Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The IQ of Presidents

tA lot of individuals make a very big deal about a presidents intelligent quotient alternating between yelling it from the roof tops when it illustrates how 'smart' their favorite politician is or dismissing it as a useless metric.  Perhaps in the most recently well known instance is the I.Q hoax which claimed President Bush, the second Bush, had an I.Q at 91.  Now 91 one is below the average, which is statistically set to be 100, but not so low that he is terribly below average as he would still be within one standard deviation of the norm; in other words dim but not a moron or a retard.  When I was in college the extreme leftists in my college circle, and regretably sometimes extremely partisan professors, would cackle with glee and essentially say 'look at the proof how stupid Bush, and ergo republicans, are!'.

Those who weren't idiots themselves could see that something was fundementally wrong with the premise.  How would anyone, even if they were part of a political powerhouse family, ever be picked as president of a nation of 300 million if they weren't so smart? The intellectually lazy, or the intelligent prone to conspiracy theories, would postulate how the GOP leadership, or the illuminati depending on how conspiritorially minded they were, wanted someone they could easily manipulate. I've never bought this considering my personal experince. I more often than not saw extremely intelligent individuals being manipulated than the extremely stupid.  While it is only personal observation, and therefore doesn't form any sort of proof from which a reliable argument could be made, if what I saw was true then I would think it might have something to do with the person being more 'turned on' than others.

What I have noticed about the intelligent, bright or gifted is that their emotions are often more complex and succeptible to influence than the extremely stupid. Everyone can be manipulated via anger, greed, pride, love or any other emotion, however, I like to think of emotions as a color pallet. You have your prime colors, or base emotions, and then the subsequent shades, the more complex emotions.  The higher the IQ the more complex the kind of emotions you can have; once again this is all conjecture so I could be widely of the mark. For example you need only look at Socialism to see this in play.  The lower IQ individuals can be easily bought by promises of food, shelter and free stuff while higher up the intelligent quotient chain you will hear about acceptance, compassion or, in some cases, getting even; while above that are appeals to intellect and reason.  This also explains the shotgun approach of trying to string all those themes in every speech given or paper written. While everyone reads or hears the same words depending on your intelligence only a few will really strike a nerve - perhaps most maddening is that unless your on your guard you will be unaware of the attempted manipulation-. But I've gotten off topic.

I was, and am, extremely doubtful of any 'study' that tries to assert that a president was anything less than one standard deviation above average.  In a democratically decided representative system, what ever it's flaws, you just aren't going to see someone who isn't at least above avergage.  This doesn't have anything to do with leaders trying to ensure that the most capable are selected, not by a long shot, rather it has to due with group dynamics. All political parties are just a larger version of the social group and social dynamic comes into play.  The 'average' person would simply be unable to play all the games required to move up the heirarchy ladder.  In fact many extremely intelligent individuals, but whose emotional acuity may not be up to snuff, wouldn't be able to climb the ladder either; of course you will find individuals like congressman Paul who intentionally go against the flow knowing that it will hurt their 'career' but men like him are the exception and not the rule.

This also will explain why, that in this chart of presidential I.Qs, most of our presidents have been above 1 standard deviation but under 3 standard deviations; where a single standard deviation is plus or minus 15 IQ points. In other words, smart enough time impress the population but no so smart as to alienate themselves from the masses, while at the same time minimizing the risk of manipulation that I mentioned earlier. The number of presidents with IQs above 3 standard deviation range from as much as 12 to as little as 1 depending on which column you choose to use but either way the majority of president will be within that 2 standard deviation range.

The chart shown isn't necessarily 100% accurate. Seeing a standard deviation increase or decrease for some presidents, like President Clinton, is a reason to question it's validity. My major point of doubt comes with the corrected IQ score of Woodrow Wilson as there is no way that he had a corrected I.Q of only 102. Woodrow Wilson, statist though he may be, doesn't have the resume of a merely average man of intellect. He was president of Princeton, back when Princeton undeniably deseved its reputation, and President of the United States and both are not the accompishments of an average man.

The chart I posted certaintly isn't the definitive guide on the IQs of the presidents.  Most of the presidents IQs are best guesses taken from analysis of their writings rather than actually from taking the tests which opens up the possibility of errors. Yet at the same time I think its good enough to illustrate that the men who held our highest office aren't dummies.  Our presidents were certainly short sighted or made poor decisions based on ideology at times, after all they were only men. But when an individual talks about how stupid such and such a president is, and this includes the current president. They are letting their emotion, and not their reason, guide their opinions.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.