Omni Brain

Why IQ matters – a graph.

Note from Sandra: Steve posted this as a joke, for being so outrageous as to be self-parody. It’s hard to convey irony in text, and Question Technology revealed that some people took it seriously. Omni Brain doesn’t endorse the views of the revealed source, psychologist/racist Linda Gottfredson. It is indeed a “snippet of junk floating around the web” (76 Google search results); I’m not sure where Steve found it but he’s not espousing racism, classism, sexism, or any other ism evident in this chart.


Or more appropriately… Why socio-economic status matters.


  1. #1 Kristjan Wager
    March 14, 2007

    Alternatively it can be read as IQ doesn’t measure intelligence, but rather that a high/low IQ is as much due to socio-economical reasons to any real differnece in intelligence.

  2. #2 Katherine Moore
    March 14, 2007

    I totally agree with Kristjan. This is why I don’t like the subject heading “why IQ matters” or the tag “stupid people”. IQ surely predicts a lot of things as your graph suggests, but I don’t think that IQ causes these things. I believe these things (especially socio-economic class and systematic race-based discrimination/privilege) cause IQ. Read Martha Farah’s stuff on poverty, stress and intelligence! It’s really interesting/sad how the interuterine (sp?) environment does a lot for the fetus, such that infants born to stressed out mothers living in poverty have lower intelligence before they even get started on life outside the womb.

  3. #3 Alvaro
    March 14, 2007

    I’d like to see the original paper-reference?

    1- First of all, IQ is not static during our lifetimes. So, what/ when are we measuring?

    2- Second, the “career potential”, among others, comes accross more judgemental than data-based (which is why I’d like to see the data). How many kids with high IQ at school don’t end up being executives or succesful professionals? and vicaeversa? IQ does not cover even half of key cognitive and emotional skills needed for success at work and life, so I’d be surprised if it was such a predictor as the chart implies.

  4. #4 Michael Burton
    March 14, 2007

    Yes — sources, please.

    It’s not just the career potential section — the whole thing seems judgmental, like some unholy offspring of MENSA and the KKK. Whoever made the chart was certainly trying to support a particular point, and when I see such a clear intention, I think skepticism is in order.

  5. #5 Agnostic
    March 14, 2007

    That must be from one of Linda Gottfredson’s papers (I recognize the phrases like “Yours to lose”). Google her name; her website has lots of free journal articles of hers on intelligence & its real-world consequences.

  6. #6 Johan
    March 14, 2007

    Anyone else notice the subtle bias in the selection of categories? Unemployed men, women on welfare with illegitimate children…

  7. #7 JYB
    March 14, 2007

    You should add “Assembler, food service, nurse’s aide, President of the United States.”

    And yes, the fact that IQ is not a fixed entity makes this chart at the very least, very misleading.

  8. #8 jeffk
    March 14, 2007


    Yeah, I did. I think it reveals a bit about whoever did this study.

    No doubt there’s SOME biological part of intelligence. But my money is that it’s swamped out by the other stuff.

  9. #9 steve
    March 14, 2007

    You know… I don’t have a source.
    You all realize this posting is mostly tongue-in-cheek right?

  10. #10 Go Amie
    March 14, 2007

    I think the statistics for high IQ high school dropouts are bogue, if only because so many drop out to start college early.

  11. #11 Mitch Harden
    March 14, 2007

    I believe Agnostic was right when he implicated Linda Gottfredson for this chart, as the file name is “1198gottfred_table.gif” She has several MENSA entries on her CV so Michael Burton was right on the money with his comment too!

  12. #12 Alvaro
    March 14, 2007

    Hi Steve- my sarcasm detector didn’t get activated in time :-) IQ doesn’t cover sarcasm and sarcasm detection, right? :-)

    And right after I posted the comment, I read a wonderful article in Stanford Mag on the “Effort Effect”-highly recommended:

  13. #13 Michael Burton
    March 14, 2007

    “You all realize this posting is mostly tongue-in-cheek right?”

    I was hopeful, but uncertain.

    I feel better about this blog now.

  14. #14 Katherine
    March 15, 2007

    “You all realize this posting is mostly tongue-in-cheek right?”

    Of course I realized this about you…but I guess I was afraid of your readers being like, “that’s totally true! IQ is the most important thing in the world! Oh and btw I have a 150 IQ!”

    And it’s a pretty sensitive topic for me these days so I had to put in my 2 cents.

  15. #15 swiss
    July 7, 2011

    hmm…the headline isn’t nearly clever enough to indicate irony…and ironic intention alone doesn’t make for an amusing joke. It’s at best lame, and at worst like those SNL or Andrew Dice Clay jokes of the ’80s that were really misogynist, and the protest cry was “We’re making FUN of those people and their arrogant attitude.” Yeah…get the hateful rhetoric and mythology out there far and wide…as a joke. Great.

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