# Money makes you stupidMay 5, 2003 5:28 AM   Subscribe

The more you earn, the lower your IQ. That's the clear but unexpected result from the second National IQ test broadcast by the BBC. The test is still online if you are curious. The first test was discussed here. For a higher IQ, be an unemployed Irish man and drink too much.
posted by grahamwell (44 comments total)

Scott Adams was right:
---
Dilbert's "Salary Theorem" states that:
"Engineers and scientists can never earn as much as business executives and sales people."

This theorem can now be supported by a mathematical equation based on the following two postulates:

Postulate 1: Knowledge is Power.
Postulate 2: Time is Money.

As every engineer knows: Power = Work / Time,

Since:
Knowledge = Power
Time = Money

Knowledge = Work/Money.

Solving for Money, we get: Money = Work / Knowledge.

Thus, as Knowledge approaches zero, Money approaches infinity, regardless of the amount of work done.

Conclusion: The less you know, the more you make.

posted by jozxyqk at 5:34 AM on May 5, 2003

Is that like my theory that the fewer the comments, the better the post? ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:36 AM on May 5, 2003

Woohooo! I'm a freakin' genius!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:37 AM on May 5, 2003

For a higher IQ, be an unemployed Irish man and drink too much.

it doesn't work that way...
we are so drunk and unemployed because we see the fookin' futility.
we see the futility because we are so fookin' smart.
posted by quonsar at 5:41 AM on May 5, 2003

See also the ever-relevent, brilliant classic Parkinson's Law (click on a the cover here to read a few pages) (and also refer to the Peter Principle).

For a higher IQ, be an unemployed Irish man and drink too much.

I think I could do that. On a related note, there's a fellow in NY who consistently clocks in at 200 IQ. He's a bar bouncer. There is some evidence and precedence that a huge IQ is as much of a hindrance as a help in this world. (Likewise, I think, a heart and a conscience can be stumbling blocks to your ascent in the Human World; "No good deed goes unpunished," therefore "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time." Got a big brain and a big heart? Give it up. You're doomed.)
posted by Shane at 6:06 AM on May 5, 2003

Got a big brain and a big heart? Give it up. You're doomed.

*cries*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:10 AM on May 5, 2003

*has always known he was doomed, rages instead of cries.*
posted by quonsar at 6:16 AM on May 5, 2003

Argh. Sorry for all the trackback posts. If automatic trackback discovery is on, and an error is reported in doing the ping, every time you save the entry it will keep pinging the other site.

Obviously, I must make boatloads of money.
posted by jgilliam at 6:44 AM on May 5, 2003

*comforts stav and q by reciting ancient persian love poetry*

: >
posted by amberglow at 6:45 AM on May 5, 2003

~jgilliam is the new philosopher-king of metafilter! Hail!~

Can I borrow some money?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:45 AM on May 5, 2003

This comes as no surprise to me.

Definition of 'apparatchik'.

;)
posted by plep at 7:12 AM on May 5, 2003

An IQ test on "National" television?

Steeerike 1!

Followed by a message from our sponsor, no doubt [buy crisps - give yourself an extra 20 points!].

The IQ Test: Where does It Come From And What Does It Measure?
Alfred Binet's scale had a profound impact on educational development in the United States — and elsewhere. However, the American educators and psychologists who championed and utilized the scale and its revisions failed to heed Binet's caveats concerning its limitations. Soon intelligence testing assumed an importance and respectability out of proportion to its actual value.

Few people realize that the tests being used today — of which the IQ test continues to be the most popular — represent the end result of a historical process that has its origins in racial and cultural bigotry.

If an IQ test is supposed to measure a person's intelligence, the question is: What is intelligence? Is it the ability to do well in school? Is it the ability to read well and spell correctly? Or are the following people intelligent?

The physician who smokes three packets of cigarettes a day?

The Nobel Prize winner whose marriage and personal life are in ruins?

The corporate executive who has ingeniously worked his way to the top and also earned a heart attack for his efforts?

The brilliant and successful music composer who handled his money so poorly that he was always running from his creditors (incidentally, his name was Mozart)?

Are you an ecozombie?

I have serious allergies to tests. IQ without emotional quotient is worth zip. When it comes to personal relationships, it doesn't get off the ground. In an employee, you'll find a workaholic, substituting emotional needs with work. Is it life though? Depends which side of the fence you're looking at it from.
posted by alicesshoe at 7:16 AM on May 5, 2003

Alicesshoe, you are right and watching the show - a cross between 'Millionaire' and Eurovision would have made you weep. The theme was jokey "heres a bit of fun which might screw you up for life" but there was a constant metatheme if you like, "this is science, this is fact, the higher your score the better you are". There were no dissenting voices. A quarter of a million took part online, nationally the viewing figures must have been six to ten million. It's easy to pick holes in the test - the time limits per question - the cultural specificity (a stitch in time saves nine). Still, there you are.
posted by grahamwell at 7:37 AM on May 5, 2003

*looking forward to a long life of comfort and indolence*
posted by UncleFes at 7:45 AM on May 5, 2003

Excellent links, Aliceshoe! Thanks! I agree: IQ is an abstract concept.
posted by Shane at 7:45 AM on May 5, 2003

The average score for the 50k+ crowd was 93? wouldn't that mean that if half the people over 50k could make it to 100, half of them would have to be borderline retarded? I guess it just goes back to that old joke about being surprised that 50% of the population has below average intelligence... and IQ tests are comparative, right? I mean, they're graded on a curve so that 100 is the mean?

jozxyq, that's a cute theorem, though of course the trick is whether it's money incoming or outgoing: in the original equation, power = work/time, we're talking of power= work done/ time expended (so the more power, the less time spent to do the same amt of work), so the next part is greater knowledge = more work done by spending less money, which still makes sense, and the conclusion would be that as knowledge approaches zero, the money you spend to get any work done approaches infinity - not the money you earn.
posted by mdn at 7:56 AM on May 5, 2003

[partial derail]
Shane: On a related note, there's a fellow in NY who consistently clocks in at 200 IQ. He's a bar bouncer.

Sounds apocryphal- but even so, how is that possible? No, not him being a bouncer; how is it possible to test at a 200 IQ? Forgetting for the moment even alicesshoe's legitimate beefs against the basic meaninglessness of the IQ test.... Isn't an alleged IQ of 200 so many standard deviations from the norm (6.67, in all likelihood) as to be literally untestable? Whipping out excel's normdist function here... I see that assuming a mean of 100, and a SD of 15 (which is typical of most IQ tests), an IQ of 200 would mean an IQ rarity of approximately 1 in 76 BILLION. There are currently 6+ billion people alive right now, and I've heard estimates that 60 billion humans have lived in all the history of our species. Seems pretty untestably smart, much less to be a bouncer. Isn't someone that smart supposed to be able to accelerate the Enterprise to hundreds of times the speed of light, using only his mind? :)

Now, I suppose it's theoretically possible to have an IQ of 200, in the same way that if the "Height Q" of 200 was equal to 8'11", there has actually been someone that tall... but height is not IQ; with height, we can readily test, map the distribution curve, and then estimate the extreme outliers using the SD. IQ gives us no such insight, since the distribution curve itself built by first assuming a normal distribution, then testing a large population, and using the outcome to determine the weight and value of the questions, as well as the SD. So it's functionally useless for the purpose of testing or measuring outliers- we can get as close as determining that someone is an outlier (3 SD above, or an IQ of 145), but after that we can't really measure very well how much of an outlier. Any psych and/or statistics majors wanna chime in on this one?

Take a gander- something to remember next time someone suggests an IQ over 160?
IQ - Estimated Rarity
100 - 1 in 2
115 - 1 in 6
130 - 1 in 44
145 - 1 in 741
150 - 1 in 2,330
160 - 1 in 31,560
170 - 1 in 652,598
180 - 1 in 20,696,863
185 - 1 in 136,975,305
190 - 1 in 1,009,976,678
191 - 1 in 1,525,765,721
192 - 1 in 2,314,980,850
193 - 1 in 3,527,693,270
194 - 1 in 5,399,067,340
195 - 1 in 8,299,126,114 < - world pop: 6 billion i>196 - 1 in 12,812,462,045
197 - 1 in 19,866,426,228
198 - 1 in 30,938,221,975
199 - 1 in 48,390,420,202
200 - 1 in 76,017,176,740

I wonder what Marilyn vos Savant's alleged 240 IQ works out to be? I couldn't figure that out- excel has a 30 decimal point limit, hit at 220 (1 in a nonillion). But I'm sure a smart woman like her knew that already... ;)
[/partial derail]
posted by hincandenza at 8:15 AM on May 5, 2003

IQ is an abstract concept.

tell THAT to my inner child, who was adorned with a crown of IQ thorns, hung on the IQ cross and stabbed in the side mercilessly with the IQ spear by my parents and teachers. christ, once they saw that score, my childhood was ruined. nothing i ever did was good enough for how smart they 'knew' i was. i was labelled an underachiever, called lazy, scanned and scrutinized for 'learning disabilities' which would explain my failure to graduate college by age nine, stood up and made an example of in front of everybody. all i wanted to do was be a kid and be liked. fucking IQ made sure that would never happen.
gah! here i am wanting to choke the living shit out of my poor elderly parents again. relax quonsar, you've grown up now, time to exhale. :-)
posted by quonsar at 8:18 AM on May 5, 2003

It might be true up to a point, but not at the extremes. Following this suggestion to absurdity, Bill Gates ought to have an IQ of around 20, rather than the 150 or so which seems a much better estimate. I suggest that rather than IQ correlating negatively with wealth, wealth is correlating positively with some other factor, most likely 'ambition'.

Now that is an interesting can of worms to open up. If ambition is as strongly controlled by genetic inheritance as IQ, body fat percentage or good looks are, then how fair is it to criticize the unambitious?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:18 AM on May 5, 2003

Completely misleading interpretation of a misleading test. Other possible ones:

Male are slightly smarter than females, but if you're a mechanic, don't laugh too hard: blondes are still smarter than you, pal. The RIAA knows this next one: plain-vanilla celebrities are more intelligent than musicians (think about it: many DVDs cost less than a CD - who is pocketing the monay and why?). And surprise, surprise! city traders and tax inspectors are smarter than body builders. WOW!
posted by magullo at 8:20 AM on May 5, 2003

Before all you brainiacs resign yourselves to a life of poverty, consider the following:
Earnings generally go up as you get older. Mental agility generally goes down as you get older.

To put it in simpler terms:
The test was biased by old farts who know nothing but how to run a merchant bank, and was completely flabbergasted by this silly newfangled IQ-thingy.
posted by spazzm at 8:21 AM on May 5, 2003

adorned with a crown of IQ thorns, hung on the IQ cross and stabbed in the side mercilessly with the IQ spear by my parents and teachers. christ, once they saw that score, my childhood was ruined.

Brother!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:26 AM on May 5, 2003

Alternatively, smart people know better than to declare an income which attracts 40%+ tax.
posted by grahamwell at 8:28 AM on May 5, 2003

jozxyqk: that reminds me:

women require time and money, so:

women = time * money

and:

time = money

so:

women = money ^ 2

And since money is the root of all evil:

money = sqrt(evil)

therefore:

women = sqrt(evil) ^ 2 = evil!
posted by mfbridges at 8:49 AM on May 5, 2003

once they saw that score, my childhood was ruined...

Yes to all of the above. A resounding huge Yes. Took 'em a while to label me an underachiever, though. One freakin' test in grade school and suddenly there's unspoken pressure to be the next Einstein. Not to mention everyone in the school labels you the smart kid and hates you. Etc etc. You know what I'm talkin' about, q. None of it is productive, none of it prepares you for the real wiorld, it just stigmatizes the poor kid...

posted by Shane at 8:50 AM on May 5, 2003

Sounds apocryphal- but even so, how is that possible?

I dunno, man. I never thought of 200 as impossible or really that improbable. I can't find a link right now, but Mr 200 appeared in the Esquire "IQ Issue," which I think was Nov 1999. The cover has a very comely come-hither Charlize Theron in a white t-shirt with a pic of (tongue out) Einstein.
If you're truly interested in the article, I could maybe scan a bit of it and post a URL to you...
posted by Shane at 8:58 AM on May 5, 2003

"The smartest man in America is a lonely guy"-- heh!
posted by Shane at 9:10 AM on May 5, 2003

Uh, I also hit the jackpot in the tests that others blame for ruining their childhoods, achieved more than enough academically to keep them off my back, and now make a ridiculously comfortable living.

But, then again, I realized long ago that my role in life is to be the exception to the rule (while simultaneously despising those that think the rules don't apply to them).
posted by NortonDC at 10:31 AM on May 5, 2003

NortonDC: mutual, I'm sure.
posted by divrsional at 10:34 AM on May 5, 2003

hincandenza :- I think you'll find that different IQ tests are calibrated differently, so a 130 on one test (say) might be equivalent to a 150 on another. The Bell curve is 'flatter' on some tests than others.

(Like others on this thread, though, I'm sceptical of the whole concept, because of its somewhat murky history).
posted by plep at 10:52 AM on May 5, 2003

I did well on at least two of those tests, but my wife's waaaay ahead of me in the basic common-sense department. I think these tests are basically good predictors of who can excel at them, and that's about it.
posted by alumshubby at 11:08 AM on May 5, 2003

Isn't an alleged IQ of 200 so many standard deviations from the norm (6.67, in all likelihood) as to be literally untestable?

On the same test, sure. If you ace your average IQ test, all you'll know is that your IQ is at least 140 or 150 or whatever. Which makes sense, because the test is being used mostly to differentiate between 85--115 IQ's.

What you do if you want to test for very high IQs is use a much more difficult test. Then you can test out higher, but if you turn in a blank piece of paper all the test-takers can know is that your IQ is no more than, say, 130.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:10 AM on May 5, 2003

I rock at standardized tests like the SATs and IQ tests, but I still lock myself out of my apartment at least once a month. Sure, tests like these got me into college, but the past ten years have proved to me that they don’t really mean anything in real life.
posted by Samsonov14 at 1:08 PM on May 5, 2003

quonsar's "I'm so smart it hurts" rant was so over the top, I just assumed it was parody until so many other people began chiming in with slightly less melodramatic versions of the same story. Now I don't know who's being serious and who isn't, but to any that are: your trouble may not derive from the fact that you're smart but from the fact that you think you're so smart :). It's that "don't hate me because I'm beautiful thing" - maybe they don't hate you because you're beautiful - maybe they hate you because you're a bitch.

Smart and beautiful people can do rather well for themselves, actually. Generally speaking, they've got a significant advantage over ugly dumb people. Sure, there will be cases of jealousy and high expectations, but come on. To discuss the trouble your oversized brain has brought you seems to me simply an excuse to discuss your oversized brain.

I suggest that rather than IQ correlating negatively with wealth, wealth is correlating positively with some other factor, most likely 'ambition'.

There's also the fact that lots of boring jobs can end up with decent salaries if you stick with them (whether managing or collecting garbage), while being truly committed to intellectual or creative development may leave you with a pretty limited income. THose whose knowledge can be useful can make a good income on it (engineers, doctors) but those whose knowledge is for its own sake will have a harder time of it. THose who make the most money of all just need to be committed to making money, and whether they're particularly smart or not doesn't make much difference (stockbrokers. corporate lawyers etc).
posted by mdn at 1:56 PM on May 5, 2003

Shane: If you're truly interested in the article, I could maybe scan a bit of it and post a URL to you...

Actually I would be- don't put yourself out too much, but if you have a spare minute and can crank it out, that'd be cool. I think I'd like to read the article, as skeptical as I may be. Or if you just wanna scan 'em and email me, my email is in my profile. Much obliged for the offer.

plep: hincandenza :- I think you'll find that different IQ tests are calibrated differently, so a 130 on one test (say) might be equivalent to a 150 on another. The Bell curve is 'flatter' on some tests than others.

plep, Shane, et al- yes, it's possible, and I explicitly (or at least thought I did) called out that a different SD on a test would mean that an "IQ" was related to a different z-score. But since most real IQ tests (I believe) like Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler use a SD of 15, it's fair to assume the same for this apocryphal 200 IQ, unless otherwise noted. The root point is that even with an SD of say 20, he'd be 5 standard deviations from the norm, or one in 3.4 million (one of only about two thousand such people in the whole world). Possible, but pretty unlikely. Then again, William Sidis spent his last years as an adding machine operator...

It just underscores the meaningless of the term, especially in the popular culture. Saying someone has a 200 IQ is like saying "I'm 200 units tall!!!" Or for that matter, saying "My IQ is between 140 and 150" is like saying "I'm 5'10" tall. Or maybe I'm 59 feet tall, I'm not sure." When you get into the extreme ends, the "number" can mean wildly different things- the two points between 100 and 102 are basically meaningless; the two points from 198 to 200 are literally a twofold difference in rarity.

ROU: What you do if you want to test for very high IQs is use a much more difficult test. Then you can test out higher, but if you turn in a blank piece of paper all the test-takers can know is that your IQ is no more than, say, 130.

My point was that sample size alone makes that test basically invalid. The IQ test for the general population is derived by giving the test to a large group of people as a sample, then weighting the test appropriately to distribute in a bell curve. For the outlier cases, it becomes harder and harder to get a sample size large enough to ensure a bell-curve distribution. The problem is that, unlike height, we aren't able to directly measure something; instead, we have to create an artificial measurement and then weight its veracity based upon the measurements we took in the first place to create the scale.

Not to mention how to create a "difficult" test in the first place; we can't begin to describe what difference- if any exists- between a 150IQ and a 200IQ. How do we know if there is such a thing- perhaps intelligence hits a point where the only difference left is the environmental one of education, upbringing, exposure to new and different ways of thinking at a young age, or just good habits and practice as a test-taker and puzzle solver. I guess my basic beef is that the concept, as RUO notes, is really just to distinguish between people who may be disabled, and those who are going to do okay. In the army. During world war I. It was never meant, nor can it be I'd suggest, to measure minute differences in the summa cum laude and magna cum laude graduates of MIT, Class of 2003.
posted by hincandenza at 2:13 PM on May 5, 2003

quonsar's "I'm so smart it hurts" rant was so over the top... your trouble may not derive from the fact that you're smart but from the fact that you think you're so smart :).

i thought it was pretty clear, the problem as i saw it was my parents and teachers behaved like assholes. i never gave a shit about my IQ then or now. i really don't understand how you got from what i wrote to "i think i'm so smart" but then i have never understood many of the things you low-to-normals think. [ducks and grins]
posted by quonsar at 3:23 PM on May 5, 2003

While you're down there, let me know if it's the smart people who were interchanging knowledge and intelligence.
posted by NortonDC at 4:28 PM on May 5, 2003

On the other hand, I tested exceptionally high as a kid and got put into gifted programs in grade school and accelerated programs in high school, where I met a lot of people I could relate to and developed social skills I probably wouldn't have if I'd not been called a smartypants early on.

What's scary is that my IQ in 4th grade was 155 or 160, and last time I took the test (about six months ago) it was 130. I realize it's because they factor age into the quotient, but I wouldn't argue with anyone if they told me I was 25 points dumber these days.

(After all, I drive)
posted by Hildago at 7:02 PM on May 5, 2003

hincandenza: sure. Estimates of IQ for very-high-IQ people will be rougher than for average people, for a bunch of reasons. You can try to get better estimates by using harder tests, but they're still only estimates, and estimates with error. But even a bad estimate is probably better than no estimate at all.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:15 PM on May 5, 2003

This has been posted before, but if you are interested in tests which will give you gratifyingly high numbers for your IQ then take these. Supposedly designed to be more accurate higher up the scale they are probably a front to take money off you (but you don't have to join). They're fun though and the results might cheer you up. Anyone actually become a member?
posted by grahamwell at 8:30 AM on May 6, 2003

once they saw that score, my childhood was ruined...

I won't say my childhood was ruined, but to this day I still hate the word "potential". On the other hand, that number, whatever it meant, at least kept me in the academic stream of high school even when my grades would seem to indicate otherwise (these were in the days when you got "streamed" into either Academic or Vocational, and once stuck in one there was no going back). In general, I have no faith in IQ tests whatsoever, as they measure such a narrow spectrum of ability, and, for me personally, didn't measure enough of the things that I was good at, and put too heavy an emphasis on things I couldn't do at all (like numbers).
posted by jokeefe at 2:12 PM on May 6, 2003

On the other hand, I tested exceptionally high as a kid and got put into gifted programs in grade school and accelerated programs in high school,

Me too. And my income for April was \$0, so I must be smarter than ever.

On the other other hand, I did miss out on being adorned with a crown of IQ thorns, hung on the IQ cross and stabbed in the side mercilessly with the IQ spear by my parents and teachers. (Maybe I shouldn't have spent so much time alone in my room.)
posted by LeLiLo at 2:23 PM on May 6, 2003

mdn:
your trouble may not derive from the fact that you're smart but from the fact that you think you're so smart

more like, if you're not first string in the City Orchestra by age nine, you're not living up to your potential, i.e you're lazy, or something like that.

And:
THose whose knowledge can be useful can make a good income on it (engineers, doctors)

*snort* The only engineers I know who make more than an upper-middle-class living became managers. (says the underemployed engineer)
posted by notsnot at 4:37 PM on May 7, 2003

Not a whiff of "I'm smart, they owe me." in that notsnot, not a one.
posted by NortonDC at 5:22 PM on May 7, 2003

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