Yesterday evening, I was bored after a day out, and decided to hunt through my backlog of Kindle e-books and see if there was anything I wanted to read. I found nothing I was interested in at the moment, and took to Amazon. After much clicking, I found “Curse of the High IQ”, a relatively recent book by Aaron Clarey (aka “Captain Capitalism“). I enjoy Clarey as an author, even if he makes a slip-up every now and then (e.g. misusing a word here and there, and various proofreading errors). I have previously reviewed Aaron’s other excellent book, “Worthless”, which discusses the proliferation of worthless college degrees. This book was an enjoyable read, even if not particularly mind-blowing. It was also short; I read through it in a single day with little effort.
The Basic Argument of the Book
The basic argument of the book is that, while high intelligence is generally looked upon as a net benefit, it in fact comes attached with all sorts of trouble. Most services offered by society are not produced for the benefit of highly-intelligent people; in fact, it would be highly inefficient for things to work this way. Most of society is organized to meet the needs of the middle-heap of The Bell Curve (or, in the case of welfare redistribution schemes, to meet the needs of the left tail). Very little of what society has to offer caters to people with IQs above perhaps 125. Quality relationships, such as friendships and romantic partners, are very difficult to find once out of school, since people with similarly high IQs are much more rare to find. Mental illness, alcoholism, and drug abuse are common symptoms of a high-IQ person who is in a state of crisis. Dating is often extraordinarily difficult for high IQ people.
Filling in the Gaps
One of my complaints about the book is that Clarey mentions the subject of IQ and intelligence, and then grabs the dog bone and runs off with it. He does not introduce the subject of IQ thoroughly and gently, in order to establish its legitimacy. I have already written on this subject before (and so has Charles Murray), so I will be brief:
- Intelligence is a measure of someone’s ability to process complex information and reduce it to simpleness.
- Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a number that supposedly can measure this thing called “intelligence.”
- Most any kind of test will measure intelligence to some extent, though specially-designed IQ tests, administered under stringent time restrictions, are the most straightforward way to measure IQ.
- High IQ repeatedly correlates with positive behaviors: fewer legal problems, higher school performance, higher education level, better jobs, higher incomes, more stable marriages, happier offspring, higher civic involvement, et cetera. Low IQ repeatedly correlates with negative behaviors: lawbreaking, low incomes (or outright pauperism), unplanned child-bearing, disastrous child-rearing practices, low educational performance, voter apathy, and poorer health.
- IQ correlates with occupation: jobs that require greater skills and education levels to obtain are disproportionately packed with high-IQ people.
- There is little difference in mean IQ between the sexes, though there is a pronounced difference in variance: there are more male geniuses, and more male idiots.
- Intelligence is largely heritable. Aside from a pregnant woman having adequate nourishment during her pregnancy, and her child getting adequate nutrition during his formative years, there is virtually nothing we know of that can raise a person’s IQ. Head Start programs do not raise it. Aggressively educating (“hothousing”) low IQ children does nothing for them.
- The genetic origin of intelligence, as a corollary, says that it also varies between the races. The evidence of this is undeniable. Numbers vary with the study, but typical results are a mean IQ of about 80 for blacks, 90 for Hispanics, 100 for whites, 105 for Oriental Asians, and 110 for Ashkenazi Jews.
- Claims of “cultural bias” on IQ tests are without basis: Raven’s progressive matrices does not even use a written language. The subject only needs to complete the pattern.
- Differences in mean IQ of whole nations are a key indicator of national GDP and wealth. It is the reason black Africans with a mean IQ of 80 can inhabit the wealthiest continent on the globe and yet dwell in poverty, while Orientals with a mean IQ of 105 have turned the Asian backwaters of Japan and South Korea into tech and banking hubs.
- For a rough estimate of your IQ, divide your SAT verbal + math score by 10 (for a more accurate score estimate, go here).
More About the Book
The book goes in detail to address each aspect of life that is likely to give the highly-intelligent person trouble:
- Socializing, Dating, and Marriage
- Limiting Greatness
Clarey first describes the fact that smart people in America, in fact, live in a totalitarian idiocracy, since the majority rules and the government claims unlimited power for itself. Having an IQ of 150 does nothing to help you when you still only have one vote, and must vote counter to the agenda of hordes of high time preference, low IQ, low information voters. Most politicians are idiots as well, as they do stupid things that destroy their own societies. They borrow from the future to bribe their constituents today. They reform nothing. They lie bare-faced, and think no one will catch them. They jack up income taxes on the most productive people (essentially, creating what Lew Rockwell has called “a tax on the privilege to work”). They take resources from the productive and use them to subsidize the absurd behavior of the left-tail of the Bell Curve. Intelligent people, barring a violent revolution, will simply have to accept that a monstrous State is going to confiscate their income to give to less-intelligent people. And not only will the unintelligent not be grateful for receiving this graft, but will bitterly hate you for it.
The education chapter I particularly enjoyed, if only because it described my educational experience in the Florida public schools quite accurately. I always assumed my teachers were smarter than me, simply because they were older, and must therefore be wiser. Looking back, I cannot believe how naive and foolish I was: most of my teachers (with noble exception) were buffoons that were only interested in getting a paycheck, having summers off, getting the pension, and getting the public employee health insurance. My disillusionment came mainly as an undergrad in college: education majors, to the little extent I interacted with them, were obviously stupid and lazy. This was mainly revealed by when I would state my major to them as “chemical engineering”, their response was uniformly, “Oh wow you must be super smart. That’s too hard for me. Too much work!”
I figured they were idiots, but it was only until graduate school that I finally found quantitative proof that education majors were undeniably dumber than every other major. I took the GRE, and got the full results back in a few weeks. On the score sheet was a list of average scores by major: education majors were almost dead last, with an average GRE score in the high-900’s. The results are virtually the same as the average SAT score for education majors in 2014.
All throughout school, I thought I was the dumb one. I sucked at English (which, in retrospect, is a moronic subject that should only be taken by recent immigrants that cannot speak it fluently). Probably the most irritating rout I ever suffered in school was getting a C in 8th grade math, a subject I should have aced, but I’ll be blunt: “Mrs. Smith” absolutely sucked as a math teacher. Furthermore, the class was not really focused on learning math, but more on the types of skills girls are good at (such as “keeping your folder nice and neat.”) It is funny how things turn out – I sucked at English in school, but now I write a blog (and have several published research articles). I got a C in 8th grade math, but I ended up getting a PhD in engineering.
Socializing, dating, and marriage are difficult propositions for the intelligent male, as Aaron outlines in that chapter. To be blunt, the problem is one of supply and demand: smart men vastly outnumber smart women, and smart men want smart women as mates. I personally have mixed feelings about women and marriage. For so long I have been packed away in engineering school, and never had any time for myself. Now I am free, and have a good paycheck. At the rate I am going, I will be able to retire after about 15 years. Why spoil that with a wife and children?
The preponderance of psychological problems among the highly intelligent is more or less unknown. There has been little research done on the topic, despite its enormous importance.
The job market is likely to be a wash with intelligent people. A highly intelligent employee with an idiotic “Dilbert boss” is only going to lead to the employee getting fired. Aaron encourages the highly intelligent person to seek self-employment and entrepreneurship as a way to avoid having a dickhead boss. I personally don’t have this problem at the moment, but if I should get a bad boss, I would ditch work immediately and look for a new job while I lived on my savings. Later in life I am strongly considering entrepreneurial pursuits, but it depends how I feel 10 to 15 years down the line.
A note to the young reader: Follow Aaron’s advice and get a real IQ test done on yourself. Then you’ll have a much better idea of what your capabilities are regarding educational attainment. Look up what kinds of jobs fall into that IQ range. That’s what you should be aiming for.
Truth be told, I cannot recall many of the solutions Aaron offered for the problems at hand, other than to not be alcoholic, not commit suicide, and to try to extract as much joy as possible in this life. Try to rely on the internet for like-minded intelligent friends; its not as good as having real-life intelligent friends, but this is not a workable solution given the great distances that often separate intelligent people.
All in all, I recommend the book to anyone interested in understanding their situation as a high-IQ individual. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.