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January 14, 2004

How smart is Bush?

Steve Sailer explores George W. Bush's intelligence. Here is a kind of disturbing section:


Simonton also suggested, "Bush scores extremely low on integrative complexity. ... This is the capacity to look at issues from multiple perspectives and to integrate that diverse outlook into a single coherent viewpoint. ... Bush finds it hard to view the world in other way than his own. That's why he's so hard to engage in a genuine debate. He can say 'I hear you,' but he really can't."

Smarts isn't everything-Jimmy Carter probably had the highest IQ of recent presidents, but if "people skills" is what G.W. is pushing as his strength, listening seems like it would be important. If Bush's "gut" agrees with your own political position, I guess it doesn't matter, but if you disagree, fat chance of convincing him otherwise....

Now, what about the Democrats? I think it is plausible that Dean and Kerry have Bush's intellectual aptitude, but are probably more curious about the world around them (not too hard, frankly). Joe Lieberman is an example of the benefits of the meritocracy, as is Wes Clark, probably the mental superstar of the bunch.

Update: Busy says about space & all that: "the desire to explore and understand is part of our character".

P.S. I don't think lack of curiousity would concern me much if G.W. hadn't embarked on an imperial program around the world. Back in 2000 Gore seemed more like the nation-building hawk, I dismissed Bush's lack of knowledge about world affairs on the hunch that he wouldn't have to do much as far as international policy went.

Godless comments:

The whole thing seems kind of pseudoscientific to me. How can Simonton quantitatively assses Bush's "integrative complexity" without testing him under controlled conditions? It reminds me of those assignments of IQ scores to historical figures - total guesses with some scientific-sounding jargon behind them.

Posted by razib at 05:37 PM