Are people with very high IQs generally happy?

When someone is excluded from a group, ousted or ostracized, it makes him or her unhappy. Loneliness and exclusion is the most common reason for anomie – losing the reason for life and will to live and to commit suicide.

And overtly high IQ is the most certain way to get excluded and ousted. The reason is the communication range. It makes you different and not fitting in.

The concept of communication range was established by Leta Hollingworth. It is +/- 2 standard deviations (roughly 30 points) up or down on one’s own IQ. It denotes the range where meaningful interaction (communication, discussion, conversation and socializing) is possible. If the IQ difference between two persons is more than 30 points, the communication breaks up. The higher IQ person will look like an incomprehensible nerd and the lower IQ as a moronic dullard – and they will not find anything common.

+/- 30 points does not sound much, but once the IQ is past 135, the downsides are imminent. When someone has a perfectly mediocre IQ (100 for Caucasian average), his communication range is from IQ 70 to IQ 130, which covers some 98% of the whole population. But when it is 135, it is from 105 to 165, which is approximately 36% of population. And it gets worse: if it is 162, your whole meaningful set of human interactions is restricted to Mensa qualifying people only (2% of whole population). Good luck for finding friends, acquaintances, colleagues – or spouse.

And it gets worse.

When the average IQ of a group is lower than the lower end of your communication range, the group will see you as a hostile outsider. They will do anything to bully you out of their presence. They will ostracize, excommunicate and oust you amongst themselves.

Source: Susanna Viljanen’s answer to Are people with very high IQs generally happy? – Quora

“Smart” Is No Better Than “Strong”

Higher-than-average intelligence doesn’t make you any better than anyone else, any more than being taller, or faster, or stronger does. What it often does, however, is allow others to convince you that you should be something different than you are, or than you want to be. Even worse, it gives you the ability to successfully rationalize away your failures, to both yourself and others.

Nassim Taleb says something similar. Too often, “being smart” makes you better at rationalizing, not better at being rational. How much the worse if you make “being smart” part of your identity. (File under “being smart is overrated.”)

Source: Vox Popoli: Always an excuse.

The Argument from Fallacy

“Argument from fallacy” is the formal fallacy of analyzing an argument and inferring that, since it contains a fallacy, its conclusion must be false. It is also called argument to logic (argumentum ad logicam), fallacy fallacy, fallacists fallacy, and bad reasons fallacy. Fallacious arguments can arrive at true conclusions, so this is an informal fallacy of relevance.

Emphasis mine, via Argument from fallacy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rebellion Against The Credentialed Clerics

What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30y of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, microeconomic papers wrong 40% of the time, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating only 1/5th of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers with a better track record than these policymaking goons.

Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats wanting to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. I have shown that most of what Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types call “rational” or “irrational” comes from misunderstanding of probability theory.

Source: Nassim Nicholas Taleb

How To Think Real Good

Via http://meaningness.com/metablog/how-to-think. All of the following are quotes from the article that, in general, appeal to my priors. All emphasis in original, which you should read in its entirety.


The implicit assumption is that the problem Bayesianism solves is most of rationality, and if I’m unimpressed with Bayesianism, I must advocate some other solution to that problem. I do have technical doubts about Bayesianism, but that’s not my point. Rather, I think that the problem Bayesianism addresses is a small and easy one.

– Bayesianism is a theory of probability.

– Probability is only a small part of epistemology.

– Probability is only a small part of rationality.

– Probability is a solved problem. It’s easy. The remaining controversies in the field are arcane and rarely have any practical consequence.

My answer to “If not Bayesianism, then what?” is: all of human intellectual effort.

* * *

Understanding informal reasoning is probably more important than understanding technical methods.

* * *

Many of the heuristics I collected for “How to think real good” were about how to take an unstructured, vague problem domain and get it to the point where formal methods become applicable. … Finding a good formulation for a problem is often most of the work of solving it.

* * *

Suppose you want to understand the cause of manic depression. For every grain of sand in the universe, there is the hypothesis that this particular grain of sand is the sole cause of manic depression. Finding evidence to rule out each one individually is impractical. … [T]here is an infinite list of logically possible causes. … We can’t even imagine them all, much less evaluate the evidence for them. So:

Before applying any technical method, you have to already have a pretty good idea of what the form of the answer will be.

* * *

Choosing a good vocabulary, at the right level of description, is usually key to understanding.

* * *

1. A successful problem formulation has to make the distinctions that are used in the problem solution.

2. A successful problem formulation has to make the problem small enough that it’s easy to solve.

* * *

It’s important to understand that problem formulations are never right or wrong.

Truth does not apply to problem formulations; what matters is usefulness.

In fact,

All problem formulations are “false,” because they abstract away details of reality.

* * *

[I]f you don’t know the solution to a problem, how do you know whether your vocabulary makes the distinctions it needs? The answer is: you can’t be sure; but there are many heuristics that make finding a good formulation more likely. Here are two very general ones:

Work through several specific examples before trying to solve the general case. Looking at specific real-world details often gives an intuitive sense for what the relevant distinctions are.

Problem formulation and problem solution are mutually-recursive processes.

You need to go back and forth between trying to formulate the problem and trying to solve it.

* * *

If a problem seems too hard, the formulation is probably wrong. Drop your formal problem statement, go back to reality, and observe what is going on.

* * *

Learn from fields very different from your own. They each have ways of thinking that can be useful at surprising times. Just learning to think like an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a philosopher will beneficially stretch your mind.

If you only know one formal method of reasoning, you’ll try to apply it in places it doesn’t work.

* * *

– Figuring stuff out is way hard.

– There is no general method.

– Selecting and formulating problems is as important as solving them; these each require different cognitive skills.

– Problem formulation (vocabulary selection) requires careful, non-formal observation of the real world.

– A good problem formulation includes the relevant distinctions, and abstracts away irrelevant ones. This makes problem solution easy.

– Little formal tricks (like Bayesian statistics) may be useful, but any one of them is only a tiny part of what you need.

– Progress usually requires applying several methods. Learn as many different ones as possible.

– Meta-level knowledge of how a field works—which methods to apply to which sorts of problems, and how and why—is critical (and harder to get).


I’m not anti-intellectual; I’m anti-intelligentsia.

One kind of “anti-intellectualism” is opposition to “intellectuals” considered as an interest group or social class in the Marxian sense – what Russian writers called the intelligentsia. The only more specific term I can think of for this is anti-intelligentsianism, an ugly coinage which will have to do for the duration of this essay.

The intelligentsia has displayed a consistent political pattern over the last 150 years: believing in its own intellectual and moral superiority, it has sought a leading role in politics, promoting a vision of itself as benign philosopher-kings who can steer society to virtue, equality, and fulfillment.

The vehicles of this belief have been many. At its worst, it has led the intelligentsia to endorse and propagandize for totalizing systems like Communism, which the intelligentsia conceived could be guided to good ends in its use of power by – who else? – intellectuals. It is forgotten, but true, that before World War II many intellectuals were attracted to Fascism for the same reason. In this way much of the intelligentsia of the 20th century became accomplices in and apologists for the most hideous mass murders in human history.

Via The Varieties of Anti-Intellectualism, worth reading in its entirety. (it gives voice to part of what I mean when I say “It’s not enough to be smart; you have to actually know things.”)

The “Hollaback” Video: Facts Are Meaningless Without A Theory

The Hollaback video also shows why “data” without theory can be so misleading—and how the same data can fit multiple theories. Since all data collection involves some form of data selection (even the biggest dataset has selection going into what gets included, from what source), and since data selection is always a research method, there is always a need for understanding methods.

The important methodological point is that the video, without further reflection, can support all three wildly incompatible propositions. In other words, if you just look at the video, you can believe any three, and you will likely choose whichever fits your existing conclusions and prejudices.

This is a point that Drucker made decades ago: Events by themselves are not facts. … Opinions come first. “Facts” mean nothing without a lens through which to view them. All the data in the world is meaningless without a world-view to interpret them. You have to recognize that your opinion, your hypothesis, your world-view, comes first, and *then* you can do something with data.

Via That Catcalling Video and Why “Research Methods” is such an Exciting Topic (Really!) — The Message — Medium.

You Think Atheists Are More Intelligent? Think Again.

A summary of Vox Popoli: Mailvox: the distribution of atheist intelligence:

– On average, atheist IQ is a little higher than theist IQ. Of course, averages are misleading, because …

– There are more high-IQ theists than high-IQ atheists.

– The majority of atheists have sub-100 IQs.

– “The two most common types of atheists are the High Church atheists with 128+ IQs and Low Church atheists with 65-72 IQs. The Low Church atheists actually outnumber the High Church atheists, 22.9 to 17.2 percent.”

– “There are 11.4x more 128+ IQ theists who either ‘know God exists’ or ‘believe God exists despite having the occasional doubt’ than there are 128+ IQ atheists who ‘don’t believe God exists.'”

See the article for an interesting set of graphs.

Part of me wonders if this accounts for the “I Love Science!” crowd, despite not actually know what science *is*, as well.

FWIW, I was raised a Methodist Christian, so I have a warm place in my heart for religion. In adulthood I became an agnostic, not an atheist, so I have no particular dog in that fight. I have not taken a formal IQ test so I do not know where I fall on that scale. I like science as a methodology, which is why I am perturbed by messages purporting to be “scientific” when they are not.

IQ Shredders; or, The Road To Idiocracy

The vacuuming up of highly talented, i.e. smart, people, from all over the country, into the megalopolises, where they assortatively mate and form their own "new class", alienated from their origins, and leaving the towns and rural areas without their talent. They assortatively mate, but then have few children.

(Thus reducing average IQ levels.)

Other IQ shredders include the universities, though there’s a lot of overlap between them and the big cities. It doesn’t even seem to matter whether the students are in STEM or ethnic grievance studies, the results for fertility are the same – although the results for IQ are better or worse depending on field of study, since the STEM kids are much smarter than those in the humanities.

via Mangan's: Shredding IQ.

Jock/Nerd Theory and Income Redistribution

(Lightly edited for streamlining purposes; all emphasis mine)

According to the Jock/Nerd Theory of History, most historical human societies bore a striking resemblance to K-12 education. In primitive tribes, for instance, the best hunters are on top. If the village brain knows what’s good for him, he keeps his mouth shut if the best hunter says something stupid. The rise of civilization gave the nerds a better deal, but as long as almost everyone worked in agriculture, brawn continued to pay well.

But then something amazing happened: Nerds got enough breathing room to develop and implement amazing wealth-producing ideas. The process fed on itself, devaluing physical ability and elevating mental ability. Nerds built the modern world – and won handsome financial rewards in the process.

Notice: For financial success, the main measure where nerds now excel, governments make quite an effort to equalize differences. But on other margins of social success, where many nerds still struggle, laissez-faire prevails.

It’s suspicious – and if you combine the Jock/Nerd Theory with some evolutionary psych, it makes sense. When the best hunter in the tribe gets rich, his neighbors will probably ask nicely for a share, if they dare to ask at all. But if the biggest nerd in the tribe gets rich, how long will it take before the jocks show up and warn him that "You’d better share and share alike"?

Punchline: Through the lens of the Jock/Nerd Theory of History, the welfare state doesn’t look like a serious effort to "equalize outcomes." It looks more like a serious effort to block the "revenge of the nerds" – to keep them from using their financial success to unseat the jocks on every dimension of social status.

via Redistribution: Blocking the Revenge of the Nerds?, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty.