Rick Rosner — the second-smartest man in the world as ranked by IQ tests — sometimes feels stupid.
“Not figuring things out faster makes me feel dumb,” he told Business Insider UK.
Of course, this is all relative. Rosner has an IQ of 192 and is used to mingling with and competing against high-IQ people
(By the way, the average score on an IQ test is 100, with most people falling within the 85 to 114 range. A score over 160 is considered a genius IQ).
“There is nothing else like the World Genius Directory,” says Rosener, 54, and living in California with his wife. “Before it was created by Dr. Jason Betts, there was no comprehensive listing of people with the world’s highest IQs.”
Rosner is writing his memoir “Dumbass Genius,” while “working on a theory of the universe.”
Here’s what he had to say in a recent interview with Business Insider UK:
Business Insider: Your Twitter bio says you have the world’s second-highest IQ. What is that based on?
Rick Rosner: I’ve taken way, way too many IQ tests — more than 30 — and on more than 20 of them, I’ve gotten the highest score ever, making me kind of the pre-2009 Tiger Woods of IQ tests. According to rankings compiled by the World Genius Directory, only one other person has ever gotten a higher score on an adult, high-end IQ test.
BI: What subjects do you excel at?
RR: I consider myself good at maths, physics, and stringing words together. Have written more jokes than 99.999999% of humanity, so can occasionally post a good tweet.
BI: What’s the difference between knowledge and intelligence?
RR: Knowledge is the facts and expertise you have readily available without too much thought. Intelligence is the ability to apply what you know to positive effect. Today, of course, much of our readily available knowledge resides in our devices, so knowledge can be seen as also including information-retrieval skills. Being able to use a wide range of knowledge to come up with new angles on problems is an aspect of intelligence Paul Cooijmans calls “width of associative horizon.”
BI: At what age did you know you were smarter than most?
RR: My opinion of my mental ability has swung wildly. I could read well in kindergarten, during an era when parents weren’t accelerating their kids, so that set me apart. All the kindergarten students were given an IQ test. When the results came in, the teacher told my parents I was a genius. I thought being smart was some sort of compensation for my lack of social and playground skills.
I believed I was brilliant all the way until my senior year in high school, when I realised that being the smartest kid in my class wasn’t smart enough to make me the next Einstein (or even smart enough to figure out how to get girls to like me). So I worked on being a regular person, or at least a less nerdy person. Then I started kicking arse on ultra-high-end IQ tests and thought, “Whoa — maybe I can be brilliant.” Then I took a bunch more of these tests and thought, “It takes some kind of idiot to waste thousands of hours on IQ tests (not to mention dancing naked for terrible tips and getting punched in the face while throwing people out of bars).”
BI: What makes you feel stupid?
RR: Not figuring things out faster makes me feel dumb. I can figure out just about anything, but sometimes it takes a while. Didn’t learn to properly apply the sleeper hold until 30 years after I’d started working in bars. (Not that anyone should apply the sleeper hold — it’s dangerous.)
BI: How did you get involved with writing for TV?
RR: Back in the 80s, I was a run-through contestant on MTV’s first game show,”Remote Control,” when it was in development. This was the first time I’d ever been around comedy writers. I liked them and asked to be an intern. I became a fact-checker and later, a writer for the show. Moved to LA, my wife’s hometown, and, after years of bar bouncing and art modelling and trying to write a novel and still being in my socks and underwear when my wife got home from work, started getting work writing for quiz shows, clip shows, prank shows, and a sketch comedy show. My boss on a couple of these shows got a late-night gig, and, as I had shown myself to be tough, hard-working, and funny/weird, he brought me along.
BI: You’ve held some strange jobs in the past (at least according to your Wikipedia profile you’ve previously worked as a stripper, roller-skater waiter, bouncer, and later appeared in a Domino’s commercial) — what attracts you to less traditional roles? Boredom? Fame? General curiosity? All of the above? None of the above?
RR: My senior year in high school, I freaked out over being nerdy and unsuccessful with girls. I scuttled my shot at going to an Ivy League college and instead worked on making myself manly, lifting weights and talking like Barbarino from “Welcome Back, Kotter.” I half-assedly attended my hometown school, the University of Colorado, while bouncing, and stripping, and nude modelling. At the same time, I was thinking about physics — about the deep equivalence between the mapping of information within the mind and the structure of the universe and its information.
I can think about physics anywhere, and the on-the-job stress of work for which I’m not ideally suited sometimes helps focus my thinking on physics. So I’ve tended to pick jobs that are fun and rough-and-tumble.
BI: What’s does your typical day look like?
RR: When I’m on-staff, I wake up at 6:30 a.m. Look at the internet. Take 50 pills (for health, longevity, and to make my brain work better) while reading the newspaper and eating breakfast. Do a quick dozen sets on my weight machines and then go to work. No riding elevators — take the stairs for exercise. Sometimes stay late, working on social media and exercising with rubber band thingies I hook to a door. Walk from work to a nearby gym. Read a book between sets. Sometimes think about physics. Drive home, stopping at two more gyms on the way. Eat dinner. My wife tells me about her day. Intend to do more work, but, being too tired, just watch TV, often the cooking competitions my wife likes.
Now that I’m primarily occupied with writing a memoir about my stupidest adventures, I’ve been writing from home. Refer to my old yearbooks because much of my stupidity commenced more than 35 years ago. Check the internet way too often, telling myself that a substantial social media presence can help win a big book deal, but really because I’m easily distracted. Drink lots of coffee so I don’t take a nap. Watch the goldfish, missing the genius goldfish that learned to call me to feed it by blowing bubbles at the top of the tank. (Its genius eventually killed it; it got air bladder disease from too much bubble-blowing.) In the late afternoon or evening, visit a circuit of five gyms — LA Fitness, a different LA Fitness, Gold’s, the YMCA, and a third LA Fitness.
BI: Tell me about your love life.
RR: My wife and I recently celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary, and we were together for about 5 years before that, so I’ve been with the same person for more than half my life. She’s much less of a weirdo than I am. (She’s not a weirdo at all, except for her love of crushing chocolate-covered Valentine’s candy.)
I lost my virginity three months before my 20th birthday, which was kind of pathetic, considering how much and for how long I wanted to lose it. Later, I found out that the woman who helped me lose it may have specialised in de-virginizing nerds. Had a number of girlfriends and intimate encounters before meeting my wife, with that number being pretty good by today’s standards (if one is so shallow to go by numbers) but not so good for someone who was bouncing and stripping before the “Just Say No” era.
BI: What frustrates you about other people?
RR: Most of the things which might frustrate me about other people also frustrate me about myself. The brains we’ve evolved are good at some things (including convincing us that we have a complete and an accurate view of reality even when we don’t) but have serious limitations. I’m pretty aware of those limitations within myself (and have a saying — “The world’s smartest rabbit is still a rabbit”). We’re all limited and defined by being evolved creatures made of meat.
That being said, I’m most frustrated on a daily basis by people’s ability to deal with tech being outpaced and overwhelmed by changes in tech. If tech stood still, we’d eventually learn how to gracefully incorporate it into our lives. But tech doesn’t stand still, and we don’t learn how to resist its dangerous and annoying aspects — texting while driving or crossing the street, living in internet-fuelled information bubbles — which of course are things that annoy everyone about everyone else.
Also a little frustrated that people aren’t more freaked out by the future. Things are going to get very strange. I tend to scoff when politicians talk about the kind of world we’re leaving for our grandchildren. Our grandchildren could be very alien to us — genetically tweaked, brain-linking chipheads.
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