Free Will and I.Q. – Mine and Yours

FullSizeRender_1About twenty-five years ago, I was asked to take an I.Q. test, and earned a score of 143. That number placed me in the 99.64th percentile of the overall population.

I live in White Plains, New York, a small city in Westchester County, just north of New York City. In 2014, White Plains, the birthplace of Facebook founder and C.E.O., Mark Zuckerberg, was ranked by the real estate firm Movoto as the third best place to live in New York State. And, in case you’re interested, the nine other places within the top ten were also in Westchester. Take that Big Apple! But, hey, that’s neither here nor there, right?

Let’s put my I.Q. ranking in perspective. White Plains has a population of about 58,000, which means that about 208 of my neighbors have an I.Q. equal to, or higher than, mine. In Manhattan, with a 2014 population somewhat over one and one half million, (1,636,268 to be exact) about 5,885 residents have an I.Q. equal to, or higher than, mine.

You might think that, Westchester County and Manhattan being home to some of the most educated and successful people in the world, there are probably many more residents who rank 143 or higher on the I.Q. But you’d probably be wrong.

That’s because, for example, the average lawyer and college professor has an I.Q. that ranges between about 98, (100 being average for all people) and 133. Doctors, the highest-scoring of any occupational group, fare somewhat better, ranging between 106 and 133.

Ph.D.s in the hard sciences (math, physics, etc.) score between 94 and 133, and those in the social sciences, like economics and psychology, score between 94 and 126. And, if you think students at Ivy League colleges have much higher I.Q. scores, consider that the most prestigious learning institution in the world is Harvard University, and its students have been determined to have a mean I.Q. of 128. Last but not least, the average philosophy professor appears to have an I.Q. of about 125.

So, as interesting as you might, or might not, find all this, why does any of it matter?

Well, let’s begin with why it matters to me. In 2010, I launched a campaign to move the issue of free will from academia to the public spotlight. Five years, dozens of Meetup events, two books, two TV shows, a podcast, a website and this blog later, while the refutation of free will has made its debut onto the cover of three popular science magazines, New Scientist, Scientific American: Mind, and BBC Focus, many of the people within those very educated groups I above categorized by I.Q. still believe we humans have a free will. They accept evolution and climate change, but the quantum leap to acknowledging that free will is nothing but an illusion is still far too intimidating for them. Or is it?

Over the last five years, I’ve wondered a lot about why so many ostensibly bright people continue to cling to such a primitive belief. I thought that maybe whoever advised us to not expect someone to understand something that their job would prefer they not understand was right. I thought that maybe it was all a matter of politics. Want to keep yourself in good standing with the college where you teach philosophy, or psychology, or neuroscience? Please keep your understanding about the illusory nature of free will to yourself…thank you.

But as I pondered those I.Q numbers above, and the bright and successful people who earned them, a different answer came. As unbelievable as this all is to me, it’s becoming more and more clear that our world’s intellectuals are not all that intelligent, well, at least as reflected by their I.Q. scores.

How else can one explain their inability to grasp the very simple and powerful logic that if everything that happens has a cause, the causal regression behind every human action renders the prospect of a free will categorically impossible? What else explains why some of those academics, whose critical analysis skills are so weak that they buy into the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, and actually believe that some events in our universe are actually uncaused, have yet to realize that for an uncaused human action to be caused by a free will is a completely contradictory, and mistaken, assertion?

Well, maybe one mystery’s finally solved. But what will it take for our academic elites to understand and accept that free will is – that is must be – an illusion? Considering that they lack the brainpower to arrive at this understanding for themselves – and, this too is a deep mystery – what we will probably need to do now is wait for some of their leaders, like the Nobel laureates among them whose I.Q.s tend to hover around 150, to consider the matter important enough to warrant their publicly putting their cards on the table about this.

And, what might lead these creams of the various academic crops to do this? Hmmm…for the answer to that one, you’ll have to read my most recent book on the topic, Free Will: Its Refutation, Societal Cost and Role in Climate Change Denial.

Happy exploring, and have the happiest of holidays!

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