# IQ difference and jokes.

While reading tvtropes, someone commented that an IQ difference of 30 points makes it difficult for two people to relate to each other. I won’t link to the article because that would kill the day for some people, but someone else commented that:

It doesn’t sound convincing, but does the quoted text have any truth to it?

I don’t know if there have been any studies on the subject (that’s what we’d need for a real GQ answer), but based on my own experiences, anecdotes, and hearsay, I’d call this hogwash.

Sounds like BS. Or something someone w/ a high IQ and a poor joke repertoire dreamed up-- they aren’t getting my jokes because I’m so much smarter than them!

It doesn’t make any claims about jokes or humor, but this article provides a potential source for the idea about the communication gap:

I’m guessing this research is probably where the idea originates, although I can’t speak to its accuracy.

I’ve heard a similar theses expressed about officers and enlisted men, but I think the number was 40 IQ points.

I don’t buy it for humor. I’ve met humor impaired people at a wide range of IQs. Also keep in mind that humor will work up even if doesn’t work down. I remember reading Isaac Asimov mentioning in his Autobiography that one of his favorite television shows was “Laverne and Shirley”.

From my experience, some jokes require esoteric knowledge, but not really that much intelligence. Does anyone have a counterexample of a joke that needs only a high IQ to understand?

My example of an esoteric joke would be something like this:

The Flake Equation

Even this joke only requires you remember some first year algebra.

Newton is a really smart cookie.

Joke time:

Ahh, but don’t forget the play on words, calling it the “Flake” equation rather than the “Drake” equation, meant to calculate the probability of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. It even has a similar form to the equation in the joke.

Besdides, the difference between 100 and 70 IQ is bigger than 160 to 130.
It cannot be true.

My friends all think I’m hilarious with a very dry sense of humor, and that I’m often very serious but when I let one fly it brings down the house. My IQ is 160 or thereabouts, Mensa tells me I’m in the top 1% of the population.

Only two of my friends shared any classes with me, and one of them had an IQ higher than mine by around 5 points (the class we shared was one specifically for the smartest kids in school and of course we all took an IQ test). The rest were in the mid-level classes.

So, I would say, “no.”

Also, I find my friends pretty funny as well.

Not so sure about the specificity to humor,* but friendship does require some degree of commonalities. A major IQ difference, say 115 to 145, may result in fewer common interests. And frustration in both directions.

Let’s face it, we enjoy being with people who get our allusions, and getting theirs. Relatively few of us are comfortable being the dumbest in the room by far and knowing it and/or being clueless about what others are talking about, and we don’t like it when no one around us understands what we are talking about either.

And how many posts will it be until the inevitable Doper claiming to be gifted (“I’ve been tested!”) pops in?

*Indeed extremely high IQ and humor impairment, nay social dysfunction, can coexist in some cases. And some of the gifted are damn funny. Its more an issue of their using their intelligence to look at what’s gong on from many angles all at once, and knowing what issues are right to “play the room”

There’s one above yours. Fretful Porpentine, thank you for the article.

Sister Vigilante writes:

> My friends all think I’m hilarious with a very dry sense of humor, and that I’m
> often very serious but when I let one fly it brings down the house. My IQ is 160
> or thereabouts, Mensa tells me I’m in the top 1% of the population.
>
> Only two of my friends shared any classes with me, and one of them had an IQ
> higher than mine by around 5 points (the class we shared was one specifically
> for the smartest kids in school and of course we all took an IQ test). The rest
> were in the mid-level classes.

Excuse me for doubting your story, but this doesn’t add up. An I.Q. of 160 or higher is quite rare. Only one person in about 31,000 has an I.Q. of 160 or higher. Someone measuring your I.Q. as 160 and telling you that you’re in the top 1% doesn’t make any sense. Your I.Q., if it’s really 160, is much rarer than the top 1%. It makes even less sense that there are two people in a single class (I assume that this means just that the two of you are the same age and the same high school, not that you were always in the same classes in high school) with an I.Q. that high, since that would be far rarer.

Indeed, it makes no sense that your friend has a measured I.Q. of 165 if this came from a test given at your high school. Standard I.Q. tests top out at 160. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, they can say nothing more than that your I.Q. is 160 or greater. There are very dubious tests created by high-I.Q. societies that claim to measure higher I.Q.'s and occasionally a psychologist will after doing some tests make the claim that someone he tests has a higher I.Q., but those tests and claims are really not to be trusted. A standard I.Q. test never gives a score higher than 160.

I’m sorry for being so skeptical, but this happens too often here. Far too many people post with claims of high I.Q.'s. If this message board had people as smart as they claim to be, we would have an average I.Q. higher than the average of all Nobel Prize winners.

Now I’m jealous. I missed the pun in there. The Big Bang Theory did a bit on the Drake Equation last year.

Maybe 160 is metric??

Or worse yet, kelvin.

I’m not sure if it requires a high IQ, but having one certainly makes the Futurama Quantum Finish joke funnier.

Correct.

It is astounding how people with such high IQ’s don’t seem to understand a Bell Curve at all and don’t realize that by tacking on small numbers to a standard deviation can mean that you go from claiming to be the smartest person in your high school graduating class to the smartest person who ever existed in your state or a small country in a hurry by fudging the numbers just a tiny bit. This happens in all IQ discussions and I want to give it a name. Let’s name it Shagnasty’s Principle because I am well educated in the subject myself and it represents ubiquitous bullshit that spans multiple people and cultures. IQ represents something but you better know how those tests work before you claim you have a score over 145.

Kind of funny that it turned up in a cross-post - at least to this presumably more normal range IQ person.

Anyway, there is this study in elementary students.

FWIW, my observation as a pediatrician has been that early achievement of “humor milestones” (and while there is no official metric for this, any parent can tell you what they are) is more highly correlated with later “giftedness” than any other developmental stream, and that those who don’t get the jokes that they should for their age are at high risk of later school and social problems, even if they are advanced in other streams. I’ve never found a study to validate that observation though.

I recently had a conversation with my sister about whether or not the highly gifted are narcissistic. The conversation only went so far as she had many people to cite that she knew who were “highly gifted” to base her opinion that the highly gifted were narcissistic on, while I, despite having friends who are physicists and various other advanced degrees, can honestly only point to less than a handful of people I have known who I would call highly gifted. Lots of people lots smarter than I am, but that is not such a high bar. The point is as WW makes: many claim to be highly gifted but almost all who so claim are not; only 0.1% of the population has an IQ of 145 or greater, by definition, and even accounting for the self-selection bias inherent in academic achievement, you won’t really meet up with too many of the world’s true sigma outliers. The very few I have known though have been pretty damn funny, down to earth, and pretty wide ranging in their intellectual curiosity. I’ve felt honored to know them. But anecdotes aint worth much.

On preview - Shagnasty’s Principle it is!

Which IQ test is it that only goes up to 150, again?

I’m not sure what you’re asking, Malleus, Incus, Stapes!. Are you claiming that you heard of this test with a maximum of 150 sometime years ago in your reading? Are you claiming that you heard it discussed on the SDMB at some point? Are you claiming that someone in this thread mentioned it? What are you talking about precisely?