Looking for a few good 145+ I.Q. individuals

By Razib Khan | August 17, 2011 9:53 pm

Above is the distribution of self-reported I.Q.s of the readers of this weblog according to the 2011 survey. I point this out because my friend Steve Hsu will be giving a talk at Google later today. Here are the details:

I’ll be giving a talk at Google tomorrow (Thursday August 18) at 5 pm. The slides are here. The video will probably be available on Google’s TechTalk channel on YouTube.

The Cognitive Genomics Lab at BGI is using this talk to kick off the drive for US participants in our intelligence GWAS. More information at www.cog-genomics.org, including automatic qualifying standards for the study, which are set just above +3 SD. Participants will receive free genotyping and help with interpreting the results. (The functional part of the site should be live after August 18.)

Title: Genetics and Intelligence

Abstract: How do genes affect cognitive ability? I begin with a brief review of psychometric measurements of intelligence, introducing the idea of a “general factor” or IQ score. The main results concern the stability, validity (predictive power), and heritability of adult IQ. Next, I discuss ongoing Genome Wide Association Studies which investigate the genetic basis of intelligence. Due mainly to the rapidly decreasing cost of sequencing, it is likely that within the next 5-10 years we will identify genes which account for a significant fraction of total IQ variation.

We are currently seeking volunteers for a study of high cognitive ability. Participants will receive free genotyping.

From what I recall of my discussion with Steve the aim here is to fish in the extreme tail of the distribution to see if that allows for an easier catchment of I.Q. upward incrementing alleles. 3 standard deviations above the mean I.Q. is about 1 out of 750 individuals or so.

  • Smart Guy

    Looks like you’ve got a bunch of liars…

  • Odin


    I’m hoping I could qualify for this. The army administered IQ test shows I have IQ of 135. Online tests indicate however it’s above 170. I also got a percentile ranking of 99+ (1 out of 200 individuals) at the National College Entrance Examination. Hope there’s no U.S. residence requirement, I’m from the Philippines.

  • Chad

    Would they conduct their own IQ tests, or rely on previous results? I would love to volunteer, but I no longer have the documentation showing that I qualify.

  • Roberto

    Enjoyed the slide show. Sounds like a fun study. Good luck. I’m far too old to participate, but will be interested in your findings. Now that I think of it, I’m not smart enough to participate, but I’ll still be interested in your findings.

    p.s. Adobe messages that slide 29 has a problem with the (presumed) chart.

  • Charles Nydorf

    Is there a study of the genetics of ‘otherwise intelligent’ people?

  • James Lee

    Hi, Chad,

    In some cases you will still be able to obtain documentation from the College Board or whoever administers the test. Once the website is live, you can see the links for details. You most likely will have to pay a fee in the ballpark of $20 to obtain a score report. If this is a burden to you, you can say so and be reimbursed upon receipt of your saliva sample.

    In the absence of any test documentation, you might also qualify if you obtained a PhD in physics, math, EE, or CS from Harvard, Berkeley, Cal Tech, etc. In this case we will attempt to verify your completion of the program with the appropriate department.

  • http://mengbomin.wordpress.com/ Meng Bomin

    @#$% GRE 690 verbal score!

  • Trevor

    “Participants will receive free genotyping and help with interpreting the results.”

    I really hope that the ‘help’ consists of a message along the lines of ‘Figure it out, genius.’

  • Charles Nydorf

    Our university had a president who was a lawyer and thought that law students were much brighter than people who got PhD’s in subjects like physics or math. There are people in finance who think they are even smarter then lawyers.

  • cathi

    did u contact mensa? We have a few people that qualify.

  • dave chamberlin

    Comment #1 Smart Guy. Odds are we have a bunch of liars here but this isn’t a random sample. I have an IQ of 135 and feel kind of average in this crowd so the distribution may in fact be accurate. I have one grown son is above 145 in IQ and another who tests in the average range. I recall reading that the Cognitive Genomics Lab at BGI is comparing genius level IQ folks with average intellegence folks so if you want one or both my adult sons to participate, let me know. I would think brothers with that much variation would be of interest to those seeking to find out what causes these differences genetically.

  • Sandgroper

    Charles, are they the ones with the $150,000 student loans and jobs as articled clerks?

    We’ve got a movie actor/former bridge painter who thinks he’s smarter than the autralian taxation office. He’s still going to lose, though.

    At the end of the day, the smartest guy is the one who skypes you on his iPhone 4 from his yacht in the bahamas, and you can’t hear a damn word because all the girls on the yacht are giggling.

    I kid you not – I met an Australian electrician working in Beijing for a mining company, and he was earning more than I was and having a stress-free existence.

  • Clark

    I have to admit I’m still skeptical about all those 140+ IQ claims too. But then there really are a lot of smart people here, so who knows? And truth be told I’ve never asked to see whether people I see in academics whom I’d call smart or even geniuses necessarily have high IQs. Something I’d be quite interested in. Indeed I’ve sometimes wondered how significant the tests even are once you get past a few standard deviations of normal. But that’s more me being someone unfamiliar with the methodologies of how these are all put together or what they mean at those scales.

  • Sandgroper

    #1 I didn’t take the reader survey for the first time ever, but I do clock in at 137+++ which I figure puts me close to 145, and my daugher is 147. But we’re not Americans. I reckon I could just about throw the samples to BGI in Shenzhen from here.

  • http://shinbounomatsuri.wordpress.com Spike Gomes

    About the test here, I’m probably one of the few who here who regularly tests below 130 (Heck, I got a 110 in the online Raven’s Matrices tests…. dur), so I can sort of attest that around these parts I often do feel like I’m on the left side of the local Bell Curve even though I’m most likely 115-125 (I feel the same way around the DIY electronics kitters I hang out with as well). I’d suspect there are a handful of people here that meet the necessary qualifications.

    Anyways, I’m not overly bugged by the fact y’all got more brains than me. I’ve learned in life that I get far more personal benefit as one of the dumber guys in a room full of smart people than someone one SD above me who has to be the smartest man in a room full of ‘tards.

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/ Uncle Al

    Uncle Al pulled 750 + 750 on the old GRE. How’s that? It’s a pity an intelligence test is only discriminating near its middle scores. A PhD/Psych candidate at Chapel Hill thought Uncle Al was a good second year abnormal psych project. A pile of paper later… Chapel Hill had its black boxes serviced and she did a project on rats. Somewhere on a clinic wall in Pittsburgh there resides a framed MMPI score sheet. On it is a line going through all seven scales, 50(+/-)3%. I’m told it cannot be done, ditto the 5-sigma IQ score. Piss-ants.

    Intelligence cannot be measured. Social advocates, idiocrats, and the congenitally inconsequential demand it. The Manhattan Project was discrimination of the worst kind – empirically true. “Los Angeles Times” Thursday 18 August p. A13 (main section). The highest Los Angeles United School District high school English proficiency (in-grade ability given No Child Left Behind) is 29.2%. The highest LAUSD high school math proficiency (in-grade ability given No Child Left Behind) is 11.7%. Hold onto your undershorts… for the lowest high school proficiencies in math are 2.1, 4.0, 5.9, and 8.4%. giggle

  • anne

    “In the absence of any test documentation, you might also qualify if you obtained a PhD in physics, math, EE, or CS from Harvard, Berkeley, Cal Tech”

    So folks with PhDs in biology, or god forbid the humanities, need not apply?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #17, perhaps exceptions would be made for biostat and mathematical bio ppl? :-)

  • http://www.astraean.com/borderwars/ Christopher@BorderWars

    Do you have cut off numbers for standardized test scores/dates? 1998 SAT 790V 740M; ACT 33 good enough?

    I’ve always hit the ceiling of the less formal tests that typically top out in the 130-150 range. I had formal testing done once during a study for gifted youth but they never shared the results.

    I have had my genome sequenced with 23andMe.

  • toto

    I congratulate the authors on their study design, and I look forward to their future findings of genes associated with exceptional geekiness – sorry, IQ. :)

  • http://infoproc.blogspot.com steve hsu

    I want to emphasize that volunteers need not satisfy the *automatic* qualifying criteria in order to participate in the study. Automatic does not equal strict minimum.

    For example, if you can document your cognitive abilities in other ways (LSAT, IQ test score, etc.) you may still qualify.

    Our volunteer form only takes about 10 minutes to complete.

  • I_Affe

    I tried spreading the word about the study over at the Atlantic on Ta-nehisi Coate’s blog, a left-leaning blog with many self-proclaimed liberals and progressives. I don’t know how many lurkers I convinced, but a lot of the replies where highly skeptical of the study. I pointed people towards the official site with the slides and the proposal and tried to argue for the validity of it. I’m no ace in bioinformatics, I can understand the gist of the study, but I lack the expertise to relevantly critique all the techniques mentioned in the proposal.

    There was even a biostatistician* who replied and listed her quick and informative critiques of the study, which was a pleasant surprise.

    *Laurel Beckett from UC Davis made some thoughtful comments.

  • Sandgroper

    Ape, can you give a specific ref. for that discussion on Coates’ blog? I’m having trouble tracking it down.

  • I_Affe


    It starts here.

  • Sandgroper

    Thanks mate.

  • Wara

    @Spike Gomes…I’m with you. Maybe we could volunteer as controls;) That being said, I occasionally get frustrated by the stupidity I encounter daily(which honestly might be more related to lack of conscientiousness or lack of intellectual curiosity than lack of brains). I can’t imagine being any smarter than I am and not being driven crazy on a regular basis by the intellectual inferiority. It must be very frustrating and probably socially isolating to some degree. I love smart people and I thank them for blazing the trail:)


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


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