No, Not All Very High IQ People Can Learn Computer Programming

Tulio writes: Anyone with an IQ 150 at the very least can teach himself computer programming at home and get a job making 6 figures (or at least high 5 figures) within a year. I know programming isn’t everyone’s thing, but there’s high demand for it and it would be easy to learn for someone with an IQ that high.

I have a 147 IQ, and my Mom has a 150 IQ. My siblings have IQ’s in the 140’s. Even with genius IQ’s, none of us could do computer programming to save our lives, and most of us never even tried. I did try to learn programming for a while. I even read a 600 page book on Java. The best I ever got was fixing an ASP script for an employee. I can’t program my way out of a paper bag, and I tried hard to learn this stuff.

None of us can even do math very well. Not all very high or genius IQ people can even do math very well. Most of my family have genius IQ’s, all of us are rather poor at math, and we all struggled badly with higher math in college.

I barely even passed Algebra 2 and Geometry in high school. My sister barely made it through Statistics in college. My brother who wanted to be a physician had his dreams squashed because he could not pass Physics in college after multiple attempts. My other brother absolutely hates math and struggled to get through Algebra 2 in college. My mother and father both struggled to get through Algebra 2 and Geometry in college, and they both hated those courses. All of us hated higher math (Algebra 2 and Geometry).

It is absolutely not true that anyone with an IQ of 150 can learn programming and earn a six figure income.


Filed under Computers, Education, Higher Education, Intelligence, Psychology

41 responses to “No, Not All Very High IQ People Can Learn Computer Programming

  1. Ken

    You need a performance IQ of 125+ to make it as a top tier computer programmer:

    If your full scale IQ is 147 and you have a high-average performance IQ(115-120), then your verbal IQ must be extremely high in order to score a FIQ of 147. Somewhere between 175-180.

    • Tulio

      Can you elaborate a bit on the difference between average IQ and performance IQ?

      • Ken

        FSIQ(full scale IQ) is the combination of verbal and performance iq scores. If Lindsay is incapable of making it in the top echelons of computer programming, its seems likely that his performance IQ is below 125. I don’t know what his score is, but i just took a wild guess of between 115-120, if it’s below that then his verbal IQ would likely be even higher than 180 -on the WISC IQ test.

  2. Gay State Girl

    You don’t need to be good at math to learn applied programming.

    • Jason Y

      Programming is based on logic. Kind of like what you would do in a math reasoning class in college, or in a college geometry class. Well, your not really making proofs in programming, but your massively using logic, which is the smae thing. Note, higher math beyond Calculus and Differential Equations is heavy into proofs.

      OK, since logic is solving problems, it would make sense someone good at computers could do Caclulus though, or any other kind of math. But computer majors are generally frustrated with having to take math courses, because they don’t want to waste thier time on it, seeing it as irrelevant, when they’re more into computers.

      • Jason Y

        Sorry, meant to say high school geometry class.

        • TJF

          To Jason Y:
          Sorry, meant to say high school geometry class.
          True, the ability to work through proofs in high school geometry was a fairly good predictor for programming abilities in the 1970s when computer time (let alone a stand alone computer) was rather expensive but is less relevant today to test programming skills when you have very cheap desktops or laptops. Why not dive into programming and learn algorithms and higher math as needed concurrently? Many of today’s computer science curricula were designed decades ago when few students had previous programming experience when they started college.

  3. I have looked at a lot of computer programming, and yes, it is mathematics all right. In addition to being mathematical, I cannot make heads or tails out of what they are getting at in the whole programming process. My brain simply does not work like that, sorry.

    • Gay State Girl

      Can you do Web programming?

      • Yes I taught myself HTML and even use it in this blog at times.

        • Igor

          HTML and CSS are more of a design tools, but we can say that they are sort of a declarative languages (in contrast to imperative ones) as they do not require knowing the algorithms behind the expressions, only applying expressions and commands. Same thing when using functions in jQuery instead of writing ones from the scratch in JavaScript.

          Saying all that, I am stll trying to break into coding after 10 years, strugling just like you, even if I have strong IQ, I often feel bored as fuck when looking at the code. Would rather do manual labour outside in nice weather or just take care of my garden.

          It’s hard and demands rewiring in brain, if you live whole your life thinking one way, programmers mind definitely functions differently and I believe it can be done, but at what cost? I always was afraid of switching, afriad of becoming nerd, which I never really was. I really don’t want to learn coding at the expense of changing my personality.
          If anyone has felt something similar, plase share, thanks!

    • Lin

      Can you do arithematics? I think I posted this problem before:
      Prove: (-1) x (-1) = 1

      • That makes no sense to me at all, sorry.

        • Gaston_D

          There was somebody on Quora who claimed his IQ being 125-130 and seemed to boast about his inability to do college-level mathematics.

          Now, I happen to be a humanities person, and no-one can be as disinclined to mathematics, and, more still, things like engineering and other logic-based practical studies (these rely on logic, but also on spatial skills. Pure mathematics, and computer sciences are a branch of them, rely little on spatial skills).

          Yet I was forced to study mathematics, as well as engineering for some time.

          If you are disinclined for something, it will stress and tire you more, you will be slower, get a bad mood, but you can do it.
          If you needed it to survive, Lindsay, and your IQ is 140 (you prefer to say 147, but you yourself told a test taken later in your life gave a result of 140, and, if I don’t offend you, you don’t sound like a 147 IQ guy), you could do anything that demands brainpower. Anything.
          Sure, feeling uncomfortable if it were something you have no gift for.

          I used to get headachy during mathematics classes since elementary school, and, all along junior and senior school, my performance in mathematics and physics were substantially down from what I managed to do with humanistic subjects.
          But then, they were better than my performances at “technical education”, craftmanship (handword), and scientific but concrete subjects like geology and biology.

          What you can do at programming is determined by your g and mathematical IQ.
          A serious IQ test could never give a score of 140 if you didn’t have the skills it takes to be coding.
          (You obviously don’t have the skills it takes to be outstanding, or even very good coders, as that needs… inclination, along with brainpower.)
          But university-level scientific courses? Those you could have munched away like cookies.

          In other words, you are lazy.

          That’s what I told to the guy on Quora. He reported me, and I was banned for one day.

        • If you needed it to survive, Lindsay, and your IQ is 140 (you prefer to say 147, but you yourself told a test taken later in your life gave a result of 140, and, if I don’t offend you, you don’t sound like a 147 IQ guy)

          I got 147 on the WISC at age 14. At age 29, I got “over 140” on the WAIS. That’s all he told my Mom, “Over 140.” He was walking around the office shaking his head like he could not believe it was so high.

        • I have four family members who all have 140-150 IQ’s and all of them said they could not program their way out of a paper bag. And all of them hated even high school math though they got through it. Though I barely passed Algebra 2. That stuff never made sense to me.

          I have known several women with IQ’s of 140-143, and they all told me that they have no idea how to do computer programming. They had all tried it too.

        • Juanny Boy

          Well I do know that you can provide evidence, if not prove that 1- -1=2 by drawing a line between (1,0) and (-1,0)…the distance is two.
          I have an IQ of 120-125 and was able to figure that out without being taught it…so not absurdly difficult.

          But I would keep in mind you can’t just give any ‘tough’ question and call it an IQ question. It doesn’t quite work like that.

      • Dave Mowers

        Less than one is still one less than one itself therefore multiplied by another, it remains to be; one only less.

        Now I proved it with language…

        • Lin

          Honestly I wouldn’t blame Bob or others who don’t have a clue. My impression is the majority of GRADUATE engineers who took ‘advanced engineering math’ can’t do it. Hey, its a simple formula most junior graders know by heart: ‘minus one times minus one equals to plus one’. Now let me show you how to humiliate most of the science&engineer graduates:
          (-1)(1) = (1)(-1) —-(a)
          (1) + (-1) = 0 ——-(b)
          multiply both sides of (b) by (1):
          (1)(1) + (1)(-1) = (1) 0 = 0 —-(c)
          multiply both sides of (b) by (-1):
          (-1)(1) + (-1)(-1) = (-1) 0 = 0 —-(d)
          Now subtract (d) from (c):
          (1)(1) + (1)(-1) – (-1)(1) – (-1)(-1) = 0 – 0
          (1)(1) + [(1)(-1) – (-1)(1)] – (-1)(-1) = 0
          the middle 2 terms in the above equation cancel each other by (a), so
          (1)(1) – (-1)(-1) = 0
          (1)(1) = (-1)(-1) or (-1)(-1) = 1 —-QED

      • Igor

        Doing proofs requires knowing heavy theory. Not in this case maybe, but usually does. Anyhow, anytime I needed to do it in college I felt it was pure mental masturbation for the most part, because I am more into applied stuff, and I felt pretty frustrated with bunch of that stuff in course.

        • Igor

          Saying the above abot the knwing theory I always felt stupid when using axiomatic knowledge doing the proofs. It feels like using Bible to prove the existence of God. Whole math is based on axiomatic knowlegde which is taken for granted for some reason and defended by life in academia. That’s fine with me, but it doesn’t look much different than religion.
          Regardless of that, it is possible to apply all that theory in real cases, but I also believe it puts many limitations to our understand of what lies out there in the unknown universe.

        • Lin

          I think u got the wrong idea about religions. The essence of any religion is that it contains non-rationales and often anti-rationales. Examples:
          1)Non-rationales: Longing to meet one’s deceased love ones. Non-scientific(might be until cyber-paradise can become reality and one can upload the minds of the dying into a computer) however it’s part of human psychology and if properly handled, it can ease one’s mind or even enrich human experience.Imagine all the literature on the subject.
          2)Anti-rationales: There’s a passage in the old testament about god stopped the sun’s movement in the sky.
          Mathematics is a deep subject and likely the common language of all the intelligent lifeforms in the universe. Definitely not one of the ‘religions’ we know of.
          Personally,I’m a protestant (of an alternative conviction.And I stopped going to church a long time ago).
          A more difficult subject: On earth, area is often concept as width x length or a rectangle or a(finite or infinite)combination of rectangles. Can one conceive area in terms of circles ?

        • Igor

          Lin, thanks for your reply.
          You didn’t get me quite right. I’m not saying that math correlates with religion at higher level that you described quite well. I am saying that math and religion are similar, if not exactly the same at it’s very core. Deep down inside the concept of axiom lies the blind belief. Out of that belief whole logical framework is built upon. There is no point to argue on this as I am not denying that logical framework works in reality and is experimentaly proven. I am just saying that at it’s very core it is undefined and mystical, just like the esoteric religion. Religious frameworks (confessions) are built upon the same esoteric principles but they differ in forms. At their very core they boil down to one and only mystical “truth”.

  4. Jason Y

    You would have to start programming from the start, or math from that matter. To do those things you’d have to master basic stuff. People claim they are horrible at that stuff haven’t put in the time to master the basics. So my view would be massively more open minded than some.

    • Jason Y

      You would get back what you put into it, but for some it would take more time than others. It depends on what time frame you need to learn stuff vs the IQ you have. For instance, if it takes 4 semesters of taking the same computer programming course to get a B or even a C, then that might unreasonable for some.

      • Jason Y

        Of course, we are assuming when taking the computer course 4 times that you put in maximum effort given your IQ.

  5. etype

    Robert, you are not looking at the problem from different angles. I also scored a high IQ on several tests during pub and sec school… but I never found out the IQ score because of concern apparently that I was already egotistic enough… and I detected a professional egotism in the psychologists who were supposed to give me the results. They seemed to be highly satisfied in whatever reg. allowed them to withhold this info from me, while releasing it and discussing it with my teachers and all and sundry as they chose. – treating me as a specimen who as a result of the score was disqualified from knowing my own results.

    At any rate, I was rotten at math as you were – I hated it – yet I knew I loved it – the truth is that it is the way they teach it – a overwhelmingly boring, wrote, uninspired, inapplicable manner, its hard to believe it isn’t meant to close off learning in adolescents who aren’t mentored.

    So a few years later I needed to learn high level maths as a semi-professional handicapper (horse racing) I picked up a few books (perhaps 30, of which 25 where discarded) on Algebra and Probability distribution and formula… in only a few months I was doing high level discreet probability mathematics/binomial regressions at the level of a competent University BSC (I did the tests).

    I wanted to learn music theory and picked up a book (which I recommend extremely highly to anyone ‘Barbara Wharram’s Rudiments of Music Theory). I treated it like a crossword puzzle and after a few weeks I was proficient in all basic music theory, and taught myself piano and sight reading.

    I wanted to learn Java to write a AI program in Java – first thing I learned was that 99% of the books I purchased to self tutor myself where probably written by the teachers I mention above, they were worse than worthless. Their one goal seemed to be to convince the student it was worthless to pursue this further. If I didn’t already know I could learn this – I would have given up, I was so disgusted they could release these reams of 500 pg books that really only had 15 pages of useful information in them at $80 a pop.

    There is something called ‘guild’s discretion’ (translated from German) which is the reluctance to release information that is easy enough to learn that anyone can learn it, as all subjects are given the scope and depth needed. I believe someone with a IQ of 125 could learn applied physics in 6 months to a year if he had 1 or 2 good books, and worked 10 hours a week.
    Knowledge is status and it seems the status quo feels that status is cheapened if knowledge is easily and freely available.

    I think you could learn Java. You need to believe in yourself and realize the materials you are using to learn (I assure you) are at fault. You need to take your time finding good books. Learn the most elementary protocols (a week), keep reading your books but start dissecting proven programs. Java is great at cutting and pasting working code from one program to another.

    My assertion is you need to realize that there is a system in place, parallel to the system designed to provide the information you need to experiment and learn – a system ingrained ages ago, to erect barriers against people who might learn too quickly, who might actually use the information they are taught to do new and unexpected things. Thats the way the world works, and it’s what you ran into when you tried to teach yourself Java.

    • Gaston_D

      All what is guy wrote is true.

      The misery of our schools is to be brought up as to intelligent people’s underperformance.

      All subjects should be introduced well to all fairly intelligent students.
      Many have no idea what difference it makes, if you have to grasp the basics on your own.

      There is something called ‘guild’s discretion’ (translated from German) which is the reluctance to release information that is easy enough to learn that anyone can learn it, as all subjects are given the scope and depth needed. I believe someone with a IQ of 125 could learn applied physics in 6 months to a year if he had 1 or 2 good books, and worked 10 hours a week.
      Knowledge is status and it seems the status quo feels that status is cheapened if knowledge is easily and freely available.

      That is as disgustful as it is true and commonly practised in every field of knowledge.
      Those who don’t are the rare people whom we should name “teachers.”

  6. TJF

    To Tulio:

    Tulio writes: Anyone with an IQ 150 at the very least can teach himself computer programming at home and get a job making 6 figures (or at least high 5 figures) within a year.

    In today’s job market I doubt a company would hire developer in his 50s who had no previous programming experience. I suppose it’s possible you could create a mobile app or gnu project to sell yourself but it would be a pretty large gamble. Maybe 1 out of 30 companies would give you a shot. When I go into an interview I am not only drilled on my current knowledge but where I worked, what I did, and how I solved problems. High 5 and 6 figure jobs were not that hard to get in the mid to late 90s with little previous experience (but demonstrable knowledge) not so now. Any company that would hire someone in the US would rather hire a cheaper person in China, India, or Eastern Europe but they are seeking a developer who can not only code but design and fit in with a team. I know two guys in their 50s who are quite good and up to date (Java, C++) but they are having problems finding work in the SF Bay Area.

    There is a LOT of propaganda pushed by corporations to raise the H1B and L1 visa caps and for even more outsourcing..

    • Tulio

      True, but I wasn’t really talking about age. I was just talking about someone with a genius level IQ. I was saying if nothing else, someone that smart could be a programmer. But yeah, you’re correct, programming is kind of a young man’s game and there’s a lot of ageism in that field. Maybe if you’re older you’d be better fitted for IT project management.

      • Jason Y

        You can get on forums like, advertise, show the employer a small resume, but the the key is be willing to work for peanuts. But is that worth it ?? Not unless you live in some area with a cheap standard of living.

        You can get steady client base easy but it’s sort of degrading.

        • Tulio

          Freelancer sites are crowded with cheap South Asians that you will have a hard time competing with if you have no experience.

      • TJF

        To Tulio:

        True, but I wasn’t really talking about age. I was just talking about someone with a genius level IQ. I was saying if nothing else, someone that smart could be a programmer.

        Sorry, yes I went back and read your original post. You didn’t say anything about age – this is sort of sore subject for me as I am in mid 50s and out of work even with more than 2 decades of experience much of which is still relevant in today’s market, so I am prone to a knee jerk reaction on the matter.

        Maybe if you’re older you’d be better fitted for IT project management.

        True although speaking for myself I don’t think I am cut out to be a project manager.

        Somewhat off topic here’s an article about a man who went back to (Law) school and is now marginally employed, has 200K of student debt at the age of 39. Law is a field where both the school you attended and age you started practicing are highly relevant.

        Even though that sounds like a large amount of money – it’s now quite conceivable to run up $100,000 of debt attending an undergraduate state school.

        The mantra that applying yourself and graduating from college will lead to financial success is increasingly a faded dream and the reverse – one’s financial condition worsening (as with the newly minted lawyer above) can also occur – eg one’s financial status and security can decline with a college education. Importantly dividends yielded from a college education, with perhaps a few exceptions, decline as one ages.

  7. TJF

    To Rob:

    Have you ever thought about teaching English overseas..? I am thinking about moving to Hanoi (apparently they will hire teachers in their 50s unlike some other countries). Northern Vietnam is still quasi socialist and has seasons (unlike Ho Chi Minh). The pay isn’t huge but it’s enough to pay the bills and you’ll have higher status (Ahem women) than you would in central Cal.

    • My health is not good enough to get a full-time job even here in the US. That is why I live off this small trust fund. If I did not get that fund, I would probably try to go on disability. The work I do can only be done because it is not a regular job and has no regular hours and I work for myself.

    • Tulio

      I second this. Robert with a degree in linguistics could teach English in an Asian country and live pretty decent even if not extravagant. Health care costs are way lower there. Plus plenty of young pussy and they don’t mind older guys(especially if white). Madera sounds like a real crap hole compared to somewhere like Chang Mai. You could also teach in Latin America, you have a big advantage already knowing Spanish fluently.

    • Jason Y

      Some tutoring jobs are via a home computer.

  8. Balthazar

    How many siblings you have ? I think very high IQ person tend to have many children

  9. Tom

    I’m a retired programmer and worked in IT for two decades. I was very good at it and knew assembler, networking, and many languages. I was considered creative by my peers. All really good programmers intuitively understand computers and logic flows. It was always quite easy for me. (I am not a genius based in IQ score nor do I believe those tests can predict much of anything. You can tell who’s smart or dumb without tests.) I am very analytical and enjoy solving problems. Programming an application using C or Cobol requires the ability to define the problem, get the data inputs, organize the functionality of the processes into highly efficient code modules and then test the output for accuracy. A good programmer must have a lot of patience and excellent logic skills. You don’t need to be a math genius or even be good at math beyond algebra. Seriously, it’s more about being able to work on the code for hours and days and get the logic flow done to solve the computational problems. If you’re easily frustrated then it’s not for you. When something didn’t work I became manically determined to find the error and never gave up. I’m also convinced that the male brain isn’t mature at age 18 and you’ll get smarter by the late 20s.

  10. Jason Y

    Some low-level languages like HTML and CSS are easy, but going up requires hard work and possibly a higher IQ.

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