Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Do you have a double-digit IQ?

Linda Gottfredson's single-shot, casual conversational question for assessing if a person has a 3-digit IQ:
How much do you like classical music?
The assumption is that a 3-digit IQ is a prerequisite to enjoying classical, though it need not be sufficient for liking it. Not caring for it does not necessarily indicate a double-digit IQ.

Going in the other direction, I offer this corollary for detecting double-digit IQs:
Do you enjoy scratch-off lottery tickets?
The presumption is, similarly, that only a person with a double-digit IQ will enjoy betting for such low stakes paired with such unfavorable odds. This haughty 3-digiter finds it about as attractive a proposition as playing a game of Candy Land in which everyone else draws two cards per turn while I only get to draw one. Give me chess, please, or at least Monopoly.

That's not to say Homer Simpson represents the entire left half of the bell curve, however. Not all people of modest intelligence are going to find scratch-offs fun:

Unfortunately the GSS doesn't query respondents about their attitudes about playing games of chance. Back in the mid-nineties, though, it did ask respondents to express their (dis)agreement with the statement: "The really good things that happen to me are mostly luck". The following table shows the percentages of respondents, by intelligence*, who either "disagreed" or "strongly disagreed":

IQ category%NoLuck
Really smarts87.3
Pretty smarts87.2
Pretty dumbs72.9
Real dumbs62.4

One might object that those of modest intelligence are indeed assessing things accurately when they report that, relative to their more intelligent neighbors, luck is more often a an explanation for fortune smiling upon them than their own deliberate efforts are.

Perhaps. To the extent this is the case, allow me to offer some friendly advice to scratch-off players: Switch to big game drawings like Powerball or Mega Millions. Yes, the odds are that over the long run you'll come out in the red, but unlike regular purchases of scratch-off tickets, the law of large numbers doesn't quite guarantee it. And if by heaven's graces you turn out to be as lucky as a goof-off, you'll really be able to ride high on the hog for awhile (for awhile, anyway)!

GSS variables used: MOSTLUCK, WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), BORN(1)

* Respondents are broken up into five categories that roughly form a normal distribution; Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Real Dumbs (0-3, 12%)


Jokah Macpherson said...

Ironically, from a given person's perspective, how smart they are is pretty much entirely luck.

Socially Extinct said...

I prefer to stick with the musical yardstick.

"How much do you enjoy rap music?"

staffanspersonalityblog said...

It's common for various types of establishments to ward off street people with classical music. Even a McDonalds, a type of restaurant that probably doesn't have very smart customers in the first place. I don't know if there's been any research on it but most of them claim it's working.

Audacious Epigone said...

Socially Extinct,

Quite reasonable.

Bryan Pesta said...

The question seems to measure locus of control more than willingness to play the lotto.

Anonymous said...

Do you enjoy scratch-off lottery tickets?

It seems like an optimum question for finding the mediocre.

Smart enough that they know the odds are slim, not smart enough that the money's nothing to them and they don't care (as it was with one highly educated, rich girl I knew).

Audacious Epigone said...


Yes, probably so, but I suspect there is a correlation between the two.

Sam said...

A neighbor of mine buys scratch tickets by withdrawing cash on his EBT card, he doesn't work and walks and fishes every day. I, on the other hand, work two jobs to support his lifestyle. I enjoy classical music but feel like I might be the stupid one in this case.

Gottlieb said...

EastI like classical music and I like to invent new classical music through whistles, you do not need to know how to play any instrument, if we already have a natural organic unit, suitable for the production of complex sounds.
However, I also like music of almost every style depends on my mood. When I'm really busy I like obviously put a cheerful and fun music. When I'm depressed I almost like listening to bands seattleish 90s and post-rock like Mogwai and Sigur Ros.
I think by also enjoy some less demanding cognitive songs like Linkin Park, REM, among other pop types, may be caused by my lack in math. I think a large disparity in scores of components of intelligence can make you more culturally eclectic, so the results iq reverberate out, the functioning of your brain inside.