Genius IQ

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An illustration of the various bottom “genius IQ” bars, proposed historically, e.g. "above 140" (Terman, 1916), 125 to 210 (Cox, 1926), near or at 180 (Hollingworth, 1937), or an IQ of 160+ (Cherry, 2020).[1]

In genius studies, genius IQ (LH:4) refers to the IQ one would assign, in "reality", to a genius.



In 1916, Lewis Terman, in his The Measurement of Intelligence, set the so-called bottom genius “IQ” bar at “above 140”, as shown below:[2]

Genius IQ (Terman, 1916).png

Here, as we see, a blurry line has been drawn.

In 1926, Catherine Cox, working and Maud Merrill, under the supervision of Terman, in their ranking of 300 historical geniuses, assigned 289 individuals with IQs between 140 and 210 (with Goethe discussed to have a possible 225 IQ), eight individuals (Cromwell, Farragut, Goldsmith, Murat, Ney, P.H. Sheridan, St. Cyr, and Wallenstein) with IQ 135, two (Drake and Grant) with IQ 130, and one (Massena) with IQ of 125, albeit referring to the entire group as “geniuses”.[3]


In 1933, genius, per the standard model (Terman, 1916), was being defined in terms of IQ as follows:

Genius—a very superior mental ability, especially a superior power of invention or origination of any kind, or of execution of some special form, such as music, painting, or mathematics. It has no special technical meaning, but has occasionally been defined as equivalent to an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 140 or above.”
— Howard Warren (1933), Dictionary of Psychology (pg. #); cited by Leta Hollingworth (1939) in Children Above 180 IQ (pg. 3) [4]

In 1937, Leta Hollingworth, amid her IQ test studies of a group of 55 children (36 boys, 19 girls), who in 1933, aged 6 to 11, had taken the Stanford-Binet (SB) test, scores ranging between 135 and 190, with a mean of 153, using tests such as the CAVD test, which she was correlating with the Stanford-Binet (SB) mental age formula, was reporting the following conjectured correlations:[4]

  • IQ:180+ (on SB) in childhood equates to being in the top 1 percent of college graduates
  • IQ:170+ (on SB) in childhood equates to being in the top 5 percent of college graduates
  • IQ:140 (on SB) in childhood equates to being in the top 25 percent of college graduates

On this platform, she was arguing that the bottom IQ for "genius level" needed to be set much higher than 140, e.g. near 180, per reason that the IQ 140 setting subsumes a large percentage of any given population, whereas in reality geniuses are rare:

Children testing at about 140 (SB) are found to define approximately the 75th percentile of college graduates, taking the country over. They are far from ‘genius’, if by that term is to be meant the degree of mental ability that is capable of outstanding original intellectual achievement. It is only when we have an IQ (SB) of at least 160 in a child, that we may begin to expect mildly noteworthy accomplishments, such as winning ‘honors’ in a first-class college. Furthermore, it is shown that at approximately 190 IQ individuals ‘go through the ceiling’ of available tests for adult intelligence by the time they are 21 years old. Perhaps this is the point at which the term ‘genius’ begins to apply, i.e. at or near IQ 180, if we adhere to the dictionary definition of the word: ‘exalted intellectual power, marked by an extraordinary faculty for original creation, expression, or achievement’, which is beyond the reach of available modes of measurement in its maturity.”
— Leta Hollingworth (1937), Children Above IQ 180 (pg. 248)

At this point, we are beginning to see a grand confusion, in respect to the Cox calculations of genius IQs, who calculated values such as: Washington (IQ:140), Hans Anderson (IQ:145), Rousseau (IQ:150), Balzac (IQ:155), Boyle (IQ:160), Schiller (IQ:165), Lavoisier (IQ:170), Huygens (IQ:175), who, according to the new Hollingworth definition of genius, are NOT geniuses; as compared to the Hollingworth study of the IQs of little children, presumably being able to graduate in the top one percent of a college class? Moreover, when you actually read the transcripts of these "180+ children", you see a confused picture, e.g. one child crying over the problem of evil, another asking about joining an agnostic church, another joking about how leaders shouldn't where shorts, or something. Moreover, none of the 55 Hollingworth children amounted to any level of genius attainment as adults? This is similar to the fact that none of the 1,528 Termanite children (mean IQ:151) became "geniuses" as adults?

In sum, by end of the 1930s, a grand confusion had arisen in respect to IQ, the IQ of geniuses, IQ tests, and the IQs that were being assigned to children, who were told they were in the genius range, whereas they were not? The problem only became compounded, in the decades to follow, particularly in the 1950s to 1990s, with the rise of so-called "high IQ" societies, who made and sold via mail and magazine IQ tests purporting to be able to determine if one one was a genius. Not to mention the Guinness Book who for several decades took these test results as validation that so-and-so had the "highest IQ" record. Basically, a seventy-year cesspool fermented, from 1930 to 2000.


The ebook Genius IQ! (2020) by Stefani Connor, attempts to argue that one can hack their way into increasing their IQ by 10 points, and supposedly get closer to the "genius IQ" level.

On 16 Apr 2020, Libb Thims, taking the century-long CPBT IQ means into consideration, namely the following two IQs: Newton (IQ:199) and Darwin (IQ:175), lowered the "genius ceiling IQ", of the Hmolpedia genius ranking tables (then titled: "top 2000 geniuses"), from 225 to 210.

On Nov 2020, Libb Thims, amid the transition of the Hmolpedia 2020 “top 1000 geniuses” rankings, with the total list in the 800 to 1,100 names ranked level in this transition period, moved the then-named “top 2000 geniuses” page, to a renamed “top 2000 geniuses and minds”, per realization that, in all likelihood, there had not been two-thousand "geniuses" of history?[5]

Moreover, the view arose and that when the "top 2,000 minds" ranking level is reached or completed, the so-called bottom "genius IQ" bar will have to be reset [?], in respect to what IQ exactly defines conditionally a real genius of history (and not that of the childhood IQs of the Hollingworth type); probably, within the top 50 to top 300 mind level, or somewhere between IQ of 175 and 210, in guesstimation?

End matter


  1. Cherry, Kendra. (2020). “What is a Genius IQ Score?”, Very Well Mind, Aug 3.
  2. Terman, Lewis. (1916). The Measurement of Intelligence: an Explanation of and a Complete Guide for the Use of the Stanford Guide for the Use of the Stanford Revision and Extension of the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale (classification of intelligence, pg. 79; I.Q., pg. 53, etc.). Houghton Mifflin Co.
  3. (a) Cox, Catharine. (1926). Genetic Studies of Genius. Volume II. The Early Mental Traits of Three Hundred Geniuses (GB) (Arc) (pdf) (ratings, pg. viii). Stanford University Press.
    (b) Cox IQ (subdomain) – Hmolpedia 2020.
    (c) Cox IQs –
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hollingworth, Leta S. (1939). Children Above 180 IQ: Stanford-Binet Origin and Development (GB2) (GP) (IQ 140, pg. 248; IQ 170 and 180, §13). Arno Press, 1942.
  5. Why does Libb Thims make genius lists? (subdomain) – Hmolpedia 2020.

Further reading

  • Pop, Claudiu. (2020). “What is a Genius IQ score?” (Ѻ),
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