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October 22, 2004

IQ's of Bush, Kerry, Gore: Hard Evidence

Steve Sailer has a very good article on the IQ of presidential candidates, "This Just In--Kerry's IQ Likely Lower than Bush's!" (via Drudge). The bottom line: from available hard evidence, IQ's are: Bush 123, Kerry 120, Gore 134. That makes Gore smarter than I would have thought, but, more importantly, it confirms what we should know already from knowing Bush's SAT scores and Kerry's lesser academic record, that Bush and Kerry are both much smarter than the average American, but not as smart, as, say, someone with a PhD in economics. (So are you going to vote for me? I'd lose to the average physicist or mathematician, I'm afraid, if that's your criterion.) The Sailer article is long and very educational, but here are some excerpts:

Most significantly, at the age of 22, both men took the IQ-type tests required of candidate military officers.

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Kerry's grades and academic test scores remain wholly unavailable. But we do know that he did not graduate from Yale with honors.

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After fighting and losing the most expensive Congressional race in the country in 1972, Kerry wound up the next year at a surprisingly non-glittering law school, Boston College.

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...although no one in the press had noticed it, the Kerry campaign had posted on the Web the Senator's score on the IQ-like test he took when he applied to join the Navy as an officer on February 18, 1966.

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Can we convert the average Navy officer's SAT score of 1103 into a rough IQ? There's a reasonable correlation between SAT and IQ.

The standard deviation of the SAT was around 230 back then, so if the typical Navy officer scored 1100, or 300 points above the estimated national average of 800, then his IQ was about 1.3 standard deviations above the national average IQ of 100 -- roughly 120 , or maybe a little higher, which is in the low 90s on a percentile scale.

Of course, Kerry's OQT score was average for applicants for Officer Candidate School, not for officers, who presumably score better than those who flunk the test. This suggests he might have scored under 1100 on his SAT.

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This suggests that the 50th percentile among the norm group of Air Force Academy applicants had an IQ of about 123 , thus putting Bush in the 125-130 range-- a little better than his SAT score would imply.

By way of comparison, Bush's 2000 opponent Al Gore scored 134 and 133 the two times he took an IQ test in high school, putting him just under the top 1 percent of the public.

Not surprisingly, the former vice president's' SAT scores were also strong but not stratospheric: Verbal 625, Math 730, for a total of 1355, which would equate to the upper 130s in IQ.

Posted by erasmuse at October 22, 2004 10:26 AM

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