Are we getting the best bang for the buck from our elected officials? Do existing politicians have the smarts we need to run the country? Would an IQ test raise the bar and attract better candidates to hold office? The answer to those questions and others is unclear and if any recent testing is any indication of what we witness may surprise you.
An accurate and repeatable result isn't proof in the pudding and while IQ tests may rate an individual intelligence, it is a poor barometer to gauge one's ability to be an elected official. President Obama (who's well educated) in his State of the Union speech last night stated that funding education is a priority. In recent years, there has also been a demand by state and provincial governments, that teachers should also be better educated and tested regularly. Some would argue that we need to do the same with our elected officials since many would suggest that we have some very ...fill in the blank... elected people governing. Is this an argument to suggest we need smarter elected officials? Would an IQ test be a good litmus test?
International statistics compiled don't suggest so. On Wikipedia's ranking of IQ scores, here is how the following countries rated:
Hong Kong - Business and Trade hub for the Far East -but very little international government (China)
South Korea - Global Industrial exporter - Government is in constant turmoil
Japan - Global Industrial exporter - Government has constantly battled recession for 20 straight years
Taiwan - Low cost manufacturing - Government is democratic with troubled history since 1949
Singapore - South East Asia Financial Hub - Government hasn't changed since 1959
If those countries are any indication of IQ scores and capabilities of its elected officials, many could easily argue that the brightest in each nation avoid public service like the plague. And it doesn't get any better for Canada (ranked 25th with three other nations) and the U.S. which is tied for 19th along with 6 other nations including France. The United Kingdom and New Zealand ranked 12th. All of whom have spiraling deficits (except New Zealand) and very polarized political views.
IQ tests are a series of questions that measure particular mental attributes such as memory, reasoning and factual knowledge. Test results however can, and often do, become tainted because of elements that are not the same for each subject taking the test. Factors such as health, social and economic environment and even genetic history impact the results. Several examples of such diversity was discovered when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation put on a television show Sunday called Test the Nation. The producers decided to survey backgrounds of each individual prior to taking the IQ test, including such categories as; marital status, hair colour, sex, size of shoe (the bigger the better), location and other unique data points. The also included a special show guest audience based on career paths which they displayed by grouping the invited to participate into the following categories; contact sports, nerds, politicians, atheist, believers, and twins (including one set of triplets) that answered a series of tests created by Professor Don Saklosfe of the University of Calgary and Professor James Parker from Trent University.
The results were interesting to say the least. Some highlights.
- Men were smarter (barely)
- People aged 60 - 69 averaged higher than all other categories.
- Those that lived in large cities fared better than rural regions.
- Sports athletes that had 3 concussions scored better than those that had none.
The Nerds beat the politicians. So if these are any indicators for what kind of political leader background we need based on IQ, it's man who's widowed or divorced, lives in a big city, and agnostic with brown hair who is between the age of 65 and 66, wears a size 13 shoe and played offensive guard in the NFL or got slammed into the boards in a NHL hockey game and got their bell rung least three times and worked at Microsoft, Intel or Oracle. God Bless America, after all, anything is possible.