Smart kids can grow up to do some pretty amazing things, like creating Google and Facebook and snorting heaps of coke. Wait, what? It’s true. Earlier this month, British researchers announced a link between brainy children and an inability to say no to drugs later in life. Which got us thinking: what else happens to geeks when they get older? Turns out, a surprising mix of results that should both caution and guide you, assuming you are smart. And since you are reading this article, that’s a damn good assumption, of course.
1. Illicit Drug Use
When the 1970 British Cohort Study tracked drug use over the course of a lifetime while also looking at factors like intelligence and social class, they found that high IQ children were 50 percent more likely to abuse illegal drugs. The findings extended across a range of buzzes, too, from marijuana to cocaine to meth. Scientists speculate that smart kids get bored easily and turn to drugs as a means of dealing with it. But, um, isn’t that why everyone gets high?
2. Heavy Drinking
It’s not just messing around with some blow when they go off to college. Smart kids are more likely to grow up to be bona fide alcoholics too. Dr. G. David Batty and his cohorts at the University of Glasgow found that by the age of 30, smart girls are 38 percent more likely to have drinking problems, while smart boys have a 17 percent higher risk. When you’re smart you know all kinds of depressing stuff that totally harshes your mellow, apparently.
We’re not convinced this photo supports the research.
Smart kids may get into drugs and booze later in life, but they aren’t having them with a side of steak. Epidemiologists at the University of Southampton found that every 15 point increase in IQ led to a 38 percent increase in the likelihood of being vegetarian. That said, more than 33 percent of the people in the study described themselves as vegetarians but said they ate white meat and fish, and less than seven percent were strict vegetarians or vegans. Guess they do vegetarianism differently across the pond. Or smartness.
4. Resistance to PTSD
Finally, some good news for brainiacs. A Michigan State study found that smarter kids were 20 percent less likely to experience posttraumatic stress disorder after disastrous events. Epidemiologists speculate that those with higher IQs have better coping skills than their average and below-average intelligence-having counterparts. So if your kids have big brains, feel free to take them hunting for human or get them a part-time job at the local slaughterhouse. They’ll be fine.
Epidemiologists—who apparently spend most of their time studying smart kids, rather than looking for cures to cancer and AIDS—at the Harvard School of Public Health found that children who score higher on IQ tests have a significantly lower risk of premature death. This one actually kind of makes some sense, because we are pretty sure that being smart is supposed to be an evolutionary advantage. For those who survive high school, anyway.
Numerous studies conducted by groups like the Finra Investor Education Foundation, WISE Senior Services of Los Angeles and AARP Washington State have found that victims of investment fraud tend to be smarter than non-victims. And an Oklahoma City University/University of Central Oklahoma study found that belief in things like ghosts and the paranormal increases as people advance through college and into grad school. In other words, the smarter you are, the more likely you’re going to keep going to college…and the more prone you are to go in for some new dumb crap.
While a number of studies have correlated education and liberal politics, anyone who’s ever been to college knows that a degree and intelligence are not synonymous. Still, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science found that, education level aside, smarter people in general are more likely to lean left. Researchers believe this springs from an active mind’s desire to question conventional norms and seek out new information, but there’s also a more sinister reason: smart people simply like feeling more enlightened than the plebes. Even if it means being douchey.
The same London School of Economics and Political Science study correlated higher intelligence with atheism. Again, smart people are more skeptical, open to unconventional ideas and more likely to get off on being smarmy pricks.
The third prong of the London School of Economics and Political Science study found that men with higher IQs are more faithful partners. Kind of weird, because considering the first two, you’d think that smarter guys would get into Bacchanalian orgies just about every weekend. Oddly enough, a complementary level of faithfulness was not found in smart chicks. So maybe your new girlfriend’s appalling awfulness at Trivial Pursuit isn’t such a bad thing after all.