Petty and stupid is no way to go through life, son

I ask your forgiveness in advance: this is a video of two of the most unpleasant, least intelligent people in show business, Donald Trump and Piers Morgan. I’ll understand if you don’t click on play.

He actually challenged London mayor Sadiq Khan to compare IQ scores! I am torn. On one hand, IQ scores are overrated and culturally biased, so I’d rather not grant them an unearned validity; on the other, Trump is a profoundly stupid man, and I’d kind of like to see the result of a fairly given IQ test (that is, not the crap you see in online surveys on Facebook).

I’d also like to see his tax returns.

There are a lot of things Trump likes to brag about but doesn’t want actually scrutinized because he’d be exposed as a lying liar.


  1. sebloom says

    “…he’d be exposed as a lying liar.”

    He’s already been exposed as a lying liar over and over again. It doesn’t seemed to make any difference.

  2. sebloom says

    “…he’d be exposed as a lying liar.”

    He’s already been exposed as a lying liar over and over again. It doesn’t seem to make any difference.

  3. petesh says

    Worth noting that in addition to the two offensive people noted in the post, there is a well-spoken, intelligent Englishman who happens to be Muslim.

  4. chigau (違う) says

    Trump probably believes those click-bait lists that say his IQ is 156.

  5. phlo says

    I bet this challenge has Sadiq Khan shaking in his boots. It’s like being challenged to a bare-knuckle, no-holds-barred street fight by a 5-year-old.

  6. cartomancer says

    Perhaps a comparison of their records on employment rights, discrimination and standing up for the oppressed would be a more revealing exercise. Sadiq Khan was a human rights lawyer specialising in these issues before he became a Labour MP, Trump has been indicted on more counts of employment malpractice than anyone cares to enumerate.

  7. jrkrideau says

    He actually challenged London mayor Sadiq Khan to compare IQ scores!</i

    You're missing the real joke. Sadiq Khan called him "ignorant" not unintelligent. Khan is saying saying that Trump has no idea of what he's talking about not that Trump is stupid–that goes without saying.

    Trump confirms his ignorance by being ignorant of what I.Q. tests do. An I.Q test is not a knowledge test.

    IQ scores are overrated and culturally biased, so I’d rather not grant them an unearned validity

    No, I.Q. are very useful tools if used appropriately by a professional. the cultural bias issue in the entire field of psychometrics has been recognized and ,to a large extent,dealt with over the last 40-50 years or so.

    The problem is that they like any tool can be and have been very badly abused by idiots who do not understand the underlying principles. Then there are the incompetents and scammers who will sell one just about anything and naive people will use/abuse it.

    Now, if we want to talk about polygraphs (lie detectors); they are pure witch-doctory in action.

  8. says

    Now, if we want to talk about polygraphs (lie detectors); they are pure witch-doctory in action.

    By the way, in case you didn’t know – that’s an invention of the author of Wonder Woman. He had an obssession with mechanisms for opening people’s minds like tin cans.

  9. Mark Smith says

    Along with his taxes, I’d like to see his birth certificate. We already know he thinks it’s appropriate to ask a president to produce his for inspection. And with the extent of his foreign ties, we just can’t be too careful.

  10. says

    I would like to see Trump take an IQ test, just to see if it is at possible to get a negative score? Would Trump make the paper the test is written on dumber?

  11. richardemmanuel says

    A quite reliable test is whether or not you can tell Trump is stupid. He has yet to pass this test.

  12. A Masked Avenger says

    I’d like to see Trump take an IQ test too. The validity of the test is irrelevant, because I’m betting here and now that he fails to complete it. If Intrade still existed, we could all bet on how many minutes he goes before he tears up the test and announces in a rage that IQ tests are fake news.

  13. A Masked Avenger says

    #16 in other words:

    His fundamental shortcomings (i.e., being profoundly stupid) would be completely masked by his superficial shortcomings (i.e., being unable to complete a test because he has the attention span of a goldfish).

  14. chrislawson says


    1. PZ’s central point that an IQ test is not a test of knowledge still stands.
    2. The field of psychometrics has definitely improved its approach to cultural bias so you won’t find questions that are clearly dependent on social knowledge any more, and IQ test questions have generally become more abstract to avoid this, but highly abstract questions are still culturally bound and children who have been raised in an environment that rewards abstract thinking (say, a professional household) will be more experienced at abstract thinking and more motivated to work it out.
    3. PZ is definitely correct that IQ testing is overrated. In popular culture, it is still used to indicate high intellectual capability well beyond its actual predictive ability. This is not the fault of well-trained professional psychologists who, as a group, are very aware of its benefits and limitations. But the fact that Trump brings it up as a smackdown response to accusations of being ignorant shows just how poorly the general population understands those problems.

  15. jrkrideau says

    @ 12 Marcus Ranum
    Not sure if I did or didn’t. Seems vaguely like I did.

    Hey, wait a minute! Are you saying Wonder Woman is as much quackery as the polygraph? I’m devastated. First Santa Claus, then the Easter Bunny and now Wonder Woman.

    I tend to read things from the British Psychological Society or the US National Research Council when reading about something like the polygraph and sometimes they miss out on the interesting bits.

  16. jrkrideau says

    2 18 chrislawson
    Re 1.
    I may have misread PZ but I did not see that. I saw the same I.Q.= Knowledge idea. I doubt he meant it but the meat of the issue was the S Are you sure you are not thinking of frizo @ 4’s “Conflating ignorance and intelligence.”?

    Re 2.
    Agree almost completely. In fact, more generally, is not the abstract thinking issue the basis of the Flynn Effect (assuming I am reading Flynn correctly)?

    I suspect we still have some nasty social knowledge and even environmental traps built in that we have not found yet but things are better.

    Re 3.
    I disagree that ” IQ testing is overrated”. It is definitely overrated in the popular imagination but that’s not what PZ said.

    the fact that Trump brings it up as a smackdown response to accusations of being ignorant shows just how poorly the general population understands those problems.

    Only too true. But then, there are all kinds of fools who believe in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a valid measure of personality traits, too.

    Come to think of it, there are a fair number of people who believe the Earth is flat.

  17. numerobis says

    Trump’s IQ test would come back as “unbelievably. Tremendous. Very strongly.”

    It wouldn’t be a number like it is for the little people.

  18. rietpluim says

    How much lower can a man get? A peeing competition over the bodies of London’s victims. It’s beyond despicable.

  19. chrislawson says


    1. PZ was responding to what Trump said in the interview. It went something like this (I have no desire to rewatch to get the quote verbatim). Piers Morgan, “Sadiq Khan called you ignorant.” Trump: “Let’s compare our IQ scores.” So Trump was conflating IQ with knowledge. Hence PZ’s comments.

    2. I’m glad we agree on this. Nobody has a definitive explanation for the Flynn Effect but increasing education (and therefore more training in abstract thinking) probably has a lot to do with it.

    3. No, I think IQ testing is seriously overrated almost everywhere. I concede that professional psychologists with clinical training know what it’s good for (by and large), but not many people in the wider world have the faintest inkling of its limitations — and I’m including people who use IQ tests professionally like recruiting firms. There are some extremely valuable contributions from IQ testing: to help identify children’s educational needs, and to estimate the mental capacity of accused criminals. Even these have significant difficulties in real settings, but the further you get from these applications the less helpful IQ testing is.

    For instance, in something as obvious as using IQ to screen job applicants, there is indeed a reliable correlation between IQ score and job performance. But it’s not a strong correlation. Estimates range from 0.2 to 0.6…so mild to moderate. And I would say that this puts IQ testing in the category of at best a useful screening tool when you have a large number of applicants for a job that requires independent thinking. A far better test is to assess their ability to do the job in question, which you can do by interviewing and checking qualifications/experience/references, and if you need to do further testing either develop a test that is specific to the required task (like Google’s various recruiting methods for coders) and/or give applicants a probationary period to see how they perform in the field.

    If you have an applicant with glowing references and a CV full of notable (and verifiable) achievements with an IQ of 115 and another applicant who has an IQ score of 180 but nothing to their name after 20 years in the job, you’d be an idiot to take the applicant with the higher IQ.

  20. vole says

    The terrorist attacks here in the UK are not part of the Donald Trump story. His attempts to make them so are tasteless and pathetic.

  21. chrislawson says

    Vole, since the US President is the elected leader of a nation that has fought in several recent (and some ongoing) conflicts in the Middle East as an ally of the UK, and since Trump himself made ignorant comments about the terrorist attacks, and since Trump himself attacked Sadiq Khan for not toeing Trump’s mouth-foaming anti-Muslim line, then I respectfully disagree that Trump is not relevant. I wish he were, but he isn’t.

  22. jrkrideau says

    @ 23 chrislawson
    I still don’t read PZ’s comments the way you do but I am in total agreement with your sentiments about the misuse of I.Q tests in other places.

    I’d extend your arguments to other types of tests as well. I have seen all sorts of tests used and misused in an amazing number of ways.

    I remember an economist in one paper proposing to take a test developed for use in a medical setting and drop 30 of the 33 items and to use it for the same medical purpose. It would save time. . He seemed to think everything would be fine.

    Or a political scientist dismissing a 22 item psychological scale measuring authoritarianism as too long and besides the author was too concerned with reliability. She substituted a 3 item questionnaire based on child rearing practices. Actually in the case and for her research it might have even worked but I did not see any reliability or validity figures —I may have tossed the book before I got that far.

    We get things like the use of the MMPI in selection situations and, as mentioned, before the good old MBTI. Hiring decisions, and who knows what else were being based on the MBTI and it seems to have no validity and almost zero reliability. But it looks nice.

    Then we get people cranking out real dross and flogging it. I reviewed one test, year’s ago that a large corporation was considering using in evaluating management level people. It was an “intelligence-general knowledge (well that’s what it looked like) – personality test” and came with a one-page personal info questionnaire page. The one-pager violated the Federal and all provincial human right codes. The manual was worse actually worse.

    I don’t think it was originally intended to defraud, it looked like it was put together by some clinicians who had no psychometric training at all, and who clearly believed in clinical “intuition” over science.

    And then there is the egregiously bad polygraph that almost everyone seems to believe in. Heck the US gov’t seems to use in security screening. Clearly it has worked will for the NSA.

    Come to think of it, I have never seen a decent study on the reliability of finger-print analysis. Perhaps there has been one in the last three or four years and I missed it.

  23. chrislawson says


    I see we are largely in agreement.

    Tests that people put far too much faith in: IQs, polygraphs, gene probes (most can give false negatives), fingerprints (as you say, the published research on its sensitivity and specificity is seriously lacking), criminal profiling, fMRI, angiography (just because you have a coronary narrowing doesn’t mean that’s the cause of your chest pain), CT/MRI scans of the lumbar spine, prostate screening,…. the list goes on.