An article claimed that the Actor James Woods has an IQ of 180:

Woods aced his SATs, got into MIT (but dropped out to pursue acting) and has a reported IQ of 180.

After doing some research, I found a lot of articles which also said that he has an IQ of 180, but I couldn't find any reliable reference for their claim.

The only reference I could find, was that Woods stated his IQ-Number in some interviews.

So, my questions is, is this true or a not? Is there a proof of his IQ?

  • 1
    What sort of evidence would you expect that would satisfy you?
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 23, 2015 at 13:33
  • 3
    You are excluding the most likely evidence for this (e.g. his own statements). IQ tests are not normally public knowledge.
    – Sklivvz
    Jul 23, 2015 at 14:55
  • 14
    It's worth noting that most standard IQ tests have an upper limit of 160, which represents a rarity of roughly 1 in 30,000 people (IQ being normalised so that 100 is average within a given population). An IQ of 171 would apparently represent 1 in a million, if any test were designed to measure that high (source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mega_Society)
    – IMSoP
    Jul 23, 2015 at 19:09
  • 4
    Probably not. IQ tests are not reliable when they are that high; he probably never took an IQ test, etc Jul 25, 2015 at 17:37
  • 2
    I'm sure that at one time in his life, perhaps when he was a child, Mr Woods was given a score of 180 in one IQ test. But there are different tests, people tested at different times score differently, age is a big factor ... to go around saying you "have" an IQ which is reducible to one number is probably an indication you don't know what IQ is all about. Jul 26, 2015 at 8:56

1 Answer 1


No: these news are not credible at all.

The report was investigated by Daily Edge and found to be unreliable for two reasons:

  1. it was traced to a single source, Sinembargo.mx and of course this makes the claim unverifiable by skeptical standards.

    The source for all the stories appears to be this story from June 1 on Sinembargo, a Mexican online news site.

  2. The news are claimed to come from Mensa, but they have categorically disclaimed this.

    Mensa International has NOT issued a list of celebrity members recently, as many on-line stories have been claiming. Attempts are being made by Mensa to discover the source of these stories and to have false claims removed.

Furthermore, the numbers are impossibly high!

  • A perfect Mensa test gives a score of 162, but a score of 180 is claimed, and the news are reported in national newspapers. The wikipedia article on Woods does not report anything, which seems highly unlikely.

  • Even with a specialized test to measure such a high IQ, a score of 180 is extremely unlikely. Based on how IQ scores are built, 1 σ is 15 IQ points, therefore a score of 180 represents a 5.33σ percentile. This means that is achieved only in 1 test in 20,000,000. Not impossible, but certainly an extraordinary claim without any evidence.

sigma table

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Sklivvz
    Jun 18, 2018 at 21:39
  • Something I was told when I took my Mensa test: IQ tests have a "target value", around which they give somewhat reliable results. Score too high or too low (we were told, around +-15 points of the target value), and all the result tells you is "you should take a different IQ test for your range". This, immediately, gives a significant difference between "average" IQ tests (aimed at around 100, losing meaning above 115) and Mensa entry tests (aimed at around 130, losing meaning above 145).
    – DevSolar
    May 21, 2019 at 12:31

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