Here we go again with the gas prices. The worldwide price of oil per barrel is coming down. So for that to be manipulated by the oil companies, there would have to be thousands of people at hundreds of companies in on the plan. Including, for example, Ahamdinejad, Hugo Chavez, the Saudis, Gazprom... yeah, they all want a Republican majority really badly.
I can’t think of a better way to shout “Hey! I have no clue how the economy works! It’s all a mystery so I just make simple guesses that I can understand!”
In related news, my uncle sent me an IQ hoax that’s been circulating. He apparently thought it was legit, and he should know better. He’s a Mensa member out in NoCal, and should have some intuitive sense of what the numbers mean, even if he doesn’t pursue psychometrics with any vigor. He sent me the supposed study by the Lowenstein Institute of Scranton, PA that estimates the IQ’s of presidents since 1973.
Without even knowing whether the Lowenstein Institute is biased, or sloppy, or even exists, this is the sort of hoax that people shouldn’t be falling for. The supposed IQ’s of our recent presidents were 182, 176, 174, 155, 147, 132, 126, 122, 121, 105, 98, and 91. I won’t tell you what numbers are assigned to whom, even for fun. Because it doesn’t matter; those numbers are a dead giveaway, another one of those signs people wear that say “I have no idea what a standard deviation is! I have no clue how IQ is measured or what it means!”
There was a similar urban legend that came out after the last election that supposedly showed the average IQ’s of the various states – the objective being to point out what idiots the Red States are, of course. I think Conneticut was at the tope with 115, Utah at the bottom with 85. This is just nuts. 15 points is a full standard deviation, and whole states are not an SD above or below the national average (and Mormon-heavy Utah isn’t likely to be the lowest in any event). You might, if you worked very hard, be able to find a small town dominated by a presitigious college where the average IQ is one SD above average. You will not find an entire county, let alone a state, that far above (or below) average.
I will use a related post to discuss how meaningful a bell curve is in discussing intelligence, and the difficulties of measurement, but for openers you need to bear this in mind. Any claim of an IQ over 140 should be viewed with suspicion, not because such people don’t exist, but because what it means is uncertain. 1 in a hundred people have an IQ of 141 or better, so all of us know a few. If you work in certain specialized fields, you might know many people above the 141 level. But the one-in-a-million level kicks in at around 176, so there’s only 300 of those in the country (theoretically). And remember, of that 300, about a third of them haven’t finished school yet. So 182 is just ludicrous, especially when you throw a 176 and 174 in next to it.
As with the belief that people are manipulating the price of oil, the belief in these statistical enormities about IQ says much more about the intelligence – and the insecurity – of the person who believes it.
You can make intentionally selected small groups that have high average IQ's. This is one. I have only about 30 hits a day, and I know a few people at the site have stratospheric IQ's. I doubt many here are below 120. So this group might average over 132 (2SD, 98th percentile). Gee, I wish we did more than fool around here.