There has been a lot of writing on this at genius.com. The man who writes that page estimates that Goethe and a few others had IQ’s up to 220. That’s about the limit.
Sidis was estimated by a psychologist who examined him to have an IQ to 250–300, but I have no idea what that means. Sidis dropped out of college, basically disappeared and devoted the rest of his life to collecting bus schedules. This is a pretty typical outcome for people with IQ’s in the “smartest man on Earth” range.
The smartest man in the world, Christopher Langan, is said to have an IQ of 200. He dropped out of college – he said he knew more than his professors and it was boring. He has spent his life working at jobs like truck driver, lumberjack and most recently, bar bouncer. Working at menial jobs is actually very common for people with stratospheric intelligence scores. They often don’t get along with people real well and many prefer menial jobs which give them time to think. In Europe in the last century, many of the people (usually men) who scored the highest of all on intelligence tests were known to work at menial jobs, often taking jobs like factory worker or janitor. When asked, they said that they preferred menial jobs because it gave them time to think.
It gets hard to measure very high IQ’s.
Children can have very high IQ’s because their IQ’s are measured in terms how smart they are for their age. Using that scale, childhood IQ’s of up to 400 have been calculated. All of these very high IQ scores among children in the 200’s and 300’s and even up to 400 are correct, but none of them can be sustained in adulthood. Of course, once they hit 18, you start counting the scores the other way, and they can’t have much above 200.
Talented people are always interesting.
There are plenty of fine athletes in high school and college who decided not to go into sports. They were still great athletes with excellent talent. There are people who can draw very well but don’t feel like using it. Likewise with music, writing, all sorts of things. All of this is interesting. I would love to hear about someone who had great artistic or musical talent who just decided they did not want to go that way and didn’t explore their talent. Do we beat these people over head with verbal clubs for not using their fine talents? Of course not.
There are many very good-looking people who never went into acting or modeling. Do we pummel them over the head with this for not using their good looks? Of course not. No one has to use their natural gifts in any particular way, and it’s no crime to be the handsomest man on Earth who never did anything with it but use to get women. And that is exactly how many very good-looking men use their inborn gift of great looks – they use it to get women.
Due to our hatred of intelligence and intellectuals, it is only intelligence that is attacked as “worthless unless you do something with it.” No other talent is attacked this way. People who do this are showing how much hate they feel towards intelligent people, especially highly intelligent ones.
I would also point out that people who fuss and fume about intelligence test scores are actually displaying a hatred of human intelligence. I ask these people, “Why do you feel so much hatred towards human intelligence? Is it sour grapes? Are you dumb? Is that why? Is it because you are stupid and resentful of people with faster brains? Are you so insecure that you must attack your intellectual betters to drive them down to your level?”
Look around you. Look at all these fancy devices we use all day every single day in our lives. Guess what, intelligence haters? All of those things were developed by smart people. Often very smart people, some of the smartest people out there. Human intelligence is what got us to this our present developed civilization. We would not have all these fancy highways, skyscrapers and vast bubbling metropolises without human intelligence. But you hate it, right? So why don’t you back and leave in a cave? You won’t have to worry about any of those pesky smart people there.
I would say if you hate human intelligence so much, why don’t you go live with dumb people? Dumb people are real dumb, so you don’t have to worry about anyone talking about their scores on intelligence tests. Hell, they probably don’t even know what an intelligence test is.
Aborigines are one of the least intelligent people on Earth. Why don’t you go live with them? They have lots of settlements where they don’t do much but collect welfare, drink booze, sniff glue and molest children. And on top of that, they’re pretty damn stupid, which is probably the main reason why they spend all their time in these activities. You’d be right at home since you hate human intelligence so much. No worries! You’d be surrounded by morons! You should be in paradise, right?
Many high IQ and very high IQ people explore their talent every day by necessity. They never give it up like lapsed athletes, artists, writers, etc. These people are very interesting to meet, at least for me anyway. High IQ people are fascinating whether they are “using” their talent or not. And what does using it mean anyway? Making a pile of money off of it. Not everyone is so mercenary.
My mother has a 150 IQ, yet she never “did anything with it.” So what! Why did she have to? She’s one of the smartest women I’ve ever met. Are we that greedy and mercenary that all talents must be converted into sleazy dollar bills?
Natural talents are interesting and praiseworthy no matter what use they are put to. By valuing brains only for how many dollar bills can be collected with them, Americans show just how greedy and sleazy they really are.
There is a long tradition of this BS. Check out Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. It was written in the 1950’s. One of the reasons Adlai Stevenson lost in that decade is that he was considered to be an egghead. That is, Americans incredibly decided that Stevenson was somehow too smart to be President and they would be much happier with some a bit dumber.
Hofstadter wrote another classic article around the same time called, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Conspiracy theory and the politics of paranoia have a very long history in this country. You can look around you right now at all these wingnuts and see that this thinking style is booming right along as always.
Hofstadter was one of the finest American political scientists. You might want to check him out.