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Debunking I.Q. Test Claims Discussion


Author(s): Chris Cole, Richard May, Rick Rosner, & Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2022/03 (Issue #209)

Chris Cole is a longstanding member of the Mega Society. Richard May is a longstanding member of the Mega Society and Co-Editor of Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society. Rick Rosner is a longstanding member of the Mega Society and a former editor of Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society.

They discuss: I.Q.; fake I.Q. and real I.Q.; more reliable and valid I.Q. ranges; robust, legitimate tests; and the status of measuring I.Q. scores above 4-sigma.

Keywords: Chris Cole, debunking, I.Q., intelligence, Mega Society, Richard May, Rick Rosner.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Today, as this is a group discussion with three longstanding members of the Mega Society, the focus is Intelligence Quotient or I.Q., particularly debunking claims. What is I.Q. truly a measure of, at this point?

Chris Cole: I.Q. is an attempt to measure general intelligence, which is analogous to the power of a computer. There is an enormous literature on this subject. I’m going to take it as a given. It will be embarrassing if when we understand more about how the mind works it turns out to be a chimera.

Richard May:‘g’, the general factor of intelligence, i.e., cognitive ability.

Rick Rosner: IQ as measured by a high-end test is somewhat different from IQ as measured by a regular range usually group-administered test. Regular range tests measure intelligence, the ability to focus for 45 minutes, and cultural literacy.

High-end tests can measure obsessiveness and attention to detail, a love of puzzle-solving, and in some cases desperation for validation.

Intelligence has changed over the past 20 years to include skill at using tech to get answers.

Jacobsen: What differentiates a fake I.Q. score claim from a real one, e.g., signals of a fraud or claims far above the norms of a test, etc.?

Cole: Since it is difficult to define, it is difficult to measure. There is a desire to claim intelligence which creates a motivation for “vanity” tests. In science we try to overcome such tendencies using experiments to disprove theories. It is a sign of trouble if a test is not carefully normed.

May: You can perhaps find examples on Facebook and the social media generally.

Rosner: Concerted efforts to lie are fairly rare – claiming a high IQ is not very helpful in life and may even hurt – there’s Stephen Hawking’s quote that “People who brag about their IQ are losers.” There are casual claims – BSers at parties, movie stars trying to seem smart. Geena Davis’s PR team used to mention that she’s Mensa. Sharon Stone is said to have a 150 IQ. James Woods 180. And these might be legit. But that’s to address a specific issue of not being considered a bimbo.

One big tell for IQ fraud is people claiming to have completed and gotten a high score on the Mega or Titan in 10 or 12 hours. Back in 1985, I spent more than 100 hours on the Mega. Now with the internet (and coding skills which I don’t have), I could’ve cut that time by 80%. But the internet has also invalidated the Mega – not only with all of the answers floating around out there but also with instantly solving the verbal analogies just by plugging them into Google.

Jacobsen: What ranges for I.Q. scores have the highest reliability and validity, typically?

Cole: The Langdon and Hoeflin tests are on the cutting edge of reliability and validity. The Mega Test, for example, has been normed several different ways. A group of us are working on a new test that is cheat resistant.

May: Scores with the highest reliability and validity are those closest to the mean on standard IQ tests. Hoeflin and Langdon’s tests are untimed power tests more suitable for measuring above average intelligence.

Jacobsen: What tests are considered the most robust, legitimate?

Cole: We have a problem now that several of the most carefully normed, such as the Langdon Adult Intelligence Test, the Mega Test, the Titan Test, the Ultra Test, and the Power Test have been spoiled.

May: Those of Hoeflin, Langdon and Wechsler.

Rosner: Hoeflin’s tests have been the most thoroughly revised and normed. His Mega Test was normed on more than 4,000 test takers. His test items are excellent. But his tests have been voided by the internet – too many easily found answers. The Mega was published in Omni magazine in 1985, I think, a decade before most people had the internet. You had to use actual physical dictionaries.

Today, I think Paul Cooijmans’ tests are the most legit high-end tests. Paul takes pleasure in bursting the bubbles of people who claim high IQs by offering stringent scoring and norming. Doing well on his tests takes much time and what he calls “associative horizon” – being able to come up with dozens of ideas to crack a tough item.

Jacobsen: What is the status of measuring I.Q. scores above 4-sigma – experimental high-range testing, in other words?

Cole: The Adaptive Test, which is a work in progress, is the cutting edge. Contact me if you want to work on it. [Ed.]

May: Apparently measurement at the far-right tail of intelligence has improved astronomically. I mistakenly thought that determining and measuring IQ was quite difficult even at the 4 sigma level. The Mega Society used to have a statement either at the beginning of Noesis or on our website or both, I think, indicating that we attempted to select members at the 4.75 sigma level, but selecting this rarity was experimental and quite difficult for many reasons. (Not exact wording.) 

Today there is an IQ group which has apparently identified the 3 most intelligent individuals on planet Earth! This is quite an achievement in my view.

Since it is well known that the actual distribution of IQ-scores at the far-right tail does not conform to a Gaussian distribution, one has to assume that even if the ceiling of the IQ tests employed was sufficient (not exceeding that intended by the test developers) and the intercorrelation of the various tests at the highest levels was known and that the correct Kuder-Richardson (?) formulas were applied to concatenate the valid IQ scores, that the entire population of planet Earth was actually tested by or on behalf of this group. Since various planetary subgroups of different sizes could have differing means, standard deviations and distribution shapes, a weighted average would need to be taken in order to determine the statistical properties of the global IQ distribution for planet Earth.

This is an unparalleled achievement in psychometric history. I personally don’t know anyone tested for this project in order to determine the actual shape of the global distribution of IQ-scores at the far-right tail, but I assume this is just a minor sampling error. Presumably you and your friends and neighbors have all been tested. Since the three most intelligent individuals on planet Earth have now been identified in fact, the correct protocols were undoubtedly used. If only Lewis Terman were alive now! — LINK here.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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