If There Is Much In The Window There Should Be More In The Room

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Estimated IQs of the Greatest Geniuses



This page is dedicated to some of the greatest minds of all time.


A normal intelligence quotient (IQ) ranges from 85 to 115 (According to the Stanford-Binet scale). Only approximately 1% of the people in the world have an IQ of 135 or over. In 1926, psychologist Dr. Catherine Morris Cox - who had been assisted by Dr. Lewis M. Terman, Dr. Florence L. Goodenaugh, and Dr. Kate Gordon - published a study "of the most eminent men and women" who had lived between 1450 and 1850 to estimate what their IQs might have been.

The resultant IQs were based largely on the degree of brightness and intelligence each subject showed before attaining the age of 17. Taken from a revised and completed version of this study, table II shows the projected IQs of some of the best scorers.

For comparison I have included table I which shows the IQs' relation to educational level.

Cox also found that different fields have quite widely varying average IQs for their acknowledged leading geniuses. Displayed below are there calculated Deviation IQs (the number in brackets is the number in the sample considered):

Philosophers (22) average IQ 160; Scientists (39) 159; Fiction writers (53) 152; Statesmen (43) 150; Musicians (11) 149; Artists (13) 153; Soldiers (27) 136.

As a curiosity it can be mentioned that the famous english philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell sometimes interpreted Nietzsche's overman as a person with an IQ of at least 180 (Actually Russell considered himself to have this IQ!). I read in some paper that Einstein , regarded as the prototype for a genius, may "only" have had just above 160 .

It is important to distinguish between the intelligence quotients measured for adults and for children. While the intelligence quotient in theory has no upper limit for children, it is often considered as unmeasurable for adults if it exceeds 200 (Normally, it is never set above 210. However, highest possible scores to date should lie in the interval 210-220 with decreasing probability).

This is caused by the different measuring methods used. According to the definition of intelligence quotient for a child, the mental age is divided by the chronological age. The quotient is then multiplied by 100 (Ratio IQ). This implies, of course, that you cannot use the same method for adults as for children. Instead you use a statistical mean value of 100 for the average number of correct answers for a representative adult group of people (Deviation IQ).

Personal View

The question is now if the intelligence quotient is an unambiguous measure of the capacity and power of the brain. I suspect most people would hardly think so. If they did, they would be "forgetting" that the brain actually consists of two brain halves.

Is it, e.g., necessary to have a high intelligence quotient to be a successful (creative) artist, or a great musician? Normally it helps, but would it be a necessary prerequisite? Intelligence tests have a very intellectualistic, I would also say one-dimensional, approach to the degree of giftedness.

These IQ tests are also made more difficult by the fact that it is often possible to logically, or from one's own value systems, arrive at answers that are as plausible as the one designated by the test designer. In any case, it is imperative to control the strength of the logical connections within the test problems.

It is also not especially advisable to use the rapidity with which a problem is solved as a criterion. Your slow colleague is perhaps on his way to solving Fermat's Last Theorem (Yes, I know it has already been solved by the English mathematician Andrew Wiles), even if it takes years. You are probably satisfied if you can use it. But you don't take the whole day when learning "Black Peter" (a card-game for children), as your friend does, thinking at a snail's pace.

What do you call a fly when you pull its wings off?

A. A fly with the wings pulled off.
B. A walk.
C. A down-to-earth fly.

-- Author: Ulf Norlinger
Stockholm, Sweden ---


  1. Would you believe me if "i" said, "To pull the Wing's from a Fly would be a Sin" unless it's done by a young child that does'nt know any better:-) Maybe we should be asking ourselves what would "The Almighty Lord Do" if he was to see "Man pull the Wing's from a Fly" just to show his IQ:-) You can be the smartest man in the World, but without God you have nothing, but with Him you have everything you'll ever need:-) and by the way " You are Beautiful" :-)

  2. I am interested in IQ. I have had mine tested 3 times that I know of. At Menninger Foundation they used strobe lights but I was very tired and they could tell when I was falling asleep. That test produced 115, Not bad. 1 standard deviant above normal [attemped joke there]. The 2nd time I was tested by a physcho-metritian. Result? 130+. Either I was getting smarter or wide awake or the tests were getting dumber. 93rd percentile. Then I purchased a book by a man named Serebrikov or something like that. (Get it? Sereb as in cerebrial?) I scored 144. 1 point less than 3 standard deviations above the mean.

    I have also followed the IQ wars with interest. Janov etc.

    I recently came up with a joke and was dismayed when I saw a TV program on Mensa that another had come up with the very same joke.

    Here is the joke:
    Advertising campain geered to cosmologists:
    "What happens in a black hole REALLY does stay in the black hole".

    Do you think that would give Steven Hawking hiccups? Lets hope not as hiccups might be fatal to him with his ALS (Lou Gerrig's Disease.

    I hope you did not get [sic] with my misspellings. I spell almost as poorly as Einstein.

    Sa la vie.

  3. Oh. Here is a Zen riddle I made up:
    Why did the chicken NOT cross the road?

    Answer: There was no road there to cross.

  4. Oh. You would be the ideal person to ask about the following. My recollection is rather sketchy so that is why I hope you have more exact knowledge of it.

    Not only have the silly french come up with silly philosophy like existentialism but it continues to this day. Alan Sokal, a scientist versed in quantum theory wrote an article to one of their silly magazines in which everything he said was a pure hoax. They baught it hook, line and sinker and then he exposed to the world their idiocy. The Emporer Has No Clothes is one of my favorite stories. Why didn't Dr. Suess (Theodore Bikel his real name?) come up with it?

    All the links I have found thus far terminate at the point where I need to pay actual money to purchase a book. Well I am niggardly with my money. Do you have more information about this hoax then I can find?