Saturday, September 13, 2003


A reader writes: "After reading the posts on IQ, I would like to put forth an idea of mine to you. Seeing we live in a capitalist society, it is fair to say that we use money to keep track of success. It is also fair to say that success is a result of hard work and the correct decisions, not of "luck". Therefore, as a quick and dirty method of measuring IQ would be to look at a persons assets. Or a group's assets, or a nation's assets. Wealthy people will continue making decisions that will keep them wealthy, poor people will continue making decisions to keep them poor. I realize this is highly simplistic, but as far as I can tell, applied with a broad brush, across the globe it appears to hold true"

The reader concerned has worked out for himself something that IS broadly true. There are exceptions, of course. SOME smart people are poor -- but some smart people do foolish things too. Emotional reasons can trump logical reasons and lead to bad life decisions -- in the area of marriage, for instance. Nonetheless, it has always been true that high IQ predicts well a whole host of desirable life outcomes (educational success, income, occupational status etc). Looking at nations rather than individuals as the unit of analysis, the most systematic evidence is Lynn & Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations -- which shows that, looking at all the countries of the world, national average IQ is a strong predictor of national average income.


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