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Why Aren't More Highly Intelligent People Rich? (inc.com)
49 points by RickJWagner 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 117 comments

I have read the article, and I feel is missed one obvious possible thing. Maybe highly intelligent people don't care about being rich?

Certainly reaching a "comfortable" income has value, but beyond that there is a limit. I am an AI researcher in University, so I guess under some measures I might come up as "highly intelligent" (whatever that actually means). I'm fairly sure (based on emails I keep getting) I could go into industry and earn much more money. However, the cost/benefit ratio to me isn't worth it.

Bingo, we have a winner! Speaking for myself, I'm at a point where I'm making enough money and have been making decisions to increase my free time. Things like working 100% from home so that I don't waste time commuting and turning down job offers that would pay more because they'd cut into leisure time. An extra $50k/year (or whatever) wouldn't be worth an additional hour of work per day to me.

Your time must sure be valuable, at roughly $192 an hour ;)

The marginal cost of my time when I'm already making enough money is expensive as fuck.

This entirely.

For context, I’m not referring to SV software engineer salary just normal big city America.

I know a guy who probably now makes a little more than I do on his main job, is my age, but has been saving and investing much more consistently.

He’s always doing side gigs for $50 - $70/hour. Which is really nothing for a software engineer even in my city and much less than he would be making as a full time contractor.

When an opportunity like that comes up for me to “make extra money”. I always turn them down even at much higher rates. Anything we can’t get with my relatively average salary and my wife working we don’t need. I enjoy my time way too much. I don’t think I would work a contract that paid the equivalent of twice my salary as a side job.

I can relate to your friend more, honestly. $50-70/hr is not an elite high level professional salary, but it’s no joke, and much more than the $0/hr you'd otherwise make farting around on HN or watching Netflix.

When you’re young and able, life is merely a race to turn time into money fast enough to allow you to survive long after you can no longer turn time into money.

Every day I waste now may translate into a week of eating dog food after I can no longer work. Therefore, I generally want to maximize the dollar utility of my time, while I can. If I could guarantee that I’d drop dead as soon as I retired, maybe I’d stop and live a little now. But since I can’t (an don’t want to commit suicide when I run out of savings), well, an extra dollar is an extra dollar!

“Money isn’t everything” -says someone with a lot of it.

We are both in our 40s. Not exactly young.

In the literal Jeff Bezos sense?

Time is the most valuable thing there is.

Becoming rich and maintaining that requires a commitment that eats into everything else. If one has money in their mind that will taint everything they do. For some this equates with not truly being free. But one can be rich in other things as well, money is needed up to the point of becoming and staying independent and free to pursue other great things

>Becoming rich and maintaining that requires a commitment that eats into everything else.

But if you're rich, you can just hire people to maintain that commitment for you.

And if you're rich enough, most of your money makes itself through stocks and investments anyway.

Didn't downvote you and Im not denying that what you’re saying is to some extent true but want to point out that’s mostly the case for the old rich. The new rich get affected quite badly by this money bug. At some point money becomes second and power becomes #1, in other words there’s never enough of it because more is needed to feed the ego/power, worries never subside - worries of a different nature than poor people’s, such as maintain that status, comparing with others at that level, that others are to take advantage of their wealth, power games in the family, inheritance nightmares, false friends, trusting no one, not even the partner sometimes etc. These are demons of money. Sure, there are rich people that are truly illuminated which detach completely from that world to pursue other things but these are usually not first gen.

If you want to make a correct generalization, moderation is the key goes a long way.

Personally, my financial goal is to become self sufficient (decent but modest pension and such) and that’s about it. Amassing wealth and spending lots of money does not interest me in the least.

Yes, but there are people of both kinds. Consider Linus Torvalds who instead of starting a multi-million firm, focused on Linux development instead (in fact, it was expected of him to start something like Red Hat or Novell!).

On the other hand, we have the creator of NPM Software[1] Isaac Schlueter who stepped into corporate shoes and turned NPM into a profitable venture. On the other hand, the income of Ryan Dahl who invented Node.js is meager in comparison to Issac's. There was a lot of controversy surrounding this in the FOSS community too if I recall correctly.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Npm_(software)

Yes. Good point. This is my intuitive feeling as well. An extreme example of this is Paul Erdős (of Erdős number fame) who did not care about any material posessions.


Yes and Einstein was famously a socialist and egalitarian.

The ability to create new knowledge would seem to require thinking beyond the status quo, not maximally optimizing one’s place within it.

This is my intuitive conclusion as well (with no data to back it up). My goal ever since I finished school was to hit a certain income number and then find ways to convert advancement into working less, not being paid more. So far so good. I like to think I'm reasonably intelligent.

> I have read the article, and I feel is missed one obvious possible thing. Maybe highly intelligent people don't care about being rich?

A different consideration: maybe there exists a relationship between intelligence and "less tolerance for bulls..t". This explains why I know some really smart people who did not succeed in their academic careers even though they were highly intelligent. I consider it as highly plausible that you need an even higher tolerance for bulls..t if you want to become rich.

The question is what's the causal relationship between "not wanting to work a lot/hard" and "not wanting to become rich".

If the cause is "not wanting to work a lot/hard" that is a bit more interesting, because it speaks directly to the thesis of the article.

I only have anecdotal data (which isn't really data), but I know very few people who want to become rich. But all of them work hard.

Hmm is there any evidence to suggest that highly Intelligent people have atleast reached this level of financial independence? Keep in mind today's house prices and cost of living!


Some of us in the US are preoccupied with money to an annoying degree, but it is often a product of our economically precarious situation - not greed. If you don't have enough money life is very bad here, maybe even worse than other wealthy nations.

And what we have can disappear in a moment. One bad medical diagnosis or a layoff and my savings will be wiped out.

What an insightful comment. Housing, Health care and College costs are out of control which are needed if you want to stay in the middle class.

Well, when you don’t have a social safety net - no universal healthcare, poor maternity/paternity leave, unemployment benefits are meager, mostly “at-will” employment, high cost of college education, high drug prices, social security is not going to be enough to be significant unless you made a lot of money during your working career and have a paid off house, etc.

You basically have to be more focused on money. I am not suggesting any policy changes (at least not here), but you adjust to the environment as it is.

If this were true, I believe US-Americans would lead a more frugal life and avoid unnecessary expenses in an attempt to save as much money as possible for cases of emergency.

So how pray tell do you “save enough” in the case of a medical bill with no insurance.

For instance, this person had insurance and it still cost $877K to deliver triplets. (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/16/why-does-it-...)

The average cost of college for a state school over four years is $80K (https://www.valuepenguin.com/student-loans/average-cost-of-c...) and consider that the average household has 2 kids.

How much would you have to save to be able to afford to take a 3-6 months in paternal/maternal leave?

How much would you need to save if you were out of work for six months?

What if you were out of work because you were sick or had a sick child? Now you have a double whammy of no job and no insurance - with medical bills.

> The average cost of college for a state school over four years is $80K (https://www.valuepenguin.com/student-loans/average-cost-of-c...) and consider that the average household has 2 kids.

> How much would you have to save to be able to afford to take a 3-6 months in paternal/maternal leave?

Only have kids if you can afford it.

Yeah that will work....

Guess what happens to the economy and especially the pay as you go social security/Medicare programs when the retired/worker ratio increases?

Are people not suppose to have children just in case their children get sick or they have a difficult pregnancy and they may have a $50K medical bill?

The median household income in the US is about $63K a year (https://dqydj.com/household-income-percentile-calculator/)

well, let's call it a side effect of living in a society which you cannot escape

That has nothing to do with America or HN. Everywhere I've went I've seen the same thing: vast majority of people see no other value than financial, in general. It shapes how they think, who they hang out with and what their "values" are. Money comes first, and then everything is rationalized later.

For example, if a rich person does activity X and a poor person does the same, equivalent activity X, it can happen (and it does happen) that they say that the poor person is an idiot while the rich person is a genius. For the same exact thing.

Rich people know this. They know they are buying everything around them, including people. None of the rich people I know are naive in the sense that they think are that funny, interesting, intelligent or attractive, especially to females. The things that I've seen rich people get away with, I guarantee, 99% of HN will not believe. Probably me too, if I didn't witness it. Not talking about crimes here (although that happens, too). Just social things.

It's all a game and everyone involved knows exactly how everything is setup, but for some reason, we look the other way and if we say anything like this in real life, we would be thought of as "bitter" or jealous or something.

Money is indisputably important, but the best marker of intelligence that I have consistently seen is the right attitude and appreciation of money.

And I am saying this as someone well off, who will most probably never have any financial issues in life. So this is not "bitterness" or envy of the rich or something.

There are two aspects: balance sheet and status.

Felix Dennis, an actual billionaire, called it the "point at the sky" theory of wealth creation. It's really a form of cargo culting.

On the other aspect, there are a number of what Thomas J. Stanley call "gold collar" workers: young, singles who often live at home but make relatively good money and so tend to buy things they cannot afford like used Lexuses, BMWs, Mercedes, etc. He even wrote a book about it "Stop Acting Rich."

> The things that I've seen rich people get away with, I guarantee, 99% of HN will not believe. Probably me too, if I didn't witness it.

Could you give some examples please?

HN is (or at least claims to be) the epicenter of Silicon Valley tech culture - it's owned by a startup incubator and used to be called Startup News after all.

It's not surprising that a lot of people here buy into the mythology that having a high IQ ranks them among an elite class in a technical meritocracy, and that they're just one app and a bit of hustle away from a million dollar buyout.

Having worked in digital marketing for over a decade, I've been exposed to hundreds of business models. The percent of them making someone rich on the back of selling scammy bullshit to stupid/gullible people is disturbingly high. I've long privately lamented that apparently to have a good shot at being rich, you must be perfectly ok with being a shitty person. I feel like highly intelligent people probably have a harder time talking themselves into making unnecessary piles of money by screwing people over.

Note: This seems far more prevalent in the B2C non-software non-vc-backed space. But then I expect there are a lot more individual millionaires being minted from those types of businesses than from silicon valley SaaS startups.

> I've long privately lamented that apparently to have a good shot at being rich, you must be perfectly ok with being a shitty person.

It's broad-brushing, of course, but I think there's more than a little truth to this.

This article is extremely brief and contradicts the more nuanced reality of a lot of published research.

For people with higher intelligence, their income is generally higher. The correlation is strong, the effect size is large, and the research has replicated very well. Conscientiousness also correlates strongly positively with income in a similar way.

This article seems to start with a baseline assumption of what "rich" means, but doesn't state what that assumption is. I imagine it is a pretty high bar and the article is essentially saying "successful moonshots come from all walks of life/ all IQ levels."

Taleb has written on this topic and when he did it prompted a lot of discussion. He notes that above a certain IQ threshold, the correlation becomes lower, and uses this observation to dismiss the whole correlation. However, if you look at the scatterplots he uses in his own article, you start to realize how strong the relationship really is. I can't find his article yet, might be able to find it soon...




>How important is intelligence to financial success? Using the NLSY79, which tracks a large group of young U.S. baby boomers, this research shows that each point increase in IQ test scores raises income by between $234 and $616 per year after holding a variety of factors constant. Regression results suggest no statistically distinguishable relationship between IQ scores and wealth. Financial distress, such as problems paying bills, going bankrupt or reaching credit card limits, is related to IQ scores not linearly but instead in a quadratic relationship. This means higher IQ scores sometimes increase the probability of being in financial difficulty.

Yes, the article lacks clarity and detail. It almost makes you think that IQ is not important. When we know it very important. Necessary but not sufficient.

How about why are not more rich people intelligent? From my limited experience I have found that the most outstanding characteristic of those who I have met/crossed paths with that are rich is not intelligence, but a lack of ethics/morals.

I wouldn’t go that far. I think it’s a combination of luck, demographics and being willing to sacrifice other things in life to become rich.

My experince is close to yours but I would add empathy before ethics.

1. Because wealth depends on your social network. Humans are a social species, the more social you are, the better status you have. That's how business works. Intelligence is often the inverse of being social.

2. Even if one is more intelligent, he/she is not that much more intelligent. Of course intelligence matters, especially in certain fields, but overall intelligence will not allow people to gain an edge, or at least not an edge that will make a big enough difference.

3. Wealth and status stems rather from certain moral values, rather than abilities. Of course modern society tends to value new ideas and innovation, but human societies, in general, still favor a certain set of traditional values that make it harder for intelligent people to get favors. And in general, innovation breeds change, and change always brings its share of problems. You can look for anti-intellectualism.

Not to mention that intelligent people don't really seek wealth at all, they know it's much preferable to seek recognition from their peers.

> but human societies, in general, still favor a certain set of traditional values that make it harder for intelligent people to get favors.

What set of values is that? Is this across western developed economies, or as you seem to imply, across all societies?

I don't agree completely with you regarding 1. You don't have to be the most social person in order to get a job at say FAANG and after that your resume talks for you.

Why is it preferably to seen recognition from your peers?

If anything, money buys more than simple recognition.

Also about 3): which moral values are you referring to, regarding to wealth?

It's quite probable that they are interested in things that don't directly relate to making money. I know many senior researchers with Phd's in the UK who get paid something like 30-40K GBP - I don't know the exact figure but that's about right. They could probably earn at least 4 times that if they worked in banking or accounting but that doesn't interest them. Often they aren't even aware it is a possibility. So it's more a question of motivation rather than intellect as with many things in life.

I thought it was pretty much accepted that IQ is very important for success but it is not enough. Among the Big 5 personality traits, Conscientiousness is very important too. Conscientiousness includes (Competence, Order, Dutifulness, Achievement striving, Self discipline, Deliberation). So it makes sense. You have to be Smart, Conscientious and Lucky.

> I thought it was pretty much accepted that IQ is very important for success

I don't think so. I think it's orthogonal to "success" (I'm assuming that by "success" here, you mean wealth).

There are tons of people who are wealthy but not terribly bright, and there are tons of people who are bright but not wealthy. From my personal observation, it looks like the intelligence distribution is about the same in the set of "wealthy people" as in the set of "not wealthy people".

This article assumes that the pursuit of wealth is a universal trait and not, you know, a byproduct of culture and upbringing

I think it is more some innate drive some people have and (most) other people don't.

In my family I was always the only one that placed any importance on pursuing wealth. I would say that my upbringing wasn't that vastly different from my sisters. Also from what I gathered at lunch with my colleagues, most of them don't really care about a few k more per year and would prefer benefits like "flying business".

Calvin Coolidge said it better:

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

As my sociology professor noted, "These are the three most common ways to become rich, in order of decreasing probability: fraud, inheritance, luck. In particular note the absence of hard work." -- Or intelligence, I would like to add.

Yeah but your socialism professor is approaching that topic with a certain amount of bias, aren't they.

That's not really in evidence. "Sociology" and "socialism" aren't even close, so you're kind of doing some propagandizing without examining the facts.

When I was in my 20’s I went to interview for a job as a carpet cleaner. They gave me a spiel to learn (everyone needs the “deep fiber treatment”) and then some paperwork to sign. But, reading the fine print, I discovered that I was to use my own car, I was to pay for the gas, I was to pay to rent the equipment, I was to pay for the cleaning supplies, I was to do all the work, and at the end of the day I was going to get a ten percent commission.

That was the moment I understood capitalism. Intelligence is not what makes you rich; neither is hard work. What makes you rich is skimming a large percentage of the value of the labor of a large group of people. That’s how you end up with billions of dollars. Not by being smart (although I’m sure it doesn’t hurt) and certainly not by being scrupulous. By having leverage. By owning the means of production.

Now as developers or techies we own a little bit of the means of production in the form of skills we have in our heads. But believe me when I say that they’re coming for that too in the form of intellectual property, software patents, and noncompetes. All of those things depress wages because they take the means of production out of our control. It’s really important to be able to see this. Money is a form of power and power is about leverage. Not intelligence or hard work.

What owning the means of production gets you, typically, is debt.

Leveraging that debt to create something of value to others — that is what can make you rich.

Otherwise you just go broke in a big way.

More folks need to read "The Millionaire Next Door." I read it in my early 20's and it was an eye opener. Becoming "rich" (upper middle class, single digit millions, don't have to worry about working, not "billionaire" rich) is more of a matter of living below your means, saving, and investing consistently.

You can take luck out of the equation if you have time. Unfortunately most people are too old before they realize this (if ever)...

The crux of this article is just repeating some researchers finding that:

> Innate intelligence plays, at best, a 1 to 2 percent role in a child's future success. Instead, financial success is correlated with conscientiousness: Self-discipline, perseverance, and diligence.

Which is interesting research, but the article doesn't mention the huge role that being born to a rich family and having good opportunities plays. By framing this as "hard work pays" rather than "talent and intelligence pays", they are missing the elephant in the room.

What is rich? Not many people are born in the top 1% -- by virtue of most people being born in the other 99%.

More than half of the top 1% was not born in the top 1%.

Only 1.2% of children born into the top 1% out earn their parents [1].

The elephant in the room is luck. Being born rich is an element of luck, but it's not everything.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/aparnamathur/2017/05/04/poor-ri...

Especially true in America where upward intergenerational class turnover is 10-25%. Or higher. Need to find my source

The article prominently mentions partner choice, which is different than hard work.

If your partner is on meth or likes to commit felonies, you probably won't become rich soon.

Even drug abuse - or felonies - seriously differs depending on if you are rich or poor. A poor person needing rehab might only have NA to rely on because it is free and allows both parents to watch children: A rich person can likely pay for an inpatient facility and child care. Even before rehab, the poorer person's meth habit is going to take up a larger percentage of the family finances, adding additional stress. The effect of a meth habit really depends on how rich one is when it starts.

A similar thing happens for felonies. IIRC, simply being poor makes it more likely that you commit felonies and more likely that you get caught for others. The richer person can do their cocaine in relative privacy, even if they are outdoors in their own yard. The poor apartment dweller doesn't have such luxuries.

Divorce is also an issue: I've met multiple folks that stayed married to their partner simply because they couldn't afford the fees to get divorced, let alone think about a lawyer if they felt they needed one.

Both have stress, but they have vastly different tools available to help them out with the situation.

Absolutely; I dealt with addiction issues some years back and I was allowed to take 6 months -- at full pay -- to sort everything out. People higher on the income scale often have more access to treatment and better safety nets to be able to make it stick. Addiction is largely a nuisance for the wealthy rather than an existential threat.

I fortunately have never been arrested, but from my peers who have the troubling trend is that if you can afford a good lawyer, the DA will almost immediately plead your felony down to a misdemeanor with no jail time attached. Rich people are far less likely to suffer consequences, even if they're caught because the justice system isn't built to deal with defendants who can fight their case.

The only divide in the US that matters right now is the wealth gap.

Prior partner choice pretty much wiped out my chances of getting "rich". But then, arguably that choice wasn't very intelligent.

(I'll go with the top comment, though. I suspect a lot of smart people simply don't care that much about being rich.)

It's not orthogonal. If you are interested in bootstrapping a high income lifestyle, you won't marry a partner who is self destructive or destructive to you even.

Unfortunately, they don't all come with a label.

Talent and intelligence don't help you much if you don't use them to work hard.

That said, getting rich by working hard if you don't have talent or intelligence will be a lot harder. So I guess you need a bit of all of them.

Even if you have all three, getting rich when you start poor is a lot harder than having deficits in all three and starting out rich.

Being rich has more to do with inheritance (cultural, societal, material, financial and biological) than intelligence.

This article largely espouses the bs that wealth reflects hard work. The corollary is that the poor are just lazy. While the author throws in a few scientific studies, do not be fooled by the veneer of rigor.

Is hard work the primary determinant of success? Maybe. But this article offers no real support for that position.

I was recently reading about intelligence and intelligence tests. Who defines what as things that make someone intelligent?

For example, we have a separate category for emotional intelligence because that's not traditionally been considered intelligence. What's measured and pushed for in intelligence isn't really the full range of intelligence.

Lost in there are things, like emotional intelligence, that enable people to more easily move toward their goals. Someone can be wicked smart with general knowledge, spacial relations, and other more common things measured with intelligence but lack in the people skills needed to make their ideas a reality.

Intelligence is complicated. What we measure isn't all their is to intelligence. What we prize in IQ isn't everything that's useful for intelligence.


Wealth is just responsibility, and if outlier intelligence people are underrepresented among those who choose to accumulate responsibility, this should come as no surprise to anyone. Most extra-intelligent people choose the freedom to solve problems and to be stimulated intellectually, which is an orthogonal concern to taking responsibility, risk, credit, command, and dividends.

I divide intelligent from smart as the difference between a capacity for abstraction and the ability to get what one wants. Lots of smart people are of medium intelligence, and lots of highly intelligent people are not very smart at all. What I wish I could teach is that, smart is an outcome, intelligence is an attitude, and genius is an effect.

> Wealth is just responsibility

I don't understand what you mean by this.

It just means you are responsible for assets. When you choose to take responsibility for things, you become wealthier. It's the same thing.

Because we don't live in a meritocracy where we give more power and wealth to the smartest people (by whatever flawed measure of intelligence). We give more power and wealth to the luckiest, most selfish, and most ambitious people.

For the subset of highlight intelligent people that care about being rich (not all do): there's also luck.

The luck vs skill ratio of life is often skewed toward the "luck" side more than many of us want to admit.

Should we be thinking about this a bit more broadly?

Why aren’t more highly intelligent people more accomplished?

The emphasis on money is fine but I think a more productive conversation is why do we find super smart/intelligent people not doing notable things? I think as a society we owe it to each other to push the boundaries of what we are gifted at/in as a way of contributing and building some concept of legacy. Again money is a single metric which many people either don’t care about or hit a local maximum on but what about the other possible metrics?


It kinda makes sense.

There's a personality trait that measures "working hard" called conscientiousness.

It's stable and hard to impossible to change among adults.

But it's possible that's it's learned in childhood.

So a smarter child will need to exert less/little work in getting good enough grades. So he may develop less of that personality trait, and become less hardworking.

And that shows.

BTW, choosing a more interesting job instead of a higher paying one - like many mentioned here - is directly related to that trait: it's about choosing play over work, basically.

I have never noticed a correlation between being wealthy and being intelligent. I think it's clear that intelligence is not necessary to obtain wealth, and being intelligent is not sufficient to obtain wealth.

What's needed (as the article dances around) is a strong desire to become wealthy. It has to be your overt goal. Most people (of any intelligence level) don't have that desire or goal.

What correlation have you noticed?

I'm not sure that I understand what you're asking. I was saying that I don't see a correlation between wealth and intelligence. I also stated that I do see a correlation between being wealthy and making attaining wealth your primary goal.

Are you asking about something else?

Hey John, I was providing you with an opportunity to share some of your wisdom regarding correlations you have noticed. Presumably a number of intelligent readers are curious about wealth given they clicked on the title of this article. Correlations do not always establish causations but causations sometimes require expensive studies to establish.

Being rich has nothing to do with intelligence. It is a matter of luck, luck to be born in the right family, in the right country, at the right time, luck to have the right connections, and luck to have a lot of starting capital.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb would argue this isn’t even relevant: https://medium.com/incerto/iq-is-largely-a-pseudoscientific-...

Because you need to have the capacity for intelligence, and the capacity and desire to be good at business (accumulate wealth).

No one asks why there aren't more highly intelligent people with massive "successful" families.

It's non-transitive

I am repeating smart comments from other people but there are some reasons why such astounding results happen:

Let's look at the article >Like how much the difference between my income and yours, for example, is based on our relative IQs. ... >But Heckman's research reveals something else entirely. Innate intelligence plays, at best, a 1 to 2 percent role in a child's future success.

Intelligent people might have a different understanding of success than the author.

Further down in the article: >But what you can control is how conscientuous you are. How diligent you are. How persistent you are. > >How hard you work.

And there's one of our Elephants. For me it seems obvious that working hard can only make you happy if you love your work. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that smarter people tend to optimize for their own happiness, health, well being etc. Or of that of their family and friends instead of "working hard".

Or to put it like @CJefferson > Maybe highly intelligent people don't care about being rich?

Another Elephant was pointed out very well by @hyper_reality >but the article doesn't mention the huge role that being born to a rich family and having good opportunities plays

We live in a time of income inequality like no other generation ever before us. Having the right parents is responsible for most of your success.

Overall the article seems to have only one message. "Work harder or you don't deserve success."

That's terrible and terrifying because it implies that if you are not successful. Then it's your fault for not working hard enough.

At this point we should go back to the start. Smart people are more likely to understand how incredible rigged this whole thing is. So smart people avoid playing this rigged game. They don't compete with you over financial success, they are playing a different and more fulfilling game.

I don't know if you guys had this, but when i was in school there were always these stupid "games" in the break, where the bullies would call anyone who didn't participate as a looser in terms of the game. It never made any sense to go to other people do something and say "I got your", "You lost", when they didn't even play the game.

This didn't change when we grew up and it makes sense to handle authors of articles like this one like we did back in school. Ignore them, play our own games, don't invite them for it.

>We live in a time of income inequality like no other generation ever before us

Income inequality always been there, I don't think we are in some special situation compared to let's say ancient Egypt or something.

>Having the right parents is responsible for most of your success

Was it not like this pretty much all the time?

Fixation on money seems more something people obsessed with individual power pursue versus those driven by a desire for knowledge or understanding. Einstein was famously a socialist who refused an offer to become prime minister of Israel, for example.

Funny how the article doesn't even question the premise that all people want to get richer.

Maybe highly intelligent people aren’t as insecure as this self-proclaimed “influencer” author?

The same reason why intelligent people don't win lottery jackpots?

[can explain my reasoning if needed]

My guess without reading the article is, that money bores them ?

Because money is not the only worthy cause.

Maybe it's because the claim that the smartest, toughest, bestest people win in capitalism has little to no grounding in reality.

The article is basically begging the question of what capitalist markets prefer in terms of "properties" its actors should "hold". I don't know of any evidence that contemporary capitalism rewards "intelligence" apart from pop cultural and ideological claims. In that sense, the conclusions presented are in no way "new" or "informative".

It's just a restatement of a deeply seated wish that we could somehow explain away the largely immoral differences in the standard of living with some property suposedly outside of moral consideration (intelligence, gender, race - it doesn't really matter).

Intelligence doesn't necessarily mean industriousness, by my observation many highly intelligent people are (almost by definition) curious and lack the focus required to monazite in a capitalistic society.

And I know this will get downvoted, mostly by the people I'm talking about : If you're still working a day job where you swap your time for money, you are not highly intelligent, maybe intelligent, but not highly. Jobs are for suckers, automate your wealth generation.

What if you enjoy what you do and get a sense of gratification from working alongside other people and being paid for it?

When I spend my time at work, I don't actually feel like I'm selling my time; I feel like I'm actualised as who I am, what I am, and doing things that matter, and the company shows its appreciation via my bank account.

Some of my coworkers are wealthy from previous employment in finance industry, but they still work here because they enjoy it, it keeps them connected with everything.

One guy in particular implemented hedging and arbitrage strategies over various cryptocurrency exchanges - he automated his wealth generation - but he's still with us working on machine learning when he's not out sailing.

Why are many rich people dumb? Because many of them just inherited their fortunes. That article isn't worth any time.

Inheriting a fortune takes luck. Maintaining that fortune takes skill. Look at many lottery winners.

Maybe because the path to getting rich has literally nothing to do with intelligence and is 100% about being lucky?

So all luck and nothing else? Do these people just sit in the grass all day waiting for luck to deliver the money into their laps?

That's literally what happens to those whose riches are the result of inheritance, which is the source of a great many rich people, so yes.

You're saying that's the only way to be rich. That's incredibly shortsighted.

They're saying that's the most common way to be rich, which is true. Even among entrepreneurs, many were either born with access to wealth, married into wealth or both.

No, they're saying it's the only way to be rich. That's what 100% means.

It's the absolute easiest and probably most common way to be rich.

Sure, but that's not what 100% means.

Conversely, it seems, only the world's richest are some of the world's smartest


The owner of that publication is conspicuously absent...

Not so sure about that. Apart from George Soros I don’t know of any multi-billionaire with whom you could have an interesting conversation about the pre-Socratics, the whys and whens Antiquity “fell” (my bet is on the early 600s in the time of Heraclius) or how interesting some of the Huguenots were when they were writing about killing tyrants. Most of the billionaires are rightfully more interested in expanding or at least keeping their wealth, and that is orthogonal with knowing and talking about really interesting stuff. But that is old news already, Plato had written about it ~2,400 years ago.

You've just highlighted some historical facts. There's people (e.g. myself) that find most history profoundly boring, and instead are interested by future, politics, psychology. The conversation between Peter Thiel and Eric Weinstein on the latter's podcast was extremely profoundly interesting and hugely elevated Thiel as a deep thinker in my mind. Just an example.

The smartest people I know are mathematicians or physicists most of them couldn’t care less about any of the historical narratives you‘ve just mentioned.

Maths and physics is just “techne” stuff, it has been here for ~13 billion years, they’ll probably still “be” here for another 13 billion years after we’re gone, while on the other hand humans are a lot more interesting. Again, read your Plato or start getting to know more interesting people, not only “technicians”.

If intelligence was enough to build modern society then we wouldn't have needed years 1AD thru 2020. We could have skipped straight to the internet age when the likes of Socrates and Confucius walked the earth.

Assuming we reward people in fashion correlated to their material contribution it is clear that intelligence isn't the critical measure. We do and should reward based on a best-effort guess to estimate how much someone materially improved the lives of others. An intelligent person might be able to do a better job but it isn't obviously better than any other personality attribute.

At least in Europe, people enjoy living in a society where everyone is more or less economically equal, and there are relatively few benefits of trying to become a multimillionaire. Unlike in the US, wealth usually brings more social isolation than public admiration.

When people think they want to be rich, what they actually want is to have more freedom and certainty in their lives. In such an environment, there is much less pressure to take risks. Especially, for highly intelligent people who feel safe about their jobs and happy about their work-life balance.

That sounds marvelous. Is Europe hiring?

People with the highest levels of intelligence are generally autistic.

In my area of the world, all the software companies are terrible. The quality of the staff and the quality of the software are both terrible. This really doesn't just apply to software, it applies to everything. Cars before Tesla were so bad at everything. It is clear all these companies don't have particularly good staff in high positions.

I don't know about car companies, but in terms of the software companies here, the process goes like this:

1. A manager in a particular industry commissions the building of software to solve a problem in that industry

2. The manager has a lot of industry knowledge due to their position and the time they have spent in the industry

3. The software is made, a company is then spun out of that software

4. The founder doesn't really even know much about software. As they were a manager, they were more about social connections and people

5. They hire more social people

There is nothing in this process that relates to intelligence. The intelligent person could theoretically create much better software, but they have no industry knowledge, and can't even get hired because they are not social.

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