August 10, 2004

Who's smarter, Bush or Kerry?

In the United States, the college entrance exam is called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or "SAT". The test is composed, distributed and marked by the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey, and has been for decades. The SAT consists of a math section and a verbal section, a perfect score on either is worth 800 points, yielding 1600 as the potential maximum. Before a mid-1990s rescaling, 1600 was extremely rare - just a handful of students each year would finish with a perfect score.

(In recent years the grading scale has been changed, but for everyone who took it before the mid-1990s, the scores are directly comparable.)

We know Bush's scores - 566 Verbal, 640 Math - which adds up to 1206. This is by no means a poor showing - it translates to an IQ of about 125, placing the president in the 95th percentile of the general population. Al Gore's SATs were to my knowledge never released, but he scored 133 and 134 on two IQ tests, which places him at the 99th percentile. John F. Kennedy had an IQ of 119.

There is a nasty little slander working its way around - perhaps you've heard it - claiming that George W. Bush is an idiot. However, his excellent performance on standardized exams indicates that he is actually quite intelligent. It's very curious that the Kerry campaign has not released the senator's SAT scores - its entire presentation of the candidate is based on 35-year-old home movie footage, so it cannot make the claim that 40-year-old school documentation is markedly less significant.

Release Kerry's scores!

Posted by Sterling at 06:59 AM GMT

Which makes Bush walking proof that years of alcoholic excess realy does turn men into mere intelllecual husks of their former selves. Or else he genially decided that feigning glib incuriosity is the best way to ingratiate himself with an anti-intellectual electorate.

Or, he really does have some serious father issues to combat. Which is understandable, many smart people have deep psychological scars, it's just that few of them run a superpower.

Posted by: Stefan Geens on August 10, 2004 08:57 AM

That's all you got, Stefan? That's your retort?

Let me explain something to you - "alcoholic" in the American idiom is not a synonym for "drunk". Bush wasn't passed out in the gutter every night after drinking too much MD 2020. He was leading a productive and fecund existence in Texas and having a little too much beer and whiskey on the side. His mother asserted on Larry King that W. didn't have a drinking problem, and that news stories saying otherwise are just bad spin. You misunderestimate how intolerate of vice people in a small Texas town tend to be.

Honestly, it delights me that he so effortlessly infuriates you Europeans. I think in future years we ought to consider that quality a prerequisite for any Republican candidate. And by the way - I know the European press is behaving as if Kerry is a sure thing, but that's nonsense. As someone who understands American electoral politics very well, I can tell you that Kerry has already lost the campaign. Bush is going to beat Kerry by at least 4 points in the popular vote, and probably more than that. If I had to lay money, it would be Bush 53%, Kerry 45%, other 2%. The Electoral College results will be similarly decisive - at least 290 votes for Bush.

Posted by: Sterling on August 10, 2004 01:48 PM

Who's smarter, Bush or Sterling?

Posted by: Jez on August 10, 2004 01:55 PM

this just shows that Bush is being discriminated against by a liberal elite that only measures "intelligence" using the traditional metrics of SATs and IQ tests.

if we used the seven or nine different kinds of intelligence that true conservative intellectual pioneers were advocating in the 1990s, then we'd see that Bush scores very high in the interpersonal or social IQ, which would prove that liberals like Sterling are wrong when they try to answer the question of "Who's smarter?" by just using SAT scores.

Posted by: mike on August 10, 2004 02:06 PM

On the other hand, voting for Bush the Smarter is a refuge for those conservatives desperate to find a reason to vote for him when they can't bring themselves to vote on the issues. After all, Bush is far more profligate fiscally, is far less respectful of the sanctity of the constitution, and is far less isolationist than the true conservative in this campaign — Kerry.

Posted by: Stefan Geens on August 10, 2004 03:22 PM

Well, you're right about the fiscal concerns, but wrong about everything else. Constitution-wise, Bush is the far sounder candidate. The interpretation of the Constitution has been subject to a massive PR campaign by the Left (they say it's a "living document") for over 40 years (hint: "Separation of Church and State" appears nowhere within). And the Republican Party hasn't been isolationist since Saturday, December 6, 1941.

Posted by: Sterling on August 10, 2004 03:34 PM

I find it bizarre to revel in Bush's anti-intellectualism. I'd say the man's a monkey and point to his latest gaffes this week, but I just don't understand why smart conservatives refuse to realize they've got a zero there. There are plenty of sharp-minded Republicans that can articulate and stay true to their party's policies without shutting themselves off to debate or other ideas like he does.

Posted by: Marc on August 10, 2004 05:22 PM

Yes, Marc (and congratulations on managing to avoid writing a mass of non-sequiturs this time around) but you neglect to mention one talent of Bush's that all those other Republicans have in less abundance - Bush has the ability to get elected president. He is the one who emerged from the primary process in 2000, and he won the election. He's going to win this one, too, and by a substantial margin if I'm reading things correctly.

Posted by: Sterling on August 10, 2004 05:28 PM

Jesus, it was a joke, Shirley. No need to get in a snit after a fairly harmless post on my part. I now know to avoid humor around you. I've always admitted Bush's folksy, down-to-earth attitude was his greatest strength. I just don't think that qualifies you to be president. If the last election was post 9/11 he would have been laughed outta the primaries. Remember back then? People were arguing he could "learn on the job." And I just read your reply to the other Monkey post. Good to know you realize you're the token voice of the Right here, but shouldn't you be against Affirmative Action? Oh rats! Was that too non linear for you to follow as well?

Posted by: Marc on August 10, 2004 05:43 PM

Good thing for Bush there wasn't an oral component to the verbal section.

So Bush managed to score a 566 in verbal (which is pretty sad in itself) and 640 in a math section which tests high school level math. How did a 1206 on the SATs go from 'by no means a poor showing' to an 'excellent performance on standardized exams'? While you can say it is excellent because it is in the 95th percentile, it is misleading because a guy flipping burgers in a lower percentile will never be president.

I do agree though, that it is silly when liberals attack Bush for being stupid. He's clearly a crafty politician, and woe to Democrats who underestimate him. But in the end, they should attack him on his actions (and maybe a malapropism or two).

Posted by: doshin on August 10, 2004 05:48 PM

Well, Doshin, it might look to some observers that 1206/1600 is a poor score. I was simply saying that it isn't, and using a bit of understatement to make my point clearer. 95th percentile is quite high, and an excellent result.

I agree with you that it would be impossible for a genuinely stupid person to be elected president, but people on the Left proclaim loudly that Bush is genuinely stupid. Of course, they often switch arguments and describe him as an evil mastermind moments later, but "...consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...".

Posted by: Sterling on August 10, 2004 06:09 PM

In the interests of full disclosure, Sterling, yes, of course you are being used, but only to the extent that blogs which preach to the choir are predictable and hence boring, and you're there to avoid that happening. Much better to have a blog read by both sides; there is no such thing as overexposure to the views of one's ideological opponents. If anything, it helps hone one's respective arguments for the next time.

That said, I'd like to commend you on your fine choice of posting topics to date: They are not me-too-ist, nor simplistically partisan, and always have a creative flourish. Of course, you are always wrong, but that was the whole point of inviting you into the fold.

Posted by: Stefan Geens on August 10, 2004 06:18 PM

Speaking as a former token, I am taking huge delight in watching Sterling's efforless--even sterling--baiting of this blog's collective of soft-headed Euro lefties, a crowd that has long had trouble distinging basic principles from policy prefences. Keep it up.

Posted by: Matthew on August 10, 2004 06:28 PM

I note that the UPI piece that make these claims quotes Charles Murray of "The Bell Curve" fame, which is kind of like getting Billy Joel as your driving instructor.

Dubya is not quite as sharp as a bag of wet slugs, although he may be canny and capable of doing some learning by rote, he is obviously intellectually incurious, which is really what consitutes practical intelligence.

Capacity is certainly an element of intelligence, but it's pointless if it isn't being used. The brain is a muscle, and as such needs exercise (see recent findings about Alzheimer's, for instance). The malapropisms, obtuseness and staggering slowness on the uptake (witness the "biggest mistake" question or the recent "sovereign nations" stumble) may not necessarily point to someone incapable of being intelligent. But those qualities, together with an unwillingess to correct even simple mispronunciations like "nucular" or "subliminable" - show someone who isn't much willing to do the work of being intelligent.

And, if Bush does win the election... You think the US is a pariah now? It'll get much, much worse before it gets better.

Posted by: John E Thelin on August 10, 2004 11:01 PM

"...getting Billy Joel to vouch for your driving skills" would have been much better. Damn!

Posted by: John E Thelin on August 10, 2004 11:06 PM

1200 gets you into Yale? She-it. Granted, I'm a liberal beneficiary of grade inflation and all manner of intellectual dilution perpetrated by the armies of whacked-out ex-hippie teachers, but if I scored 1200 on the SAT, I wouldn't have told anyone. Sterling, no need to invite me to your conservative meritocracy. Sounds rather toopid to me.

Posted by: Mr. 99th Percentile on August 11, 2004 12:12 AM

Johnny 99 - 1200 and being a legacy gets you into Yale. But before the rescaling, I doubt the mean SAT at any Ivy League school was much higher than 1200. Can anyone verify this?

John E. Thelin - I do not think it would be possible for me to understate my concern about America being a "pariah" state among European countries. As far as I'm concerned, the more direct and forthright the governments of France and Germany, and the entire EU establishment, are in voicing their disdain for the United States, the better. Let's get it over with. You stand for nothing except elitism and cronyism, and you don't BREED - in 100 years the Eiffel Tower will be a minaret used to call the faithful to prayer, assuming it's still standing.

Posted by: Sterling on August 11, 2004 12:33 AM

Sorry, Sterling. I thought I could count on intelligent discourse on Memefirst. My bad.

Then again, maybe "Sterling" is a parody character, in which case I must applaud the writer behind it.

Posted by: John E Thelin on August 11, 2004 06:59 PM

Oh, it's partly parody, I admit, but there's truth in it.

The peoples of Western & Northern Europe are apparently comfortable with the knowledge that they will demographically cease to exist within the next hundred or two hundred years - your birthrates are too low to sustain your population, and your immigrants do not assimilate. Likewise, your fawning attitude toward "multilateralism" and NGOs - especially you Scandinavians - telegraphs to all the world that you have seen all the fighting that you care to, and will not fight back. Why should we Americans - who intend to keep our land and our heritage against all threats - take you seriously? Why should we listen to you at all, when we know that only the British can be relied upon in a crunch?

To many if not most Americans, NATO seems useless, and the UN is a corrupt joke, a ludicrous collection of unfree nations and banana republics shouting with imagined moral authority. You seem to think all of this condescension is on your side, but what you fail to realize is that France & Germany have already become pariah nations to the United States. (And I promise you that the bill for that will come due at the time least convenient for those two nations.)

Europe should have put more of a priority on appeasing the US than appeasing Hussein.

Posted by: Sterling on August 11, 2004 08:20 PM

With a name like "Sterling", my money is on him actually being an undercover Brit.

Yeah Sterling, don't you want to convert us? Is confrontationalism really the best means to this end? Shouldn't you be humoring those of us who disagree?

Posted by: Stefan Geens on August 11, 2004 08:34 PM

I fail to see what birthrates, NGO's and France and Germany being pariah nations to the US have to do with Dear Leader's intelligence quotient. Maybe I'm just dense and it all ties in, in some sort of quantum mechanical, holistic unified theory.

You seem to think all of this condescension is on your side

No, rather the opposite, "Sterling". There is precious little condescension which can match that of an American convinced of his nation's infallibility, and that all other nations have got it oh-so-wrong-forever. It would be amusing if it wasn't so damnably commonplace and mainstream.

Sometimes I wish I could have that level of certitude about anything, but then I see how it makes you come off, and change my mind.

Posted by: John E Thelin on August 11, 2004 09:19 PM

No, Stefan. You need a good smack so can come to understand the present reality. I'm not here to persuade anybody - I'm here to knock down pins, generate lots of comments and get Memefirst some traffic.

I think the European media has given you a completely inaccurate depiction of what's going on in America. And it can be forgiven for that, because our media is making the same errors. What you Euros need to understand is that Americans will not tolerate another 9/11 - more, we will not tolerate being a target of these Islamists, and finally that they bit off more than they can chew when they decided to attack our homeland. For years Europe has sought to "manage" the problem of terrorism - you arrest suspects, and then you let them go. The US Navy presented to Italy the perpetrators of the Achille Lauro hijacking, after dispatching fighter planes to intercept their civilian charter jet. The jet was to be shot down over the Mediterannean if it failed to follow the instructions it was given. And yet Italy let one of them out on prison furlough. He never came back.

Then in 2001 these backward, medieval fuckers tried to decapitate America's business, government and military leadership in one swipe. We don't blame Europe for this, of course, but we don't see any reason to follow the approach you've used since Munich - "capture and release". (Would that France was so hard on Islamic terrorists as it's been on Greenpeace.) We're going to kill these fuckers wherever we find them, and we're going to keep doing it for decades. And there is nothing anyone in Europe can do or say that will stop us. It's none of your business, frankly. Guantanamo specifically is no concern of yours, though I'm sure you're all going to freak out when Bush starts signing the death warrants.

The European Union is more populous than the United States, and wealthier. It has better infrastructure and fewer social problems. And yet it has no military capability to speak of, and when horrific war crimes were being committed right on its border, we had to come in to help you deal with it. Americans see this and ask, "Who are these people, who cannot even handle their own problems without our aid, to tell us how to handle our problems?" We've asked Europe for serious help how many times since 1945? Twice? And the second time you said no.

And John Thelin - you brought up the US becoming a "pariah nation", not I. I just tossed it back at you. I cite Europe's low birth rate as an example of its misplaced priorities, and also explanation for why your opinions on the matter of Islamic expansion are to be taken with a grain of salt. I'm not sure what it is you think I'm "certain" about, or why, vastly outnumbered, I should be anything but extremely forceful in articulating my opinions.

As for my name, Stefan, it ought to be spelled "Starling" but we had a spell of illiteracy in the family back in the late 18th century. I don't know for sure where it comes from, and I'm aware of no record of an Atlantic passage. It's probably English, though I had my Y-chromosome typed last year and (surprise, surprise!) it's Scandinavian.

Posted by: Sterling on August 11, 2004 09:53 PM

Maybe you should try being extremely thoughtful, instead.

Posted by: John E Thelin on August 11, 2004 10:20 PM

May I also say, internet troll and obvious fruitcake that you are, Sterling, you have me reading the site again. God forbid you should ever be given any form of actual influence over any events anywhere, but I must say I love the frisson of incredulous indignation your posts give me, which then gives way to deeply satisfactory amusement at watching everyone scramble around trying to debate with you. Please continue.

Posted by: eurof on August 12, 2004 09:17 AM

See, Eurof, that's EXACTLY what I'm aiming for. I'm going to lay low for the rest of the week, though - don't want to overdo it.

Posted by: Sterling on August 12, 2004 03:42 PM

Yes, Sterling, I know that's what you want, but you could also get the same reaction from Osbourning a live chicken while wringing your wing-wang through a mangle.

Posted by: eurof on August 12, 2004 04:35 PM

Assuming that I understand what you're suggesting, I think I could only do that ONCE.

Posted by: Sterling on August 12, 2004 04:37 PM

While I disagree with many of your assertions, I sympathize with your aggravation at being patronized by people unaccustomed to having their views challenged.
What I think is more interesting than all this armchair psychoanalysis of Bush, or Kerry for that matter, is why Republicans favor Bush so much, when there are presumably much brighter young bucks out there to draft. At one point in this thread you asserted that Bush is the only one capable of getting elected President. Another way of saying this is that the only political machine on the right powerful enough to actually field a candidate is the Bush family. But it's hard to believe that after pissing off the Cato Foundation (not that they're touching Kerry with a stick, of course), giving airtime to some of the wackier elements of AEI & Heritage (e.g., Laurie "Saddam bombed the WTC - twice!" Mylroie), and t least irritating, if not outright alienating a good fraction of both rank-and-file and officer servicemembers that the zenith of the family machine has passed by. Kerry himself is the end of the Kennedy line. All of which leaves me wondering who the quarterbacks will be in 4 or 8 years.

Kerry's successors seem reasonably clear. Possibly John Edwards, though it's unclear whether he'll seem presidential or not. I know Barack set off a little spidey-sense over there on right - he may be green now, but he's got chops enough to be a commanding Senate presence for a long time. Truthfully I have a hard time believing that the first black man the US will elect president will be some guy with a funny name and highly unusual heritage, but he could well have a Ted Kennedy style machine for a long time.

So I wonder, why Bush, and who will follow him? Is this my limited knowledge of the Republican ranks, or is there really a void there? I'm curious both intellectually and strategically...

Posted by: Electronic Eric on August 13, 2004 12:31 AM

Well, I was speaking specifically about the 2000 election. I'm sure the GOP field will have several good candidates to field in 2008. McGreevey's resignation may be timed to keep one of them off the field - Bret Schundler.

Posted by: Sterling on August 13, 2004 12:38 AM

Kerry had a lower avg at Yale than President Bush?

Posted by: KerryHadACMinusAvg AtYale on August 13, 2004 03:04 AM

Regarding separation of church and state, the first ten words of the Constitution's Bill of Rights are: Congress shall make no law respecting
an establishment of religion. This would suggest that the authors did not want the federal government to impose their own views on religion on their constituency, no?

Posted by: Foreign observer on August 13, 2004 03:43 AM

Foreign Observer - what it suggests is exactly what it says, that the Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. It is not a restriction on state governments or the executive branch. It also means that the Federal Government has no legal right to establish or disestablish what any state does in terms of religious freedom. At the time of the Constitution's adoption, several states still had religious affiliations, much of New England gave legal preference to Congregationalism, for instance, and I believe Maryland at the time still gave preference to Roman Catholicism.

It was clearly not the intent of the writers of the Constitution to expel all mentions of religious life from all government institutions, from municipal all the way up to national, or they would have simply said that.

Posted by: Sterling on August 13, 2004 04:05 AM

...and continuing in the super-textual vein, although most state-church worry-types talk about the impact of religion on the conduct of government, the actual purpose of the est. clause was the exact opposite: to protect churches from interference by the state.

Posted by: Matthew on August 13, 2004 01:23 PM

I'm looking for people who've attained a higher SAT I score than 1206. Please look at and consider joining.

Posted by: ropers on September 14, 2004 09:30 PM

If you were looking for people with an SAT score of exactly 1776, I'd be more impressed.

Posted by: Stefan Geens on September 14, 2004 09:31 PM

Why don't you direct your energies to learning John Kerry's SAT score, if you think SAT scores are so telling?

Posted by: Sterling on September 14, 2004 10:04 PM

Kerry's SAT test score was only 1190, which is marginally less than Bush's.

I strongly suspect that the reason people assume that Bush is "dumb" is because he may suffer from dyslexia and/or ADD/HD. If the latter, it might explain some of his drunken excapades. People with ADD/HD tend to get bored rather easily, and often misbehave when they do

- GM

Posted by: Gary on October 16, 2004 11:50 PM

What's your source on Kerry's SATs?

Posted by: Sterling on October 17, 2004 02:36 AM

I got a kick out of Sterling's early comment on Bush leading a "productive and fecund existence in Texas..."
This is a guy who never held a real job until his late 20s, THEN it was losing other people's money bankrupting two oil startups. He was about to bankrupt a third when Harken bought it. The board chair, when asked why they'd buy a worthless company, responded "duh, he's the president's son."
Check out The many cannot go a day without saying something bizarre and absurd. His inability to articulate any thought except the few lines he memorizes is indicative of a limited intelligence.
I would wager my soul to the devil, against a latte, that if Bush took the IQ test at he would NOT score over 110--and I'd be amazed if he scored that high.
It is no coincidence that the most misinformed voters in the country support Bush. Check for new research on how stunningly misinformed Bush supporters are.
My hunch is the clueless tend to identify with one of their own.

Posted by: M. Morrow on October 22, 2004 11:33 PM

check out my post in the Pat Roberston thread, theres a link to a study abut how Bush supporters lie to themselves:

"To support the president and to accept that he took the United States to war based on mistaken assumptions is difficult to bear, especially in light of the continuing costs in terms of lives and money," Kull said.

"Apparently, to avoid this cognitive dissonance, Bush supporters suppress awareness of unsettling information."

Its so 1984 ;^)

Posted by: SP on October 23, 2004 12:04 AM

Is your diagnosis based on some professional opinion, or are you simply trying to sound intelligent? Oh, and for your information, the correct acronym is ADD/ADHD, Not ADD/HD. I am sure an expert in the are, such as yourself, just overlooked that. Playing doctor from afar is reckless and infantile. It is no different than saying "Perhaps JFK's drug addiction led to the Vietnam War, because drug addicts make poor decision." It's time to get real. If you truly are well informed on this subject AND have made your "prognosis" based upon more than partisan feelings and a few news clippings you did not bother to read the read fully, then I have a simple request. Back it up with facts (notice, the PLURAL form) and scientific analysis. If you cannot do this (and I must admit, my expectaions for you are rather low), then please feel free NOT to spout off any asinine idea that pops into your head. I know it takes some effort, but perhaps you could take some time to actually THINK about what you want to say BEFORE you say it. It will help out in the long run, as others will have a higher opinion of you if they do not have to hear every thought you have ever stumbled across

Posted by: Winston on October 28, 2004 03:42 PM
#42 is the best resource for all this

check out my post in the Pat Roberston thread, theres a link to a study abut how Bush supporters lie to themselves:

"To support the president and to accept that he took the United States to war based on mistaken assumptions is difficult to bear, especially in light of the continuing costs in terms of lives and money," Kull said.

Posted by: Jean on April 17, 2006 07:08 AM

If you believe that WMD was the only reason Bush gave for invading Iraq, then you are lying to yourself. And for the record, supporting the effort in Iraq with words and deeds is not about being a "Bush supporter"; it is about fulfilling the bare minimum requirements of loyalty to the United States of America.

Posted by: Sterling on April 17, 2006 02:16 PM

If you believe that WMD was the only reason Bush gave for invading Iraq, then you are lying to yourself.

So which of the other ever-changing reasons given have proven to be valid?

Posted by: sac on April 17, 2006 02:51 PM

They're not ever-changing. The only group that's tried to distort what he said is the anti-war crowd.

Here are the goals spelled out by Rumsfeld at the time of the invasion, which are the clearest statement of purposes:

1. to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein
2. to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
3. to drive out terrorists from Iraq
4. to collect intelligence on terrorist networks
5. to collect intelligence on the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction
6. to end sanctions and to immediately deliver humanitarian support to the Iraqi citizens
7. to secure Iraq's petroleum resources
8. to help the Iraqi people create conditions for a transition to a representative self-government

It's also very likely that Bush desired to establish permanent military bases in Iraq as an alternative to dependency on the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Turks and the ability of the Navy to operate in the Persian Gulf, though he has not said as much. I think that is also a justifiable and necessary end, in that it trumps Iran's ability to shut down Gulf oil flows without risking the lives of tens of thousands of U.S. sailors. (The sinking of an aircraft carrier could cost more lives in a few minutes than we've lost during the entirety of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.)

Posted by: Sterling on April 17, 2006 03:03 PM

Pre-invasion, it was WMDs. Period. Smoking gun/mushroom cloud. Nigeria. Missles only 45 minutes from the US. Etc.

AFTER the invasion and the lack of WMD evidence, it was the steady roster of reasons that you mention.

Posted by: sac on April 17, 2006 07:00 PM