Professions and IQ

The chart below represents IQ spans for various professions. My profession, accounting ranges from 92 to 123 or so. My son’s profession, high school teacher, has the same range. My brother’s profession, minister, has the same range. At the high end are college professors and medical personnel. (No wonder most Phd’s are liberals.) Scientists score high, as do lawyers.

To use this chart: Find your profession. Go to the far right end of the bar. That’s where you belong – at the very top of your profession.

h/t: Dr. Peter Rost

iq-range-occupations1

About Mark Tokarski

Mostly retired CPA living the life here in Colorado. Formerly Montana, 59 years, which is why so much of this blog is devoted to Montana issues.
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45 Responses to Professions and IQ

  1. rightsaidfred says:

    Info was from a Wisconsin longitudinal study of high school students circa 1957. Evidently the children are above average: 23 occupations had a mean IQ below 100, while 33 occupations had a mean IQ above 100. (I’ll assume a regular distribution of numbers among the occupations. The text didn’t give raw numbers.)

    I slogged through some of the conflicted article, which wanted to poo poo the usefulness of IQ as a measurement. It was pretty much an unconvincing response to “The Bell Curve”. If IQ doesn’t explain any sociological phenomenon, what does? The authors offer less than satisfactory alternatives.

    It reminds me of the Stanislov Ulam question: “Is there anything in the social sciences that is both true and non trivial?” IQ as a measure of life success is about as close as sociology gets, but even this is discounted by liberal researchers, so there is no hope for the field.

  2. I find IQ as useful as anything (include Myers Briggs) in measuring our capabilities. And I know there’s something about a doctor that a janitor lacks. After all, I watch Scrubs.

    • crabeveryday says:

      and Vice Versa. You could say…Hey, I bet you knew I would say that.

    • Leonard says:

      Did you put a penny in the door?

      Actually, the janitor is way too smart, and Dr. John Dorian is way too indecisive to be a doctor. The series was way too focused on social issues, as are most so called medical series today. The writers would rather confuse than teach you something about medicine.

  3. Leong says:

    who says people in some proffessions are better than others? geeze, why are people so obssesed with doctors/lawyers?all you need is enough money and reasonable intelligence to graduate from these courses…in fact, there are many people far out of their ‘proffesion iq’ range. i have a 162 IQ and i’m studying management…people should pick their jobs based on what they do best….not which category thier IQ falls into.

    • Brian Tully says:

      I have a pressing intuition that someone with an IQ that is characteristic of <1% of the population would spell the word "their" properly.

    • sarah joseph says:

      I don’t think people with an iq of 120< spell profession wrong. You really shouldn't underestimate medschool or lawschool if you havent experienced it yourself, as i wouldnt management. And if you would look closely you would see that there is said that percentiles 10,25,50,75 and 90 are marked which means that 20% fall out of the range.

    • peter says:

      Leong, for your supposed 162 iq, you know nothing about what it takes to become an American doctor (MD). It has nothing at all to with money or “courses” as you put it. The examination and licensing exams are simply not passable by someone without unusual intellectual ability – I doubt you would even come close.

  4. D says:

    First of all, no one is saying any profession is ‘better’ than the another. I’m not sure why you assumed that when reading this article. Also, my BS-meter is going off on your ’162.’ That’s 4.13 standard deviations above the mean. Only one in more than 50,000 people taking the IQ test will score that high. And yes, I can tell you from personal experience that it does not take much intelligence to pass the courses to become a doctor, but there a lot of people who want to become doctors/lawyers and not enough spots open. This competition selects for people who either work very hard or are very intelligent.

  5. And people who work very hard and who are very intelligent are a cut above. I don’t know how to measure that.

  6. LambOfGosh says:

    Good point’s Mark and D. I’m glad I stumbled upon this.

    It would be interesting to see more data on this without searching through journals(while maintaining reliability of course). Or possibly just more n (participants). I’m assuming since only 23 participants were below 100, and 33 above that n = 56.
    (Be patient with me, I’m still an undergrad.)

    Due to the time and money required of longitudinal studies, this is to be expected I
    suppose.
    I’m interested to see some good data on average IQ’s on “top of the food chain” so-to-speak positions. Such as.. world leaders, CEO’s, Military Generals, etc.

    Unfortunately, sensationalism and bad research floods search engines, so I never know what to believe. Except for searching through scientific journal databases at school. Which I hardly have time for while working and going to school etc.

    (of course there are the practical and ethical problems of obtaining the data from all these specific “high” professions.)

    I’m not sure why I’m preaching to the choir here but I’m still a psych/business undergrad.
    I just find this terribly interesting.

  7. Doug says:

    Here’s another source from an American research journal on occupational IQ; as far as professions go, engineers appear to be at the top.

    SCORES ON THE WECHSLER BELLEVUE SCALE IN RELATION TO OCCUPATION
    Group N Range 10% Q-1 Median Q-3 90%
    Engineers – 52
    Full 116-148 121 127 133 135 140
    Verbal 110-144 120 125 130 136 140
    Performance 114-145 119 124 129 133 137
    Professionals I – 52
    Full 113-141 120 126 132 134 137
    Verbal 109-144 121 126 134 136 141
    Performance 99-137 115 119 124 129 132
    Educators – 45
    Full 104-141 118 123 129 134 137
    Verbal 106-143 112 123 129 134 137
    Performance 95-139 112 117 125 132 135
    Professionals II – 61
    Full 106-143 117 123 128 133 138
    Verbal 112-143 117 123 128 132 137
    Performance 94-141 111 118 124 129 136
    Teachers – 421
    Full 94-152 114 120 126 132 137
    Verbal 94-145 113 120 126 131 137
    Performance 83-161 108 115 123 130 134
    Social Service – 66
    Full 108-145 117 121 125 132 135
    Verbal 105-145 114 118 124 133 136
    Performance 95-146 106 113 122 129 134
    Managers – 134
    Full 92-146 113 120 125 130 136
    Verbal 81-140 110 118 124 131 135
    Performance 91-154 109 115 122 129 135
    Nurses – 191
    Full 93-141 113 118 124 128 132
    Verbal 99-143 110 115 121 127 131
    Performance 78-145 102 114 125 130 136
    Arts – 62
    Full 74-147 109 117 124 131 138
    Verbal 73-142 107 115 120 127 136
    Performance 78-145 102 114 125 130 136
    Sales – 153
    Full 95-142 105 112 122 128 132
    Verbal 93-143 101 111 120 128 133
    Performance 93-144 103 111 118 125 130
    Secretaries – 107
    Full 92-135 108 114 121 125 130
    Verbal 94-134 107 114 120 125 130
    Performance 88-136 102 108 118 126 129
    Bookkeepers – 55
    Full 99-137 105 109 117 125 129
    Verbal 98-141 102 107 115 125 129
    Performance 94-141 101 107 114 120 125
    Clerks – 128
    Full 74-140 97 105 116 122 131
    Verbal 76-145 99 106 117 122 127
    Performance 69-140 94 103 114 121 129
    Office Workers – 62
    Full 88-139 99 108 116 123 128
    Verbal 89-135 98 104 113 122 127
    Performance 81-141 97 106 115 124 128
    Skilled Labor – 107
    Full 87-139 103 110 115 123 127
    Verbal 82-136 98 106 114 120 127
    Performance 93-136 102 108 117 122 126
    Personal Service – 57
    Full 54-130 79 92 106 113 122
    Verbal 59-132 80 90 104 115 121
    Performance 54-129 84 99 105 114 119

    Professionals I — physicians, dentists, lawyers
    Educators — college deans and instructors, high school and grammar school principals
    Professionals II — pharmacists, accountants
    Social Service — social workers, clergy
    Managers — small business owners, retail store managers, office managers, foremen
    business executives, small manufacturers.
    Arts — singers, dancers, musicians, actors, artists, designers, commercial artists
    Sales — all inside and outside sales people, wholesale and retail
    Office Workers — stenographers, comptometer operators, typists, receptionists,
    telephone switchboard operators
    Skilled Labor — machinists, automobile and aircraft mechanics, radio and television
    repairmen, plumbers, electricians
    Personal Service — barbers, beauticians, waiters, food handlers, soda fountain
    attendants, domestics

  8. AK says:

    Um, Professional I includes dentists, M.D.’s and lawyers? That is a heterogenous, gerrymandered group which I suspect was needed to bring N to 52 for that group. I suspect any one of the three groups would be surprised it was included in the other two, the dentists in a pleasant way.

  9. PT says:

    Everyone relax. Im a doctor and im not smart and I didnt work that hard either.Just seems to fit into my personality. Alot of people were academically more intelligent than me yet they havent gone into so called similar high iq sectors. Just the way life goes.

    • Leonard says:

      There was a time, and this may still be true, where entry into medical schools was denied to many extremely well qualified people. Some of these people became dentists, despite outscoring many, even most, medical school admittees on the MCAT and other academic measures. Medical school admittees were and are smug about it too, not realizing that they were often just the turtles on top of the fence post. But medicine, dentistry, and other professions require clinical and/or practice skills that have little to do with academic intelligence or performance on tests.

      The smugness of academic superperformers with each other, and with outsiders, is not that different that the smugness that varsity athletes, homecoming queen and cheerleader types, and even band and orchestra top musical chairs still exhibit decades later at high school reunions. For them, the social order never changes, regardless of current status.

  10. James Versluis says:

    Odd Mark, I would think you would be leery about IQ in general: it does suggest a certain extreme immutability in human nature which goes against left-wing tabula rasa and tatula rasa theories on Building A Better Tomorrow Through Building New People. I would have pegged you for one of those who clutch at straws against something suggesting hierarchy and inevitable inequality like this. As it clearly does, to anyone who bothers to think things through even a little bit…oh, right, that’s why you haven’t bucked against it yet.

    But not to worry: been reading the rightists on your site here: at least you can keep comfort that they aren’t too bright. As I found out recently by playing cards for money: the key to winning is simply to chose your opponent wisely.

    • People change over time if they aren’t totally fucking stupid, and I don’t think the ‘totally’ applies to me. We follow leaders, don’t think for ourselves. The tendency seems to be, when a leader arises on the left that people want to follow, like a Chavez or Castro or Nader, they tend to be murdered or house-arrested or otherwise discredited. This leader-following tendency we have is encouraged when the leader is some lame righty like Romney or Obama, but god help us otherwise. I do think that people are born in a very flat Bell Curve, and that early life experiences govern our life outcomes. So kids born into poverty and low expectations tend to reflect that in their intellectual makeup. Also, constant fear makes people very stupid. Americans, living in constant fear, give evidence of this.

      • James Versluis says:

        Certainly people change over time. They get much wrinklier, slower and attain a sort of “dead”y smell so known and loved by plastic surgeons (it gives them the thrill of knowing there are still non-cyborgs out there to operate on). The rest of the people, well, never think at all.

        I do like the sudden change to RIGHTWINGERSAREKILLINGUSAAALLLL!!!! You didn’t even preface it: one second it’s all reasoning-over-peasants and the next its Mark with a fist outstretched, singing “We Shall Overcome” and poorly wrought renditions of the Internationale’.

        “This leader-following tendency we [Americans] have is encouraged, etc.”

        Have you ever been anywhere? I mean, you compare the United States to everyone, contrasting the evil machinations of this Fascist Empire to all the Good People, but you couldn’t tell the difference between the European Council and the European Commission* if you were being tortured. Doesn’t stop you from telling me how amazing their democracy is and how they have so much more of it than we do (which not even EU officials claim).

        You were also for their non-democratic character at one time: I remember getting into an argument with you about how the Europeans, despite overwhelming majorities in favor of the death penalty, simply refuse to even debate it or let the people have it, like a whole host of issues they just won’t hear it. You were fine with their telling the people to butt out (despite having majorities in every single EU country) on that an a lot of other issues. Here in the states, the States where people want it, it’s there. The states where they don’t, it’s not to be heard.

        It’s not like that for everything, mind you (everyone on Earth is for keeping Mexicans out, even Mexicans, but our elites won’t hear of it), but all in all the US pretty much has the democratic response you’d expect: the people generally get what they want here. I’m totally against that: how can the people know shit from shinola? I much prefer the EU total lack of direct representation. Also, Americans don’t live in fear. You’re just making shit up, Mark.

        As for the bell curve: no. It’s been shown to be robust throughout life. It barely changes in circumstances (extreme age, etc.). Twin studies proved that: decisively.

        *- They’re both different things, believe it or not. Hey! Mark! Wake up!

        • You could have written that screed seven years ago – in fact, I think you did.

          Yes, Americans live in fear. Yes, I have traveled, through much of Europe, and north and south of us, enjoying it immensely except Yucatan. As a tourist, I can only notice a few things – no metal detectors, no guns, hardly a cop to be seen, amazing public transportation. It seems relaxed – no worries about health care, no student loan debt. France has an election, it seems at public opinion can indeed influence public policy there, in Greece, Spain, Iceland, Ireland … Oh yeah, when they fly anywhere but here, they answer a few questions, get on their plane and go. No frisking or ball grabbing.

          I’ve learned a few things about people – yes, we’re mostly followers, not a bad thing. We probably would not be here otherwise. There is a small percentage of sociopaths, the US having more than its share due to colonial seeding, religious nuts for the same reason. And then the nature of the right wing authoritarian. The left wing has no counterpart. we’re not like you at all.

          And the bell curve is much flatter than your contempt for people allows.

  11. James Versluis says:

    Where? Who lives in fear? I get worried when I think you make things up.

    And I don’t believe you’ve ever been anywhere. First, the guns you mysteriously missed.

    When you “went to Europe” where “no guns, hardly a cop to be seen”, did you notice the entire regiment of troops carrying MP5′s in every single terminal in all of Europe the way every American has noticed in the last 25 years? You know, the amazing, stunningly large and frightening machine guns with the banana magazine thing at every airport: you’re worrying me, Mark.

    The one thing everyone notes in Europe is the guys with guns everywhere at the terminals. All of them. All the international ones: you couldn’t have gone to Europe and missed it, Mark, because they all have them. Wow, Mark.

    “It seems relaxed – no worries about health care, no student loan debt”

    As a tourist you saw them being relaxed about loans? Hmm. Please describe how that happened, Mark. I am willing to believe you, I just would like to know how you saw into their heads as a tourist.

    “France has an election, it seems at public opinion can indeed influence public policy there”

    Really? Howzat? I admit I came back before the election (I just spent the entire year in south France coming back in January, btw), but I also know the four main parties all believe just about exactly the same thing (WAY worse than here: none of the parties or left-right believe anything different about anything- all are anti-globalization, all are anti-EU expansion, all are anti-business, all of them. Every last one. They even steal each others’ immigration stances), so I am wondering what you think happened in the election. I’ve lived half the 2000′s in Europe, when were you here?

    So what happened? What did they get different in the election? It’s a fair question, and one I bet you can’t answer.

    “There is a small percentage of sociopaths, the US having more than its share due to colonial seeding, religious nuts for the same reason.”

    See, this also makes me leery. Quit with the two dollar words (sociopath) you couldn’t define if you were held at gunpoint: call them what they are, Mark. Assholes. Why not just assholes? And there are a hell of a lot of them all over planet Earth, and if you think we got a bigger share…again, you’ve never been anywhere.

    “And the bell curve is much flatter than your contempt for people allows.”

    No. Twin studies, remember? Sorry, that is proof down to the physics level, my friend. You’re arguing with beakers and bunson burners now. It’s sub-Intelligent Design level argument to argue against IQ, Mark.

    And I notice you didn’t have any problem with IQ until I explained its right-wing character. Which is par: you don’t think anything through. I don’t know anything about being a CPA: do you feel the numbers, Mark? (God, no wonder you’re insane: I would be too if all I did was count other people’s money).

    • I know the fear I speak of, an enveloping fear. I experienced it but managed to break free – communism. The moment I realized it was a fake experience, I was liberated. Fear induces what appears to be stupidity – the Tea Party types, but it’s more a matter of emphasis, the amydgala overriding the rational thought centers, a gross oversimplification. I’m merely saying the people in survival mode have heightened perceptions of lurking enemies.

      Communism is gone now, replaced with terrorism. Same Boogeyman, different name, the Jungian archetype that dominates our psyche. Americans are especially susceptible to manipulation in this manner, and speculation has to do with our isolation.

      My experiences in Europe are quite real. Perhaps our differing personalities project differing movie scenes. There were no guns, cops, magnetic scanners – we were advised in Rome to avoid the subways due to gypsies. It was a pleasant place, people relaxed and content (Canada is much like this as well in my experience). I wondered why people behaved so differently, and imagined that if youth are not burdened with school debt, if the health care system is not enclosed and made to threaten them with debilitating debt, that their worries could be of a more practical nature.

      Terrorists are not real. we have nothing to fear. You seem scared shitless.

  12. James V. says:

    Your fear thesis is obviously pre-sup – meaning you’ve decided it’s true and no person or evidence or reality around you is going to convince you otherwise. You want to see fear, it fits in your narrative, it has romance for you, hence you will find it. The best thing about -for you- is “fear” is about aggregates and things no one can prove one way or the other (although they already have: Americans are happier than Europeans by a long shot). All you have to do is not go looking for real evidence and ignore the actually existing stuff: childs play for a man with advanced ‘ostrich’ skills. You even find fear in me, which- wow. Like you never met me. Which, I guess you never have.

    One question, though: Why in god’s name would you be in fear of communism? It ended decades ago- you really are archaic.

    Oh, and this: you clearly have no clue what the Tea Party types are like: I’m not one of them or even sympathetic, but I understand them easily. They’re normal people, demonized by you and all progs the exact way you think Communists used to be- unfairly, crazily and by people with no scruples, no heart, and who cannot stop lying. The people piling on the nice Tea people are simply horrific humans.

    And you’re one of the people who are piling on these perfectly innocuous, nice people. Tea people are certainly not the mass rapists, murderers and drug-fucks of Occupy, which is so obviously a collection of the worst of humanity has to offer. I’ll bet you idealize them as well, don’t you? Oh of course you do: you’re a believer. You always adopt all the right things. You think they’re sweetness and light and smart people and la-di-da Pollyanna about Occupy.

    As far as terrorism, I tend to agree with you: it’s our foreign policy establishment flailing for a reason to continue (all large government entities are self-preserving), for what is essentially only a medium-sized strategic issue (say what you want, at least the Soviets had real tanks, not imaginary bombs). But then, it really only had a moderate shelf-life, not like the Soviets – I mean come on, do you really hear anything about terrorism nowadays? It’s all perfunctory and no one’s really afraid anymore, and haven’t since at least 2007. It’s sort of weird you going on about a subject that’s not being spoken of that much: like you want something bad to be true and you’re trying desperately to be the guy with the secret knowledge. And yes, there are actual terrorists: boy, Orwell was right about needing all your faculties just to see the simple truth: the simple truth seems like it will always be outside your grasp.

    And also about Europe: what youth? Germany right now is in what demographers call “lowest low” fertility, the kind of death spirals nations don’t pull out of because no one ever has before (like late Athenian and Greek society as it collapsed due to birth rates).

    You’re always be a great man, Mark. Unlike most people, you have a perfect relation to the truth: you can always be found on the wrong side of it.

  13. Americans are happier than Europeans by a long shot …

    Nice… You got nothing, so you take the opposite tack and affirm with vigor. Happiness indicators I have seen put most of Europe ahead of us, especially the northern climes. But you want to see unhappiness there, it has romance for you, it fits your narrative, and hence you find it.

    As a youth in the 50′s and 60′s communism was a big deal In the ‘if you see something say something’ mode, just like now. We were always to be on the lookout, and neighbors of ours built fallout shelters. They were told that if the bombs came and their neighbors wanted in, shooting them was OK. Insanity, but that was our environment. “Terrorism,” about as real, works in the same way with the 9/11 images and Osama etched on our minds. People are frisked before going on airplanes and into buildings to remind them to be afraid, enemies lurking. Surveillance and torture are OK because, you know, there are bad people out there. Don’t tell me Americans are not afraid. I do leave the house now and then. We are a bunch of pussies as I view it.

    I am aware of low birth rates in developed countries. I ain’t much scared about it so much as as curious what the future holds. The barbarians of Europe expanded and overran the planet and now the flow reverses. You are a racist of exceptional intelligence, so it must be driving you buggy and make you verbalize with great energy. Very funny indeed!

  14. James V. says:

    It must be nice in your world, where everything is neat and tidy and easily explainable. Just some bad guys doin’ bad stuff, all conveniently located in the country you happen to be in, speaking the language that you happen to speak! And YOU just happen to have the secret Truth that eludes every smart person around! What a coincidence!

    • I used to take you a little more seriously … You’ve brought very little here.

      • James V. says:

        Oh that always was your problem: you take politics seriously.

        By the way, it’s a very annoying trait that you can’t post more than one posting here: my long one was eaten up by your damned wordpress. I didn’t go through the trouble of writing it up all over again.

        I will make one point I bothered to make in that post: no country in recorded history has survived “lowest low” births. Is that to say a nation can’t possibly survive with these births? No, there are a few dozen examples and none of them happened in modernity. But what happened to all of them is scary, real scary. To those that didn’t survive even being invaded, those are especially disturbing: one was Greece, which is happening now for the second time. Note how it was extreme violence how Greece ended the first time, and how it’s happening again. It does not suggest sanguine Pollyanna attitudes that you have. It actually suggests we might could panic a bit.

        And anyway it’s all your fault. Baby boomers, I mean. You’re the ones that don’t deserve your social security because you didn’t keep up your end of the bargain and put enough children in to replace the workers- you can’t escape simple math, although Greeks are good leftists in that they’re protesting reality, basically.

        As for my “racism”, well, as it turns out, the entire world is starting into catastrophically low birthrates: consider Iran, which went from 8.2 live births per woman in the 1980′s (during the war) to just above one now: that’s lotsa little brown people not being born too. It’s everywhere. And I don’t know why it’s racist not simply to want to die. Sorry, that doesn’t reach the racism threshold.

        I hope this posts, because I won’t make another attempt.

  15. James V. says:

    And actually, Mark, studies have made that conclusion in various ways and through various different psychological fads and studies since the 1960′s.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/13/AR2006021302145_pf.html

    http://business.highbeam.com/435358/article-1G1-135246875/americans-happier-than-europeans

    http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread214693/pg1

    Study after study has been done on this, which you would know if you had an education.

    Oh I’m sure now that I’m not “taking the opposite tack” and affirming “with vigor”. Naw, couldn’t be because it’s already been proven: all your opponents run on fear, they can’t think for themselves, can they Mark? It’s only you with the secret garden. Your big brain has figured it allll out

  16. Nicole says:

    I’m 14. My iQ is 135. I think you guys are idiots. Seriously. Do you not know what iQ means! Seriously! IQ isn’t about spelling, jobs or weather you know allot or not! You just see things differently.
    And I already figure things out for myself.
    Like I know there’s no point in using words that not many people understand, if you do that you might as well talk to a brick wall!
    I have low grades, really low. But that’s not iQ.
    So stop acting smart, I’m younger, I have a lower iQ and yet I think your stupid?

    • James Versluis says:

      Dear high IQ fetus:

      No one cares. Go home, play with your dolls. Give us a call in 15 years, we may care then. Until then, I don’t care how much potential a single cell organism has, you’re still bloody 14. You don’t know anything.

      • Nicole says:

        14 is a number! Got it? What if I’m smarter than you, ? Then don’t tell me to leave, at least m honest and not lying for attention. Listen. What I know, won’t change in 15 years, the way I think and understand will not change. Get me? Do I have to speak more clearly or what? IQ has nothing to do with what you have learnt, it’s the way you think. So my age doesn’t matter. By the way, I have anger problems and Its hard to hold back so if you reply again and I start telling you off don’t blame me… Just being honest?

  17. James Versluis says:

    Hey Mark-

    My computer has gone down finally, and I’m on a borrowed one right now. I should be back up as soon as the other one’s made.

    Jim

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hello,
    I also have a high iQ.
    Indeed you don’t need numbers.
    I fear death, I always think about the universe, about how is it endless! And if it ends what’s on the other side? Are we a rubber ball on someones desk at home? Do any of you think this way? It scares me.

    • James Versluis says:

      Just a little bit of advice: never tell anyone your IQ. It’s also really pretentious to just walk around announcing how smart you are.

      One more bit of advice: most intelligent people fear death, at least after the first little flit of youth goes away and some perspective comes in. (actually, Mark is an intelligent person in this regard, as he is in many other non-political ways). Some men fear and agonize over it most of their lives (I certainly have), and the horror of it consumes some people. But one shouldn’t oppress other people with the nastiness of it. It’s just too horrifying a reality to put on other people.

      As for your questions: I suspect the truth is this: there is no underlying metaphysical reality or consciousness, and sooner or later, everything Mankind has ever said or done will be gone, just like it never was, and everything we think and do will have no effect.

      We worry and think about our place in the universe and fear death because we’re programmed to do it by evolution, which gave us consciousness and self-awareness as a byproduct: our huge brains are merely mechanisms for
      hunting in packs (we’re highly social predators that hunt in packs). Our self-awareness is simply the accidental secondary effect of the immense sophistication of our brains.

      This I believe to be the truth. I do not know it for certain because my brain, (while one of the best of my breed), is still an extremely limited simian animal hunting mechanism trying to understand the basic laws and truth of existence. Like everyone else, I don’t have the capacity to understand it all. It could be there is something I simply cannot wrap my mind around.

      But I doubt it.

      • Wolves manage to hunt in packs without a cerebral cortex. I find it hard to believe that this accident of existence is without meaning in this sense: I don’t know why atoms exist, why there is a universe. That those things manage over time to produce me I accept. I assume that when I die, that’s it. I don’t fear death at all. I just don’t like all the pain that goes with it, and our slow decline before. Getting old has good parts and bad. Better to go quickly.

        However, suppose that we only know a few of the subatomic particles, that there is so much we don’t know about our basic atomic makeup that there is indeed such a thing as metaphysical existence?

        The point is not that I believe that, but rather that I stand in awe of the mere fact of existence. I figure two possibilities upon dying – nothing, and perhaps a higher plane of existence. Highly unlikely, I don’t give each an equal chance by any means. But those are as I see it the two outcomes of death, and neither scares me in the least.

        • James Versluis says:

          A highly intelligent response. I can’t really disagree with a word of it. I think you’ve wrapped up the two possibilities perfectly, and you’re even right on the possibility of which is right. But you are the Sartre to my Camus: like Camus, I cannot forget, or ignore, that which came with my youth: a belief which, toward the end, was rather sophisticated: a Catholic version of the “higher existence” theory, where I came to the conclusion that there were no analogues to the five senses, except for the kinesthetic- because Love, in the Catholic sense, to my reckoning, only had some expression in the physical world through the more esoteric and powerful emotions. Everything else, sight, hearing, etc., had no meaning for the Next World. I of course no longer believe this, but I have set it aside as the next possibility. I am not an atheist, but an atheistically inclined agnostic. You seem to be precisely what I am.

  19. James Versluis says:

    You’re too young to even be aware that young people don’t know crap. And the real beauty of growing up is: old people just don’t care if you have a problem with that. Couldn’t care less, young’un.

    • Gregory h says:

      Most smart people tend to be rude, but honestly don’t be rude over an age, she’s right, she may be smarter, maybe not but, may.

      • James Versluis says:

        It’s true: the problems of smart are the same problems that plagued aristocracy in all times: being smart gives you no courage, no honor, and no higher status. Quite frankly, smart leads to asshole in some people: character is amplified by brains. If you have a good one, you can be made better by brains. If you’re a shit, it just makes you shittier. It reminds me of the Bill Cosby joke: “A guy once told me ‘Cocaine intensifies your personality’. So I said ‘Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?’” So intelligence, totus maximus.

  20. Turtle blast says:

    Don’t delete my comment poo head

  21. Tasha says:

    I skipped five grades and am at the top of my class in university, so I probably count as “smart” by most definitions. However, I don’t want to know my IQ. (I was tested in first grade, moved into the advanced class, and never told the actual number.) What if it’s lower than the score of someone I know and consider not very intelligent? What if it’s high–will that influence my behavior, making it acceptable to just coast? There’s a correlation between intelligence and achievement, true, but it’s far from perfect.

    A brief note on age and intelligence. Yes, I’m sixteen, and yes, I know that I don’t know much yet. But within my sub-subfield, I know more than pretty much anyone. (I’m first author on a peer-reviewed publication and have traveled across the country to speak on my research.) Again, age generally correlates with knowledge, but imperfectly.

    Imagine that one’s knowledge can be represented in geographic terms. Young people are familiar with their own neighborhoods, then become aware of streets and shops in the towns around them, then move away and expand their geographic horizons. Over the course of a lifetime, one will choose a few areas to call home; as a rule, the longer you spend in one place (the more you study a topic), the better you know it. There are some people who are natively smart and can find their way around almost from the beginning. Think of them as intellectual taxi drivers. Others will always have a slightly lost, glazed look on their faces, even if they’ve been living there for years.

    If you’re a stranger in a new field of study, or city, you’ll ask directions from someone who’s familiar with the local area. If you’re a local, regardless of age/experience in other locales, you can probably provide that information. Some people have more practical knowledge than others their age, i.e., they’ve traveled further or explored deeper. But if someone regularly travels to Tokyo and Paris and has lived in cities across the Atlantic seaboard, they’ll still be grateful for a fourteen-year-old’s directions when visiting Laramie, Wyoming. When considered in the limited paradigm of where the traveler is right now, the fourteen-year-old native is more geographically knowledgeable. Our imaginary traveler’s vast stores of experience and applied intelligence from other areas aren’t very helpful there!

    So all that was probably a pointless extended metaphor, considering that the thread’s been dead for a while now, but I think it works on a few levels.

    • James Versluis says:

      The scientist would say “Age is a non-causal correlate to knowledge”. I would say “age is a non-causal correlate to general knowledge, but time is a direct second-order causality to specific knowledge and skills”. In other words, it still takes time to learn ‘sumpin.

  22. I is pretty smart aswel. Likes two think bout tuching my no no plase then smelling it. Smell like bad, but sooooo good two. THink im gonna become a perfumologist. Gonna haft work extra hours at the gas station try to get money to go colage but its totaly worth it have the job youll always dreamed about. Anybody knows how much the money is for that job?

  23. Smart with an IQ of 102? says:

    Wait, if my IQ is a meager 102, how come I’m excelling in school? I’m a STEM major (Bio), Black ( not mixed) and I don’t study consistently or for long periods of time. I consistently score higher than the class average. I pull essay’s out of my ass 2 hours before class (excuse the crass language). Social workers said I have multiple learning disabilities at my high school, and I have no “special” help(pride issue). I have a friend who attends an Ivy league university who thinks I’m smart (enough?), and so do professors. I plan on doing pharmacy and I’m having no problems reading the material.

    Now I’ll admit topics that I find boring I score lower, even if their “easier”. (Physics>Geography) and when I’m interested in something I feel the brain juices FLOWING.

    Point of IQ is a crock of shit. Interesting, but nevertheless a crock of shit.I used to think I was dumb for a long time because I listened to social workers but now I’m doing bio, chemistry and physics (go figure!) Do whatever makes you passionate. If you are really like picking up cans for 5 cents, you’ll find a way to get rich off of it.

    • James Versluis says:

      Why wouldn’t you be excelling? The school system is set up with the populational average of 100 even, and has been degraded systematically by attempts to keep up and keep, originally, the lowest 1/3rd of the standard curve, and then later in a desperate attempt to keep in ethnic groups that are vastly represented in the lowest quarter of IQ: so all you have to do to excell is try. It’s very easy, and I’ve taught monkeys about transcendental idealism, so there’s no reason to think you’re medoicre brain can’t, too.

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