Photo: Ask Marilyn
Measuring IQ is an inexact science, which is why the Guinness Book of World Records eliminated the Highest IQ category in 1990.Even with a test result in hand, the number can vary from exam to exam. Third party scoring or estimates based upon intellectual achievements are a popular way of getting a ballpark figure.
In other words, the following list is based on rumours and hearsay, but that’s the only way to measure the world’s smartest people.
Stone is widely reputed to have an IQ of 154. She also said she was a Mensa member, but retracted this claim in 2002.
At the age of 15 she accepted a scholarship to Edinboro University of Pensylvania, where she studied creative writing and fine arts. She described herself as 'a nerdy, ugly duckling,' according to her online biography at Penn State University Library.
Job: Actress, model
Alleged to have nabbed a perfect 1600 on the pre-1995 SAT, Allen beat out his Microsoft partner Bill Gates by 10 points, and according to the Megafoundation is reputed to have an IQ of 160.
Allen must be smart to have convinced IBM, in 1980, that five year old Microsoft had a Disk Operating System which would work on Intel chips when it didn't.
It was the pivotal move leading to the IBM contract, which has defined personal computing ever since.
Job: Chairman, Vulcan Inc.
In an interview with MSNBC Hawking said: 'People who boast about their IQ are losers.' However, his IQ is widely rumoured to be 160.
By his own account Hawking didn't learn to read until he was eight and went to University College, Oxford, where his two lackluster final exam scores required a third, oral exam.
After being diagnosed with ALS, he declined taking a doctorate as he didn't expect to live long enough to make it worthwhile.
Though his life expectancy exceeded his expectations, concerns that the disease would diminish his genius prompted Hawking to take the Mensa test to confirm his intellect remained unaffected.
Job Theoretical physicist and cosmologist
Byrne first showed his genius on the chess board in New York City and was one of the 'Collins Kids,' along with Bobby Fisher, taught by 20th century chess great John W. Collins.
According to Career and Test Byrne is reported to have an IQ of 170.
He was the chess columnist for the New York Times from 1972 until his retirement in 2006, at 78.
Job: Professor, writer Chess Grandmaster
The strongest female chess player in history, Polgar beat Bobby Fisher to become the youngest Grandmaster ever at 15 years, 5 months -- chess.com asserts she has an IQ of 170.
Polgar's father educated his three daughters at home with chess as the central subject. Judit is an International Master and her two sisters are Grandmasters.
The experiment belied the assumption that women were naturally weaker players, and strengthened the nurture over nature argument.
Job: Chess Grandmaster, mother
In 1995, Wiles proved a 358 year old mathematical theory called Fermat's Last Theorem, which until then was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the 'most difficult maths problem' in the world -- according to Browse Biography he has an IQ of 170.
Proving the theory also granted Wiles a small measure of popular celebrity. He was mentioned in an episode of Star Trek and in the second and third books of Stieg Larsson's popular trilogy.
He was knighted in 2000.
Job: Mathematics professor: Princeton
Jake didn't talk until he was almost three years old, when he started reciting the alphabet forward and backward.
According to the Indianapolis Star he has an IQ of 170*.
At three, his parents took him to a planetarium where he responded correctly to a question about the graivitational pull of Mar's upon its moons, stunning the audience.
He is currently a student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
*Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children
Netanyahu left MIT in 1973 to fight in the Yom Kippur War, when hostilities concluded he returned and earned a B.S.in Architecture.
Fischer is credited with having an incredible memory and took the Stanford-Binet IQ test at his high school, in Brooklyn where, according to chess.com, he scored 180.
Fischer was absolutely a troubled genius with renowned mental health problems, and he may also have been the world's most intelligent outlaw.
Against a U.S.Department of State 1992 order, Fischer played a rematch against Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia, then under economic sanctions, and remained a wanted man the rest of his life.
Born: March 9, 1943 -- Died January 17, 2008 at 64.
Job: Chess Grandmaster, writer
Sununu is a member of the Mega Society -- whose membership is composed of those with IQ's in the 99.9999th percentile -- one in a million, and is rumoured by NNDB to have an IQ of 180.
Sununu became famous for his abuses of government travel while George H.W. Bush's Chief of Staff from 1989-1991, and was mentioned as recently as 2009 in the Family Guy episode: A Picture is Worth a 1,000 Bucks.
Job: Mechanical engineer, politician
Woods was a brilliant student who achieved a perfect 800 on the verbal and 779 on the maths portions of the pre-1995 SAT. He attended MIT on scholarship and was described by IMDb as having an IQ of 180.
Woods enrolled in a linear algebra course at UCLA while still in high school before accepting the full scholarship to MIT.
In 1985, The Guinness Book of World Records accepted vos Savant's IQ score of 190, and according to marilynvossavant.com, crowned her the woman with the highest IQ for five consecutive years -- she has tested as high as 228 on various IQ tests.
vos Savant was an outspoken critic of fellow genius, Andrew Wiles' Fermat Theorem, and wrote a book in 1993 asserting his methodology in the proof was flawed.
In 1995, following accusations that she did not fully understand various mathematical theories, she retracted her assertions and allowed for Wiles' methods.
In 2003 Kasparov played to a draw against a chess computer that could calculate three million positions per second.
According to chess.nuvvo.com a German study found Kasparov to have an IQ of 135, other sources put the number as high as 190.
Kasparov contends that IBM cheated during the computerized match where he was defeated by Deep Blue in 1997. He said he saw, 'deep intelligence and creativity' in the computers moves that could only have come from human assistance.
IBM denied the allegation, refused to provide Kasparov with log files from the game, and retired the machine -- proof to Kasparov of 'evidence tampering.'
Job: Chess Grandmaster, writer, political activist
Emeagwali left school in 1967, at 13, to fight in the Nigerian-Biafran war, completed a self-study high school equivalency, got a B.S. in maths from Oregon State and three Master's Degrees in maths, Environmental and Marine Engineering from various schools.
He was reported by Sahara Reporters as having an IQ of 190.
Emeagwali sat for his Ph.D at the University of Michigan from 1987-1991, but when he was denied the degree he sued UM school for racial discrimination.
The case made it to the Michigan Court of Appeals where it was finally dismissed.
Job: Writer, speaker
Langan achieved a perfect score on the SAT, but dropped out of Montana State University after concluding his professors weren't qualified to teach him anything -- ABC's 20/20 measured his IQ between 195 and 210.
Langan began talking at six months, and taught himself to read when he was three.
He says he lived a double life for years, manual labour during the day and complex equations in his head at night.
Job: Construction worker, cowboy, forest service firefighter, farmhand, bouncer and writer
Yong could speak fluently at six months old and was a guest student in physics at Hanyang University by the time he was three.
He was described by Oddee as having the Guinness Book of World Records set his IQ at 210.
After leaving NASA at 16, he was offered enrollment at Korea's most prestigious universities, instead Yong chose a provincial college to earn his PhD in Civil Engineering.
As of 2007 he also serves on the adjunct faculty at Chungbuk National University.
Job: Civil engineer
Hirata skipped middle school and at 16 was working with NASA on project exploring the possibility of colonizing Mars.
The Daily Princetonian, Princeton's student paper, where Hirata began attending for his PhD in Astrophysics at 18, reported that his IQ is around 225.
Job: Assistant Professor, Astrophysics, Cal Tech
At eight years old, Tao achieved a score of 760 on the pre-1995 SAT, received a Ph.D from Princeton at 20 and at 24 became the youngest ever full professor at UCLA.
His IQ is pegged at between 220 and 230 by the Davidson Institute.
Tao says he learned to read by watching Seasame Street in Western Australia.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.