The Smartest: The Highest IQs in History

There are many different types of intelligence. Some of us are emotionally intelligent, while others possess street smarts, but unfortunately, there is only one type of intelligence that can be measured (and thus boasted about) which is cognitive ability.

The intelligence quotient or I.Q. score is a numerical result compiled from a number of tests designed to measure logic and reasoning abilities relative to the average performance in one’s chronological age group. The average IQ is 100, but since the test originated in 1916, many people have scored far beyond the average earning themselves the title of “genius.”

Great minds like Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein certainly fall in this category (their IQs come in at around 160), but you may be surprised to learn that their famed minds don’t even break the top 10 list. Here are some of the highest IQ scores ever recorded and the bright minds who scored them.

Judit Polgar

Chess had long been a male dominant world until Hungarian girl genius Judit Polgar came along to prove that women can play the game just as well as men can, if not better. Polgar was just 15 years old when she earned the title of Chess Grandmaster in 1991, beating out Bobby Fisher to be the youngest Grandmaster in history.

Polgar claims that her father believed that “geniuses are not born, but made,” and attempted to prove his point by rigorously homeschooling Polgar and her sisters in academics and chess from an early age. We imagine Mr. Polgar felt that he’d proved his theory, considering that Judit has an IQ of 170 and her sisters are also internationally renowned chess players.


Philip Emeagwali

While Judit Polgar’s father seems convinced that geniuses are made and not born, world renowned engineer, mathematician, and computer scientist Philip Emeagwali might just prove the opposite.

Emeagwali grew up in war torn Nigeria in the 1960s and was forced to leave school at 14 when he was conscripted into the Biafran army. After the Nigerian civil war ended, Emeagwali couldn’t afford to attend school and completed his high school level education through self-study. Emeagwali later moved to the U.S. to earn a doctorate in scientific computing and has been awarded with the Gordon Bell Prize, which is one of the highest achievements in the world of computing.

Despite the lack of formal academic training in his younger years, Emeagwali’s IQ is said to be around 190 proving that nature just might beat out nurture when it comes to intelligence.

Garry Kasparov

Soviet born chess master Garry Kasparov broke onto the scene in 1985 when he became the youngest world chess champion at the time at just 22 years old. Kasparov went on to become one of the most acclaimed and most watched chess players in the world and was chosen to go up against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in a pair of highly publicized matches in 1996 and 1997. Kasparov beat the computer in the first match, but lost out to it in the second round. He shouldn’t feel too badly about though, considering he has an IQ of 190 and is still widely considered to be one of the smartest people on the planet.

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