October 25, 2012

The Donald Trump $5 million challenge: Actually, I do know what Obama's college GPA was

I'm not sure if this is really worth $5 million, but I suspect the reason few people seem to know what kind of grades Obama got in college is because very few journalists have ever asked him. It's part of this general pattern where nobody ever asks Obama anything interesting about himself. The people who think the answers would be bad can't get to him to ask him, and the people who can get to him fear that that the answers can't possibly be as good as they led the public to believe back in '08, so ixnay on that.

Yet, Obama strikes me as the kind of guy who would remember what kind of grades he got, and would think it a perfectly reasonable question. 

Indeed, biographer David Maraniss devoted some of the time from his one Oval Office interview with Obama to asking the President how he did in college.

And Obama told him. 

As I wrote in my review of Maraniss's book in VDARE last summer:
Thus Maraniss interviewed hundreds of people (and got an Oval Office interview, in which Obama volunteered that he was a B+ student at Occidental and an A- student at Columbia).

On p. 385 of the incredibly detailed (and dull) Barack Obama: The Story, Maraniss says:
"Two years at Oxy (during which his cumulative grades were 'a B-plus,' he later said) ..."

And on p. 465 Maraniss writes:
"He had received mostly A's in his coursework during those two years [at Columbia], he said later, and finished with a 3.7 grade point average."

So, Obama's total GPA for all four years would be around 3.5. That's assuming the President is telling the truth, but saying that you had a 3.5 GPA in a soft major (International Relations or some such) seems like too boring of a lie to make up. But, what do I know? Maybe this is all part of a vast disinformation scheme targeted and me and the other three people who find Barack boring.

Maraniss does not tell us if he asked Obama about his test scores. My guess is that if Maraniss didn't ask, then probably nobody else has ever asked him that. Somebody should ask him. He's probably got the numbers memorized.

My bet would be that Obama's SAT score was rather like his GPA: fine, but not spectacular. He didn't make either National Merit Scholar or the black version, National Achievement Scholar, so we can assume he didn't ace the PSAT. Maybe he was less stoned the day of the SAT? Say, 690 V, 550 M (pre-1995 recentering).

But, I'm just making that up. Who knows? (Until you ask him.)

I'd bet he did relatively better on the LSAT seven years later, perhaps from de-Chooming.

As for the question of whether Obama benefited from affirmative action, well, he wrote that "undoubtedly" he did. As Obama wrote when he was at Harvard Law:
I must say, however, that as someone who has undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action programs during my academic career, and as someone who may have benefited from the Law Review’s affirmative action policy when I was selected to join the Review last year, I have not felt stigmatized within the broader law school community or as a staff member of the Review.

On the other hand, Harvard Law let Michelle in, and Barack's obviously a lot smarter than his wife. So, he probably didn't need as much racial preference as some of the other black students.

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, Harvard Law let Michelle in, and Barack's obviously a lot smarter than his wife.

Yeah but she can dunk and he can't. He also can't stop her when she posts up on him.

Anonymous said...

I'd be surprised if he couldn't remember his PSAT and SAT scores. I can, even 30 years later.

Wonder what the average GPA at Columbia was back then? Had grade inflation really hit yet?

Princeton Township N.J. said...

Depressing--I come over here to get Steve's take on possible blood doping storylines w/ that high school girl from Simi Valley, and see... a discussion of SAT scores. Again.

Camera Trapper said...

You should see if Trump will give you the $5 Million.

Brett_McS said...

Did they ask how he got into Occidental after spending his senior years in a drug haze, or how he then got a transfer to Colombia with only a so-so grade?

Oh, no need, I just remembered his own biographical note for the Harvard gazzette said he was born in Kenya. So foreign student. Diversity program. Got it. Forget I asked.

sunbeam said...

This kind of stuff is silly in my opinion. Obama isn't a genius, but he has better academic accomplishments than most of the recent Presidents.

What is important and gets little play right now are things like that off the cuff interview with the Des Moines newspaper.

I do not like the sound of a "Grand Bargain" on taxes, immigration and the other things discussed.

The reaction of most of the posters here to anything related to Obama is pretty predictable. Lot in all the noise is the fact that probably reforms are going to take place in the next four years that would have been a wet dream for Reagan.

And no, I don't think they are a good idea, but they look like they are going to happen.

My take on things is that the "Left Wing" in this country is almost impotent when it comes to things related to economics. They are also impotent on social issues, except where it reflects a general societal consensus or aligns with what more powerful groups approve of.

The "Left" does perform its core mission of being a boogeyman for voters in Alabama though.

If you liked the trend since 1980 or so on immigration, outsourcing, financial deregulation and the like you will like the near future because it is business as usual.

I also think that Social Security will be reworked in the next four years to Wall Street's liking.

Anonymous said...

Steve - DADGUMMIT - Trump wants to know whether Mr Choom Gang ever applied for any university stuff [preferential admission, financial aid, etc] as a FOREIGN student [Indonesian or Kenyan] or whether he travelled to Pakistan with his best friend, Mohammed Hasan Chandoo, on a FOREIGN passport [Indonesian or Kenyan].

As for the university stuff, we know that Obama's publicist claimed FOR 16 DADGUM YEARS that Obama was born in Kenya .

And as for the passport stuff, when that State Department passport scandal first broke, on Thursday, March 20, 2008, the press [and even Obama's own campaign] was all, "OMFG GREATEST SCANDAL SINCE DANIEL ELLSBERG'S PSYCHIATRIST ELEVENTY!!!!!", but two days later, on Saturday, March 22, 2008, when it came to light that the break-in was organized by none other than John O. Brennan, then suddenly the press was all, "ssshhhhh..., nothing to see here... go back to sleep... we'll wake you up in 2016 when you need to vote again..."

Now you could claim that all this was just one long, carefully crafted, multi-decade Fauxahontas-esque gaming of the system, but, if so, then that doesn't explain why Brennan felt that he needed to stick his neck out and make absolutely certain that NO evidence existed which might indicate that Mr Choom Gang was NOT just another Fauxahontas.

And, DADGUMMIT, if it's all just a bunch of Fauxahontas-esque misunderstandings, then it certainly doesn't explain why poor Lt Quarles Harris Jr had to be murdered.



PS: And one other angle on the university stuff came to light recently - namely, that Mr Choom Gang might very well have benefitted from a Saudi Arabian program to fund Muslim university students, which was led by Khalid al-Mansour.

ML in Oklahoma said...

All of this is completely beside the point. Did he finish his degrees? (Note the plural). Did he finish in good standing? I don't remember my ACT or GRE or MAT scores for my degrees; so if I don't I'm not qualified? Give me a break! Why don't people focus on what matters! And if grade inflation is an issue, it is with every single person that was in school at the time.

Anonymous said...

This has probably been discussed on iSteve before, but based on Obama's academic performance and performance as President, what is a reasonable extrapolation of his IQ score?

Anonymous said...

Steve, what of his magna cum laude status at HLS (top 15%?)...I am asking seriously, could that have been a "gift" from affirmative action grading? I know Harvard Law is grade blind, but I really don't know if grade blinding would have been in effect back then. Also, would the students have elected him if he was not seriously a top student? I know he could make it into law review through affirmative action, but could he be selected as President of Law Review without intellectual chops? I am asking in earnest. My brother-in-law is an HLS grad and Obamacon. He states that you can't get selected as President without an extremely erudite reputation, writing ability, good grades and heft. I know Obama was a kiss-up, but did he have what it took or was it given to him?

pat said...

I have been commenting on his IQ and the Donald Trump announcement for some time. I have been mostly wrong.

Obviously my speculation that Trump was going to charge that Obama is gay, was completely wrong. Instead he seems interested in Obama's grades. That strikes me as a little strange. Why would anyone care? If you find that he had a B+ average what relevance is that to anything. Does it tell you anything about him or does it tell you something about the schools?

From your posting it seems that he got better grades than Gore, Bush or Kerry.

I have argued for months that his IQ can't be more than 128 or else he would have been a Merit Scholarship semi-finalist. After the debates - where he did very well at defending the indefensible - I think that that estimate is a bit low. He's no intellectual, but he is intelligent.

I was interested and am still interested in his school records not so much his grades. The mystery is around where he was when he was when he was supposed to be at Columbia. No one remembers him on campus. The rumor is that he was in Pakistan. That - if true - would be interesting but his grades themselves - who cares?

Albertosaurus

Harry Baldwin said...

I think the issue is less about Obama's grades than about the nature of the electives he chose. He probably took a lot of Marxist and Afro-grievance courses and is concerned that would look bad.

peterike said...

Well it's not about his grades, is it? It's about his status. Did he apply as a foreign student or not? Just as his "author" biography for many years said he was born in Kenya (very likely a lie to make himself more "exotic"), he may have ridden the foreign student gravy train into schools he would not otherwise have gotten into. Or he did it to get bags of scholarship money.

If he needed scholarship money. There are also significant questions about who was bankrolling him for those many years.

A mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a narcissist.

Anonymous said...

His PSAT scores must have been lower than that. Someone in my family with a 5 point lower index (2V+M) made Commended student the previous year.

Mitch said...

"Say, 690 V, 550 M (pre-1995 recentering)."

In those days, anything north of 700 was 99+% for Verbal, so that's very, very unlikely.

My guess is low 500s for math, high 500s for verbal, maybe low 600s. My guess is he's around 70th-80th percentile for Verbal.

Obama's verbal strikes me as better than his logic. If that's right, then he'd be around 60-70th percentile for LSAT.

Truth said...

" Maybe this is all part of a vast disinformation scheme targeted and me and the other three people who find Barack boring."

340 articles and you find Barry boring? Jeez, if you found him interesting, you'd have to retire with carpal tunnel.

hailtoyou said...

The following makes most sense for why Obama keeps his records sealed tight:

" Claiming special treatment and freebies as a foreign student? All too likely. You see, when Mr. Soetoro adopted Barack, Barack became an Indonesian citizen at the very least, and would a guy like Obama pass on any Affirmative Action goodies? Not very probable."

Anonymous said...

I don't think Trump's offer is primarily about Obama's grades or test scores. The theory is that BHO only got into those schools as a foreign student, which would either reveal him as someone who cheated the system (if he concealed his 1/2-American background) or as someone who in fact considered himself to be a foreigner even as an adult.

Thing is, it's not clear to me that a student applying to college would be applying "AS a foreign student" as opposed to simply applying and letting the information on the application speak for itself. Can anyone enlighten me on this?

Chuck Ross said...

I don't know if Trump said what it was he was expecting to find, but I'd think the more interesting information from those transcripts would be the actual classes he was taking rather than his grades.

As far as the actual grades go, students tend to perform better in the latter part of the college career. Students typically don't care about gen eds and take them for granted as easy classes. They buckle down when they hit their major classes. For example, my first 2 years I carried a 2.6 GPA (failed to drop some classes; scored D's in very easy classes) while I carried a 4.0 in my finance major classes because I was very interested in the subject.

Cail Corishev said...

He also can't stop her when she posts up on him.

If you know what I mean and I think you do.

countenance said...

Steve,

I have suspected all along that the real issue with Obama's college years, the reason he won't release the transcripts, isn't grade, but fluffy duff affirmative action basket weaving course titles. He might be telling the truth about the GPA, but I think they're in the *-studies classes.

Glaivester said...

It's not his grades. What people are assuming is that he applied as a foreign student in order to get benefits to which he was not entitled.

In nay case, there is something that he is hiding.

Glaivester said...

It's not his grades. What people are assuming is that he applied as a foreign student in order to get benefits to which he was not entitled.

In nay case, there is something that he is hiding.

mhagneto said...

To anybody who might know:

What percentage of National Achievment blacks were "real" PSAT semifinalists?; and the black percentage of all PSAT semifinalists?

mhagneto said...

To anybody who might know:

What percentage of National Achievment blacks were "real" PSAT semifinalists?; and the black percentage of all PSAT semifinalists?

The Legendary Linda said...

My bet would be that Obama's SAT score was rather like his GPA: fine, but not spectacular. He didn't make either National Merit Scholar or the black version, National Achievement Scholar, so we can assume he didn't ace the PSAT. Maybe he was less stoned the day of the SAT? Say, 690 V, 550 M (pre-1995 recentering).

But, I'm just making that up. Who knows? (Until you ask him.)



I'd bet he did relatively better on the LSAT seven years later, perhaps from de-Chooming.


If Obama got 1240 on the old SAT (roughly Mensa level) why did he go to occidental? High SAT scores comined with descent grades from a prestigious high school would certainly have got him into the ivy league given affirmative action (plus his legacy status as the son of a Harvard alumni). Add to that the fact that he had grandparents who could probably afford to send him anywhere and he was determined to attend university outside of Hawaii and it's hard to see why he picked occidental if his SATs were 1200+. One possibility is that he was smart enough to get into the ivy league, but not smart enough to get a scholarship there, and thus settled for a school that would pay for him.

But you think he did even better on the LSAT? I doubt it. The fact that he was a black student with an A- average at Columbia and the son of a harvard alumni easily explains how he got into harvard law. If on top of all that, he also had high LSAT scores, then why did he admit to being an affirmative action beneficiary?

Anonymous said...

I remember what my brother's SAT score from 1978 (he aced it). I am sure Obama remembers his own.

The Legendary Linda said...

My bet would be that Obama's SAT score was rather like his GPA: fine, but not spectacular. He didn't make either National Merit Scholar or the black version, National Achievement Scholar, so we can assume he didn't ace the PSAT. Maybe he was less stoned the day of the SAT? Say, 690 V, 550 M (pre-1995 recentering).

It's thought that virtually 100% of high IQ students take the SAT, but I doubt the same applies to the PSAT, though it might apply at a high school as prestigious as obama's. Is it plausible that Obama scored high on the PSAT but was denied these awards because of poor grades? Is it plausible that he received an award, but we just don't know about it?

Anonymous said...

Sailer must have forgotten that Obama lies even when not necessary. I bet he lied to Mariness.

Anonymous said...

690V for BO? Forget it. I know quite a few people who scored 650 - 700V on the pre 1995 SAT. They all speak and write more analytically and grammatically than he does. By the way, a recent scientific study demonstrated that smoking choom depresses IQ, unsurprisingly; but the study also found that mental abilities don't rebound after users get off it. In fact, BO's whole asocial personality and gibberish impromptu speaking style is text book for someone whose had/has a heavy dope addiction. Obviously, Steve never got around to researching these things.

Truth said...

Introducing:

The High Achiever's Club! Seriously, how would the world run without the accomplishments of These 16 incomparable gentlemen?*




*I think Little Wayne might have'em beat, though.






Severn said...

"He had received mostly A's in his coursework during those two years [at Columbia], he said later, and finished with a 3.7 grade point average."


Heck, if Obama said it, it must be true. It's not like he has a track record of lying!

Truth said...

"Obviously my speculation that Trump was going to charge that Obama is gay, was completely wrong..."

Well hey, that's a first.

Truth said...

"I have suspected all along that the real issue with Obama's college years, the reason he won't release the transcripts, isn't grade, but fluffy duff affirmative action basket weaving course titles. He might be telling the truth about the GPA, but I think they're in the *-studies classes."

You mean he struggled in Theoretical Pysics 431?

Truth said...

"He also can't stop her when she posts up on him.

If you know what I mean and I think you do."

No, Fraser Crane, I think you've got us there.

Truth said...

"Oh, no need, I just remembered his own biographical note for the Harvard gazzette said he was born in Kenya. So foreign student. Diversity program. Got it. Forget I asked."

Well Brett, if you have a copy of that 'note' laying around, I'm sure The Donald will write you a nice check.

Anonymous said...

What irony that Sailed goes out of his way to miss Trump's point - that O was a foreign student - all while writing for, supposedly, the leading illegal immigration site, where he cross-posted this self-congratulatory mendacity. Steve's ego pushes him to constantly deny the most obvious issue with Obama - how little we know about him - because of his poorly-researched book that took Obama's autobiography at face value. Sailer has to cover for Obama because he's also inherently covering for himself.

Cail Corishev said...

"based on Obama's academic performance and performance as President, what is a reasonable extrapolation of his IQ score?"

I would guess he's about 2SD above the African American average, which would put him about at 115 or so. +2SD would explain why people see him as genius level -- he is, compared to their expectations of his skin color. If he excelled for a couple years in a particular program -- and it wasn't an AA boost -- it probably indicates a manic period, as Steve has theorized for years.

I'm obviously not basing that on his academic performance, because we don't know much about that. I wouldn't normally base it on his presidential performance either, because incompetence there has more to do with faulty ideology than lack of intelligence. An average thinker could be a great president if he had a good set of basic principles and sense enough to hire good people to enforce them. But Obama told us that he's so much smarter than everyone else that he would be micromanaging and coming up with ideas to fix things, so the fact that he's failed so completely at that does reflect on his mental abilities.

Mostly I base it on what he's written and said. I've managed to avoid watching most of his speeches and debates, because I learned from Clinton (and Bush, to a lesser extent) that these high-charisma pols can snow you with their presence while their words are meaningless or worse. So I try to avoid watching or listening to him, and stick with his written word and transcripts.

From that perspective, there's just nothing impressive about the man. He's smart enough to spew the kind of wordy blather about poetry that impresses liberal arts co-eds, but that hardly requires genius. He's smart enough to understand smart things other people have written so he can recite them or respond to them without looking clueless, but ditto. Any B+ student can do those things.

The mark of genius, or the dividing line between smarter than average and "Whoa, he's really smart," is the ability to come up with ideas. Geniuses are always coming up with ideas -- maybe good, maybe bad, but they're always answering questions like "what if" or "how could we". Obama is well short of that divide.

But as I said, his less-than-genius IQ wouldn't be an issue if he had some humility and some principles beyond a general dislike for traditional America. He's not too stupid to be a good president. If he were smarter, he'd only be more dangerous.

David said...

If you think Obama is anything better than a Muslim atheist, a communist Nazi, or a gay womanizer, then you're a commie and a traitor.

The above viewpoint is considered entirely normal by 99% of white people over the age of 60.

We live in a very strange country.

The Legendary Linda said...

In my humble opinion, Trump is a very insecure man despite his spectacular wealth and status because he largely inherited his enormous fortune, and thus feels inferior to self-made men like Obama. In order to compensate, trump must expose Obama as an affirmative action case, and show the world that Obama is as mediocre as trump fears he himself is. It's a classic case of projection.

The Legendary Linda said...

690V for BO? Forget it. I know quite a few people who scored 650 - 700V on the pre 1995 SAT. They all speak and write more analytically and grammatically than he does.


If bush who could hardly string together a sentence could score 566 on the old verbal SAT, than Obama could have scored 690. Obama is occasionally slow and clumsy verbally, but when he's on his game he can be extremely impressive, both extemporaneously and in the speeches he presumably writes.


Considering how atrociously inarticulate and ignorant 99% of people are, anyone who can speak in a fluent, coherent, organized way with good diction about a complex topic, is probably way up there when it comes to verbal IQ.

By the way, a recent scientific study demonstrated that smoking choom depresses IQ, unsurprisingly; but the study also found that mental abilities don't rebound after users get off it.

Or it could be that those who sense their IQ is dropping for genetic reasons, turn to choom to escape that ominous reality, so maybe the causation is backwards.

But I have no doubt substance abuse lowers IQ significantly. I think Bush having near Mensa SAT scores as a kid, but struggling to get through a complex sentence by his 50s is an example.


.

eah said...

Who cares.

But I hope you win the $5m.

Anonymous said...

"It's thought that virtually 100% of high IQ students take the SAT, but I doubt the same applies to the PSAT, though it might apply at a high school as prestigious as obama's. Is it plausible that Obama scored high on the PSAT but was denied these awards because of poor grades? Is it plausible that he received an award, but we just don't know about it?"

No, it's not plausible that we don't know about it. Any scholarship winner can log on to the NMSC community website and search the membership directory. Hence, it's common knowledge which celebrities are winners. For example, Bill Gates and Paul Allen were; surprisingly, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were not.

And I just verified that the awesomely boobed Jeri Zimmermann, aka Seven-of-Nine on Star Trek: Voyager, was a NMS winner in 1986. Too bad her marriage to Jack Ryan sunk his political career at the most inopportune time for our nation when a dirty Chicago judge unsealed the couple's divorce papers against their wishes. Otherwise Jack probably could have defeated Obama for US Senator in 2004, thereby delaying or halting Obama's rapid ascendancy to the White House.

Now close your eyes and imagine the incredibly smart and articulate Jeri Ryan as our first woman president... I think I'm getting a Woodrow.

Cail Corishev said...

"It's thought that virtually 100% of high IQ students take the SAT"

In some states the ACT is more common, but yeah, if a kid's smart today, someone's gonna make sure he takes one or the other, if not both.

And yes, anyone who got a good score remembers what it was, at least within the ballpark. I don't remember exactly how my ACT broke down among the various subjects, but I remember my overall score, and probably always will.

Anonymous said...

http://www.american.com/archive/2007/july-august-magazine-contents/abolish-the-sat

I'm sure you all remember this article. Obama kind of reminds me of the emo brat in Murray's thought experiment.

Anonymous said...

Being a foreign citizen doesn't help with admissions. It also tends to be more expensive. You have to pay more and there's less access to financial aid than domestic students. The only foreign citizens that get affirmative action in admissions are black ones (and I suppose Latinos), but they get it because they're black, not because they're foreign citizens. That is, they would have gotten it had they been US citizens.

Anonymous said...

Is it plausible that Obama scored high on the PSAT but was denied these awards because of poor grades?

No. Grades don't enter into it.


Is it plausible that he received an award, but we just don't know about it?


Possible, though it's likely his friends would have known about it and mentioned it by now. I was a semi-finalist a few years later and I doubt that there's any public record of it. Word typically gets around among the students.

Steve's guess at his verbal strikes me as about right but there's the distinct possibility that he completely cratered on the math section. Obama said today "the math stuff I was fine with, up until 7th grade," which suggests he was lousy at algebra and geometry. The low overall score may have been what caused problems with any hypothetical undergraduate Ivy applications, or perhaps that plus low grades in high school.

The Legendary Linda said...

Steve, what of his magna cum laude status at HLS (top 15%?)...I am asking seriously, could that have been a "gift" from affirmative action grading? I know Harvard Law is grade blind, but I really don't know if grade blinding would have been in effect back then. Also, would the students have elected him if he was not seriously a top student? I know he could make it into law review through affirmative action, but could he be selected as President of Law Review without intellectual chops? I am asking in earnest. My brother-in-law is an HLS grad and Obamacon. He states that you can't get selected as President without an extremely erudite reputation, writing ability, good grades and heft. I know Obama was a kiss-up, but did he have what it took or was it given to him?

I would imagine that being elected president of law review was far more a political achievement than an academic one. He came along when Harvard was desperate for unifying high profile blacks who could ease racial tension, and obama's cool calm demeanor made both liberals and conservatives view him as fair and objective.

He might have earned his high grades at Harvard but I take them with a grain of salt because Harvard could not let the first black president of the HRvard law review flunk without damaging the law review's reputation for academic excellence and further inciting racial tension. So even if grading was blind, it's likely they made exceptions for high profile students, and even if he was graded blind, I believe professors have the option of bumping students' final grade up after exams were marked.

Difference Maker said...

Being a foreign citizen doesn't help with admissions. It also tends to be more expensive. You have to pay more and there's less access to financial aid than domestic students. The only foreign citizens that get affirmative action in admissions are black ones (and I suppose Latinos), but they get it because they're black, not because they're foreign citizens. That is, they would have gotten it had they been US citizens.

With Harvard it most assuredly does. The idea is to simply brainwash the elite around the world to do your bidding. Obama's profile looks like the perfect grievance mongerer

beowulf said...

"He didn't make either National Merit Scholar or the black version, National Achievement Scholar, so we can assume he didn't ace the PSAT."

Unlike the SAT, PSAT was (and maybe still is) only offered once a year.
The day my high school administered it, I was home sick with the flu and missed it. There was no opportunity to make it up.

Obama doesn't strike me as the sort with perfect attendance in school. Its quite possible he and his stoner friends had better things to do that day.

Eric said...

If you find that he had a B+ average what relevance is that to anything. Does it tell you anything about him or does it tell you something about the schools?

It doesn't mean much to us, but if you were convinced in 2008 you were putting the smartest guy in presidential history into the oval office this might confirm something you've been suspecting ever since - he's just a normal guy with average intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Maybe BO will ask Sailer to interview him - who else has done the research?

mel belli said...

Geniuses are always coming up with ideas -- maybe good, maybe bad

I once heard a story about William Prosser ("Dean of Torts"), discussing a student who later ascended to the California Supreme Court. He's supposed to have said, "he has ten ideas a week. Nine of them are pure shit, but one is always pure gold."

shot 76 today said...

re SAT scores and smarts: I scored 100 points above Steve's estimate for Obama, but I have absolutely no ability to dissemble, while Obama does. Via Kaus, here's what he said to the Des Moines Register:


Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community. And this is a relatively new phenomenon. George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I am fairly confident that they’re going to have a deep interest in getting that done.

Anonymous said...

"Hence, it's common knowledge which celebrities are [NMS] winners. For example, Bill Gates and Paul Allen were; surprisingly, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were not."

Nah. Software guys usually do better on tests than hardware guys.

Anonymous said...

what of his magna cum laude status at HLS (top 15%?)

This is the only thing on his resume I find puzzling. It's the one time in his life that he performed very well academically. He didn't before (B+/A- grades) or after (missing in action at Chicago talk-fests, no published law review articles.)

Cail Corishev said...

"if you were convinced in 2008 you were putting the smartest guy in presidential history into the oval office this might confirm something you've been suspecting ever since - he's just a normal guy with average intelligence."

Exactly. We were told he was so smart (especially compared to Bush) that we could take it for granted that he would come up with solutions for all our problems. If that's not true, if he doesn't bring massive intellect to the job, what does he have left to offer? Foreign policy experience? Legislative record? A keen knowledge of economics? Strong leadership skills? The desire to play a lot of golf?

I guess one out of five isn't bad.

Justthisguy said...

I was a National Merit Finalist back in 1968, one of the two Gentiles in the dozen or so of us in my high school. I could have been an official National Merit Scholar, had I been willing to go for the Minimum Stipend, a couple of hundred bucks per year.

Back then, you couldn't be a NM Scholar unless you qualified for specific scholarships granted by various organizations, or opted for the Minimum Stipend. I did not happen to qualify for any of them.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

If Obama had a 1240 old scoring on his SAT's he wouldn't have gone to Occidental. So I think you are essentially correct, but would kick the SATV up a few points and SATM down by quite a bit. 700-500

Anonymous said...

How did Michelle make it through HLS? I'm fascinated by that.

Jain Truss said...

"Truth said...

Introducing:

The High Achiever's Club! Seriously, how would the world run without the accomplishments of These 16 incomparable gentlemen?"


- And look at that, not a single Sub-saharan African or African American in the entire list. They're going to have to file a disparate impact suit against the human genome.

Co Co Co said...

"Not a single Sub-saharan African... on the entire list..."

I think Stephen Hawking is gonna have his work cut out for him...

Anonymous said...

"How did Michelle make it through HLS? I'm fascinated by that."

I'm fascinated by how she got admitted to HLS in the first place given her functional illiteracy. My suspicion is that the black quota is actually two: one for blacks (Mulattos and children of foreign elites) and one for buh-lacks (authentic descendents of American slaves). Michelle was admitted under the latter.

Melykin said...

Obama is just stupid. He admitted on Jay Leno last night that he couldn't do high school math.
Go to 3:42 in the video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEEpVXspflM&feature=player_embedded#!

Anonymous said...

"Obama is just stupid. He admitted on Jay Leno last night that he couldn't do high school math."

Obama probably meant that he learned high school math but never used it in the real world and now can't remember enough of it to help his daughter with her homework. Steve's estimate of 550M sounds about right for B.O., but that means proficient to the NAEP folks and in comparison to East Asians, he's certainly average. In otherwords, 500 million Chinese are no better than Obama at math.

Steve's SAT predictions for Obama are equivalent to a selection index of 193 for the PSAT, which would be too low to meet the semifinalist cutoff of about 215 for HI. Even if Obama got 75M on the PSAT (SAT 750M), he still would have missed the semifinalist cutoff. My point is that there are a boatload of very smart people who aren't National Merit Scholars. In fact, there are quite a few Nobel Laureates in the sciences who missed the cut.

Anonymous said...

"Steve's SAT predictions for Obama are equivalent to a selection index of 193 for the PSAT, which would be too low to meet the semifinalist cutoff of about 215 for HI. Even if Obama got 75M on the PSAT (SAT 750M), he still would have missed the semifinalist cutoff. My point is that there are a boatload of very smart people who aren't National Merit Scholars. In fact, there are quite a few Nobel Laureates in the sciences who missed the cut."

That 215 is post recentering, which modified verbal scores greatly.

I don't think Obama possesses the verbal facility found in someone with an old score 700 or higher.

Steve?

Melykin said...

Obama said "I was ok in math until grade 7...". This gives the impression that he was not ok in math beyond grade 7. so I would say it is not just a matter of him having forgotten. Besides if he was reasonably intelligent he could figure out grade 8 math from his daughter's text book and help her with her home work.

I was stunned that the leader of the free world would admit on national television that he couldn't help his daughter with grade 8 math. However I teach math so I may be prejudiced.

The Legendary Linda said...

Unlike the SAT, PSAT was (and maybe still is) only offered once a year.
The day my high school administered it, I was home sick with the flu and missed it. There was no opportunity to make it up.

Obama doesn't strike me as the sort with perfect attendance in school. Its quite possible he and his stoner friends had better things to do that day.


His attendance wasn't great, but unless his attendance was abysmal, odds are he was at school that day, and certainly if his teachers, guidance counselors, or grandparents thought he was brilliant, at least one of them would have encouraged him to be at school that day.

But you raise an interesting point. What percentage of students who are capable of being national merit finalists actually take the test? I think at a high school as prestigious as Obama's, the answer would be close to 100%, but was the PSAT commonly administered in lower middle class and poor schools? On the other hand, there probably aren't many brilliant students at those schools, so perhaps it doesn't matter much.

My point is that if someone was not a national merit scholarship finalist, does it mean they weren't capable or simply that they went to a mediocre high school that was not very academically ambitious? Are there are lot of people who could have been national merit finalists, but simply never took the PSAT, or does the PSAT do a good job testing virtually everyone worth testing? Anyone here who scored above 1400 on the old SAT but did not TAKE the PSAT?

I do not expect everyone (or even most people) who scored 1400+ on the old SAT to be national merit finalists because people regress to the mean on different tests (or even the same test), but if there are significant numbers of people who scored 1400+ and didn't even TAKE the PSAT, then the test is doing a poor job searching for the brightest minds. Since we know that virtually 100% of brilliant U.S. kids take/took the SAT/ACT, comparing SAT scores with PSAT participation is useful.

I read that only about 1% of PSAT takers become national merit finalists (though this varies from state to state). If we assume that only the college bound third of the population takes the PSAT, and there's virtually 100% participation at the high end, then only 1 in 300 American teenagers are capable of national merit finalist status (whether they took the test or not).

1 in 300 equates to an IQ of 141 (sigma 15), so while not being a merit finalist puts a ceiling on Obama's IQ, it's an extremely high ceiling. But then there's the black version he apparently also missed which might lower the ceiling considerably, assuming the participation rate is high enough to identify all the very bright blacks and assuming Obama self-identified as black in those days.

We should also consider that both awards are for American citizens only, and Obama, while almost certainly born in Hawaii, may not have always self-identified as a citizen.

David said...

>He admitted on Jay Leno last night that he couldn't do high school math.<

A politician says things to make people like him. Remember, at least half of all voters are below average. A common Republican refrain is that Obama is "an arrogant smartie."

If you act smart, you lose - and lose big - with the dumb-dumbs. If you act dumb, you lose with the smart people.

There are more dumb people than smart people.

A politician needs the majority of votes.

So... I cain't do that there math, it's hard. Them young'uns show me up ever time! And I shore do know what it's like to go thru hard times. I feel yore pain. I'm a bidness man (fighter for the pore) and you will get a job (a helpin' hand) if you vote fer me. My humble family thanks the Lord and you fer yore help and yore vote.

The Legendary Linda said...

Obama probably meant that he learned high school math but never used it in the real world and now can't remember enough of it to help his daughter with her homework.

In an interesting coincidence, Bill Clinton also admitted to being unable to help his daughter with 9th grade math, and yet Bill was a national merit finalist, so apparently it's possible to have genius level PSAT scores despite having the numeracy of a 14 year old. Or maybe the daughters of presidents just attend really tough math classes. Or is this just self-deprecating populist humor? Given the intellectual narcissism of both men, and how crucial being seen as smart was to both presidents ascent, I doubt they are faking dumb.

Cail Corishev said...

You can be pretty smart and have a hard time teaching. I won a state-wide math contest when I was in high school, but I recently tried to help a kid with geometry, and I wasn't sure what some of the terms used in the questions meant. I don't know if it's because they used different terms than were used in my time, or because I'd forgotten them, but the point is that teaching with a particular book is different from having a command of the subject.

That's also very different from saying "I was ok in math through 7th grade," which implies that he started to struggle with math when he was in 8th grade; not that he had forgotten it by later in life.

I don't know anyone who aced the SAT without taking the PSAT, but I was kinda the other way around. I scored highly enough on the PSAT to be a National Merit semi-finalist, but didn't take the SAT. I was at a high school seminary where the only college seminary we could advance to required the ACT, and they weren't interested in helping us get into a secular school. I'm pretty sure the ACT was dominant in my state then anyway. Also, I was the firstborn child, and my parents and I didn't know anything about how this stuff worked (pre-Internet), so we just assumed colleges would beat a path to my door when the time came. I got material from every college in the country after the PSAT, and that was nice, but I didn't act on any of it. By the time I took the ACT and started contacting colleges, we discovered we were way behind the game and all the scholarships were gone.

So yes, it's possible that a prodigy could get missed, and that Obama is secretly a genius despite his lack of test scores and his status as a B+ student. It's also possible that Romney is secretly a hard-core paleo who will close the borders and start building a fence the day he's sworn in. Neither is very likely, though.

Cail Corishev said...

"If you act smart, you lose"

And every smart person learns very early on the playground to downplay his intelligence. In fact, Obama's tendency to talk up his own smarts is pretty unusual. Most smart people automatically do something like Clinton did: "Aw shucks, I'm not really that smart; why just the other day I was struggling with my daughter's math." He knows that's nonsense, and so do his listeners, but it disarms the very strong resentment people can have toward those smarter than themselves. Someone must have prepped Obama to do the same thing, but saying, "I struggled in 8th grade," is different from saying, "I'd struggle with it now, wink wink," as I pointed out in my previous comment.

If he were really smart it seems like he'd know that.

The Legendary Linda said...

And every smart person learns very early on the playground to downplay his intelligence. In fact, Obama's tendency to talk up his own smarts is pretty unusual. Most smart people automatically do something like Clinton did: "Aw shucks, I'm not really that smart; why just the other day I was struggling with my daughter's math." He knows that's nonsense, and so do his listeners, but it disarms the very strong resentment people can have toward those smarter than themselves.


The problem with that theory is bill Clinton went out of his way to appear smarter than everyone. He would have reporters walk in and see him finishing the NY Times crossword puzzle in under 5 minutes (someone here claims he had a spy from the paper feeding him answers but this person never provides a source for this fascinating theory) His surrogate James carville would boast "he always the smartest person in the room. I don't give a god@mn who's in the room. It can be a room full of world leaders, a room full of Nobel prize winners...if he's in the room, he's the smartest person in the room."




Also bill Clinton confessed to sucking at math when he was no longer a politician, and did so in a gazillion page book that only smart political geeks tend to read, so I don't think he fabricated the story to appeal to dumb people. Clinton probably has a math IQ around 115, which is high enough to be a merit finalist if his verbal IQ is in the stratosphere, which it probably is, and a 115 math IQ is probably low enough to struggle with your 9th grader's math if it's advanced placement level at a tough school, and as others have pointed out, text books and notations vary from how Clinton learned math.

Also, intelligence probably declines after age 20, so both presidents were no longer at their intellectual prime, when they helped their daughters with math.

Anonymous said...

"In an interesting coincidence, Bill Clinton also admitted to being unable to help his daughter with 9th grade math, and yet Bill was a national merit finalist, so apparently it's possible to have genius level PSAT scores despite having the numeracy of a 14 year old."

Nope, he wasn't a NMS. Neither was Hilary Rodham.

Cail Corishev said...

Linda, you're acting like this is more complicated than it is. Yes, Clinton made sure people thought he was smart, but he didn't say he was. He displayed it with hints like those crossword puzzles, and let his minions like Carville say it. With everyone else saying how smart he was, he could afford the self-deprecating stuff.

The fact that he was out of office is irrelevant. As I said, when you're smarter than the average bear, downplaying it becomes a survival habit.

If his math IQ was 115, then he's plenty smart to handle freshman algebra, even at a tough school. Again, that was my point: he might have found it difficult to pick up the book and instruct his daughter on a lesson cold, so he could joke about being dumb. But is there any doubt that he could take the course and pass it? Of course not. And I doubt he struggled with it much when he was her age, either.

To my understanding, IQ normally peaks at 30, not 20. Substance abuse could affect that, though, if it was serious enough, so it might be all downhill after 20 for some.

Justthisguy said...

@Cail, on substance abuse: Look at that pic of George W. with the fellow pilots of his squadron when he was young, and then look at a recent pic of him. IMHO, the latter kind of pic is of a guy who didn't quit drinking soon enough.

M'self, I didn't start taking that kind of nerve medicine in serious amounts until I was in my late forties, so there's a good chance something else will get me first. At least I'll get to be numb when they come for me, and the baton licks won't hurt so much.

Melykin said...

Cail Corishev wrote"
You can be pretty smart and have a hard time teaching. I won a state-wide math contest when I was in high school, but I recently tried to help a kid with geometry, and I wasn't sure what some of the terms used in the questions meant. I don't know if it's because they used different terms than were used in my time, or because I'd forgotten them, but the point is that teaching with a particular book is different from having a command of the subject.
-----------------------------

But Obama would have access to his daughter's the text book. If he was unfamiliar with terms or notations he could have looked them up.

How could he possibly think it was ok to tell everyone that he is basically innumerate? Imagine if he had said that his reading ability was at a grade school level.

The Legendary Linda said...

This source says Clinton was a national merit finalist:

http://books.google.ca/books?id=XkIr94fD8VYC&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=bill+Clinton+national+merit&source=bl&ots=_AN0APs8V4&sig=lu5YcB4QrTzY7B2IQwFUdslC5RA&hl=en#v=onepage&q=bill%20Clinton%20national%20merit&f=false

Cail Corishev said...

Melykin,

Right, I was talking about Clinton when I said it can be tough to pick up a kid's textbook and teach it cold. (But it's certainly still doable, with a bit of preparation.)

Obama's quote, at least the one I was talking about, wasn't about being hazy on a subject you learned 30+ years ago; it was the one that implied he didn't do "okay" on 8th-grade math when he was in 8th grade.

And there's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't fit into the genius-technocrat-messiah image of him that we were sold. If you tell people you're going to out-think and override your advisors on everything from green energy spending to military strategy, you're going to need more than a facile ability with words to pull that off.

Anonymous said...

"This source says Clinton was a national merit finalist..."

Possibly. Clinton definitely does not show up in the list of NMS winners, but only half of finalists are awarded scholarships.

The Legendary Linda said...

Possibly. Clinton definitely does not show up in the list of NMS winners, but only half of finalists are awarded scholarships.

So it sounds like we can only verify who's a scholarship winner, not who is a finalist. So the fact that Obama wasn't a winner doesn't tell us anything; it's finalist status that is based on PSAT scores and we can't verify that, or can we?

Harry Baldwin said...

One of the things that makes me doubt Obama's brilliance is his frequent misuse of certain words.

Some Obama errors off the top of my head:

In the foreign policy debate with Romney, he said Al Qaeda has been "decimated." Presumably he meant devastated.

He frequently says "enormity" when he means "enormousness," as in his inaugural address.

He said his daughters were "nonplussed" by the attention of the press when he meant unfazed.

He once said "fulsome accounting" when he meant full accounting.

Granted, these are words that are so often misused that the incorrect usage has acquired some currency, but as a writer, a Harvard educated lawyer, and traveling in the circles that he does, you'd think he'd be aware that among the elite distinctions are drawn on the basis of small solecisms. Granted G.W. Bush butchered the language to a far greater extent, but no one ever accused him of being brilliant.

The Legendary Linda said...

Harry baldwin, obama's use of the word "decimated" was correct. The diction defines "decimate" as:

3
a : to reduce drastically especially in number
b : to cause great destruction or harm to
— dec·i·ma·tion noun

Anonymous said...

What folks are missing here: Choom/Cannibis is not all that addictive.
Obama admits regular cocaine use
"when I could afford it", hung out around folks that had _serious_ cocaine issues, and by reports of people that knew him at Occidential, had friends that could afford quite a lot of cocaine and were willing to share. Obama didn't officially quite tobacco until 2008-and tobacco is easier to stop using than cocaine. So did Obama ever really stop using cocaine completely? The president job is not drug tested(I think it should be personally). His performance in the 1st debate suggests a cocaine hangover to me(what I'd expect from someone using 12-18 hours before the debate).

The Legendary Linda said...

Rush limbaugh claims he has a source saying Obama got the lowest grades in the history of harvard:

http://m.youtube.com/index?&desktop_uri=%2F#/watch?v=uJw5rPborvA

Anonymous said...

Most high schools of the upper middle class kind that Barry Obama attended in Hawaii, regularly posted the names of students who made the honor roll.
While the honor rolls have gotten more inflated over time, back then they indicated "something" It ought to be possible to find out how often he cleared that hurdle? Too, the social judgement of the abler students is pretty accurate. The sense I have gotten is that Barry boy impressed mostly B students, not the top, say, five percent?

Anonymous said...

In upper middle class high schools in 1980, the social judgement re brains that would be made by, say, the top five percent, can be pretty accurate most of the time. My impression is that Barry Obama impressed mainly C plus students with how bright he was? A key test is going toe to toe in reasoned but vigorous informed disputation. He has always had a deep reflexive aversion to this. HE won't even permit vigorous argumentive sword play to take place in his presence. For one thing, I suspect the guy has a possibly clinically significant schism between a fairly high verbal IQ and a flat average performance IQ. He comes off as someone who can yak about Marcuse but maybe can't manage to change a flat tire. He's far more verbally-socially manipulative than solid reasoning capable .

brian said...

I'll take an IQ test after having smoked .5 grams of high test Cannabis and you can do it sober. Does my smoking Cannabis some how make my higher score less meaningful? I've met a few people who would like to think so.