Three Sigmas to the East
Some Thoughts on the High-IQ “Cognitive Elite”
About 1-in-50 people may pass the Mensa test requirement of having an IQ of 130. But at the third sigma to the right of the mean, it’s 1-in-600 (145 and up). And at the fourth, it’s 1-in-30,000. In Dutch, we call such people hoogbegaafd, which means highly gifted, but I despise this term. The intelligent individual is burdened, not gifted. I prefer the phrase “high-cognitive person” or HCP as in hiccup.
IQ tests measure how well one grasps visual, verbal, or numerical abstractions but IQ doesn’t necessarily equate to giftedness in any field. Nevertheless, members of the high-cognitive elite easily score in the 99.8th percentile (that’s around IQ 144/145 and up), for example on any official, culture-fair test in a standardized, timed environment. That excludes redoing online tests until you hit a high score to boost your ego.
A high-cognitive person has been burdened with an extraordinary mental ability. But how do you even know you are part of any cognitive elite? I say “elite” but it isn’t. You might join Mensa or the Prometheus Society but the high-IQ crowd rarely convenes in the wild. Some professions draw in a high-cognitive crowd but most people in these professions still fall into the second to third standard deviation (IQ 130-145), but not above.
Besides, what is the purpose of belonging to such a cognitive elite other than feeling smug knowing you’re so much farther ahead of slow-minded others? Most importantly, what are you supposed to do with your ability?
To give you a freaky example of the use of intelligence, Nazi leader Hermann Göring allegedly scored 138 on the test before he was given the death sentence. He committed suicide by cyanide. Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the Nazi Chancellor of The Netherlands, scored 141. Of the 21 leading Nazi figures tested at the trials of Nuremberg, only two scored over 140 and none over the third standard deviation (145 and up). Architect Albert Speer scored 128, diplomat Von Ribbentrop 129, and navy admiral Dönitz (later Hitler’s brief successor) 138.
The average Nobel Prize winner is more intelligent than a Nazi leader. Nobel winners score in the high 147-157 range according to one research. But this still falls short of the fourth standard deviation which begins at 160 (or the 99.997th percentile).
Still, all these men were and are considerably above-average in terms of their intellectual abilities. People in the 120-140 range apparently get to overthrow nations or colonize them. They get to wage wars of conquest and subjugate peoples. The world of national politics, still, is not the right arena for those in the 145+ range, even if some in the very high range may proffer up the ideological justifications for this or that tyranny. Above IQ 145, people tend to do breakthrough discoveries though few are awarded prizes for them, and many sink into obscurity.
Some people think that having a high IQ only means you can think faster. This isn’t true. There are qualitative differences, there’s more to it than speed. A man with a low IQ of around 75 self-admitted that he has trouble using the defrost option on his microwave. He also has trouble understanding fractions, such as “take one-third of a cup”. If the markings aren’t provided for him, he is unable to figure out how much a third of a cup is. He can use a cellphone but not a computer. Further below an IQ of 75, people stop being self-aware so you won’t be able to get a self-evaluation of someone with an IQ of 50.
Other research has shown that people with very low IQs have similar brain structures to people with Down’s Syndrome. This suggests that people with very high IQs must also have a different brain structure.
Let’s describe the problem of having a very high IQ. At an IQ of 144, barely one in six-hundred people you meet will be of equal or of higher intelligence. You are unlikely to meet such people at family meetings or even at student gatherings. Oftentimes, though, you will meet people who are far less intelligent than you yet who insist they are your intellectual superiors. I slur them the “IQ 102 Supremacy” because they’re 2 points smarter than average, and they want you to know it.
Here, you are supposed to play along until a better time arrives for you to display your superiority, not in the form of cockiness but out of necessity. Whatever you do, there’s no point in picking a fight with someone who thinks they’re smarter than you when they’re not. You will lose such a fight. Arrogance isn’t fought with arrogance but with independence. The cognitive elite must be ready to think independently from what others might say or do. (You might scold a dog for being stupid but unlike dogs, dumb people can hold grudges and will seek revenge.)
When you were young, you may not have been aware of your above-average intelligence other than the fact each time you opened your mouth, your peers stared back at you in disbelief, or with anxiety, anger, or frustration, or simply dismissal. Most people respond to the things they cannot understand with either ridicule or aggression. In fact, for some time, you may have believed that you were the stupid kid. If no one understands a word of what you’re saying, you mustn’t be exactly smart, well?
A smart kid can be bedazzled to think it’s stupid. It takes some time to let go of this belief in authority. In order to develop one’s skill, one’s abilities, and one’s mind, every child needs supportive guidance but high-cognitive kids are unlikely to receive the right support from their less able parents and teachers. Even the best teachers who love supporting children will feel offended when a child outsmarts them, or rapidly cuts to the chase of a carefully crafted children’s game.
Still, apart from having the prerequisite high IQ, which tells you how well you do on abstract puzzles, by the time you reach age 30, you will also have taught yourself two or more foreign languages, and perhaps you already read or comprehend half a dozen more. Or maybe you’ve mathematically proven the universe isn’t expanding after all (but have trouble convincing people). You’ve developed a philosophy of science or religion. Since the cognitive elite cannot be stereotypical hermits—they must have applied their intelligence to the world around them—you have certainly traveled far and wide; you enjoy hiking through wild nature as much as you love the hustle and bustle of any big city, for you are an intellectual omnivore, and your desire to devour new angles of life, as well as new ways of thinking, far exceeds normal levels of insatiability. Perforce you’ve lived in several different countries, perchance even filed your taxes in a foreign language.
Your only weakness is that you may grow addicted to fast-paced sources of information such as Twitter when you should be secluding yourself from time to time to let the creative power flow through your hands. Since you don’t have to work to be smart, you’re supposed to put your smartness to work. This means to carve out a life of your own since society has no real place for your abilities. Remind yourself every day that even society’s leaders aren’t very intelligent. They are simply powerful. They can command others around. They don’t want you to see through their deceptions and lies. Much of modern society is a gigantic machine anyway, a place for people to fit in as gears rather than as drivers, let alone as strategists or generals.
At times, you wake up with spontaneous new insights that change all of your thinking about the world at once but always in a way that advances an approaching true understanding of what is really going on in the world. Through reasoning alone, you’ve discovered many great lies societies must perpetuate to justify their existence. And you’ve learned to keep quiet about them in order not to upset the rabble. Perhaps you’ve hustled some cryptocurrency on the side to “get that annoying finances problem out of the way”, so now you can point your mind to more interesting things to do than having to work for money.
Since you can do almost everything yourself, you’ve amassed a large number of skills and competencies. You file your own applications for subsidies and funds, and you have them awarded to you, too. You’re not only self-taught, you’ve trained yourself how to be a better self-teacher. You crave over-stimulation, and if you’re of the male sex, those few angry moments when explosive levels of both adrenaline and testosterone mixed in with your intellect, your world accelerated beyond your wildest dreams, and you discovered, to your satisfaction, what great powers still lie lurking in the dark of your mind—
…so you have, at times, felt what it means to have superior mind, and yet, here you are, deeply in want of something more to think about, for the people around you may be simple, and they stubbornly refuse to listen. They cannot converse with you, nor do they have anything to meet your need for stimuli.
Advice for the cognitive elite does not mean to put our members in charge of the present world but to envision whole new ones. To be powerful, one must be ruthless, deceiving, cunning, and though this requires some intelligence it doesn’t require genius. Many so-called psychopaths are not highly intelligent. The average psychopath is a pimp or a car salesman. The average leader is a people-person who wins status by the way he socialized with subordinates. Dominance is probably a natural character trait and requires no intelligence whatsoever. For this reason, unintelligent but otherwise ruthless, fearless, dominant men may end up ruling entire nations. Idi Amin comes to mind. He had good social skills, he told people what they wanted to hear, and so managed to empower his tribal peoples economically, but he didn’t fit in with the United Nations crowd due to his lack of intellectual output.
The top power echelons didn’t get there by being cognitively gifted but by being Machiavellian, by being oblivious to certain human concerns.
Regardless, if there is enough motivation, the high-IQ individual can learn to master people as quickly as predicting sequences of numbers, though it all starts with a greater awareness of oneself and one’s limitations. I must warn you, though, that such mastery is considered a dark art by many, and if the common people ever become aware of your ability to manipulate them, they may come after you with pitchforks and fiery torches. You better have the security forces in place before you embark on such a mission.
Why do ordinary people fall for the authority of dress and age but rarely for great insight? Well, visual cues present people with a welcome shortcut. Rather than doing the due diligence to figure out who should be revered and trusted, we look at things like clothes and age. And when it comes to feeling confident in one’s ability to a nation, having a bit lower IQ is better than having an all-too-high score. Less intelligent people are less aware of their limitations, and less knowledgeable people are less aware of the things they don’t know. This can give intellectually average people the benefit of confidence: they come across as incredibly competent leaders, even when they’re not.
This especially applies to the time we are living in. Joe Biden? Kamala Harris? Nancy Pelosi? The dumbing down of Western leadership means the more intelligent types have already abandoned ship. They have found other things to do.
What advice can I give people three sigmas to the east, then? Long story short, I can’t give you any. You’ll have to figure it out on your own. But you’ll have no problems figuring out what to do with your intelligence once you make it your mission. Sometimes the common people are just looking for new avenues and you might be the one to show them.