March 31, 2011

Once again, how smart is Obama?

A novelist requests help from iSteve readers:
Exactly how smart is Obama? He is represented, by self and media lickers-and-kissers as "the smartest guy in the room." Yet as far as I can see, there's absolutely no documentation for this claim. 
Virtually everything he's been given has been donated willingly on the basis of what he is--pan racial, seemingly articulate and forthright exotic who wears clothes brilliantly and is highly charismatic--than what he's done. No grades, no scores, no actual accomplishments. So how smart is he? Is he really smart? He's articulate but he uses his charm in any circumstance where he's out-IQed, and if his charm fails, so does his confidence, and he lurches in gibberish, well documented. 

Has he ever thought anything through in a conscientious way?  Does he look under, through or behind the bromides that he so glibly produces on cue? There's no evidence of any of this.  He takes his time on making decisions, but to me that's more a sign of fear, even panic, as he knows he must commit and defend, as opposed to simply being Obama, and that scares him silly. He's not stupid; he's certainly well above average, but at the same time far below distinguished. He's smart enough to see nuances but he's not disciplined enough to discriminate between them, ignore the inappropriate ones, and lead on, as Bush (also no genius) was willing to do, and take the heat, as the heat quite clearly bothers him. (As well it should; he's never felt it before; he's always been beloved.)

Anyway, for me, this calculates out to about a 115. What do you think/ Love to see your ruminations on this one, and your reader's responses.

There is a remarkable paucity of publicly available analytical writing that's clearly by Obama rather than the product of a committee process. His first memoir is only modestly analytical (for example, in his decision to reject Louis Farrakhan's black nationalist capitalism because there is no money in it -- but most of the rest is devoted to establishing quandaries for himself rather than in solving them). His more analytic second memoir was read over by 28 insiders before going to the publisher, so who knows what we can say about what that book says about him.

To my mind, the place to start is with the eight lengthy final exam essay questions (and two answer memos) from Obama's "Racism and the Law" course at the  U. of Chicago Law School (for links to them see the bottom of Jodi Kantor's long 2008 blog post

I'm presuming that Obama mostly wrote them himself, that he didn't have a TA write them for him, and that he didn't crib them from some other professor in another city. I was living in Chicago reading the same newspapers as Obama at the same time, and his questions are clearly ripped from the Chicago headlines of the day.

They are nicely done. They don't represent original thought, but they do testify to Obama's nimble ability to understand and replicate various sides of fairly complex arguments. So, I'd say he's, oh, two standard deviations above the national average in verbal ability and verbal logic. Unfortunately, I don't know of much evidence at all relating to his quantitative ability.

They don't testify much, however, to Obama's ability to solve complex problems, which remains opaque. As I pointed out years ago, much of his appeal comes from his ability to project back to interlocutors: "I have understood you."

The ability to summarize your opponent's side of an argument at least as well as its partisans could do for themselves is, in terms of brainpower, nothing to be sneezed at. On the other hand, there isn't all that much evidence from Obama's writings of Obama coming to his own conclusions, other than, say, that Farrakhanism is an economic losing strategy and that he should thus stick to the left side of the mainstream (pp. 199-202 in Dreams). You don't have to be Richard Feynman to figure that out!

Alternatively, he may have figured out a lot of big things, but he's not telling anybody because he doesn't want them to know what conclusions he has reached.


97 comments:

David Axelrod said...

115-125 with likely a wide difference between his verbal and other types.

Check out previous iSteve posts on Obama IQ

Here is the longest discussion here on Barack's IQ

Mitch said...

The simplest answer is the likeliest: someone else wrote the questions.

Whiskey said...

Obama to me seems to be at around 100 IQ. I have no doubt that his TA wrote the questions with directions from Obama.

I am partway through Ike's "Crusade in Europe" and what Ike makes clear is his challenge in providing a unified Allied command with clear lines of authority, and the organizational challenges of mustering that many men, while in the early going there was almost no men or materiel and it had to be planned/assumed. Ike was no genius much less infallible but he had a guide and set of mentors (principally Marshall) for decision making.

Obama can't think through decisions. He is fairly dumb.

Anonymous said...

You have read everything about Obama and yet you come to a conclusion that is contaminated by your bias. I'm disappointed in your analytical ability.

"No grades, no scores, no actual accomplishments."

He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. (Top 10%) Grading at Harvard Law like at all law schools is name blind.


"So, I'd say he's, oh, two standard deviations above the national average in verbal ability and verbal logic."

Here you're a joke. Two standard deviations is an ordinary IQ for an attorney. Obama fucking graduated in the top 10% of Harvard Law.

Yes, it takes a lot of diligence to be in the top 10% but you also have to be incredibly smart to consistently beat so many very smart peers who are often trying hard too. He is obviously above 2 standard deviations.

Anonymous said...

It's hilariously dishonest to pretend the magna cum laude doesn't exist.

ricpic said...

If curiosity is the mark of intellect Obama is an intellectual nonentity.

Anonymous said...

I was accused this morning of being the dumbest commenter on this blog aside from Whiskey. Maybe. But I wrote two years ago taht Obama was smart just not real smart. The world - and Steve Sailer - seem to be coming around to my viewpoint.

IQ of High School garduates is about 115. College freshmen are about 117. Collge students graduate with IQs of around 120. Masters graduates are around 125 to 130. And those with doctorates usually are around 135 or so. Nobel prize winners, I once read, have IQs around 143.

Obama speaks and acts like someone with an IQ of around 130 or so. That's about where Bush, Gore was and Kerry are too. most big American corporations these days are run by men with MBAs (c135).

So Obama is clearly smart enough to be President but by no means extraordinary. However among Blacks he would be extrodinary.

There are some public men who are much brighter. Pat Moynihan and Pat Bucanhan come to mind. Charles Krauthammer too. All three are capable of true schlarship and original thought. There is no reason to believe that you need to be that smart to be President. Teddy Roosevelt may have been the smartest President but he was hardly as efffective as his much dumber relative Franklin.

There is more to executive competance than sheer brains. One quality is ease of task switching. In management school they you that an executive typically gets only about three minutes on any problem. He makes a deecision and moves on. This is very damn hard to do. I never quite could do it myself. Obama seems to be even worse. He overloads eaisly and freezes. He shows signs of stress (frequent vacations, lots of breaks, failure to recat to problems promptly). He's smart enough. He doesn't seem very strong in other impotant areas.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

He's jazzy, or style over substance, which doesn't necessarily mean NO substance. It just means even with substance, style counts more.

Formerly.JP98 said...

Your guess is as good as mine (probably better, in fact). I think 115 is too low. He's more likely around 120-25.

The average LSAT score at Harvard Law is 171. That probably translates to the upper 130s in IQ. (I get there by looking at Mensa's acceptance of the 95th percentile or higher on the LSAT in lieu of an IQ test. Mensa requires a Stanford Binet IQ of at least 132. On the LSAT, 171 is the 98th percentile.)

In order to be accepted by Harvard Law, and taking into account his black father, Obama must have had an LSAT score above the midpoint, or the mid-150s. An LSAT score of 160 *probably* translates to an IQ of about 120, based on an analysis that Steve linked to back on March 27, 2009.

Also, everyone seems to agree that Barack is smarter than Michelle. Thus, Barack cannot have been at the rock bottom of what Harvard Law would accept.

Anonymous said...

Obama can be quick, intuitive, and nimble, but he lacks depth. But people like Solzhenitsyn don't make good leaders.

Anonymous said...

this "novelist" seems to have an IQ of about 105 tops...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

Your conclusions is based on two premises which cannot be logically or empirically tested for soundness.

1. The LSAT accurately measures verbal ability.

2. Those with the highest verbal abilities take the LSAT.

If you accept these two premises, then your conclusion is valid. However there is no evidence that they are sound.

Formerly.JP98 said...

Something else I would note, now having seen the first few comments:

A lot of people (here and elsewhere) point to Obama's graduating magna from Harvard Law. Without seeing his grades, that may or may not mean a lot. First, after the first year, it's possible to avoid blind grading almost entirely by taking seminar courses where grades are based mainly on papers. Second, even in terms of first-year courses, I have heard it claimed (and it wouldn't surprise me if it's true, although I have no reason to believe it's true) that there are unwritten rules by which black students reveal their race on exam answers, and professors cut them slack accordingly.

Underlying all this is the assumption that, if Obama's LSAT score and first-year grades really were excellent, he'd have found a way to make them public.

Anonymous said...

How do we even know that the LSAT can meaningfully approximate IQ?

Anonymous said...

The smartest guy I know (finished his PhD in Math at age 22, tenure track prof at top 10 math program at age 26) nods his head at most of the articles published in Slate. IQ comes in many shapes and sizes and to use the LSAT a tool to approximate IQ seems unwise.

P.S. If lawyers/accountants were intelligent they would realize that the billable hour (not to mention their profession in general) is a horrible and soul-crushing way to make good but unspectacular money.

Anonymous said...

Albertosaurus- Most of what I've seen suggests that Jefferson was the brightest president. T.R. had an eidetic memory and an unbelievably strong work ethic, but that distinguishes him more as a historian/writer, naturalist, and administrator than thinker.

"Smartest guy in the room" is a statement about charisma, not brains. It seems likely that people are very imprecise when measuring intelligence besides "near me," "smarter than me," and "dumber than me"- and so I would be surprised if journalists as a whole could do more than "wow, this guy's cleverer than I am."

Anonymous said...

There are tons of people smarter than Obama. Obama's forte is voice, smoothness, and a quality that is both elevated and accessible. Why do people like celebs? Becaues celebrities are both above and of the people.. which is why Princess Diana was loved by so many.
Obama mastered the art of the populist monarch. Royal populism or Royulism. People want it both ways: superior man who's also equal. Like Superman: one part is Overman, other part is 'profoundly humble' Clark Kent.

Anonymous said...

Obama is smart to play it safe in the beginning of any crisis, but there comes a time when he has to choose whether to go in or stay out. It's like one should toe the water before diving in. If it's too cold, stay out. If the temp is okay, jump in. One should not jump in without caution, like Bush did with Iraq. But one cannot toe the water forever. So far, Obama may have been smart to toe Libya, but he will eventually have to decide to go in or stay out. One cannot fight a footsie war forever.

Anonymous said...

"Also, everyone seems to agree that Barack is smarter than Michelle."

I would go further. EVERYONE is smarter than Michelle.

Anonymous said...

I went to Law School at University of Toronto which claimed to be (but wasnt) "Harvard of the North."

My IQ tested in the 135 range and I felt pretty average there in terms of smarts. Work ethic would certainly be a greater predictor of Law School success assuming a base level of brains is there.
President of Law Review plus top 10% of class at HARVARD? As someone who has been around very bright law students this sounds like one. Brighter than me at least. My estimate would be 140+ and I would refuse to believe under 125. There might be the odd slacker but 90% of the students at a place like Harvard Law School are bright, hard working, and motivated to do well. You can not hustle or charm your way into the top 10% of this group.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with anonymous #1 above. Magna from HLS is a big piece of evidence. But I can complicate that a little:

I went there one year behind Obama, had one class together. I graduated cum laude, and my measured IQ last time was 156, and I got perfect score on LSAT. But I am also a little bit ADHD-ish, and I don't think I studied as diligently as most of my peers. I mention this because (besides being defensive about not doing better) while the HLS population is quite smart, they are even more different from average in discipline and diligence, and while Obama was not the smartest guy there, he was fucking amazing in terms of discipline. Over all, I think his package of mental gifts are well superior to mine.

First of all, not all classes were blind graded. On many there were signed papers. And in my class, Obama sat in the front row every day and gazed at the professor with an adoration that Nancy Reagan would have been embarassed to beam at Ron. He worked them incredibly assiduously. And very successfully. That helped his scores. That isn't LSAT intelligence, but it requires an interpersonal skill that is way beyond mine, and I hazard, way beyond anyone reading this. That is very demanding, and he had that ON TOP OF very respectable raw IQ.

I know that because there are a lot of classes that are blind graded, not easily gamed, and you can't be a dope in them and get magna. Even without his brilliant suck-up skills, he would make the top half of the Harvard distribution.

Steve is right to focus on his ability to paraphrase opponents' arguments to disarm them. Someone of glaringly average intelligence -- like say, Amanda Marcotte -- is a complete failure at that.

As far as his hesitation to make decisions, I don't ascribe that to lack of intelligence. It is part conscious strategy. He never gave a substantive opinion in class -- he just paraphrased others. People loved it, and thought he was brilliant. Those of us who thought that made him a pussy were few and far between. And he kept to that strategy with iron discipline. You might think of it as like the post-modern philosophy in chess: never commit until after the other guy does, and then you have the chance to decide what to do when you have learned more. I agree there are a lot of problems with that strategy for being president, but it sure does seem to work like gang-busters for getting to be president.

Though I think it is more than strategy, cause he does it even when it is stupid. I think that was his survival skill for being the only black kid in Hawaii and Indonesia. I mean think about it, that has to be terrifying, and living in that kind of fear for so long has to leave a mark. Clinton learned from his abusive alcoholic parents to lie lie lie, and do whatever feels good. Obama learned from his disinterested, abandoning parents to never let yourself be vulnerable by committing to anything.

Anyway, my main point is: I don't want this guy to be president, and I don't share his beliefs, and I think he is more than half a crook (see e.g. Michelle's bag collecting disguised as a phony baloney job at U of C hospital). But anyone is a fool who takes his talents lightly.

Anonymous said...

"President of Law Review plus top 10% of class at HARVARD?"

Yeah, I think Obama is a smart guy. His mother seemed to be pretty bright, and his father was surely in the top 1% among Africans.

But what does it mean to be top 10% in Law School? How is it graded? Didn't Sotomayor graduate with honors, or maybe even second in class at Yale? I mean... something fishy...

And didn't Michelle Obama graduate with honors from Princeton? Did you read her thesis?

Anonymous said...

Unlike those of you who have only ever heard Obama read Axelrod/Favreau script off a teleprompter, I have actually gone back and read the handful of known non-Ayers/non-Favreau pieces in the Obama corpus.

And this idea that he is IQ 130+ and was legitimately Top 10% at HLS is simply ludicrous.

For instance, the two known Obama pieces from HLS - the abortion piece & the affirmative action letter - have prominent stylistic or grammatical errors in their very first sentences:


has received most prominent attention

the merits of the Law Review's selection policy has been


This simply isn't the work of a fellow with an IQ much beyond 115, and if [again, like me] you forced yourself to suffer through e.g. the gibberish of the Columbia anti-nuke piece, then you're left wondering whether he might be more like IQ 105 to IQ 110.

ben tillman said...

They are nicely done. They don't represent original thought, but they do testify to Obama's nimble ability to understand and replicate various sides of fairly complex arguments.

They are well done, though he made a glaring error in conflating 18% more likely with 1.18 times more likely in the first question on the 2001 exam. (It is 1.18 times as likely.)

Mitch said...

I don't think Obama is stupid. I think he's outstanding at "faking it" (something I do well myself) and, as the commenter points out, is exceptional at making people feel appreciated.

But are his mental skills the sort that entail original thought or analysis? No. Is he an exceptionally bright person? I don't see it on the evidence, so at this point I'm unconvinced. His IQ strikes me as a perfectly adequate 120 or so.

As for the MCL, I'm sorry, but has he released his actual records yet? Given the things the guy has been handed without question all his life, I don't believe the word of whatever Harvard official assures us of his academic status.

Anonymous said...

this post really makes you look bad, your obsession with Obama's intelligence.

Anonymous said...

"You don't have to be Richard Feynman to figure that out!"

Yes, but contra Larry Summers' guess that physics professors must have stratospheric IQs, Feynman only had an IQ of 125, less than two standard deviations from the mean. IQ only tells you so much about intellectual achievement.

Truth said...

"Once again, how smart is Obama?"

Once again, I don't give a shit. Boy George and John McCain went to great lengths to prove their stupidity repeatedly, yet you keep bringing up some mythical 135 or 140 IQ that has never been proven.

"Albertosaurus- Most of what I've seen suggests that Jefferson was the brightest president."

What exactly makes him our brightest president?

Would it be his horrible reputation as a businessman, his weak-wristed duplicity, or his child-molesting predilection?

Anonymous said...

Steve, I have watched enough of Obama's speeches that I can tell you with absolute certainty- his IQ is 132.87

You're welcome


Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

his post really makes you look bad, your obsession with Obama's intelligence.

There seem to be a lot of comments like this on isteve recently.

Is it the same low-wattage troll posting constantly or a concerted attack by a whole group?

Anonymous said...

Most of what I've seen suggests that Jefferson was the brightest president.

I mentioned TR because he is still a modern. I wasn't trying to gauge all politicians from the founding fathers. If I were so inclined however I think Jefferson would have to stand behind Madison and both of them behind Hamilton.

Jefferson once said to Madison that they had hundreds more on their side, and that they should therefore triumph over the Federalists. But Madison demurred - the federalists had Hamilton he said and so they the Democrat-Republicans were over-matched.

BTW Aaron Burr was also pretty smart.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

It's 99% likely that Obama, who attended an elite private school, took the PSAT, yet he does not show up on the directory of National Merit Scholars or National Achievement Scholars (an award available only to African Americans). Since NMS are awarded only to high school students scoring in the top one percent, I'd say this sets an upper limit of 136 on Obama's IQ. And since he didn't win a NAS, either, I'd say you'd have to lower that number to <125 since outstanding is measured in terms of better than 2 sigma. For blacks, two sigma is 115.

It's possible that Obama scored a 700 on the verbal exam but only a 500 (or lower) on the math, but that would still probably win him the NAS. Steve believes Obama probably got around a 700 on the SAT verbal, but I kinda think he's being generous.

I believe Obama scored about the same as Bush on the SAT verbal (550) -- hey, Bushes "Decision Points" was actually a pretty good read compared to "Dreams" -- but considerably lower than Bushes 640 on the math. My guess is that Obama's combined SAT scores were 1100 or less. That would still make him a very bright African American.

Anonymous said...

However smart Obama is, his flaws as a person in the situation he's actually in as president (total lack of leadership ability, narcissism that makes him sound crazy whenever candid statements of his leak, a worldview based on anachronistic ideas of racism, among others) make him seem stupid even though he might score well on an IQ test.

Randall K said...

The more opaque and unknown he is, the better the public can project their own 'post-racial' messiah upon him. As they discovered the real Obama, the race-hustler, the far-left crony, etc, his ratings dropped.

Randall K said...

Here's my take. It really doesn't matter what his intelligence is, he's a puppet controlled by his masters on the left. Its their intelligence that matters...

Anonymous said...

My guess is that Obama's IQ is a crisp 106 (that is derived from his scoring a perfect 1000 on the renormed SAT).

(Read The Empty Suit here: http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/011380.html)

Behold:

1. has a stupid wife (see assortative mating)
2. spent years being mentored by a stupid racist preacher
3. took easy classes at HLS from the likes of Derrick Bell
4. being an affirmative action admit to both Columbia and HLS, won't release his grades or test scores
5. low-IQ prose style pre-Ayres
6. incompetent managerial picks (see Sotomayor and Holder)
7. bottom line: does not appear smart, therefore he's not smart

Anonymous said...

Anonymous re Obamas Columbia Anti-Nuke Piece:Obama states that students know of war only vicariously.For example,they study the latest figures on body counts in the war in Guatemala. Interesting because it was only recently that I had known there WAS a war in Guatemala!

Anonymous said...

Real smarties tend to have wide ranges of interests. In this particular corner of the blogosphere we can look at Steve and the Derb as examples.

Does The One have any extracurricular interests? I'm only aware of three: basketball, golf and writing. The first two say nothing whatsoever about his brains. There are smart guys who love sports, but millions of morons are passionate about them too. So we're left with writing.

In Dreams the sentences were complex, but the overall effect too boring for words. Assuming he wrote that dreck himself, he either doesn't know how to entertain the reader, or he's swallowed the idiotic modernist meme about entertainment somehow being the exclusive domain of low-brow, genre writing.

In reality writing complex sentences isn't that hard - the floor for that can't possibly be above 120 IQ. Entertaining smart people, on the other hand, is one of the most difficult things a man can do. Since Obama never even tried that, there's again nothing to judge.

Also, guys who're passionate about writing tend to know literature. One expects them to have opinions on people like Henry James, Hardy, Milton and so on. I've never heard anything of that sort from Barry O.

So yeah, the number, range and depth of his interests fail to inspire any awe.

Anonymous said...

"I'd say he's, oh, two standard deviations above the national average in verbal ability and verbal logic."

I think it's higher than that. If he was getting marks in the top half of his Harvard law class on blinded exams, as a later post from one of his classmates indicates, then that indicates a strong problem solving ability because that is what law school exams require, and a verbal IQ somewhere in the 140's.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe the magna cum laude thing is the least bit legitimate. If MLC represents the top 10% of an extremely bright group of people, then one would have to work quite hard to achieve it - even if one is a legitimate admission to the school in the first place. Is there any other part of Obama's life that would reflect similar hard work at mentally demanding task. Not just putting in lots of physically demanding hours like campaigning (amongst crowds that adore you), but actually staying focused and working through all the issues involved in the volume of case law one must master in three years at HLS. He never showed it before HLS and never after.

I'm with those who say smart but not so smart you wouldn't run across several more intelligent in the course of an average day.

David said...

>didn't Michelle Obama graduate with honors from Princeton? Did you read her thesis?<

Does anyone who isn't in bed with the American credentialing system make bold to deny that our schools, from low to high, are full of non-objective nonsense and that evaluation therein is therefore dependent on conscious and unconscious prejudice or even on sheer velleity more often than it is based on the harsh ultimatums of reality, regardless of how much smoke is ejected about "blind grading," "we worked incredibly hard," et al.?

Can anyone name a respectable profession significantly more unattached to objective reality - and logic and common sense - than is Law, that Bedlam of fractious opinionating? (Philosopher has not been respectable for many years, if ever.)

Has Obama ever taken an IQ test? I don't mean a proxy for the back of the napkin, I mean a real, gold-standard, here's-the-number IQ test. If so, what is his number and where is it documented?

Without his IQ score, we can look at his job performance. But to turn to his law degree to determine his intelligence is absurd.

Every other asshat in D.C. has a law degree. In a certain class of people, who DOESN'T have one? Ask yourself what comes to mind when you hear that a stranger has a law degree. The picture that flashes on when I hear this is of a man or woman with little better mental acuity than a dastard - i.e., an ethics-free bottom-feeder. I see him (or her) marked by all the stigmata of the street thug, including incuriosity, scofflawing as a way of life, low time-preference, and general mental inferiority. I do not see a Philosopher-King. I see someone fit to run a poolhall. In his profession, a lawyer has no harder job than persuading a judge, i.e., a Nancy Grace.

Perhaps there are some laywers who are intellectually respectable. But now consider that Obama - though he may have learned Law and taught it - didn't even practice it much. In fact, he hardly practiced it at all. Unless we list practicing the law and being a community organizer under the same head ("Skunk," perhaps?).

To recap: Obama has no IQ score, he made perfect grades and "beamed adoration at his professors," he has held no responsible position in the private sector, he is not a creative artist (his books are flat autobios and were very possibly ghosted), and he has a law degree. This is President Douche. This useless type can be found floating on top of the mainstream in the many thousands.

Anonymous said...

The real question shouldn't be 'how smart is Obama?' but 'how dumb are we?'

David said...

>this post really makes you look bad, your obsession with Obama's intelligence.<

Speaking of looking bad, why don't you capitalize the first word of your sentences?

David Axelrod said...

Though I think it is more than strategy, cause he does it even when it is stupid. I think that was his survival skill for being the only black kid in Hawaii and Indonesia. I mean think about it, that has to be terrifying, and living in that kind of fear for so long has to leave a mark.

Although a generally interesting comment, I had to comment on this point which was ridiculously off-base.

Why would Obama, being one of the few black kids at the country's largest and very exclusive prep school, be terrified?

Do you think all those Asian and WASP kids of surgeons, lawyers and bankers are going to lynch him at their next Unitarian gathering, before their evening juku cram school or after their private Suzuki violin lessons?

Hawaii is one of the most ethnically mixed areas of the US and notoriously laid back socially. It's more famous for it's anti-white vib celebrated by such things as "Beat Haole Day".

Obama was purportedly tormented in Indonesia for being black. One story is that several locals kids would chase him home and throw rocks at him.

Anonymous said...

"Obama to me seems to be at around 100 IQ. I have no doubt that his TA wrote the questions with directions from Obama."

That's "Whiskey" in a nutshell - in the absence of any knowledge about what actually happened he has "no doubt", and of course others must be dragged down, if only in his own imagination. to his own level of honesty and intelligence.

"I was accused this morning of being the dumbest commenter on this blog aside from Whiskey."

Albertasaurus, I, for one, always read your comments with great interest. You're like our version of that guy in Dos Equis commercials, only you're real. Don't listen to morons - they're just being jealous.

Anonymous said...

"It's hilariously dishonest to pretend the magna cum laude doesn't exist."

Awww, no mention of the Nobel Peace Prize? And didn't he get a Grammy for narrating one of his boring books on tape?

Peter A said...

Let's remember - Obama is not really "black", he's not in any way an "African-American" as normally understood (a descendant of 19th century African slaves). His mother is white and his father was one of the elite from a part of Africa that never provided slaves to the Americas. Genetically Obama has nothing in common with Jesse Jackson, Oprah, Michael Jordan, or Eldridge Cleaver. Or Michelle Obama for that matter. His blackness is a politically convenient fiction.

Hail said...

1.) Why no release of standardized test scores? Confirmed 770+ per section on SAT would shut up a lot of people. With so many conspiracy theories swirling around the man, you'd think someone in the Obama circle would have done this,unless...

2.) Computer-aided literary analysis suggests that the bright Bill Ayers was a primary author of "Dreams". (Scroll down one-third of the way, to the color-coding discussion). Why would someone with such high verbal skill rely on a ghost-writer, esp. before anyone knew him?

Matt said...

I think Obama has an IQ of at least 130 and interpersonal skills of the highest order.

I also think that he has had an insufficient education. He has excelled in academia, but I doubt that he got very much of any of the following:

high-level maths
classical languages
ancient history
logic
rhetoric

Those are the building blocks of education for a potential leader. He exhibits no evidence of having been exposed to any of them.

Because of the dumbing-down of education, it is possible for him to have gotten the highest marks all the way through without getting these things that would have constituted an elite education a generation ago.

What we get out of it as a nation is dissembling, triviality, and "consensus-building." The problem isn't intellectual at all, it's cultural.

OneSTDV said...

Who cares?

In the words of Charles Murray, we don't need more "pointy-headed intellectuals" running our government.

airtommy said...

He is represented, by self and media lickers-and-kissers as "the smartest guy in the room."

Since this is in quotations, who said this? If it's not a quote, who has implied this? I have never seen anyone characterize Obama as a genius.

Harry Baldwin said...

Anonymous said...this post really makes you look bad, your obsession with Obama's intelligence.

Sorry, but it's one of those questions you can't let go of. Like when George W. Bush was president, and I kept asking myself, "Is he stupid or is he crazy?" The logic just kept going around in circles and I never did reach a conclusion.

slumber_j said...

130-145, probably? Somewhere in the third standard deviation above normal, I'd guess. And that's all it is, based on what I've read and seen here and elsewhere: a guess. It's clear to me (though not, obviously, to a lot of other commenters) that he's well above average in the raw smarts department.

And no, I don't think he's a good President. And yes, I did vote for him, oddly enough--but almost entirely because I thought I detected incipient senility in McCain's speech patterns. Maybe I was wrong about all that.

Steve Sailer said...

"AlbertOsaurus, I, for one, always read your comments with great interest. You're like our version of that guy in Dos Equis commercials, only you're real."

Indeed!

Steve Sailer said...

"hey, Bush's "Decision Points" was actually a pretty good read"

Yes, I've skimmed it at the book store and it is a pretty good read. It sounds like him, but it makes him likable. Mrs. Bush's memoir is also well-written.

Anonymous said...

Look, if Obama's IQ was 200 but he looked and sounded like Tattoo or Arnold(of Diffrent Strokes), he would not be president.
I think Will Smith could have done just as well if he'd been chosen by the Jews.

Btw, I think Al Sharpton and Alan Keyes are also pretty smart--articulate, verbally gifted, etc--but they are abrasive than smooth. Also funny looking. Obama is funny looking too in a way, but in a more pleasant way. Negro lite.

Anonymous said...

"this post really makes you look bad, your obsession with Obama's intelligence"

None of us are trying to look 'good'. We are trying to discuss stuff MSM usually dodges, the sort of stuff that's considered 'incorrect'.

Truth said...

"Those are the building blocks of education for a potential leader."

He's not a "potential leader" he's an "actual leader."

wmhde said...

Obama grew up in an ex Dutch colony,Indonesia......is he anti Dutch? or perhaps yhe Dutch had a "leave no trace" colonnisation program so after they left , well there was notjing left to resent....(The Dutch did not even bother to teach their language, i believe, although the Indonesian legal elite sometimes still learn it as they rely on some Dutch leagal codes.....

from wikipedia:
Yet the Indonesian language inherited many words from Dutch, both in words for everyday life, and as well in scientific or technological terminology.[33] One scholar argues that 20% of Indonesian words can be traced back to Dutch words.[34] Sometimes there is just a little spelling difference: e.g. "kantoor" (Dutch for "office") is in Indonesian "kantor". Many universities include Dutch as a source language, mainly for law and history students (roughly 35,000 of them nationally).[35][36]

In the official spelling of the Indonesian language, occasionally the spelling can be traced that was introduced on Dutch colonial schools, as can be seen and heard in nevertheless pure Malayan or Indonesian words with the originally Dutch letter combination "oe": in "tempo doeloe" to be pronounced as one vowel like in "moeder" (Dutch for "mother")

James of N.S.W Australia said...

"In the words of Charles Murray, we don't need more "pointy-headed intellectuals" running our government."

Bingo. Murray often trots out a good quote that government would be more effectively run for the people if its membership was selected by randomly picking names out of the Boston phone book rather than choosing from the faculty of Harvard University. I don't necessarily agree that we would be better off being run without smart people perse, though; it is the **kind** of smart people that I'm concerned about. Our SWPL elite are self-interest genocidalists who are paving the way for our destruction as well as their own. Obama is hard to classify though, but I'm just an outsider on the other side of the world looking in.

I'd say his IQ is probably between 120 and 130. This is predicated upon him having received affirmative action though.

eh said...

Mr Sailer,

Once again, why is this a useful, or even interesting, question?

The answer is: Clearly smart enough to be President. Certainly so when you consider the powerful array of social and political forces, including most of big media, that got him elected (not that there isn't a lot of...pathology in all of that, as you and others try to elucidate).

A better question is: What can be done to help ensure he doesn't get re-elected? Because I can see his re-election coming at me down the tracks...

Anyway, I personally do not like Obama; better, I do not like his persona. I definitely do not like his rhetoric (I mean, just listen to the cliches the man spouts) and politics.

To me, Obama does not seem quantum physics smart -- he doesn't appear to have that kind of strong, analytical intelligence. Given his penchant for golf, I was suprised to read that a HLS peer saw his 'discipline' as amazing. Because he does not seem like a disciplined hard worker to me. More like a not-too-analytically-inclined (left) ideologue, who's in reality actually pretty weak, even wishy-washy and approval-seeking in an establishement-conformist sort of way, when it comes to getting things done legislatively.

Anonymous said...

"The simplest answer is the likeliest: someone else wrote the questions."

"Awww, no mention of the Nobel Peace Prize?"
The comments show many isteve readers are dumb. I see a lot of the dim, aggrieved victim traits in the commentators here.

Harry Baldwin said...

Matt said...He has excelled in academia, but I doubt that he got very much of any of the following:

high-level maths
classical languages
ancient history
logic
rhetoric


Can you toss out the name of the last president whose education grounded him in all those areas? Seems like a tall order.

Anonymous said...

"In reality writing complex sentences isn't that hard - the floor for that can't possibly be above 120 IQ. Entertaining smart people, on the other hand, is one of the most difficult things a man can do. Since Obama never even tried that, there's again nothing to judge."

Yes, even dullards can construct complex and seemingly deep sentences through multiple revisions. A classmate of mine at Harvard once remarked that literary output is not a measure of genius, literary output/time is.

Shakespeare was a genius. James Michener was a genius. Nixon was a genius. Henry Kissinger is a genius.

Obama is not: case closed.

Anonymous said...

“"You don't have to be Richard Feynman to figure that out!"

Yes, but contra Larry Summers' guess that physics professors must have stratospheric IQs, Feynman only had an IQ of 125, less than two standard deviations from the mean. IQ only tells you so much about intellectual achievement.”

Before you go off citing Feynman’s IQ, read this: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2008/07/annals-of-psychometry-iqs-of-eminent.html

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous using PSAT results

Can you provide a link to this “directory of National Merit Scholars? Looking around on google, I can find lists for recent years, but no comprehensive directory, especially for time periods more than 5 years ago.

Also note that National Merit Semi-Finalists score in the top 1% of PSAT takers which is a much more select group than the US population as a whole so that being a National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist would equate to more than an IQ of 136.

Truth said...

"Can you toss out the name of the last president whose education grounded him in all those areas? Seems like a tall order."

Well, both Boy George and Daddy went to Exe-dick Academy didn't they. I'm sure they had wonderful classical educations, and it made them so effective.

Truth said...

"case closed."

If only it were that simple.

Matt said...

Matt said...He has excelled in academia, but I doubt that he got very much of any of the following:

high-level maths
classical languages
ancient history
logic
rhetoric

Can you toss out the name of the last president whose education grounded him in all those areas? Seems like a tall order.


That's my point.

Education, even elite-level education, has changed. Kennedy, Nixon, and Bush 41 were the last presidents to have even gotten 3/5ths of this list, and it shows. The change has not been for the better, and now we're reaping the 'rewards' of two straight presidents having had none of the five.

Marilyn Monroe stands head and shoulders above our last three presidents in terms of education.

Dutch Boy said...

I am reminded of a description of Napoleon by one of his officers: "As great as a man can be without character."

Kylie said...

Obama is smart but not as smart as I suspect he thinks he is.

I think the perceptions of his intelligence are affected by the context in which he is seen, which is true of most people but especially true of him. He thrives on admiration and even adoration and wilts under adversity and criticism. Admiration elicits his smooth, orotund presentations and adversity causes him to stumble and hesitate.

I disagree with those who say his marriage to Michelle was an example of assortive mating and therefore he can't be as bright as some claim. His choice of a wife seems politically motivated and frankly, quite astute. She would have to be a woman bright enough to benefit from AA and black enough to enhance his standing in the black community. Never mind how bad her ungainliness, both physical and intellectual, makes her look, she makes him look good. Michelle Obama fits the bill admirably.

Anonymous said...

Obama to me seems to be at around 100 IQ.

Not a chance.

-Osvlado M.

Anonymous said...

Why would someone with such high verbal skill rely on a ghost-writer, esp. before anyone knew him?


Writing is risk-taking. You've got to *commit* to putting something down on paper. And you have to be pretty motivated to write. Obama probably has neither quality.

Anonymous said...

Not just putting in lots of physically demanding hours like campaigning (amongst crowds that adore you), but actually staying focused and working through all the issues involved in the volume of case law one must master in three years at HLS.

The dirty little secret of law school is that almost all the extra studying students do is unnecessary. Showing up, paying attention, getting the basics, and being smart is the formula for success on the typical class that's graded on the basis of a final exam. Almost all of the extra work law students do is because of the personality flaws that are typical of the group.

-Osvaldo M.

Anonymous said...

"Also note that National Merit Semi-Finalists score in the top 1% of PSAT takers which is a much more select group than the US population as a whole so that being a National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist would equate to more than an IQ of 136."

Well, the stat I heard is that the average IQ of Harvard students is 130, and approximately a half of their entering students are National Merit Scholars. That's consistent with 130-136 being about the right cutoff, with most of the scholars clustered between 130 and 145.

Anonymous said...

It's 99% likely that Obama, who attended an elite private school, took the PSAT, yet he does not show up on the directory of National Merit Scholars or National Achievement Scholars

Does such a directory exist? Where?

CJ said...

"IQ of High School garduates[sic] is about 115. College freshmen are about 117. Collge[sic] students graduate with IQs of around 120."

Has this commenter just arrived in a time machine from 1955? Message from 2011: most young Americans get a high school diploma these days, most as in over 70% -- and that's even in today's dumbed-down America. Look it up here. Now if average IQ is 100 and the majority of people have IQs between 90 and 110 (that bell curve thing) then there is no way that high school graduates have either an average of, or need a minimum of, IQ 115.

On to college. At least half of 21st century young Americans enroll in college. They don't all graduate, definitely, but lots of those who avoid science and engineering go on to pick up some kind of a four-year degree. I have done work related to community colleges and high schools and have met lots of young teachers. It is quite possible to have an IQ in the 90s and get an education degree and a job teaching. No, I'm not kidding and anybody who thinks I am really needs to get out more.

Anonymous said...

Part of the mystery of Obama's intellect is that the concrete evidence is contradictory. His claim to academic fame rest on his years at HLS. But his results there aren't foreshadowed by his earlier academic performance, nor his following career.

1. He didn't seem to stand out during his years at his Hawaiian prep school. Nobody has been able to find, for example, any record of his having excelled on the PSAT as reflected in his being any variant of National Merit Scholar. OTOH, nobody has disproved this, so far as I can tell--for example, by presenting a list of his prep classmates that were National Merit semifinalists, but showing Obama to be absent, or proof that he took the test at all. I think the odds are good that he took the test but didn't do all that well on it.

2. He went to Occidental, which is a very good but not fantastic school. If you apply some AA discounts, if he had scored at all well on the SAT he'd have likely been heavily favored for Stanford or an Ivy. As a Hawaiian he'd have probably gravitated to Stanford if he retained a West Coast bias. Obama doesn't strike me as the sort that would pass up a more prestigious school if the opportunity presented itself via high SAT scores. See his later transfer to Columbia.

3. He doesn't seem to have left much of a mark at Columbia or Occidental. Part of this is, I suspect, his association with socialists while there. His friends from that era have enough wit to keep quiet about that, which adds to the paucity of actual information about him when he's not "on" his persona.

4. His post-undergrad career was rabble-rousing in Chicago, and some light lifting doing rewrites of press releases for a newsletter.

5. His HLS years, where he did very well. Most people say he was disciplined, but his earlier and later career don't reflect that, aside from his ability to stay "on" and suck up. Based on his presidential years I see no evidence that he's a grind; quite the opposite. His actual work product during HLS is ambiguous. During that time HLS was obsessed with race. His note for the HLR was mediocre to sub-par, and his election as editor tinged with the race question. His good reputation there mostly relates to his grades, and the process for assigning those seem somewhat opaque to this law school outsider.

6. His post-HLS career. He wasn't very well regarded for his intellect by his colleagues at U of Chicago, where he didn't engage intellectually, and, based on his written test questions, was competent but not spectacular. He published Dreams From my Father, but I think the evidence is fairly good that Ayers had a hand in that. (I come to that conclusion reluctantly, because it seems so outlandish, but the quantitative analysis of the book's prose seems convincing to me.) He also blew a couple deadlines on producing a manuscript.

Overall, I'd guess that he's verbally adept, probably has abysmal quantitative scores that dragged down his overall SAT scores and kept him out of the Ivies on his initial applications, and is socially pretty sophisticated. He can pick up and repeat other's arguments. I see little or no originality; his Columbia campus newspaper article was filled with boilerplate lefty notions, for example. He has a strong desire to be liked which leaks over into his thinking. (As a thought experiment, imagine Obama going to schools steeped in conservative thought rather than lefty teachers. Would he have been an iconoclast, like some conservatives at lefty schools? I don't think so. He isn't a terribly hard worker, and vastly overestimates his abilities. He's smart enough to be president, certainly, but he's no genius, and isn't the smartest guy in the room unless he's alone with his wife.

Anonymous said...

"Part of the mystery of Obama's intellect is that the concrete evidence is contradictory."

Mystery = aura = magic.

Same thing with the birth certificate. Was he born in Hawaii? Kenya? Where?

Mysterious. Mythic. Aura! Like the birth of Jesus is shrouded in mystery too.

Likewise, his academic record has become the stuff of myth. Because we don't know, we wonder... which adds to the aura.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I have no idea what his IQ is, but the fact that they haven't released his academic transcripts does makes you wonder. Gore released his well before the November election, about halfway through the 2000 primaries and it showed that he scored a 1355 on the SAT ( pre-grade inflation.) whereas Bush II scored a 1206. Why wouldn't Obama release his scores? Especially after the election was over and done with? My guess would be that it is because he is below both of them. According to the Washington Post article on Gore's academic background, he had two IQ tests administered to him in high school and came up with scores of 133 and 134.

Gore did very well at St. Albans and Harvard in the humanities and to a somewhat lesser extent, social sciences. However his scores in mathematics and the hard sciences at both were mediocre. He apparently never took a course in either math or logic at Harvard and got a C+ and a D in the two lower level science courses he took ( Insert Global Warming joke here. ) Despite this, I would say Gore strikes me as considerably above average for a D.C. politician IQ-wise, probably smarter than 90% of his colleagues and probably higher than all but a handful of nominees for the top two spots on the ticket historically. However the real smart guys in politics are those with prestigious and appointed cabinet posts such as Secretary of State, Treasury, Defense, and Attorney General or federal judges or Fed governors, guys like Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, James Baker, and Harold Brown.

Now as far as political IQ goes, I'm sure Obama would probably rate a lot higher than either Bush II or Gore, his social and interpersonal skills are certainly better. On the other hand, when he meets someone not in awe of him or who thinks that they are supposed to be in awe of him like Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department he doesn't seem to be able to formulate a Plan B. This suggests to me that he isn't nearly as smart as guys like Nixon and Gore in non-verbal intelligence, so I'll go ahead and guess somewhere around 120 IQ or about 15-20 points below those guys.

Anonymous said...

“Well, the stat I heard is that the average IQ of Harvard students is 130, and approximately a half of their entering students are National Merit Scholars. That's consistent with 130-136 being about the right cutoff, with most of the scholars clustered between 130 and 145.”

Well, you heard wrong. In 2007, the Harvard entering class had 285 Merit Scholars. The size of Harvard’s entering freshman class is around 1640 each year. That would be less than half, wouldn’t it?

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-search-selection/454412-national-merit-scholars-2007-schools-have-most.html

Anonymous said...

"Gore did very well at St. Albans and Harvard in the humanities and to a somewhat lesser extent, social sciences. However his scores in mathematics and the hard sciences at both were mediocre."

HBD angle: Gore is a son of a senator and a lawyer. He probably inherited a verbal inclination from both sides.

ben tillman said...

Not just putting in lots of physically demanding hours like campaigning (amongst crowds that adore you), but actually staying focused and working through all the issues involved in the volume of case law one must master in three years at HLS.

They take just one semester of torts. They don't know much case law.

Anonymous said...

BTW, in David Remnick's book "The Bridge" we have this:

"McKnight agreed to write the letter [of recommendation to HLS]. He had the idea that Obama had not received exceptional grades as an undergraduate--'I don't think he did too well in college'--but he had been deeply impressed by his intelligence and commitment as an organizer."

McKnight was one of the major references for Obama's HLS application. He was a professor of communications at Northwestern and deeply involved in the community organizing racket, where the two had met. His other major reference was Michael Baron at Columbia, who had him in a small senior seminar class, where Obama was a gunner. Baron spoke highly of Obama and gave him an A. It's probably safe to say that was Obama's strongest class. Baron appears to have been a postdoc who got his PhD in East Asian politics at Columbia in 1980 and then checked out of academia in late 1983 to work in private industry.

That's all consistent with the view of Obama as fairly bright, but no towering intellect. There's not much evidence outside of HLS of his being academically disciplined for long periods of time at a high level, which is why his HLS years are so puzzling. They don't fit with the pattern he has set before and after his time at HLS.

Anonymous said...

There's not much evidence outside of HLS of his being academically disciplined for long periods of time at a high level, which is why his HLS years are so puzzling. They don't fit with the pattern he has set before and after his time at HLS.


Except that if you actually sit down and read the two known HLS pieces [abortion & the AA controversy], then you quickly realize that the HLS years do fit with the pattern:


has received most prominent attention

the merits of the Law Review's selection policy has been


And, quite frankly, the Columbia anti-nuke piece was written by someone who isn't fully literate.

Anonymous said...

McKnight was one of the major references for Obama's HLS application. He was a professor of communications at Northwestern and deeply involved in the community organizing racket, where the two had met. His other major reference was Michael Baron at Columbia, who had him in a small senior seminar class, where Obama was a gunner.

Obama went to Harvard because of Newton Minow, Martha Minow, and Nell Minow - with an assist from Khalid al-Mansour.

BTW, if the name "Nell Minow" rings a bell for i-Stevers, it's because she was chosen by the Obama machine to lead the counter-offensive against Matt Taibbi.

Svigor said...

There seem to be a lot of comments like this on isteve recently.

Is it the same low-wattage troll posting constantly or a concerted attack by a whole group?


I don't know about any connection, or whether it's one troll or many. But I do know I was just thinking how riled up one or more trolls get at the suggestion that Barry the Savior's IQ is around 120.

LOL.

No, MCL does not mean top 10% (or didn't when his holiness was at HLS). Yes, the fact that he was not a NMS Finalist means a vanishingly small chance his IQ is over 130; not impossible, but very unlikely.

115-130 seems to be the range. His IQ is in the normal presidential range. He's just as "dumb" as Bush or Kerry. Not "brilliant," and "the smartest guy in the room" only when watching television with the family.

Svigor said...

but he's no genius, and isn't the smartest guy in the room unless he's alone with his wife.

Lol, beat me to it.

Anonymous said...

"but he's no genius, and isn't the smartest guy in the room unless he's alone with his wife."

No, I believe he is the smartest guy in the room because people turn off their IQs in his presence.
It's like you'd be the loudest person in the room if everyone shuts up. Or, you'd be the tallest person in the room if everyone were to get down on his/her knees.
Obama's IQ is highest in any given room cuz everyone else's IQs get down on their knees when he's around.

Hell, I'll bet Gaddafi is the smartest guy in any room in Libya, and Kim is the smartest guy in any room in North Korea. In the presence of 'greatness', it is only proper to make oneself dumb.

Elis Torosian said...

"Two standard deviations is an ordinary IQ for an attorney. "

We're going to have to abolish politicians if nearly every elected representative is 2STD above normal. Even they can't handle the job. If the genius of Reid, Kennedy, et. al. can't run this country, then bye-bye democracy.

Baloo said...

Thanks to whoever it was for inspiring THIS.

take one said...

"Obama's IQ is highest in any given room cuz everyone else's IQs get down on their knees when he's around."


Best image yet for the B.O. experience!

take one said...

"President of Law Review plus top 10% of class at HARVARD? "

Sorry. Still not impressed. Let's just accept that he's intellectually mediocre and is president because he's not very American in a country whose handers have decided it should go go global. And of course he's president because of his race. Those reasons are as good as the reasons many other men have been president. We don't need to invent brains where none actually exist.

No grades or professoral evaluation; he has no legal writings of his own, which apparently is expected from one in such position. Sounds like an AA position. He has a reputation for taking credit for other people's work. I can't see him doing much "editing." Probably a name only sort of thing. It'll all come out eventually. But again, he's in that position--and probably more of a puppet than we can imagine--and that is all that really counts.

As JFK said when told by an opponent that he had no mandate due to his narrow victory. "Mandate schmandate. He's there and I'm here."

torrent said...

"- though he may have learned Law and taught it - didn't even practice it much."

Apparently his colleague's "hated him" and considered him "lazy. Jhttp://gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2010/03/chicago-law-professor-on-obama-the-professors-hated-him-because-he-was-lazy-unqualified-never-attended-any-of-the-faculty-meetings/

I guess you could malign the source, but these were actual quotes from the people he worked with and they haven't denied them.
Mrs. O. had her law license revoked and was not allowed to practice after the early 90s. It's been hushed up as to twhat the offence was.

funny bone said...

"And didn't Michelle Obama graduate with honors from Princeton? Did you read her thesis?"

I think a number of people have since it was surrpetitiously released on the web. Funny you should reference it as suggestive of proof of intelligence. I mean really funny.

Anonymous said...

Albertosaurus, I, for one, always read your comments with great interest. You're like our version of that guy in Dos Equis commercials, only you're real. Don't listen to morons - they're just being jealous.

Ditto. Al's my favorite isteve commenter. I always look forward to his comments.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so it's safe to assume that the O man has an IQ of about 125 and is very self-absorbed and incurious (sounds familiar). This wouldn't really be surprising to anyone except his most rabid fans, who won't be persuaded no matter what you say.