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Lumosity: The Last Piece Of Information Big Data Didn't Have About You



June 07, 2014 – Comments (5)

I read the TMF Post of the Day today - here it is, thanks to Arlene123 - and it got me thinking about a topic I've been meaning to post about for some time. is a newish website where you can play 'brain games' for free.  The idea, long since debunked in cognitive science circles, is that your brain is a muscle and you should exercise it to keep it working.  (This idea has long since been debunked; the brain is not a muscle, you can't exercise it, there are practice effects on these kinds of cognitive tests that simply affects the tests' ability to measure Spearman's g, and the prophecy is self-fulfilling, as only the people having declining cognition do poorly - the rest do not do poorly.  But that's not what I came to write about.)

Now if you've spent any time on Lumosity, you realize this sort of eerie fact: their 'brain games' are IQ tests.  Plain and simple, that's what's happening: your IQ is being measured.

Why would someone launch a website to measure your IQ?  Who are these people?  Well, they're brain scientists, right?  Sure they are - take a look at Lumosity's "Our Team" webpage. And that's fine.  But wait, there are a couple other types in there.  The CEO is a venture capital guy, no brain science background at all.  And here's a guy from Goldman Sachs.  And the "Data Analysis" guy - he has other interests: "He also uses the Lumosity database to uncover interesting relationships between cognitive performance and other environmental factors".

Right.  The Goldman guy thinks that's important.  The venture cap guy thinks that's important.

Why?  It's because of this:  Up til now, IQ hasn't been in the credit databases that the banking industry keeps on every man jack, woman and child in the world.  Yet, IQ - that simple number - is a very good predictor of employment success, overall happiness, net worth, income, creditworthiness - apart happiness, all the things that credit companies care about.

Can you sign up to play a Lumosity game without giving your credit card number, which is your social security number, which is linked to every fact and data point known about you in the universe of data?  Try it.  They don't want you to buy anything; but they want your identity.  And they want to sell it to the finance industry.

If you were trying to slam people into your 'premier' banking program, as Arlene123 complains about; who would you want?  The IQ 120 person like Miss Arlene - 90th percentile, a bit above average - who sees how she's been screwed, and sues over it, and wins a settlement?  Or the IQ 85 person - 32nd percentile, let's say - who's never going to be quite "with the program" enough to figure it out?

Everyone wants that low-IQ money.  There are now "prize-based investing" incentives in Michigan, and a bill is pending in US Congress.  Putting money in a savings account is now like buying a lottery ticket - you have a chance to win money.  The idea is that instead of playing the lottery, people will save money, which is good for the banking system - and ostensibly good for the best interests of those people too.

There's no moral to this story.  The winners exploit the losers, which is the story of humanity all through its history.  Pretty soon, Big Data will be able to tell my IQ just from looking at what they already know about me, even if I don't sign up on a website and do work in order to hand-deliver it to them. 

5 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 07, 2014 at 3:01 PM, ikkyu2 (98.15) wrote:

Heck, for all I know, the credit card companies may want to measure happiness too.  Happy people spend more money!

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#2) On June 08, 2014 at 12:22 AM, awallejr (33.36) wrote:

Good blog.

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#3) On June 08, 2014 at 4:31 AM, CoreAndExplore (63.58) wrote:

Used to pay for a sub to Lumosity, until I did some digging and discovered that their reseach is fraudulent. Simply throwing around the word "neuroplasticity" and making outlandish claims about the efficacy of their "brain-training" was enough to get tons of people to fork over silly amounts of money, including myself (regrettably). Probably the smartest business move they made is the ability to compare yourself to others and "improve" your overall score, incentivizing the customer to continue playing the games, providing a much more stick customer relationship than you'd think at first blush. I got all the way to the 94th percentile in my age group, and was feeling pretty great about myself... and there's the reason why it is such an addictive product: it provides an incredible self-esteem boost as you see yourself leap-frogging your peers in the brain department. Then you realize that training for a watered down IQ test proves absolutely nothing other than the fact that you may need a hug and some counseling on the downside of frivolous purchases.

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#4) On June 08, 2014 at 5:10 PM, EnigmaDude (58.58) wrote:

My daughter wants to study neuroscience. I will have to warn her about scams like this one! Clever concept though. Thanks for blogging about it.

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#5) On June 09, 2014 at 2:01 AM, valunvesthere (23.20) wrote:

"Everyone wants that low-IQ money."

The Lottery: A Tax On The Stupid & Mathematically Challenged – YAWN!

Lotteries are here to stay as long as there is plenty of people with hopes, dreams that buy into it and government is receiving healthy regular steady cash flow in its coffers.


(50!)/((5!)(45!)) * (36!)/((1!)(35!))

((50)(49)(48)(47)(46)) / ((5)(4)(3)(2)(1)) * 36

(254251200 / 120) * 36

2118760 * 36 = 76,275,360

76,275,360 combinations/outcomes

LOTTO 6/49 




(1.0068 10)/(720) 

13,983,816 combinations/outcomes

Interesting fact from Wikipedia - Lottery

Early history

"The first recorded signs of a lottery are keno slips from the Chinese Han Dynasty between 205 and 187 BC. These lotteries are believed to have helped to finance major government projects like the Great Wall of China."


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