The Two-Sigma Advantage Hypothesis

Here I present my hypothesis that an activity will be trivially, insultingly easy if you’re 2 standard deviations above the mean of people who engage in it. This means 2 standard deviations of the primary trait which confers success in that activity. Also, for convenience, I’m using normalized distributions against the general population, rather than real and potentially non-normal distributions or standard deviations of the group itself.

I formulated this in the context of IQ and academic success, but it extends to other traits and fields. For example, military service:

The largest impediment for today’s young people is health problems — specifically, obesity. Twenty-seven percent of young people in that age group aren’t eligible to join the military because of obesity, the report states, with another 37 percent ineligible due to other health problems such as asthma or joint problems.

If 64% of young adults are physically unfit for military service, then the average military-fit young adult is at the 82nd percentile relative to young adults. That will almost certainly be even higher among the general population because young adults are at the time of their life where they have the highest (potential, and often actual) physical fitness. Let’s round up to a clean 85th percentile. Then the average military-fit young adult has an F.Q. (“Fitness Quotient”) of 115. Therefore, we estimate that with an F.Q. of 145 (~99.7th %ile), you’ll be able to pass basic training without feeling particularly strained. Since almost everyone with an F.Q. of 145 or more will be male, we’ll double that and say this is the 99.4th %ile for American males.

Can anyone think of other examples which would lend support for or against this hypothesis?


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