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Nassim Nicholas Taleb is Exposing IQ Measurement as Scientific Fraud

Over past few days, one of the more interesting Twitter controversies which I have been closely following started with Nassim Nicholas Taleb (henceforth referred to as NNT) firing off a series of tweets about how IQ is a pseudoscientific swindle perpetrated by a bunch of charlatans.. I mean psychologists.. on a credulous public. In case you still don’t know who he is, NNT is one of those rare guys with very good grounding in mathematics (especially statistics) who also happened to have made a lot of money on the stock market and in finance. To make a long story short, he has had tons of fuck-you money for decades, is often contrarian and does not suffer fools well. NNT has also written bestsellers books such as Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

You can read a summary of his original tweet-storm on the topic in a recent Medium post titled- IQ is largely a pseudoscientific swindle. In it, he makes a number of points starting with the fact that IQ as a test originally came into existence as a “scientific way” to identify kids with mental retardation, rather than a way to identify people who are smart. He then makes the point that it ‘selects’ for people who are good exam-takers, future paper shufflers, obedient IYIs (intellectuals yet idiots) ill adapted for real life. He goes on to point out that the biggest promoters of IQ are a] racists who want to “prove” that certain racial or ethnic groups are somehow inferior to them and b] psychologists and associated professionals whose livelihood depends on many people taking such tests or that test being considered a valid measure of intelligence. He then goes on to show that measured IQ (by any method) has very poor correlation with real world success.

Along the way NNT exposes the various fallacies, mathematical problems and often plain logical issues with using IQ scores as a measure of intelligence. For example, he shows that measured IQ scores exhibit pretty poor correlation with SAT scores- though they are usually thought to be tightly linked. NNT also show how apparently medium degrees of correlation are more statistical noise than correlation. He also points out that there is a logical problem in making a correlation between a Gaussian function (IQ measurements) while real life performance (fat-tailed). NNT also talks about the problem of negative correlation- basically how many people with a high IQ score end up working menial and mediocre paid jobs while those who average scores end up being far more successful or rich. And he blasts psychologists at every step.

Finally he goes through a list of common objections and bullshitting employed by psychologists and other believers in IQ to deflect criticism about that topic. As many of you might have guessed by now, his tweet-storm as well as habit of being confrontational generated hilarious responses from defenders of IQ scores- from charlatans such as Charles Murray, Razib “I hate being brown” Khan and a bevy of other “famous” psychologists as well as assorted racist fuckwits such as Stefan Molyneux. I find it amusing how all of these sad losers are responding to NNT dismantling the mathematical basis for their bullshit and lies. Then again, what else can you expect? But it is fun to watch, nonetheless. As some of you might remember, I too have written many posts which made some of the same points NNT is making- and it is nice to see them vindicated.

A couple of examples. In one of his tweets, NNT makes the point that whatever IQ is measuring cannot be very important since it was not selected by evolutionary pressures– and here is me making that point in 2012. In his Medium post and some tweets, NNT makes the point that ‘high IQ’ is associated with good exam-takers, paper shufflers and other obedient IYIs (intellectuals yet idiots). Here is one of my post making a similar argument in 2012. To quickly summarize, NNT has torn new and big holes into the sad scam of measuring IQ score and trying correlating them with real world success- financial or otherwise. I have long made similar arguments about the sad losers who believe in IQ scores and the lack of connection of such scores with real life success.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. P Ray
    January 4, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    The proof is in the observation of people who are leading the world.

    Bush and Trump are not exactly titans of intellect. The world is more about who you know than what you know because so many things are just patronage or exchanges of favour between popular people.

    But you’re not supposed to point that out, because that endangers the livelihood of hucksters who need smart-yet-stupid people to work on them.

    I’m also reminded of a flatmate in New Zealand from years ago – a Ph.D. – who asked me “Is it a good idea for me to have sex with this girl who has sex with pilots for free flights?”
    I told him NO … he ignored my advice … the girl got pregnant, he ran off to another country, and now the mother is a “dental assistant” and the baby has his surname, while he’s set up with another family in Asia. Must be good to be white, heh heh

    • lalit
      January 5, 2019 at 11:17 pm

      smart but Stupid? Why use that term, it’s confusing. The term you are looking for is High IQ Morons or High IQ idiots. We prefer the 2nd term back in Desh! You might prefer the first.

      • P Ray
        January 6, 2019 at 6:41 am

        The term you are looking for is High IQ Morons or High IQ idiots.
        That’s even more confusing, as … a low IQ was a measure of whether a person was a idiot, imbecile or moron (from lowest IQ to highest).

        English as a second language for you then?

        A better terminology is to use the Dungeons and Dragons definitions:
        intelligence is the ability to solve problems
        wisdom is the ability to avoid problems in the first place

        So we’re discussing the intelligent but unwise.

      • plus d'un cafard
        March 26, 2019 at 8:41 am

        P Ray, I was always surprised at this insightful bit of the D&D system. Definitely a lot of intelligent fools around.

        I do think for my part that IQ is a real enough thing. Wasn’t it discovered as the only variable, along with experience, to matter for job performance prediction? Not by huge amounts, but those two were the ones with any predictive power. I smile at parents who proudly display the intelligence of their kid. They will make good corporate slaves for sure.

  2. January 4, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    You dang hindu muffin…

    We have Prof. Jordan Peterson making the master race look good with his expert sophistry that only a pure white blood could achieve. Then we can see high IQ specimens of the white race such as the great Chuck Rudd and the illustrious Matt Forney. It is quite obvious that their shortcomings in life are not due to their laziness or lack of intellect but because of the reverse racism of SJW’s. While I myself only have an 89 IQ, I have charisma and spread those dirty asscheeks in the bathhouse. Write a few pages that I can use in a box and you too can wreck my rectum. But if your a muzzle like Roosh or on the (((them))) like Milo Y, you can’t go bearback. Only white guys can raw dog the big Jackie D. AIDS, not for us mighty whiteys!!!! (alright maybe some hep and clamidia…)

    Now ya gotta tell that little buddy of yours to stop passing these around….


    I got laughed outta the bathhouse, and since I was cycling on my ‘rhoids and had high levels of estrogen, I started crying. All the nationalists took it easy on wrecking my rectum, that’s just wrong!!!!

    Seig Hail!!!!

    • lalit
      January 5, 2019 at 11:16 pm

      Um! You need to know
      1. Matt Forney and Adv Diab. are good friends or used to be once.
      2. Roosh is an Orthodox Christian, not Muslim.

      Apart from those two minor inaccuracies, your post was a masterpiece in prose!

  3. lalit
    January 5, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    Time for you to make some fuck you money then!

  4. mikeCA
    January 6, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    It should be trivially obvious that the trait we call intelligence is not a simple linear quantity that can be assigned a numerical value. Some people are very good at math. Some people have photographic memories. Some people have outstanding language skills. Some people are super recognisers.

    An IQ test measures your ability to take IQ tests.

    I am surprised that ‘lionoftheblogosphere’ aka ‘half sigma’ has not commented on the Taleb Twitterstorm yet..

  5. Tanturn
    January 6, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    “Why is it that a mid-level drug dealer who might have spent years in jail can get better and more pussy than the ‘smart’ lawyer who is prosecuting or defending him in court?”

    I don’t think this is true, but assume it is. Should you then have more respect for the drug dealer than the lawyer? If you found out women were more attracted to immoral than to moral men, should you thus ditch the idea of morality? It’s a very gynocentric way of thinking about the world.

    • P Ray
      January 7, 2019 at 2:15 am

      If you want men to keep society together, better work to prise women’s legs apart for the majority of the sexless.

      It’s a deal, and when the deal stops getting reciprocated, the deal gets called off.

  6. January 7, 2019 at 4:10 am

    More racist pseudoscience:


    “This was based on ancient Indian myths and legends, combined with the fact that India suddenly switched to Indo-European languages like Sanskrit about 3000-4000 years ago.

    But the Left regarded this version of pre-history as “racist,” colonialist, and somehow insulting to Indians, so they got their “scientists” to come up with a counter-narrative. According to this, we were told, the whole population of India switched to Indo-European languages simply because a few peaceful European traders came in and spread their language without any conquest or significant genetic input. Or else Indo-European languages supposedly originated in India and then spread outwards!!!

    The findings of matrilineal DNA, which is only transmitted from mother to daughter, seemed to back these anti-White narratives up, suggesting there was little external infusion into the Indian gene pool over the last 12,500 years or so. Leftist scientists rubbed their hands together with glee and ran with it.”


    • plus d'un cafard
      March 26, 2019 at 8:33 am

      12500 years ago is a very important date, if you’re into this sort of thing. Pyramids, great flood, great fire, both? Who knows.

  7. thanos
    January 8, 2019 at 11:10 am

    IQ doesn’t just correlate with academic performance, it’s also correlates with life expectancy


  8. January 8, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Something that has been known in a certain segment of the black community for years. Even my mother told me that back in her day, they would ask sick questions like “how many bubbles are in a bar of soap?”

    I had this conversation with a black porn star years ago and he said he never understood why some (white) jackass decided to measure human intelligence by IQ tests. And CONservatives love saying black people are violent because of “low IQ”. But as I’ve mentioned in a topic I wrote before, the American law enforcement agency won’t even hire people if they have an IQ past a certain point. Which explains why they hire so many racist and sexist psychotics.

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