Having a high IQ is a curse...
Having a high IQ is a curse ... just look at Donald Trump.
Research suggests that people with high IQ scores are more likely to have mood disorders, and a higher risk factor of ‘psychological over excitabilities’ – perhaps that explains the behaviour of the man in the White House.
‘Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it!’ … a tweet from Donald Trump. Photograph: Pool/Getty Images.
My IQ is extremely, almost embarrassingly, high. I’ve never actually taken an IQ test, mind you, but my educated guess is that, if I did, my score would be whatever is the highest possible. No doubt your IQ is lower than mine, but please don’t feel stupid or insecure because of this, it’s not your fault. You’re probably just born that way. And you know what? Thank your lucky stars and subpar genetic makeup that you don’t bear the burden of brilliance like I have to. Being incredibly intelligent is a curse. This is not just one of the many astute observations I have every day, by the way, it is a fact recently confirmed by science.
Research published in the journal Intelligence, a very intelligent publication, has found having a superior IQ is a “risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities”. These results are based on a survey that researchers from Pitzer College, in California, and Seattle Pacific University sent to Mensa members. To join Mensa, you have to score in the top 2% of the population on an approved intelligence test, which normally means an IQ of 132 or higher (the average being around 100). You also, I imagine, have to have a higher than average Insufferable Quotient – but that is beside the point. The survey found Mensans were more likely than the rest of the population to have conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders, allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases.
This isn’t the first study to deduce that a great mind can weigh heavily upon someone. As the researchers note, “it is hardly a new notion that unusually high rates of adult psychopathology are displayed among some of the most eminent geniuses”. But while the research may not be revolutionary it is revelatory in relation to the current political situation. People are always wondering why Donald Trump is so temperamental and now, I think, we have the answer: his disordered moods are a result of his oversized IQ. Sad!
We know that Trump has a high IQ, possibly even higher than mine if I’m being modest, because he never shuts up about it. In 2013, for example, he tweeted: “I’m a very compassionate person (with a very high IQ) with strong common sense.” He followed these pearls of wisdom with another tweet, a month later, saying: “Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” In fact, he has tweeted about his IQ at least 22 times. In October, he also responded to reports that the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, had called him a “moron” by telling Forbes that he would beat Tillerson in an IQ test.
Not everyone is quite as enamoured with IQ tests as Trump. In 2004, the New York Times asked Stephen Hawking what his IQ was and he memorably replied: “People who boast about their IQ are losers.” But then again, an inquiring mind like Trump’s might ask how smart Hawking really is anyway? I mean he only wrote A Brief History of Time. Someone with a really high IQ would have written A Very Long History of Time.
Some people also believe that scoring highly on an IQ test is evidence that you can score highly on an IQ test and that’s about it. After all, it has to be admitted, IQ is a very narrow, contrived measure of intelligence. It doesn’t measure creativity or emotional intelligence, and various studies have also shown that the higher your socioeconomic status, the higher your IQ. This might lead one to believe that what IQ really measures is your privilege – and, conveniently, it also gives you a way to justify that privilege. In 2013, for example, Boris Johnson suggested that inequality has nothing to do with unethical behaviour or unfair policies, it is simply a result of rich people being innately smarter than stupid, poor people. After all, you can’t spell “inequality” without a high IQ! In a speech praising greed as a “valuable spur to economic activity”, Johnson ridiculed the “16% of our species [who] have an IQ below 85” and called for more to be done for the 2% with an IQ over 132.
IQ hasn’t just been invoked to legitimise socioeconomic inequality, it has been an important tool in reinforcing racism. In 1994, an infamous book, The Bell Curve, investigated racial differences in IQ scores: namely, that African-Americans scored lower in IQ tests than white Americans. The writers suggested that some ethnicities are simply innately stupider than others, and nothing can be done about it.
The fact that it’s 2017 and we still equate IQ with intelligence is alarming. However, the IQ era may soon be ending. In the last few years, we’ve seen artificial intelligence get exponentially more intelligent. AlphaZero, for example, an AI program created by Google-owned DeepMind, recently taught itself everything there is to know about chess in just four hours. As computers grow more intelligent, it is going to profoundly change how we think about human intelligence. Let’s just hope that one consolation of the robots taking over is that we’ll finally stop hearing insufferable people go on about their very high IQs.
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