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Entertainment

Is "Scorpion" Really a Genius? 391

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the watch-out-I-know-html dept.
An anonymous reader writes CBS's upcoming hacker show Scorpion is pitched as based on the real life of Irish 'eccentric genius' Walter O'Brien a.k.a. "Scorpion". Some of the claims made for the real Scorpion are extraordinary. A child prodigy with an IQ of 197, hacking Nasa at age 13, [supplying] Ireland with more Personal Computers than DELL and Gateway together. Searching online I wasn't able to find anything which, for me, clearly backed up any of these (or other) claims. For example, rather than being the sixth fastest programmer in the world in 1993, his team ranked 90th out of 250 teams. Curiously, his degree grade was an ok, but hardly stellar B+ (II-I). Does anyone know anything to back up the genius claims being made about Scorpion?
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Is "Scorpion" Really a Genius?

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  • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:06AM (#47653275)

    Yep AFAIK the tests stop at 165 or around there. Anything above is made up as there is no statistical data that can confirm it.

    197 would imply there is someone out there with an IQ of 3 as well.

    Some of the tests on young children with age correction can yield this type of figure. I wouldn't be surprised if he was measured with an IQ of 197 at an age of 5 or 6, but it would result in a much lower measurement as an adult.

  • Re:IQ of 197? (Score:5, Informative)

    by PacoSuarez (530275) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @06:59AM (#47653835)

    You forgot to divide by sqrt(2) in your erfc expression. The actual probability of IQ of a random human being over 197 is about 5e-11, which means about 0.35 humans should have it.

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/in... [wolframalpha.com]

  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @08:32AM (#47654293)

    197 would imply there is someone out there with an IQ of 3 as well.

    Some of the tests on young children with age correction can yield this type of figure. I wouldn't be surprised if he was measured with an IQ of 197 at an age of 5 or 6, but it would result in a much lower measurement as an adult.

    Just to be clear, IQ originally stood for intelligence quotient, which was originally defined as mental age / physical age * 100. E.g., if you took a test at age 5 and scored as well as the average 10-year-old, you'd have an IQ of mental age 10 divided by physical age 5 (*100) = 200.

    This sort of scoring is how Marilyn vos Savant [wikipedia.org], for example, managed to get an IQ score of 228 or something, which used to be listed as the highest IQ ever by the Guinness Book of World Records. However, that kind of test scoring has been completely deprecated since at least the early 1950s, and even Marilyn basically was taking an outdated form by the time she was scored almost 60 years ago. Guinness recognized this, and so retired the record category.

    Nowadays, IQ scales usually are based on standard deviations, where a score of +/- 15 from 100 constitutes one standard deviation away from the average intelligence for that age. And I'm assuming this Scorpion guy is not 70 years old or something, so there's no reason he should have taken an IQ test using the old scoring method.

    So, if someone has a claimed IQ of 197, that would be about 6.467 standard deviations above the norm. That comes out to somewhere around 1 in 10 BILLION people. And keep in mind that age scaling requires comparison only with kids at the age of the test taker, so this guy's claim would require that the test had been normed against a large enough population of whatever age he took the test was to differentiate at a 1 in 10 billion level.

    Simply put, that's impossible, since there aren't that many people total on the planet.

    So -- the only explanation is that someone gave him an older form of the IQ test, which computed scores using that outdated formula of mental age / physical age. And that IQ formula was deprecated because it was shown to give stupid meaningless results. Which leads one to ask -- for a guy who claims to be so smart, why would he insist on citing a statistic that is meaningless and shows the person who administered the test was probably incompetent (since he/she used an outdated formula that doesn't agree with modern norms)?

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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