker more than that of the
>test-makers. The presence of any ambiguous questions containing
>subtleties that the test designers were not aware of, means that the
>most-intelligence test-takers will not have the highest scores.
>- Phil

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