I’ll admit it, I am an economics nerd. I didn’t have the interest to take econ in University; back then I was still under the delusion that one could make a good living writing science fiction. It, along with Beysian Logic, Libertarianism, and Business are all things I started caring about when I was 30, disillusioned, and ready to pretty much disabuse myself of everything I thought I knew if it might mean leading a happier life. Aaron Clarey of Captain Capitalism was my gateway drug into the world of Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Friedrich Hayek, and Christian Bastiat. Which means that I will buy any book he writes if it looks like it will be of even the vaguest interest to me. I wasn’t sure that Aaron was going to tell me anything new about having a high IQ, but I wanted to give him my dollars. I am glad I did, this book gave me a fresh perspective that has inspired me to start making some significant changes.
The most important thing he does in this book is point out that high IQ has downsides as well as upsides. Some of them were hauntingly familiar: I thought it was a flaw in my character that the world seems to move too goddamned slow and it was driving me nuts. I thought that I lacked perspective when our cultural and economic system seemed grim… I couldn’t understand why all the information I had made me depressed when everyone else thought the world was all hunky-dory. I also assumed that I had a problem when I was constantly looking at new things to learn to keep myself from getting bored. Not once did it occur to me that this might be because I was trying to get along in a world where a lot of people just didn’t work as fast, see as many connections, or enjoy learning in the same way I do.
I have been told time and time again that IQ just doesn’t mean all that much, so it never occurred to me that I was all that different. The very idea that a high IQ might change anything other than how quickly I solved math problems or picked out important ideas in books ran contrary everything they told me about IQ in Junior High… and that meant that the real problems that I had went improperly understood, and at the same time my potential advantage went untapped.
Pretending IQ doesn’t matter might be great for the self-esteem of the average kid, but it also means some of us just don’t understand why we go through life feeling like we are stuck in traffic all the time. And when we do understand that, then ways to actually make use of that excess time and energy begins to suggest themselves. Knowing where on the bell curve you sit can help you find new reserves of patience and confidence. Learning that I was in the 99.4 percentile of human learning and processing capability suddenly changed my game, because I realized that I could be doing a lot more, and making much better money… which is leading me to make some serious shifts in how I do business.
The Curse of High IQ is, in essence, a guide to understanding where you sit in relation to your fellow human beings. It reminds you that high IQ isn’t just an advantage; it is a difference that will change how you function and relate to others… complete with its own dangers and dysfunctions which the rest of the world may not be equipped to understand let alone help you deal with. Just knowing you are not abnormal, that there are other people with the same frustrations, and seeing what they are capable of makes a difference.
And like anything written by an intelligent and economically literate person, The Curse of High IQ is not interested in creating a new victim group – it would be absurd to do so. Identifying a problem and then expecting other people to magically solve it is not what a person with a High IQ does. Rather, it serves as a tool to help you re-calibrate how you think about yourself and others. It gives you an idea of how you can adjust your expectations, direct your energies, and make connections with other people to be happier and more focused. In the end, The Curse of High IQ lets you see how you are diminishing your own incredible potential. Hopefully, you can then choose to live up to it, instead.
That is certainly what it inspired me to do.
I’d recommend it to anyone who ever wished they could pump their highschool trig class full of vaporized stimulants in hopes that just once you wouldn’t have to wait 10 minutes for someone to answer the teacher’s question or have to hear some imbecile shout “I don’t get it,” dooming you to repeat the same lesson for the third time in a row. It may give you a stunning change of perspective.