Scientists with low IQs

  1. Simfish

    Simfish 825
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    So we know that....

    Feynman's IQ was 126 (bio)
    Watson's IQ was 124 (bio)
    William Shockley's was 129, then 125 when tested a year later (his 2007 bio)
    Luis Alvarez's was below 135 (he failed to qualify for Terman study)

    But then I hear from some sources that Francis Crick's IQ was 115. Does anyone know where that figure came from? None of those sources referenced any of Crick's bios, and an entry on Wikipedia (the entry was on Stereotypes regarding Asian Americans, which mentioned Crick's IQ, that was weird :p) only referenced two articles that were not authoritative.

    Also - does anyone else know of low IQs by other scientists?
  2. jcsd
  3. 115 is still high
  4. ranger

    ranger 1,663
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    An IQ test score is meaningless. Does a scientists with a "low" IQ make him any less of a scientists? Certainly you won't agree that this is the case; especially with Shockley.
  5. BobG

    BobG 2,351
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    Average IQ is 100. They didn't have low IQs. They had high IQs. They just didn't have "genius" IQs.

    IQ matters, but a person just has to be smart enough. Beyond a minimum (which I'm sure varies by activity), effort and opportunity play a bigger part than difference in IQ.
  6. IQ doesnt picture everything about a human's cababilities...believe me..i'v seen people with very high IQ looks more dull like a cartoon character than normal human. IQ test is linear way of determining one's brain power.. There is no algorithm way to define one's IQ... so dont be suprise to see people with low IQ become world famous scientist...

    Formula to become worls famous scientist = Huge amout of hard work + small amout of luck ....can anyone give a scientific eq from this formula???
  7. G01

    G01 2,698
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    I don't give IQ tests merit. Your work ethic and attitude are much more important in the end.
  8. Many people disregard IQ tests out of hand without using any evidence whatsoever- just a gut feeling that it must be all meaningless and vapid.

    Anyway- the OP was asking for data regarding famous scientist's with lowish IQ's. Simfishy wasn't asking for our opinions on IQ testing in general.
  9. Math Is Hard

    Math Is Hard 4,635
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    The thing about IQ tests and scales is that they weren't developed to measure "brilliance". These were tools designed to identify mild to severe deficits in cognitive ability. In that regard, they are very useful, but to try to apply them to the upper range of scores is sort of meaningless.
  10. Moonbear

    Moonbear 11,955
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    As MIH pointed out (in the quote below), the meaning of IQ scores is important to the question being asked. If simfishy is considering an IQ of 115 to be low, then the question is flawed, because IQ is not good for making meaningful comparisons among people in the average to above average range. The tests were never designed to do that.

    Exactly. A "low" IQ score would be something below 70, which indicates some functional deficits in mental abilities. And, no, I would not expect there to be any scientists with that low of an IQ score, because someone with that low of an IQ score would be challenged just to get through secondary school. For that matter, you're not going to encounter bankers, social workers, historians, journalists, etc., with that low of an IQ either.
  11. The Q is not flawed in any way that I can see.

    1) An IQ <130 is surprisingly low for someone of the caliber of Feynman who would easily be in the top percentile by other measures of intelligence (e.g. math ability).

    2) If it's true that Nobel prize winners do indeed score no higher than the average PhD then that is interesting evidence for suggesting that IQ tests can't discriminate genius. (Maybe it's not- I'm not entirely certain.)

    In any case- most posters here are quite willing to offer their opinions without actually considering the data or looking at the evidence. Doesn't sound very scientific to me.

    3) I agree that IQ tests were initially developed in part to select problematic (i.e. low-scoring) children. That's neither here nor there. The tests have obviously moved on beyond their original intention and they are now commonly used to measure high IQ's (e.g. in Mensa applications).
  12. mathwonk

    mathwonk 9,956
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    i think really smart people like feynman may tend to score lower on IQ tests because they are so much smarter than the people who make up the tests. they say that galois too failed an entrance exam to university.

    even i myself scored less than an honors pass on a prelim at university of washington on a topic (advanced calculus) i had just taught the semester before, because the quetions were so trivial to me i anwered too briefly to suit the examiner, and i finished a 2 hour test in 30 minutes laughing on my way out.

    when tutoring my 12 year old kids for sats i had to constantly teach them not to be too imaginative, because the possibilities they were coming up with in multiple choice question were far too intelligent to be anticipated by the relative imbeciles who make up and score the tests.

    if you ask me to rank the intelligence of someone who is much smarter than I am, I cannot be expected to get it right. Unfortunately, while I think I do usually notice the person is indeed smarter than me, IQ tests do not even succeed in this, but report that they are less smart instead.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2007
  13. People are obsessed with IQ, but then as we all know it directly corresponds to intelligence to such a high degree they may as well be one and the same thing. In fact if you ever received a low score in your life say at age 8 you should just give up and resign yourself to perpetual duncehood. Perhaps you could wear a hat, letting everyone know your IQ is only say 105, so that people could point and laugh at you in the streets.

    To reiterate IQ is 100% about intelligence and nothing about education, social economic advantage, or anything else, and it does not encourage elitism or snobbery.

    Let's try the opposite tack this time, see if anyone will actually agree hehe. IQ is a load of old widdleplop and everyone knows it, the OP proves that to be a scientist you need more than IQ, you need perserverance, intangibles, not a bloody redundant test.::::::::::::)
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2007
  14. hypnagogue

    hypnagogue 2,195
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  15. hypnagogue

    hypnagogue 2,195
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    I don't know if I buy that. The idea is that you're so much smarter than the test maker that you wind up with the wrong answer? Sounds like you're outsmarting yourself, not the test maker.

    What I would buy is an argument that, although IQ seems to index intelligence in some manner of speaking, the word "intelligence" is not completely describable in terms of those skills that help one perform well on an IQ test. So you if you perform poorly on an IQ test, no, you're not smarter than the testmaker-- you're just not great at performing those kinds of tasks, period. But that doesn't imply that you are not great at other kinds of cognitive abilities that one might call intelligence either.
  16. ZapperZ

    ZapperZ 30,735
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    All I can say is that for all the surveys that the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics have ever conducted (and there have been A LOT), not once were there any question about the person's IQ.

    I would hazard a guess that the same can be said about other professional scientific organizations. Thus, the question in the OP cannot be answered with any reasonable and sufficient data.


    above-average intelligence: This characteristic is almost essential, but a scientist with only average intelligence can succeed by excelling in the other traits of scientists. Genius is not required. Among those with an IQ > 120, IQ shows little relation to either scientific innovation or productivity [Simonton, 1988]. Genius without the other needed qualities is insufficient for scientific success.

    Simonton, D. K., 1988, Scientific Genius, Cambridge Univ. Press: New York.

    (Not a very good source, but the best I could find using Google)
  18. Moonbear

    Moonbear 11,955
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    We've had a ton of past threads at this site regarding IQ, and have examined a good deal of the evidence, most of it highly flawed. There's a lot of circular reasoning employed of the following type:
    X group of people are smarter than Y group of people.
    X group of people has a higher IQ than Y group of people.
    Therefore, higher IQ is a good measure of distinguishing smartness between X and Y groups of people. did someone determine initially that X group of people is smarter than Y group of people? Oh, because in the past, X group was determined to have higher IQ than Y group.

    It's also flawed to think that Nobel winners are necessarily smarter than the "average" Ph.D. How would you assess that?

    While they certainly do have to be good scientists, often the discovery that wins them an award is accidental. The thing they are good at is recognizing the importance of it to follow it up, not so much that they were thinking way beyond the level of other scientists at the time.

    Common usage does not mean correct usage, and is as unscientific a claim as that you are accusing others of. That people use the tests for purposes beyond their original intention does not mean that they are validated for those purposes.

    How do you rank "smartness" independent of an IQ test? What criteria are used to validate such a test in the average to above-average range? All it really tests are measures that the test writer considers important for intelligence. Who is smarter? The person capable of doing complex math problems, or the person who is good at social networking who can find someone else to do those problems for them when they need it? Who is smarter? The architect who draws up a set of blueprints for a building, or the construction workers who have to read and interpret those blueprints and turn them into an actual building?

    There is a lot of observer bias in interpreting these numbers too. You see a famous scientist with a high IQ and say, "Oh, he's really smart, and has a high IQ, so high IQ must be consistent with smartness." But, all the people with high IQ who never became anything because they completely lacked motivation are ignored, as are those with lower IQs who are successful (because who is going to publicize that their IQ is 98). Those with high IQs AND big egos are the ones trying to promote that their high IQ has significance other than to say they are not mentally deficient.
  19. The top level scientists I have met are all very creative people. They are smart yes, but also very creative. IQ does not measure creativity. It may be that the top scientists are not any smarter then the rest of us, just a lot more creative.
  20. Yes creativity is key, and is not measurable by an IQ test, that's a given.

    AAMOI Feynman says he didn't score well because his language skills were poor at school, but I think we all agree that his language skills or at least his ability to convey meaning to science were far and away better than many scientists at an older age, thus you never stop improving your skills, but IQ becomes redundant a short time into adolescence? What does that say about the accuracy of the test? I mean it's anecdotal but lets face it so are IQ tests :smile:

    I would say without question IQ tests do not denote intelligence, just suggest your ability in education, beyond that it's up 2 you.

    Like those crafty Far Easters say it's not about intelligence as such but about effort, and persistence. I like that philosophy, you get nothing for sitting back and hoping the world will fall in your lap.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2007
  21. mathwonk

    mathwonk 9,956
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    hynagogue, have you ever taken a IQ test? they often have questions like: "which of the following does not belong?" or "which of the following is analogous to XXXX?",

    this discriminates against people who can imagine ways that all the given choices do belong, or more creative analogies than the average bear.

    and do you know who makes up these tests? do you think they are smarter than people like feynman?

    IQ tests are not like math tests with tasks and answers that are well defined, they are often subjective, with answers which are less clear the more imaginative you are.

    nowadays, with the work of people like paul torrance on creative intelligence, there are also other types of tests, with open ended questions which measure this better.

    my second son seemed to us and to his school teachers as not too swift in the IQ department, until he was tested by one of these modern tests. Then he scored the highest creativity score of anyone they had ever tested.

    try the following question out on yourself: "name as many words as you can in 30 seconds".

    At the age of 7 or 8, our son answered by counting rapidly: "one, two, three, four, ...."

    and when he got to 20 or so, he just stopped and laughed at the examiner. and began to answer with words ike "pig, dog, cat,.." Having outsmarted the question, he lost interest in scoring as many words as possible.

    compare that to an IQ question from my own high school test like:

    "which of the following words best completes the sentence: ........ it was cloudy, the sun was shining" {although, while, until, unless.}

    another question from paul torrance was "think of as many uses as you can for a junked car."

    the definition of IQ, is whatever the particularexaminer is measuring, usually conformity to the most common response (indeed the "correct" answer to the question on my high school test is whatever most people say it is), but torrance meaures inventiveness and originality. feynman would probably have scored 200 on torrances test.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2007
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