"The Curse of the High IQ" is a book that needed to be written, a truthful lamentation of how society discriminates against the gifted. Unfortunately, it's derailed by Aaron Clarey's sloppy research and poor writing.

The Curse of the Oversized Ego
2.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (16 Votes)

Aaron Clarey is who I want to be when I grow up. Best-known for his blog Captain Capitalism, Clarey has built up a following over the past decade by offering cogent economic advice and snappy social commentary in between his hiking and biking adventures. Worthless, aimed at helping high schoolers avoid wasting their time and money with useless college majors, is a book I’d wish I had when I was a teenager; Enjoy the Decline is a sardonic survival guide for the Obama era; Bachelor Pad Economics may be the most comprehensive guide to personal finance ever written.

However, with The Curse of the High IQ, Clarey has finally reached his level of incompetence.

Anyone who’s ever had to attend a public school or hold an office job knows that smart people are at a disadvantage in Western societies. Clarey’s book bills itself as an examination of why society despises the intelligent and what they can do about it. While The Curse of the High IQ has a lot going for it, Clarey’s lazy argumentation and terrible writing hang from the book’s neck like a pair of obese albatrosses. Because of this, I have difficulty recommending it to anyone who isn’t already a fan of his.

Clarey begins the book by discussing a number of his friends who are depressed and unhappy despite being gifted and successful at their careers or hobbies, identifying the cause as their abnormally high IQs. The book’s chapters each focus on a different aspect of life, from education to work to dating, showing how intelligent people are handicapped every step of the way. While some of Curse’s points are dead obvious – for example, we all know that the obsession with celebrity culture and team sports is driven by the increasing stupidity of the average American – others ring poignant and nearly make the book worth the price of admission on their own.

For example, one of the highlights of the book is the “Education” chapter, where Clarey discusses how America’s Prussian-derived school system rewards conformity over excellence. As someone who was repeatedly punished in grade school for being intelligent, this was particularly eye-opening. In particular, in elementary school, I would often nod off during lectures because I already understood the material, which I proved by getting straight As on every test. In fourth grade, I had frequent run-ins with a teacher’s assistant who would confiscate the novels I read during class, tsk-tsking me by saying there was “a time and a place.”

Curse’s true standouts are the “Career” and “Socializing, Dating & Marriage” chapters. The former concentrates on how political correctness, psychopathic bosses, and the feminine nature of white-collar work make employment a living hell for those on the right side of the bell curve. The latter is a particularly depressing explanation for the loneliness that afflicts intelligent men and women. With brainy people in short supply, the gifted either have to dumb themselves down and pretend to like sportsball and the Kardashians, or otherwise get used to being alone.

Unfortunately, in order to get to these chapters, you have to fight an uphill battle against Curse’s ghastly prose. Clarey’s book has so many typos and such mangled grammar that reading it gave me a minor headache. In fact, his writing is so bad that I doubt he even bothered to run Spellcheck before he put the book on sale. Here’s a sampling of Cappy Cap pinning the English language to the ground and refusing to take no for an answer [sic]:

Children is the third and most devastating stage of attrition to your social life. And the reason why is because it has to be. When people have children they (should) give up their current life to ensure their children are properly raised in theirs. And while your friends’ breeding may be the death knell to your social life, it would be the epitome of child abuse if they prioritized their social lives over their children.

I plucked this passage out at random, but there are countless examples in the book that are just as bad or worse. Not only is Clarey’s writing horrifying enough to induce physical pain, his slapdash prose undermines his core thesis. The Curse of the High IQ‘s central argument relies on the fact that Clarey himself is intelligent and has suffered because of it; in fact, he uses examples from his own life to make his points. Well, Mr. Clarey, if you’re so smart, why do you write like you have an IQ of 90?

Of course, I know that Clarey’s a sharp guy: he is my friend, after all. His problem is that he’s lazy. By his own admission, he doesn’t read many books, preferring to spend his free time climbing mountains, playing video games, or doing cross-country motorcycle trips. He stubbornly refuses to proofread his work or study the craft of writing, arguing that because he already speaks English, he doesn’t need to learn how to write it. That’s like arguing that engineers don’t need to study math since they already know basic arithmetic.

Curse also has several factual inaccuracies that drag the book down. For example, Clarey alleges that intelligent people tend to be night owls, and night owls are discriminated against thanks to the 9 to 5 workday that society is structured around. In reality, scientific evidence shows that people are healthier and more productive when they wake up early and go to bed early instead of staying up all night. In bringing this issue up, Clarey is trying to rationalize his lifestyle choices.

Additionally, near the end of the book, Clarey tries to argue that mental illness and intelligence are correlated, that society’s jihad against the gifted literally drives them insane. Again, this is bunk. There are numerous causal factors for mental illness, such as child abuse, sexual abuse, genetics, and drug usage, but having a high IQ is not one of them.

It’s a shame that Clarey took such a shoot-from-the-hip approach with The Curse of the High IQ, since the book is one that we needed, one that examines a topic that few dare to touch. Had Clarey taken his time with Curse, carefully researching his points and revising his prose, the book could have been a true masterpiece. As it stands, only serious fans of Captain Capitalism – or those with a high pain threshold – should buy it.

The Curse of the High IQ

Society, by statistical necessity, needs to focus on the majority. It needs to be built and designed for “the average.” Society, by moral necessity, also needs to focus on the disadvantaged and disabled, helping those who cannot help themselves. But while the majority of society’s resources, attention, and infrastructure is dedicated to average or below-average […]

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About The Author

Profile photo of Matt Forney

Matt Forney is a Chicago-based author and journalist. He blogs at MattForney.com and is the author of several books, including Confessions of an Online Hustler. Matt's work has also been featured at Return of Kings, Taki's Magazine, Alternative Right and many other sites, and he also served as the editor of Reaxxion, a gaming website for men.

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  • van Rensburgs Gesicht

    For German-speaking readers I can highly recommend Volkmar Weiss book:

    “Die Intelligenz und ihre Feinde: Aufstieg und Niedergang der Industriegesellschaft”


  • Reallybra

    Clarey is a drunk who rationalizes his own failure. It sucks because he takes good points about the experience of High IQ individuals and coopts them to explain his lack of a willingness to dominate. He probably wrote the whole thing while inebriated.

    Matt is right. This is one we really needed. Clarey is disappointing as usual.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    Interesting. Try having not only a high IQ, but also ‘elitist’ cultural interests..!

    The modern West is no place for an educated, cultivated European man.

    I tried really hard to like Clarey, I really did.

  • Ferd

    Clarey is a philistine f*cktard with a Napoleon complex the size of Minnesota. This book could have been epic…

  • Greve Hans

    Idk/idc about this guy, but this article is the worst I’ve read in ages. The last time I read an article as bad as this has got to be when I last checked Swedish msm. This sounds nothing more than either advertisement or some personal vandetta you cool kidz bitch about.


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  • OneFatOzGuy

    I can see your points and, having read quite a few books that haven’t been properly proof read, I’d have to agree with bad grammar and or spelling getting to a person. One spends mental energy thinking about what should have been written and then losing the train of thought.
    Of course I once got into an argument with my English teacher over the correct “you’re/your” and ‘lost’ when she declared she was the teacher and it didn’t matter anyway because the language would evolve and combine those kinds of words anyway.
    Not really knowing my IQ (we don’t get tested in that way in Australia) I’m not sure where I fit in, but I just can’t understand why Aaron (or other authors) go to all the trouble to publish books but skip key steps like proof reading.

  • Zed Ecks

    while i get the impression that ones sleeping habits are something that some people are able to control, there are those of us for whom it is not simply a lifestyle choice

    • Peter South

      That is the truth, I can seldom fall asleep at a decent hour but when the sun rises, THAT is when I feel the irresistible urge to sleep.

      Consequently, I spend many days without sleep. If I have a meeting in the morning, it is safer to stay awake.

      I’ve tried everything but I am simply not tired at night. Morning sun knocks me right out.

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  • mickster

    “There are numerous causal factors for mental illness, such as child abuse, sexual abuse, genetics, and drug usage, but having a high IQ is not one of them.”

    In the previous sentence you said that Clarey claimed there was correlation, not causation. Which one was it? There are certainly a number of studies indicating correlation.

  • Peter South

    Look at me, I’m so smart! lol There is actually a great deal of truth to this.

    If you don’t enjoy talking about sports, binge drinking, listening to rap, going to the latest white guilt films cheerfully and idolizing basketball Americans on TV, you are probably not going to have much to do. Guess I’ll stay home…

    Oh goody! Netflix. Women are heroes in every film and the best fighters. Men are evil, weak goofballs. Wow, my race is dying, oops I’m not supposed to care…sure honey, date that black neurosurgeon. White people are evil anyway. Yay!

    Perception can be a bitch sometimes. Impossible to merely watch something without seeing the underlying message that happens to be THE SAME EVERY TIME. OK, schlomo, I GET THE MESSAGE. lol

    Because of that I annoy people. Because they can’t see it, they annoy me. We annoy each other, therefore I stay away but the cost is mine to bear.

    Isolation costs, its really more like alienation. Alienation can’t be healthy, unless it’s a nation of illegal aliens who hate my guts gliding over our superfluous borders, then it’s pure brown heaven. F*ck me.