Vox Day asks me some questions about his IQ

…which is odd because he banned me a while back. https://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/gamma-stalker-fail.html

This is in response to my earlier discussion of IQ in which he provided some interesting examples.

Explain why you reject IQ as a metric for intelligence. Preferably at length and with personal anecdotes.

Lecture us on the 34 different types of intelligence, as well as which ones are best.

Tell us how you were out partying the night before the SAT and you were totally hungover when you took it and besides you don’t care.

Brag about your 800 IQ.

Inform us of your Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy of Language from the University of Chicago. The University of Chicago!

Which is an interesting response.

Point 1

Why do I reject IQ as a metric for intelligence? I don’t exactly – I think it is flawed but then given that we still have a lot to learn about how intelligence works (or even what it is), it is hardly surprising that it is flawed. As a tool for spotting issues in ACADEMIC performance it does a job that currently nothing else does. However, as tools go it is like a finely wrought flint hand axe from stone age Europe – it serves a role and marks a major step forward but we’d be foolish to think it was the pinnacle of achievement.

But specifically as a METRIC – ah, well then we can start looking at ways in which it can be improved for the future. Now I’m guessing the range of replies you’ve had on IQ before are fairly standard critiques from the left (which doesn’t invalidate them – IQ has these commonly discussed flaws but hearing the same thing can get boring). However IQ has other issues and in terms of ones that apply more directly to your (as in Vox’s if he is reading it – not ‘you’ the generic reader 🙂 ) then I think one of the most interesting critiques is that of psychometrician Denny Borsboom’s 2006 paper “Attack of the Psychometricians” (great title). You can access it in full here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2779444/pdf/11336_2006_Article_1447.pdf which doesn’t address IQ directly but will give you a good idea of the direction he is coming from.

Borsboom looks at IQ from the perspective of mathematics and from a perspective of actually attempting to measure cognitive abilities. For a direct critique read this http://www.mdpi.com/2079-3200/2/1/12/htm “Intelligence Is What the Intelligence Test Measures. Seriously” (but read the top paper first)

Point 2

If you are referring to Howard Gardner’s work then I don’t find it convincing. However, is intelligence likely to be an aggregate of different cognitive abilities? Sure, indeed we know from studies on more limited areas of cognitive ability such as arithmetic that our brains do have semi-independent capacities for some things. Intelligence then can be rather like how Flynn has described it – as a sort of general cognitive fitness like athletic fitness. Different subskills averaging out. However, I doubt they fit into neat categories such as Gardner’s. Nor does that directly invalidate IQ. What it does mean is that extremes different components may play out differently.

Point 3

I’ve never taken the SAT.

Point 4

I just wrote a post pointing out why bragging about a high IQ score suggests a lack of understanding about IQ, so clearly I’m NOT going to brag about a high IQ score and somebody with a moderate IQ score should be able to anticipate that.

Point 5

I’m obviously missing a reference here. Are you saying that is the degree you have or the degree somebody else has or what? Either way it seems to irrelevant.

I’m not sure if there is much worth commenting more. Vox apparently has an IQ score of 151 at some point – and I’m happy for him – but the points I raised still stand. He has good reason to be skeptical of that score beyond it being greater than 130ish AND he really can’t evaluate somebody elses score on the basis of that person not agreeing with a half-baked analysis of a battle on a TV with mythological creatures in it. Mind you, I think that last point was always kind of obvious.


15 responses to “Vox Day asks me some questions about his IQ”

  1. The “Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy of Language from the University of Chicago” is Scalzi. I’m not sure what point VD is making there – presumably I’m handicapped from understanding him by my Standard Deviations. I mean, it can’t just be that VD is obsessed by Scalzi, can it?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Presumably Mr Day is suggesting that Camestros is John Scalzi. I mean, they are both SJW’s (i.e. people of vaguely progressive views), they are both interested in science fiction, they both write about cats, er…. well, that proves it, clearly!


    • I guess part of it is that IQ essentialism is a core part of his ideology but even factoring that in he is almost shouting an insecurity about his intellectual gifts.

      Approx two-standard deviations smarter than Richard Feynman, if he is to be believed. He is oddly desperate to convince us all he is massive underachiever in comparison.

      Meanwhile the guy just sent a heap load of traffic this way, which is kind of nice of him on reflection.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t believe Vox has a high IQ score. I don’t believe anything Vox says.

        About IQ, If you read Malcom Gladwell’s, “Outliers” Chapter 3 deals with IQ. Turns out that IQ isn’t predictive of achievement past about 120. Part of that seems to be that IQ is not link to creativity. Yes there is more than one kind of intelligence.

        We would be better off making sure that we maximize education for the people we have rather than worrying about this particular measure. Good enough … is good enough.

        A summary of Chapter 3:


        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve seen far too many people with very high IQ scores acting like imbeciles to place much faith in it. Intelligence has yet to be understood for what it actually -is-, much less measured. Look at all the morons touting machine learning as actual artificial intelligence. They don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

    The IQ testing itself is hilarious, the score can vary as much as ten points from morning to night, or if the person was short on sleep, etc. Such accuracy!

    My personal favorite is when people start talking about “national IQ scores,” as if such a thing were an actual measurement.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Point 4 : I just wrote a post pointing out why bragging about a high IQ score suggests a lack of understanding about IQ, so clearly I’m NOT going to brag about a high IQ score and somebody with a moderate IQ score should be able to anticipate that.

    Which is why I don’t bother bragging about my measured score. It was notably higher than little Teddy Beale’s claimed score when I was tested as a kid, blurted out by my mother once in a fit of exasperation. It wasn’t until a lot longer that I worked out for myself that an unbalanced talent for pattern matching may be great for computer programming, sudoku or taking IQ tests, but doesn’t make you particularly smart. I’ve run into others – notably in the programming profession – who came to the same realization about themselves.

    BTW, Beale never seems to explain how his racialist theories about IQ actually deal with some cold hard facts that contradict his narrative –



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