Politics Psychology Societies

IQ Isn’t A Great Predictor Of Presidential Success

IQ is still only a so-so predictor of success for a President, it doesn’t judge a President’s learning method, ability to rigorously fact check sources, fortitude, mental flexibility, leadership, teambuilding skills, bureaucratic support, ect…:
In terms of brute brainpower, the smartest postwar presidents were Richard Nixon, a Duke Law School graduate with a reported IQ of 143; Jimmy Carter, who graduated in the top 10 percent of his Naval Academy class; and Rhodes scholar Bill Clinton, a graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School. Deeply flawed presidencies all, despite their potential.

In contrast, take high school graduate Harry Truman — railroad worker, clerk, bookkeeper, farmer, road inspector and small-town postmaster — or Ronald Reagan, sports announcer and B-list actor with mediocre college credentials.

Despite their intellectual limitations, both achieved substantial political success as president. And, to press home the point, there is Franklin D. Roosevelt, a top-tier president in rankings of historical greatness, whom the late Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes branded “a second-rate intellect but a first-class temperament.”

By Eric Patton

Well look down Yonder Gabriel, put your feet on the
land and see

But Gabriel don't you blow your trumpet till you hear
from me

There ain't no grave can hold my body down

6 replies on “IQ Isn’t A Great Predictor Of Presidential Success”

Most guesses put him around 115-130ish. But that’s calculated from his college year SAT’s, the flex supposedly comes from whether you account for the affirmative action bonus they gave his score, I don’t have the time to fact check that though.

There is no telling how much cognitive decline or advancement he has made since then, particularly since hereditary g is expressed more as you get older. But in my experience the scores can be increased with training, particularly if you already have a score one standard deviation above.

More importantly, I don’t think the incentive system for choosing the President selects for intellectual heavyweights or strong leaders. Most intelligent people with some worldly experience can blow the recent candidates out of the water.

Very good comments Eric. I’ve not seen anyone else’s guesses, but I am pleased I am in the range you gave.

Are his college SATs public knowledge? I thought he had embargoed all his grades and all his test scores. What were his SAT scores?

Did not know that G is expressed more with advancing years. Is that from Charles Murray?

You are surely right about the system for choosing presidents not selecting on those qualities …

They had a very tricky time guessing his score, but because he didn’t become a National Merit Scholar, they can guess his maximum score:
[T]hese are the facts concerning Obama’s LSAT score while attending Law School at Harvard University. We do not know his actual LSAT score; however, after much research, we found that the average LSAT score for all Harvard students is 171. The percentile rank for an LSAT score of 171 at Harvard is 98.8%.

MENSA will accept LSAT scores as a means of qualifying for MENSA membership. (MENSA also accepts up to 200 various IQ tests and other tests of cognitive function as well.) The LSAT score required for MENSA membership is equal to a percentile of 95% or higher. Thus, basing Obama’s estimated LSAT score of 171 ranks him in the top 98.8% (percent/percentile) range which is clearly above the lowest acceptable LSAT percentage rank of 95%, which clearly affirms that Obama has a qualifying intelligence quotient that would allow him acceptance into MENSA.

Since MENSA accepts various IQ Tests as well as other cognitive tests to qualify for MENSA membership it is safe to estimate that Obama’s IQ Score could range anywhere from a low IQ score of 130 based on the Stanford Binet IQ Test, Revision 5, to a high IQ score of 148 based on the Cattell IQ Test.

What the IQ guy failed to account for is the fact that Harvard University practices affirmative action. PBS Frontline reports: “The gap in SAT scores persists even at the highest levels of achievement. A study of the 1989 applicants to five highly-selective universities found that white candidates’ average combined SAT score was 186 points higher than the corresponding SAT average for African American applicants.”

Furthermore, the New York Times reports that “At the best schools, by contrast, efforts to diversify the student body translate into a 400-point bonus for minority students on the SAT tests.”

Obama graduated from my mother’s alma mater, where everyone takes the various college prep tests. He was not a National Merit Scholar, a National Merit Semifinalist or an Outstanding Participant.

This indicates a ceiling on his SAT percentile at 96.9, which indicates a maximum possible SAT score of 1230 and maximum IQ of 129.

The biggest change comes in the gap between puberty and adulthood. Basically over time the environment matters less and genetics more for determining potential scores and life outcome.
Estimates in the academic research of the heritability of IQ have varied from below 0.5[2] to a high of 0.9.[5] A 1996 statement by the American Psychological Association gave about .45 for children and about .75 during and after adolescence.[6] A 2004 meta-analysis of reports in Current Directions in Psychological Science gave an overall estimate of around .85 for 18-year-olds and older.[7] The New York Times Magazine has listed about three quarters as a figure held by the majority of studies.[8]

Masterfully stated! Thank you.

What do we make of the President’s confusion of facts– 57 states, the Austrian Language, America invented the automobile, the Intercontinental Railroad, the American Army liberated Auschwitz, and so many more– not many geniuses make mistakes like these, no matter how long their day has been.

How do we account for the gushing praise as to his alleged genius, absent empirical support– Presidential Historians like Beschloss may be excused as they are expert on the presidency, not on assessing intellectual qualities, but I still would like to understand how BHO has fooled so many. I think it has to do with white guilt– I would like to see a quantitative assessment of his alleged genius across racial groups– If Hispanics and Asians were more skeptical than whites, I think we can lay the misattribution of genius to white guilt. Also there is the verbal fluency, at least while reading from a teleprompter, so absent with the previous president. I think that many Americans credit BHO with genius because of his speaking ability, yet many sportscasters read a teleprompter equally well or better than the president, and no one is falling over themselves to say that these sportscasters are geniuses.

Based on the SAT to IQ conversion chart, George W Bush would of had an IQ around 129, which is pretty low for a President but we’ve had lower.

Part of the reason Bush is so infamous for being dumb is that the media loves to find things that make people angry so that they can get higher ratings or pageviews, which translates into advertising revenue. Emotions like anger spread virally, whereas things that make us sad aren’t shared as often. Bush even had a series of books made about his verbal gaffes, which reaches not only “liberals” but grammar nazis as well. Bush being viewed as dumb wasn’t a liberal conspiracy, it was a marketable product.

It’s common for people to mistake verbal fluency for actual thinking. Particularly if the words have an emotional impact, instead of being raw analysis:

John F Kennedy scored 119, and he’s quite famous for his oratory. As I said before, having the entire package is more useful than intelligence alone. There’s definitely white guilt as well as black tribalism in there, I remember CNN was broadcasting the first 100 days of Obama because him simply being there means progress. Many celebrities got interviews describing how great and historic it was that we have a black man as President. His promise of Hope and Change was vague, few people knew what it mean’t, so in a sense he hasn’t broken that core promise. We’ve held this President to a lower standard than most.

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