Presidential IQs

The other evening I sat through a conversation by liberal friends (yes, I have them) whether Bill Clinton’s IQ was double that of George Bush. See, liberals talk about silly things just like conservatives; they’re just different.

A 2001 hoax email purported that Clinton’s IQ was 182 and Bush’s 91. See:

The crux of the discussion seemed to be the impression of intelligence (or lack thereof) made by how we speak. Bush, of course, was a terrible speaker. He couldn’t even read a speech well.

My only contribution was my usual observation that the cover-ups get the politicians in more trouble than the original crime, using Nixon and Clinton as examples.

Interestingly, the “corrected” list on Wikipedia shows John Quincy Adams with the highest IQ (169) among the Presidents and U. S. Grant as lowest with 120. Some reputed to be very high (JFK at 150) actually tested much lower (119). Not surprisingly, all the Presidents have above average IQs. You probably need to be smart–as well as driven–to get elected.

This discussion also indicated the durability of email hoaxes. It’s only been a few years since I last got the the latest version Madalyn Murray O’Hair-FCC hoax, which has been around since 1975. (Yes, before email.) That one has morphed several times over the years. Interestingly, they people who “updated” it knew they were spreading a lie, but I guess the “point” they were making was more important to them than the truth.

Of course, past IQ scores are not an indicator of future performance.


5 thoughts on “Presidential IQs

  1. Statistics can lie depending on how you use them and which instruments you use. I always thought that the disparity between Geo. Bush and Clinton IQ’s was exaggerated and funny. Folks with learning disabilities, such Geo. W. Bush are at a disadvantage. Sad, because too much was expected of him.

    My friend who told me about the IQs is a statistical psychologist. The scores were extrapolated from various sources such as school grades, content and delivery of speeches, decision making, and performance. Various IQ and personality tests don’t stay the same over the years. Recently we learned that the SAT, another measurement, will be changed, yet again. And now we have more sophisticated brain studies, the EEG and the fMRI, to measure what the brain is doing.

    Not surprising that Clinton, Kennedy and Lincoln’s scores were high. No one will ever convince me that Geo has an IQ of 130. What he did have was smart parents who had contacts, and later, Dick Cheney calling the shots. I bet that Geo’s brother Jeb has an IQ of 130. The point I was making had to do with performance. Geo. W. Bush was not an effective president. He made some poor decisions. His father and brothers were more successful leaders.

    This disparity isn’t about political party – liberal or conservative isn’t the point. The point is how well the person served our country.

  2. Very true. And about that there is also considerable difference of opinion.

  3. I noticed you were quiet, and I’m sorry I took part in a conversation that made you uncomfortable. It’s a drag to have your political heroes or views assailed in a social setting. (And I guess in future, we’ll have to watch what we say in our get togethers. Didn’t know we were being blogged.) But here in a political arena —

    I doubt anyone who’s willing to talk truly knows Bush’s IQ or the nature of any learning disability he might have. My impression of Bush is based on the content of what he said and did, not on his mispronouncing words, etc. He did seem to have difficulty processing spoken information, a serious handicap in a president. But instead of attributing his terrible, even tragic gaffs to a low IQ or learning disability, one could say he’s immature, or that he was drunk or stoned at times, or simply in over his head and thus easily manipulated.

    BTW, my “favorite” hoax (though not email) is the one that has Al Gore saying, “I invented the internet.” Top prize for sheer persistence and numbers of “well-informed” true believers.

    • I was not a big fan of either Bush. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a President who I thought a lot of of–certainly not as much as most of them thought of themselves.

      Gore has had the good humor to get in on the fun.

      The FCC hoax probably holds the record, though I haven’t gotten it in several years.

  4. Urban legends are fascinating. The first I ever heard of was the “$25 Jeep in a box”, which probably are based on the availability of surplus military equipment caused by the sudden end of World War II. (We were gearing up for a much longer war in the Pacific.)

    The first I encountered directly was the “fifty mile per gallon carburetor” which I heard in the early 70s (just after the first Arab oil embargo) in Montana. The purveyor believed it was true, and even failed attempt to find the alleged owner, he still believed it.

    Urban legends and email hoaxes prey of both our wishes and our fears. When they manage to combine them, they are especially powerful. I’ve learned to suspect anything that’s too good (or bad) to be true, and to be especially wary of those with a powerful emotional attraction.

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