Estimated IQs of some of the Greatest Geniuses

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General info about the IQ-concept
A critical reflection
'The West', 'The East', 'Amazing, but the truth?'
IQs' relation to educational level
IQs for selected HIQ persons
Timeline for selected HIQ persons
IQ calculator
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Selected works by selected HIQ persons
Part I, II and III
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G. W. von Leibniz
G. W. von Leibniz
  Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci


(created: 04/21/1998)
(maintenance: 01/17/2005)

This page is dedicated to some of the greatest minds of all time.

Top of pageIntroduction

A normal intelligence quotient (IQ) ranges from 85 to 115 (According to the Stanford-Binet scale). Only approximately 1% of the people in the world have an IQ of 135 or over. In 1926, psychologist Dr. Catherine Morris Cox - who had been assisted by Dr. Lewis M. Terman, Dr. Florence L. Goodenaugh, and Dr. Kate Gordon - published a study "of the most eminent men and women" who had lived between 1450 and 1850 to estimate what their IQs might have been. The resultant IQs were based largely on the degree sof brightness and intelligence each subject showed before attaining the age of 17. Taken from a revised and completed version of this study, table II shows the projected IQs of some of the best scorers.

For comparison I have included table I which shows the IQs' relation to educational level.

Cox also found that different fields have quite widely varying average IQs for their acknowledged leading geniuses. Displayed below are there calculated Deviation IQs (the number in brackets is the number in the sample considered):

Philosophers (22) average IQ 160; Scientists (39) 159; Fiction writers (53) 152; Statesmen (43) 150; Musicians (11) 149; Artists (13) 153; Soldiers (27) 136.

As a curiosity it can be mentioned that the famous english philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell sometimes interpreted Nietzsche's overman as a person with an IQ of at least 180 (Actually Russell considered himself to have this IQ!). I read in some paper that Einstein , regarded as the prototype for a genius, may "only" have had just above 160 .

It is important to distinguish between the intelligence quotients measured for adults and for children. While the intelligence quotient in theory has no upper limit for children, it is often considered as unmeasurable for adults if it exceeds 200 (Normally, it is never set above 210. However, highest possible scores to date should lie in the interval 210-220 with decreasing probability). This is caused by the different measuring methods used. According to the definition of intelligence quotient for a child, the mental age is divided by the chronological age. The quotient is then multiplied by 100 (Ratio IQ). This implies, of course, that you cannot use the same method for adults as for children. Instead you use a statistical mean value of 100 for the average number of correct answers for a representative adult group of people (Deviation IQ).

NOTE: So far as I know there has only been one documented female universal genius: Hypatia, an ancient Greek beauty celebrated as philosopher as well as mathematician and scientist. She was also famous for her lecturing skill.

Top of pagePersonal view

The question is now if the intelligence quotient is an unambiguous measure of the capacity and power of the brain. I suspect most people would hardly think so. If they did, they would be "forgetting" that the brain actually consists of two brain halves. Is it, e.g., necessary to have a high intelligence quotient to be a successful (creative) artist, or a great musician? Normally it helps, but would it be a necessary prerequisite? Intelligence tests have a very intellectualistic, I would also say one-dimensional, approach to the degree of giftedness. These IQ tests are also made more difficult by the fact that it is often possible to logically, or from one's own value systems, arrive at answers that are as plausible as the one designated by the test designer. In any case, it is imperative to control the strength of the logical connections within the test problems. It is also not especially advisable to use the rapidity with which a problem is solved as a criterion. Your slow colleague is perhaps on his way to solving Fermat's Last Theorem (Yes, I know it has already been solved by the English mathematician Andrew Wiles), even if it takes years. You are probably satisfied if you can use it. But you don't take the whole day when learning "Black Peter" (a card-game for children), as your friend does, thinking at a snail's pace.

What do you call a fly when you pull its wings off?

A. A fly with the wings pulled off.
B. A walk.
C. A down-to-earth fly.

Top of pagePortraits

Universal genius
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Universal genius
Maria Gaetana Agnesi
Maria Gaetana Agnesi
Genius for languages
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
Sofia Kovalevskaya
Sofia Kovalevskaya
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Maria Curie
Maria Curie (b. Sklodowska)
Stephen W. Hawking
Stephen W. Hawking
Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir

Top of pagePortraits (Outside the West)

Confucius (K'ung fu-tsî)
Chinese Philosopher
Avicenna (Ibn Sina)
Persian Philosopher
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Indian Mathematician
Maya Chiburdanidze
Maya Chiburdanidze
Georgian Chess Player

Top of pageAmazing, but the truth?

William James Sidis
William James Sidis
Universal genius
Marilyn Vos Savant
Marilyn Vos Savant

COMMENT: With regard to super-high childhood IQ scores [derived from: (MA/CA) x 100]: It is clear from Hollingworth's work and the work of others that there is a marked "regression to the mean" with maturity. It has been suggested that childhood "ratio" scores have a natural standard deviation of 24 (cf. the Cattell Scale), so it is necessary to multiply the excess above the mean by 2/3rds to convert a childhood score to an adult score with the conventional SD16. That would imply the following adult scores: IQ 200+ for Sidis, and IQ 185 for Savant. Still, extremely high, but more probable.

Top of pageTable I

Intelligence Interval

Cognitive Designation

Common Possessors*

85 - 114AveragePupils at junior high school
115 - 124Above averagePupils at senior high school
125 - 134GiftedUniversity graduates
135 - 144Highly giftedIntellectuals
145 - 154GeniusProfessors
155 - 164GeniusNobel Prize Winners
165 - 179High genius 
180 - 200Highest genius 
>200"Unmeasurable" genius 
*= Should be interpreted as on what educational levels you most likely will find the gifted, the geniuses, and so on

Top of pageTable II



Active as & Comments

Ratio IQs

Deviation IQs*

Johann Wolfgang von GoetheGermanyPoet/Writer. Universal genius.**210179
Emanuel SwedenborgSwedenReligious writer. Universal genius.205176
Gottfried Wilhelm von LeibnizGermanyPhilosopher/Mathematician, etc. The greatest universal genius together with Leonardo da Vinci.**205176
John Stuart MillEnglandPhilosopher/Economist/Political theorist200174
Blaise PascalFranceMathematician/Physicist/Religious thinker195171
Ludwig WittgensteinAustriaPhilosopher-190
Bobby FischerU.S.A.Chess player187167
Galileo GalileiItalyPhysicist/Astronomer/Philosopher185165
René DescartesFrancePhilosopher/Mathematician180162
Madame De StaelFranceWoman of letters/Novelist/Political Philosopher180162
Immanuel KantGermanyPhilosopher175159
Linus Carl PaulingU.S.A.Chemist - Double Nobel Prize Winner170156
Sofia KovalevskayaRussia/SwedenMathematician/Writer170156
Thomas ChattertonEnglandPoet/Writer170156
Charles DarwinEnglandNaturalist165153
Wolfgang Amadeus MozartAustriaComposer165153
George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)EnglandWriter - Close friend to J.S. Mill.160150
Nicolaus CopernicusPolandCleric/Astronomer160150
Olof PalmeSwedenPrime Minister (Murdered)-156
Rembrandt van RijnHollandPainter/Etcher155146
Anna LindhSwedenForeign Minister (Murdered)152145
George Sand (Aurore Dupin)FranceWriter150143
*= These scores are kindly supplied by Stevan Damjanovic
**= Models for Nietzsche's overman

Top of pageTimeline

Top of pageConversions

IQ Stanford-Binet:              DoubleArrow   IQ Cattell:      
IQ Wechsler:                    DoubleArrow   Scorers today:   
SAT(<95)+:                     DoubleArrow   GRE(V+Q)+:        
Standard deviation:            DoubleArrow   Percentile:      
Scorers* (>=IQ,emp):   DoubleArrow   Rarity (1/X):    

*=Homo sapiens sapiens since 50,000 years ago
+=Based on Rodrigo de la Jara's formulas


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