Saturday, January 09, 2016

The IQ of Steve Jobs

Bill Yates
Brain Posts
Posted 25th October 2011 

I've been distracted from my review of Google Reader neuroscience feeds for a few days reading the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs.

I don't buy many books right after publication. I typically wait until they arrive at my local Tulsa Public Library or until an electronic version is available free for download from the library. OK, I admit I have a reputation for being frugal.

But I have to admit this book is a book I wanted to read really bad. So I rationalized and said I will spend the money to read this biography as soon as possible. Some of the money will go to the family of Steve Jobs. My life has been changed by this man and his products.

I have purchased so many Apple products and they have influenced me in many ways. Here is a partial list:
  • Apple II: I wrote my first scientific paper on this computer and that led me to a career in academic medicine
  • Macintosh and derivatives: I was introduced to Excel and the power to manage data and to perform statistical analysis
  • iPod: I have spent hundreds of hours listening to music on the iPod and use the iPod Touch to access medical information to provide medical care
  • iPad: I used this Apple product to make brain imaging accessible and understandable

So I went to my iPad and preordered the Jobs biography on iBooks where my bank account was seamlessly deleted to bring the book magically to my iPad. A morning later I was reading the book without getting out of my pajamas. Thank you Steve Jobs!

From a brain science perspective, I found an indirect answer to a question I had wondered about, "How smart was Steve Jobs?"

The biography does not state results of an IQ test score from testing of Steve Jobs. But it does present information for a reasonable estimate.

When in the fourth grade his teachers were impressed by his intelligence and had his cognitive ability tested. They found his performance was equal to that of a tenth grade student.

One way to measure IQ is to compare mental age to chronological age. So a tenth grade student would have a mental age of 16. A fourth grade student would have a chronological age of ten. So that would produce an IQ estimate of 160.

An IQ estimate of 160 would put Steve Jobs at the 99.99%tile (or higher) of IQ.

I am not surprised by this estimate. This genius found a way to extract tens of thousands of dollars from me-a penny pinching man who loved technology and the possibilities technology provided.

I just wish Steve had given me a more direct message on the wisdom of buying Apple stock. If I had taken the $4000 I spent on the Macintosh (and printer) in 1986 I would have over $1,000,000 today.

If you think you have a better estimate of the IQ of Steve Jobs, post your estimates in the comments section.

Photo of Steve Jobs from a Wikipedia Commons file authored by Matt Yohe.

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