Apologies to all for not posting anything for a while. I have made the decision to relaunch my blog under my own name, at a new address:


This was largely because I have lost contact with most of the old brain stimulation, self-development, and memory training communities who knew me under the handle 7Sigma or SevenSigma. Most people who follow me online nowadays know me by my real name, rather than a forum handle, and I also wanted to take the blog in a more scientific direction.

I will leave the blog up, and its associated website sevensigma.info, and may post the occasional article if I feel that it belongs to the theme of this blog better.

May I wish everyone a Happy Christmas.

The following is the text of an email I sent to the Admissions Officers at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

Dear Sir/Madam

I was passed this email address by [name], with whom I am given to understand you may have had extensive previous correspondence with regard to liaison with schools.

I write in my capacity as Secretary of Phoenix, a special interest group within British Mensa, whose purpose is to support people who were discouraged and held back as children for being bright, and to discuss ideas for getting educationally and professionally back on track in life.

In the four years I have run the SIG, I have encountered member after member who did not discover their intellectual abilities until later in life. While it is not my intention to discuss here the many reasons those talents may have been missed or disregarded by teachers and others, I believe it is a travesty that so many people with Oxbridge potential never even made it to higher education.

My own story is very similar.  After I had been tested as an adult and joined Mensa, my mother finally confessed that, in fact, I had been tested as a six year old and scored on the 15 year old level! I was a voracious reader, an independent learner from a young age, and had the ability to seemingly teach myself anything. Unfortunately, my abilities were not nurtured at school and I ended up not being permitted to sit my O Levels.

I am therefore wondering whether any IQ tests or standardised tests are acceptable in lieu of school qualifications for older applicants, or whether you have any advice or other comments that may be of interest to members of the SIG?

Yours faithfully


The (late) reply I received from Oxford did not address any of the specific points I raised, but merely referred me to the admissions criteria listed on their website.

I am yet to receive the courtesy of a reply from Cambridge Admissions.

I cannot honestly say that I am surprised. I believe I have sufficient evidence and personal experiences to explain my firmly entrenched cynicism about the “education” system on this planet. This only reinforces the sorry picture that should have become clear to anyone following the gifted education blogs – that there is no interest in providing for people with the most capacity to make a difference, and that even elite universities are insufficiently interested in the most extreme outliers to answer a few simple questions about the issues those people face.

In an earlier post entitled “A blow by blow account of how my formal schooling got nuked“, and the follow-up post called “How I got fixed as a student“, I described how my early precociousness was identified but completely squashed at school, and how subsequently I found an organization with a completely different take on training and education that were able (at least up to a point) to take my abilities at face value, rather than award or withhold learning opportunities based on arbitrary “prerequisites”.

My opportunities to pursue formal education or enter a professional career may have been limited, to say the least, but I was a busy person who did a lot and learned a lot regardless. I have already mentioned elsewhere how I self-educated with great enthusiasm using the public library as a resource. I played in a band and won local and national music prizes. I taught myself to play several instruments and wrote several albums’ worth of songs. I went to evening classes, at various times, in art, yoga, martial arts, and even a series of lectures on parapsychology. I entered myself for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, straight in at gold award level, during which I was lucky enough to take part in an exchange trip to Trinidad & Tobago. I volunteered as a youth leader and obtained a guider’s warrant. I wrote novels and short stories and started to work on a philosophical thesis. I got into political campaigning. People I met who took the time to get past my very quiet external facade, almost to a person, expressed astonishment when they found out I had dropped out of school as a 16 year old and did office dogsbody jobs. My outside life “CV” showed a very different person to what my official CV showed I could do, even then. But the yawning chasm was going to get a whole lot wider.

When I was 21, someone suggested that I make enquiries of the Open University. For those who are not familiar with this establishment, it is a distance learning university in the UK that caters for mature students who do not have the usual university entry requirements. Now, I wasn’t sure what subject would be the best choice, but thought that perhaps something IT or business related might put paid to the constant school record pigeonholing. I recall that phone call to this day; even the name of the advisor has stuck in my memory, and since the gentleman sounded quite elderly back then, I will show enough respect not to name and shame the (probably) deceased. We chatted about the course curriculum, and then he asked me about my educational record. From that moment, the conversation rapidly went south. Instead of enrolling on the Access (A-Level equivalent) year, which was a part of the course, he told me that I should enquire around my own town to see if there was a pre-access level course that I should take first. I queried this, as the Open University is supposed to follow the philosophy that it’s the qualification you leave with that is important, not the ones you start with, and I had never heard of anyone else being given such advice. At this juncture, the advisor started suggesting that I ought to look into purchasing certain remedial educational workbooks designed to ready learners for a pre-access course. I thanked him politely for his time and put the phone down. Whichever way I looked at it, these people were expecting me to sit through years of dum dum classes before I even made it to first base. That had worked well at school (not).

So I poured myself into studying any self-development and brain-building techniques I could find with a vengeance, and when I read Hubbard’s Dianetics I was totally intrigued. I rapidly moved from new public to academy student,  to course room volunteer, to student debug specialist, to supervisor, to training director. By the time I left the organization, 13 years later, I was in fact about three training courses away from getting my full Professorship, since they have a whole parallel system of teaching/tutoring qualifications. I learned things I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be taught anywhere else. Where else would a school dropout be trained as a Professor from scratch? Or trained on advanced staff organization and management courses from nothing? I kept going back because the philosophy and the techniques went much further towards providing the intellectual stimulation I craved than anything else the world had deigned to send my way.

In my “moonlight” jobs in the outside world, I was still seen as just the office girl. That was just about liveable as long as I was an executive and senior course trainer in my voluntary gig, but when I ended up having no choice but to leave that organization, and only had the day jobs to keep me occupied, I didn’t just feel bored or restless or unhappy. I felt positively degraded. (Imagine if you were a senior lecturer somewhere, and you somehow fell into a parallel universe where none of your post-16 education was recognized, and your work history was discounted, and you had to fall back on that typist or telephonist experience from your student days just to survive.)

I don’t blame the organization. And I make no apology for my choices under the circumstances. But I suggest that if a talent-spotter had made themselves available and done the right thing, and the right training and the right sort of career had been offered at any stage, I might not have had a “need” for that organization for so long. Just a thought.

As best I could do with a hugely time-consuming desk jockey job in the legal world and, by this time, a partner who did not enjoy good health, after sorting out a few life logistics I continued investigating the world of self-development and cognitive enhancement from a more scientific perspective. The difference now was a new tool was available to me that hadn’t been available in my course room or the old-fashioned little companies where I’d moonlighted – the Internet. I spent my lunchtimes and tea breaks reading everything that was available.

One technology seemed particularly fascinating to me – that of light and sound stimulation. It worked on a purely physiological level, using flashing lights and repetitive tones to gently entrain the brain waves to desired frequencies via the frequency following response. There was an organization based in Switzerland that seemed to have a particularly interesting application of the technology to teach advanced reading skills (and I ended up training as an instructor – but that’s a whole other story). There was also an organization in Canada that sold these machines, and whose blog I started to follow. When I saw one day that the CEO/chief developer was coming to deliver a workshop in England, I signed up straight away.

Ironically, the workshop was to be delivered at the Open University’s headquarters in Milton Keynes, the very same institution whose advisor had effectively labelled me a remedial ed case all those years ago. This was especially amusing to me since I had fairly recently discovered that I was something of a cognitive outlier and had found my online home in “IQ Land”.

Towards the end of the workshop the Professor in charge of the Brain Lab at the Open University invited attendees to another workshop that he was also hosting that was to do with qEEG (quantitiative electroencephalography) and neurofeedback. No one had asked me about my background, so I signed up for that too.

It was only after I had been to a few of these applied neuroscience related workshops that I mentioned working for a law firm. The lecturers assumed I worked in criminal law and used the technology for some purpose in the criminal justice system. I said no, I’m a dogsbody in an intellectual property department. The room went abuzz. These workshops were for clinicians, researchers and postdocs. How had I been able to keep up, ask questions, and do the practical work if I was just an interloper?

Well, the professor asked me if this was a field that I wanted to get into, and I said yes. He asked me what subject my degree had been in (assuming perhaps it had been something law related). I said I had escaped school at 16 with a Pitman typing certificate and (luckily, if you could have seen my school) my life. So he started giving me advice as to where to go from there.

The first thing, he said, was I would need to complete an undergraduate degree, and to give the Open University another chance. “We will accept your application,” he said. I took that as a promise. I’d had so much resistance from tutors I’d spoken to on and off over the years, who seemed to think that my unfortunate school experiences counted for everything, whereas my life experiences and unusual cognitive profile should count for absolutely zip. When I stood in the 2001 general election, I was contacted by several university libraries who said they collected election material from all the parties in every constituency at election time. My election leaflets were worth having, but I as a person was not. I sent them the material, but with a cover letter stating as much. In fairness, I did receive a very supportive letter from the librarian at, I think it was Bristol, who said that he had managed to get accepted as a mature student. However, his encouragement was undone by the extreme rudeness of a tutor at one of the London universities that I spoke to, who basically said that I didn’t have a good enough brain. (I’ve seen my qEEG recording, several in fact, and I’m still looking for what could possibly be so wrong that made me an educational pariah. LOL.)

So I went to the Open University’s Camden Town campus and spoke to an advisor there. I told him about the workshops I’d been to, and the research (at least, some of the most basic, preliminary stuff) I was interested in doing. Well, he said, you wouldn’t get into that until Master’s level at the very least. I didn’t even know what subject area it belonged to. The advisor suggested I do a psychology degree. I applied, ignoring the Access modules and going straight for Year 1. To my surprise, I was accepted with no questions asked, and the government loans company approved my application, again with no questions asked. (The cynic in me tells me that now students have to pay £9,000 a year tuition, the university probably wants all the paying customers they can get.)

At another workshop, I told my professor guy that I didn’t really see the relevance of the course I was doing. The curriculum had a great emphasis on the social sciences, whereas what I was into was EEG, brain imaging, brain stimulation, and peak performance. So when he emailed me with a heads up that there was a cognitive neuroscience degree available at one of the London universities, and that another one of his mentees had landed a place there, I knew what I had to do. The course leader was really nice and said I could use my OU credits instead of A-Levels, although I would have to start again from Year 1 as it was a different curriculum. I was too cynical about admissions tutors by this point to think that I would actually get a place, but I applied anyway.

I am now about to go back for my second year, having completed the first year as a straight A student in every class. I think the course leader knows I am considerably ahead of the typical undergrad in many areas, and even have some fairly specialized knowledge, but considering the astonishing amount of resistance I have had to even getting a foot in the door, I’m not going to make waves at this point.

The title of this post, by the way, is entirely tongue-in-cheek. If you are seriously looking to get to university, at any age, I do not recommend the peripatetic and circuitous route I took.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a tES (transcranial electrostimulation – a term covering both AC and DC stimulation) and TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) workshop at University College London’s neurology department, hosted by Rogue Resolutions. This short video includes a clip of me delivering TMS to a fellow workshop attendee.

It was great to get some actual hands-on experience with these technologies. Although the workshop was primarily aimed at post-doctorates and PhDs, no one bothered to check my credentials, and of course once I was there and had a chance to speak to everyone it was obvious that I was rather more clued in than your typical person off the street.

Medical tES boxes are large and heavy, and nothing like the consumer stimulation devices you can buy online or manufacture out of parts from RS. The doctor in the video demonstrating how to set up the tES machine says she is the only NHS medical professional in the UK who uses tDCS to treat depression.

The trickiest thing with the TMS is getting the coil lined up at both the right location and angle. A camera mounted on a tall frame locates where the coil is in space by spotting the assembly with the three white globes mounted on top of the coil, and transmits this information to a computer so you can see on the screen where to position the coil. The system they are using to do this is called Brainsight.

In this demonstration, the volunteer has electromyograph (activity from the muscles) electrodes on her right hand. The TMS is stimulating the part of the motor strip that activates the relevant part of the hand. Once I had found the exact right location with the TMS coil, you could see the increase in EMG activity. The TMS machine was set up to deliver one magnetic burst per second automatically; I didn’t have to press anything. One burst of magnetic stimulation activates the cortical neurons to fire. This differs from those somewhat dramatic looking demonstrations you might have seen where a train of stimulation is delivered that, for example, interrupts the volunteer’s speech. That is a different use of the technology that creates “virtual lesions”.

One intriguing thing for me as a person interested in EEG research was the demonstration of the use of first tACS and then tDCS on one of the staff while taking an EEG recording at the same time. I had previously been advised that such a thing was impossible, since EEG picks up the miniscule changes in electrical activity from the brain through the skull, and adding an external source of electrical stimulation would naturally introduce a lot of “artefact” (noise in the signal) or render the recording unreadable. Apparently, electronics technology is now so advanced that there are EEG systems that are designed to be used during electrical stimulation of the brain. Naturally, these systems cost a LOT of money!

It was great to actually meet people who are doing research in the field, and to listen to lectures discussing the most up-to-date brain stimulation research.


I haven’t had much time to write any new blog articles lately, but I’ve checked in today and given the blog a few minor updates: I’ve tweaked the main title and tagline, and made a few edits to the “About” and “My Activities” pages.

I have also added a page detailing my proposed Crowdfunding campaign to purchase a professional 19-channel research grade EEG machine. Not having the right professional equipment to produce acceptable journal format papers is a key stumbling block as matters stand to getting my research work noticed.

If you are in a position to consider supporting this project, or helping spread the word if not, the GoFundMe account I have set up can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/2jnfjyjs

In my experience in life I have found that in terms of intellectual capacity and general awareness, people tend to fall very loosely into three broad strata. Of course, there are always exceptions, and obviously there will be fine gradations within each level.

The largest category consists of those of average to below average intelligence. These folks often do not aspire to intellectual or academic activities and tend to be more interested in other, more personal priorities in life, such as family or leisure. If things are going wrong, it is the government’s or the authorities’ fault, and why don’t “they” do something?

Next up are the so-called professional classes. This group are by far the most self-righteous and like to set the agenda for everyone else. They do not like their world view criticized, because “that’s just the way human societies operate”. In particular, they cannot conceive that there are some people who do not fit the mould of going to college, getting a degree and training for a profession. Actually, they remind me of the people science fiction writer Isaac Asimov wrote about in his novella “Profession“, where nobody can learn anything on their own without the information being programmed in. The idea that someone can learn on their own, or think on their own, is so anathema to them that any suggestion that an autodidact can be every bit as capable and professional as they are with all their gold-framed certificates, will either bounce straight off the periphery of their consciousness or, if pressed, will tend to sanctimoniously lecture you on what I have found is a particular defining attitude of this group – that it is “up to the individual to make out”. If things are wrong, YOU are the problem and why don’t YOU do something? It often escapes them that not everyone is privileged enough in life to be able to choose carte blanche where to work and what to achieve.

The last, and by far the smallest, stratum consists of the ones who are aware enough to be able to see both sides, and who appreciate that things are never as cut and dried as members of the previous category would like us all to believe. Members of this group are rarely short of ideas and suggestions in the direction of generating solutions, but appreciate that battles were never won without boots on the ground and plenty of supplies. They also understand that in order to procure those people and resources, first the public must be made aware that there is a situation to be rectified in the first place. This inevitably triggers knee-jerk reactions from members of the previous group, who will seize the opportunity to tell you to quit whining, even when you weren’t.

The thing for those of us who are actually trying to get something done for the free thinkers, autodidacts, polymaths and geniuses of this world is not to be intimidated by self-righteous lectures. Until the transition has been fully made into the Information Age and the new knowledge class will be more appreciated for their rarer qualities of mind, we will have to be patient with them. We must be tolerant about the fact that, for the moment, a certain amount resistance, criticism and disbelief will be par for the course.

In the meanwhile, I for one will simply keep putting the arguments out there.

Let’s see, where to begin? There are a lot of things that I could ask them, and I’m sure the answer(s) to any one of these questions would be enormously enlightening, perhaps not in terms of helping my situation now, but definitely in terms of gaining an insight into the attitudes, beliefs, or training (or lack of it) that led to such a car crash in my formal education.

For starters, it would be interesting to ask my Infant’s school teachers why, since my tested reading and general aptitude scores would have been placed on my school record, they thought it would be a great idea to keep me in a class with age peers who were only just learning to read. How did they think that I was going to learn anything in such a classroom?

Who made this choice – was it the class teacher, the headmistress, the school governors, the educational psychologist or someone at the local education authority who decided that I should be kept with my age group when I was clearly already reading like an adult? Why my parents not involved or consulted, and why was no copy of the test report(s) provided to them?

If I had been referred for testing in the first place because I was being bullied or mobbed and socially excluded, why was nothing done about that? And if the reason for my lack of social fit was the fact that I was academically about a zillion light years away from what other 5 and 6 year olds were capable of, then who thought it would be a good idea for me to be kept in an environment where those kids could just keep on dishing it and dishing it and never be held accountable for their actions?

It would be interesting to ask them why I had been sent for a second round of testing about three years after the first battery. If I had been tested at around 6 years of age and been exposed as an extreme outlier, to put it mildly, then whose decision was it to have me tested again as a 9 year old, and what observations were the basis for this referral? Was it again concerns over bullying and isolation, and if so, why still had nothing been done about this? Or was it because of concerns that I was coasting along and not achieving in class, and if that was the case, why still were no effective interventions being taken?

Again, I could ask why no copy of the report had been supplied to my parents, why no educational interventions were instituted, and why no one apparently had the expertise to understand the statistical rarity of a kid that just blew the ceiling off every test, and what the implications of this were. Why did no one connect the dots and see that none of my needs were being met, either educationally or socially? Why was the only intervention that was ever made a scolding for not making an effort? Who thought that in the circumstances this was appropriate, and why?

I could ask why teachers at my secondary school thought it would be appropriate, instead of seeking to find out what was going on, to simply repeatedly move me down a set, apparently in reprisal for lack of connection and engagement with the lessons, for various subjects. Why did it not occur to anyone that someone with the ability to do no work the whole term to somehow know the material anyway was unlikely to be “move down a set” material? Whose decision was this, and what was the exact rationale behind it? How was this supposed to make me feel motivated, especially when the cycle of underachievement and working well below my capacity was by this stage already well entrenched? Did it ever occur to anyone at the school that there might have been better ways to handle the situation?

I could ask them why they thought it was acceptable to let me believe that we were in mixed ability sets for our GCE subjects, and that classes wouldn’t be sorted into who would be taking ‘O’ Level and who would be taking CSE (or no exam at all) until much nearer the time, when in fact we had already been earmarked for one or the other right at the beginning of the syllabus. Why do this only to drop a bombshell up to 6 weeks before exam time that I had been following the “wrong” syllabus, when it was too late for my parents to get involved and complain?

Whose decision was it to enter me into so few exams that my post-16 educational choices were strictly limited, and going to university at the “usual” age now an impossibility?

I’m sure the answers to any or all of these, if it were possible to put them to the people concerned, would reveal a whole raft of ignorance, whacky political beliefs and petty prejudices.

However, for me, the $64,000 dollar question would be what did these teachers and their cronies imagine that I was going to do afterwards? What was I supposed to do upon leaving school with so little to show for 12 years of captivity?

Did they imagine that, if I struggled to fit in with age peers in a regular classroom, that I would simply easily get an ordinary job as a secretary, waitress or sales assistant and live happily ever afterwards? Did they class getting a job – any job – as a success?

What I needed then, as I do now, is for my extraordinary nature to be valued and abilities appropriately utilized, not thrust into situations where at best I wouldn’t have a chance to shine and at worst sink into oblivion.

Instead of having a helping hand when I was too young to make those choices, I have been fought every inch of the way. I have had to defend myself, advocate for myself, promote myself, and waste precious time trying to get a foot in the door somewhere, when that shouldn’t have needed to be my business to do that – I should have been getting on with what I do best.

What rankles the most isn’t that others have had an easier time getting ahead and been given opportunities in life that I’ve never heard of, but that possibly the defining characteristic of people who have been given these opportunities is that when I say anything about what has happened and start asking pointed questions, they can’t understand what the problem is.

What is entitlement?

Just as the “P.C.” lobby use the word “bigot” to shut down topics about which they would rather not have any proper discussion or debate taking place, there is another piece of namecalling I have increasingly noticed being used, but this time to shut down ambition. That is the word “entitled”.

The student who wants to improve himself and get a better job; the entry level employee who wishes to move up the company; the artist, musician or writer who wants their work to get noticed; or the self-taught individual who just wants to find their place in the world – these people are not “entitled” simply because they point out (sometimes admittedly a little too stridently) the flaws in the system and, often, the ridiculous hurdles that are placed in their way.

But if you think these people are being “entitled”, wow, you are totally looking in the wrong place and need place the barrier way higher with regard to whom you consider entitled. Or else you really do cling to the view that people should know their station in life.

“Entitled” is the bank boss who claims a large bonus for himself, despite the bank being bailed out by the taxpayer.

“Entitled” is the failed politician who thinks he will automatically get a seat in the Lords or, who knows, perhaps even a plum position as an EU commissioner.

“Entitled” is the cynical “health tourist” or “benefits tourist” who spins a yarn about why they have to come to our country, while knowing exactly what they are doing and how to play the system. Next thing, they, their spouse, 8 kids and extended family are living in houses you could never afford, 100% gratis and 100% at your expense, courtesy of your taxes.

“Entitled” is the controlling and abusive partner who thinks it is his God-given right to micro-manage every aspect of his spouse’s life and respond with abuse and even tighter control whenever she tries to do anything for herself, make any independent decision or even just visit friends and family. He thinks everything should be about his needs.

“Entitled” are the heads of corporations who expect employees, who are just trying to survive, to work for a pittance on long, unsocial or unpredictable hours, yet demand a “passion” for the job. The real truth: “Why do you want to work here?” “Because I haven’t yet invented self-paying bills.” Well, maybe typing letters, answering phones or serving lunches is genuinely what floats some people’s boat, but that’s not the reality for most working people. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop some spoilt HR manager writing something daft in a job specification like, “I’m looking for a person who WANTS rather than NEEDS this job…” The very fact that he thinks everyone has a choice about whether or not to take any job available reveals a truly spoilt attitude.

Obviously, there are differing levels of entitlement, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and I haven’t graded the above examples from bad to worst or put them in any specific order.

But picking on people who just want to get ahead and who express their disappointment at the obstructions that have been placed in their way isn’t fair. And for those who say life’s not fair, suck it up – that is just part of the same attitude of shutting down objections to this broken world.

Here is the article I saw recently.

What I find most interesting about this story is the change in parental attitudes it reflects.

When I was 8 years old, back in the 1970s, if someone our generation had come up with some big idea, I can imagine the response it would have generated from the adults around us: “Those people are far too busy and important to be bothered with letters from every 8 year old child! If you want to do something helpful, you can do the dishes.”

Or perhaps, subconsciously anticipating such a response, it would not have even occurred to any of us to suggest writing a letter. I truly believe that if I had voiced such a proposal, I would have been roundly ignored, or told what an imagination I had. At best, I think I would have received a smile and a pat on the head.

Kids can be veritable founds of creative ideas, and some of them are rather good. However, it is one thing to come up with an idea, but to actually think of writing a letter, to find out to whom it should be addressed and the postal address to which to send it (a task admittedly made much easier these days by the Internet) is usually beyond the patience and attention span of a small child, unless they are receiving help from an adult. The fact that this story was then supplied to the Press seems to suggest that the boy was receiving adult help in publicising the letter and the researchers’ response.

In my day (doesn’t that phrase make me sound old? LOL) children didn’t write letters to someone they didn’t know, unless it was “fan mail”, and then it would be a simple letter of appreciation, and the most you were taught to expect in return was a signed photograph. Even a keen young astronomer like I was would have been met with stern disapproval if I had bothered the local university with every new idea I had about space. Favourite pop stars, authors and TV presenters were fair game, but you didn’t bother authority figures whom your parents told you were “busy and important” and that your ideas were probably silly anyway. How attitudes change.

Update 29 Dec 2014

Michael has now published an updated and expanded article, which explores this theme further. Highly recommended.

Despite the author of this article describing it as “archaeological” when I asked him about it a few months ago, I have continued to find it a valuable resource to quote from and link to when making particular points about IQ and success. Today I was disappointed to find that the page had finally disappeared when I was trying to link to it elsewhere, and I have had to use the web archive to locate the article. I have saved a copy on my computer for my own reference, but I feel that this article is just too good a resource to have it simply disappear from the Internet. I have therefore reposted it here to save it for posterity.

The web archive link I found is here.

The Information Age Knowledge Class

by Michael Ferguson

IQ correlates well with the likelihood of entering and remaining in an intellectually elite profession with the probability increasing to a 133 IQ.  However, beyond that level, the probability begins to decrease.  By 140 IQ it has fallen by 1/3. By 150 IQ it has fallen by 97%!  This means that over a quarter million English speakers are being excluded from participating in those professions that could most use their intelligence.  Their exclusion appears to be directly related to inappropriate educational and productive environments.  Furthermore, we conclude that this is an Industrial Age phenomenon.  Consequently, as the global Information Age civilization emerges, we assert that a profoundly affluent and polymathic Knowledge Class, comprised primarily of the previously excluded high IQ population will will concurrently emerge.  Polymathica, through its Polymathica Institute’s Fellowship, intends to play a critical, facilitating role in that process.

A Necessary Digression into Success and IQ

When the use of IQ tests first became widespread, many groups within the intellectual elites allowed themselves to be tested.  The results were less spectacular than one might have expected and today these groups do not generally agree to testing.  Medical students had a mean IQ of 125.5 and a standard deviation of 6.5. (The Journal of Medical Education,1965, 40, 1130-1143)  The science faculty of Cambridge University had a mean IQ of 126.5 and a standard deviation of 6.3. (Nature, 1967, 213, 442)  Top executives had an average IQ of 124 and a standard deviation of 7.9. (Personnel Psychology, 1956, 9, 207-209)  More recent evidence suggests somewhat lower means for the various elites.  Robert Hauser found mean IQs for professors of 115 and for physicians of 121.  However, we believe that this is primarily a difference in the definitions of the groups selected, rather than a deterioration in IQs among intellectual elites.  We present it to demonstrate that while large groups of elites are no longer inclined to subject themselves to IQ tests, the mean IQs of these groups has certainly not gone up.  From this we draw the general conclusion that intellectual elites have a mean IQ of approximately 126 and a standard deviation of 6.7.

The first attempt to assign IQs to exceptional people was Catherine Cox’s 1926 review of 301 eminent people.  These estimates were most closely akin to a 16 point ratio IQ and must be restated for the purposes of modern comparisions. For example, Newton, rather than having an IQ of 190, on a modern 15 point deviation scale would be rated at 164.  In 1952, Anne Roe actually gave IQ tests to 62 of the most eminent American scientists  who were active at the time.  She found that the average IQ of the group was 152.  There are several methodological problems with this study, however. First, it was normed based upon the results from a group of PhD candidates in Education.  Since this group probably had a mean IQ of about 117 and a standard deviation around 12 (Science, 1961, Vol 133, Jan-Jun, 679-688), the group was inappropriate for norming the target group.  Secondly, while it is unclear whether the reported IQs were on a 15 or 16 point scale, necessarily, the distribution would be more similar to a ratio IQ than a modern deviation IQ.  Therefore, an IQ of around 144 to 146 would be more comparable to a modern test result.  A rather clever inferential analysis concludes that the mean IQ of Nobel Laureates is similar to the Roe group or about 144.

This all ‘hangs together’ statistically.  In other words, an IQ of 145 is at the 99.8%’ile of the elites from which these eminent members are selected.  This implies that IQ is an important component of success in entering and remaining in these elite professions and that the most eminent among them have higher IQs to a statistically significant degree. However, imbedded in these statistics is a surprise.  By dividing the distribution of the elites (126 SD 6.7) by the distribution of the general population (IQ 100 and SD 15) we can statistically infer the relative probability that a person of any given IQ will enter and remain in an intellectually elite profession.  Not suprisingly, the probability increases with higher IQ.  It does so up to an IQ of 133.  It then begins to fall, slowly at first but precipitously at higher IQ levels.  By an IQ of 140 it has fallen by 1/3.  By an IQ of 150 it has fallen by 97%!

There are an estimated 250,000 English speaking people with IQs over 150.  They are being nearly entirely excluded from intellectually elite professions.  There are undoubtedly many reasons for this peculiar inference.  Certainly one is the wholey inappropriate educational environments within which these people find themselves.  This is clearly chronicled in a comparative case study by Miraca U.M. Gross.  Additionally, the work of Keith Simonton on pursuasiveness, leadership success and IQ is also relevant.

When IQ was originally developed by Alfred Binet, it was a quotient of Mental Age over Chronological Age.  This is referred to as a ratio IQ and, in a sense, is an absolute scale.  In other words, if a child is precisely 8 years old and, when given the IQ test, scores identically to the average 12 year old, the child’s ratio IQ is 12/8 X 100 = 150.  When children are assessed this way, however, the result is a significant overabundance of very high IQ children.  Some, such as Marilyn vos Savant, have results that fall outside of the range of what is probable.  In adults a related problem occurs.  If a test is created and the results are tabulated for 1,000 norming individuals selected at random, a standard deviation of raw score can be calculated.  If we apply that standard deviation to a significantly larger population, say one million, we find that too many people are scoring too high based upon the statistics of the middle.  They both say the same thing,smart people appear to be too smart, not just to succeed in contemporary Industrial Age settings, but also in some absolute sense.

Psychologist Leta Hollingworth, made the observation that, “… generally speaking, a leadership pattern will not form–or it will break up–when a discrepancy of more than about 30 points of IQ comes to exist between leader and led” Children Above 180 IQ Stanford Binet: Origin and Development (1942 p. 287)  It is critical, however, to note that the Stanford Binet IQ test of that time rendered a 16 point ratio score.  This means that the IQ of 180 corresponds to a modern 15 point deviation IQ of 159.  When she indicates that there exists a critical difference of 30 points from her base IQ of 180, she is referring to a 150 16 point ratio IQ, which corresponds to a 140 modern score.  Consequently the critical difference, at this level, in modern terms is only 159-140 = 19 points.  If we take the modern IQ of the average imember of an ntellectual elite profession of 126, it translates to a 16 point ratio IQ of 130.  If we add 30 points to that we get 160, which translates back to a 15 point deviation IQ of 147.  This is an astonishing result.  What it means is that a person with an IQ of more than 147 literally cannot take a leadership position among today’s intellectual elites.  They will either detach from the leadership role or be expunged.

We also see from Simonton, that the most persuasive people within a population that has an average IQ of 126 will be 126+18=144.  Dennisen, interpreting Simonton, suggests that comprehension of this group will approach zero when the individual within the elite has an IQ of 156 or above.  In total what this suggests is that people of eminence within Industrial Age organizational structures, even in intellectually elite groups with mean IQs of 126, will generally have IQ’s between 144 to 147 and that there is a computed absolute limit at 156.

Most elites have mechanisms by which young members progress from the bottom up.  This is most clearly evidenced in the large, hierarchical enterprise structures of the Industrial Age.  The recent graduate will enter the organization at the professional level, proceed to first level management, next to middle management and, finally, to senior management. Many of the very high IQ participants will distinguish themselves at the professional level.  However, it is often perceived that the person lacks the ‘people skills’ to succeed in management positions.  This is how the organization interprets the overly high IQ.

While recognizing that some people do have difficulty with the interpersonal demands of management, most often in the high IQ group, this simply means that their IQ is above Simonton’s optimum 18 point differential and, often, above the Hollingworth 30 point maximum.  Even if the high IQ individual is given first level management responsibility, the result is likely to be less than satisfactory.  Often this leads to a process of demotion back to senior professional and almost universally results in a stalling of the career progression.  In other words, if one wants to find the smartest people in a company, one should look to well tenured senior professionals and first line managers.

According to Hauser, most professional groups have mean IQs centering around 108.  This suggests, per Simonton, that the optimum IQ for a first level manager is 126.  Translating to ratio IQs, applying Hollingworth’s 30 pont differential and translating back to deviatin IQ, we discover that the range of successful first line managers has a upper limit of 132. This corresponds closely to the maximum probability of entrance into an elite profession.  Since middle managers are selected from the population of successful first level manager’s, their IQs, from a practical standpoint, cannot exceed the 132 limit of the human resource pool from which they are selected.  The evidence, per the citation above, is that the IQ of top executives, at 124 does not exceed the average of first level managers.  Because the original population restricts the progression of intelligence with higher management levels, other selection criteria must be used.  This, in turn, leads to a generally poor correlation between IQ and career success.  In other words, it is a function of the organizational processes not of IQ, itself.

The Emerging Knowledge Class

We now understand that, over a broad range of educational and productive environments, the relationship between leader and follower and ranges of mutual understanding restrict the opportunities of exceptionally intelligent people.  These educational and productive environments, however, are Industrial Age institutions.  The Information Age is ushering in a completely different set of institutions.  Several aspects of the Information Age strongly suggest that the inverse correlation between measures of professional success and IQs above 133 will soon be ending.

First among these new environmental factors is the creation of significant, new social universes.  In our article, Polymathic Pundits, we conclude that Polymathica will be a global community of refinement and erudtion with characteristic IQs between 120 and 144.  Over time, its members will create enterprises that will provide the products and services for Polymathica.  This constitutes a radical new environment within which individuals in the problematical IQ range above 140 will have new opportunities for success.  Within Polymathica, the optimum leadership IQ (ratio vs deviation IQ differences are significant) is 144.  In hierarchical Polymathica organizations, the range of success for first level managers will be bounded on the top by the IQ of 152 which then becomes the functional limit for organizational leadership.  Howver, this means that over 93% of the people with IQs over 140 who currently have difficulty succeeding in traditional productive environments will have optimumal intelligence for success within Polymathica organizations.

However, the Information Age will be much more entrepreneurial and traditional career progressions will be far less normative.  Entrepreneurial organizations form from the top down.  In other words, very high IQ people, such as Bill Gates and Sergei Brin, form new organizations and then seek followers.  The very high IQ person starts at the top.  A visionary with an IQ of 160 will attract followers with IQs above 140 and a mean of approximately 149.  This process is creating new, hyper-intellectual and, potentially, polymathic productive work environments.  In our articles, we discuss new, Information Age polymathic knowledge professions that with characteristic IQs of its incumbents that are above 150.

As was the case with the Industrial Age, the Information Age will have organizations that are comprised of intellectual elites.  However, rather than averaging IQs of 126, the average IQ, as we see from above, is likely to be around 150. This suggests that the persons of eminence within these elites, rather than average IQs in the 144 to 146 range, will likely average 160 and be bounded on the top by 167.  Consequently, the usual institutions of enterprise in Polymathica will accommodate all but the .000397% of the population with deviation IQs of 168 or above.  This is a population of approximately 2,500 English speakers.  We expect that nearly all of them, over time, will find their way to Polymathica. They can and should be intentionally provided with exceptional educational and productive environments.


The preceding article is an extremely important aspect of Polymathica.  Simply put, its leadership will not be created from individuals already occupying positions of leadership within society.  Rather, Polymathica will allow  individualswho are currently experiencing difficulty in succeeding in Industrial Age educational and productive environments a new set of environments within which they likely will be more success prone.  Another important consideration is that high IQ does, in fact, correlate with superior solutions and decisions over its entire range.  The problem, as we have seen, is not with the quality of the decisions but rather with the ability of the organization to understand and appreciate their superior quality.  In other words, as the Polymathica organizations within which the high IQ and polymathic knowledge professions function begin to become established, they will simply outcompete the traditional organizations.  From the organizational triumph will come the triumph of the Polymath and the emergence of a polymathic Knowledge Class.

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