People with high IQs live longer. They drink less. And they drink more.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sammankomst av doktorer vid universitetet i Paris. Miniatyr ur en medeltida handskrift av "Chants royaux". Från Bibliothèque National, Paris.

Here are two articles put online within one day of each other that have drawn some significantly different conclusions about the behavior of people with high IQs.

First this one:
Unfortunately, those who do not perform so well in intelligence tests could suffer a higher risk of heart disease, fatal accidents and suicide.

The discovery was made after researchers looked into the medical records of one million Swedish army conscripts.

After taking into account whether they had grown up in a safer, more affluent environment, they established the connection between IQ and mortality.

One of the researchers, Dr David Batty, said the statistics showed "a strong link between cognitive ability and the risk of death."

He added: "People with higher IQ test scores tend to be less likely to smoke or drink alcohol heavily. They also eat better diets, and they are more physically active. So they have a range of better behaviours that may partly explain their lower mortality risk."

Great! People with high IQs make better life decisions including drinking and smoking less. Oh, what's this - another study on people with high IQs? Let's take a look:
Research has now shown a link between high childhood IQ and an adult enthusiasm for alcohol that leads in some cases to problem drinking.

Parents may be aware that the easiest children to have around the house, and those who are also the most likely to have a predictable, comfortable lifestyle when adults, are those with a slightly aboveaverage intelligence, neither too clever, nor stupid.

Most parents would be proud to be told by a teacher that their child has a higher IQ than his or her peers. It would not occur to anybody that there might be an association between that high IQ at the age of 10 and an enthusiasm for the drinking culture, leading occasionally to a problematic excessive alcohol intake.
Oh, so people with higher IQs are more likely to drink excessively. Interesting.

So what to make of these contradictory results? My guess is that it might have something to do with the country these intelligent people live in. The first one is about Swedish army conscripts, the second is about the UK.

In Sweden, education is 100% free with only a few exceptions, whereas in the UK average tuition amounts to $4200, and this might rise to $9,800 a year. Perhaps the difference lies in the fact that Swedish students are more able to make use of their high intelligence without having to keep an eye on their checkbook whereas those in the UK feel their intelligence to be a bit of a curse considering the high tuition (=4 years of living like a pauper) followed by perhaps a fair amount of regret afterwards if the major they chose turned out to be less than effective in finding a high-paying job but going back to university is now financially impossible?

That's just a guess, of course.


Anonymous said...

Personally, I think these studies fail to take into account background, mental illness, drug use, personal choice, culture, economics and other factors. People raised in a productive environment tend to become productive people. People raised by idiots tend to grow up to be idiots themselves. Nobody can explain why someone with an iq of 60-70 can appreciate art, reads voraciously and is capable of driving and cooking and holding down a job while a 'brilliant' person drops off the side of a church on his skateboard, drinks and drives, engages in casual sex with many women, smokes pot, drop acids, refuses to read a book, goads women and chastizes people with a desire to learn and study (often with lower iqs).

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