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 '15 at 13:33
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    You are excluding the most likely evidence for this (e.g. his own statements). IQ tests are not normally public knowledge. – Sklivvz Jul 23 '15 at 14:55
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    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 '15 at 19:09
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    Probably not. IQ tests are not reliable when they are that high; he probably never took an IQ test, etc – Race Bannon Jul 25 '15 at 17:37
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    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. – AmbroseChapel Jul 26 '15 at 8:56

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 '18 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 at 12:31

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