I’m guessing there will be a lot of–shall we say?–disagreement with this one.

I’m always appropriately skeptical of IQ studies, including this one. However, if you actually believe this survey (and what physician wouldn’t want to believe it?), apparently as a profession physicians have the highest IQ.

Heh. I wonder where M.D./Ph.D.’s like yours truly would rank on the scale.

I’m sure that there will be a horde of people telling me what’s wrong with the survey and why its results are not valid, but please let me enjoy my little fantasy of intellectual superiority for at least a few minutes after this posts. With all these physicists and biologists around ScienceBlogs, I need all the help I can get.

(Via Kevin, M.D. and OnThePharm.)


  1. #2 ERV
    August 15, 2007

    The only IQ fact that matters: My score is 2 points higher than my ugly big brothers 😛

    (Kidding, love the bro, just love to tease him about it hehe!)

  2. #3 David D.G.
    August 15, 2007

    Those numbers are fun, aren’t they? Go ahead, enjoy the fantasy for the moment. At least you don’t need to be told it is one.

    Stephen Jay Gould did a wonderful job of showing just how difficult it is to properly measure (or, heck, even to reasonably define) intelligence in his book The Mismeasure of Man — how sensitive the whole process is to bias of all sorts, both conscious and unconscious.

    Interestingly, this is the second time today that I have commented about this book online in reference to people’s IQs. I highly recommend it.

    ~David D.G.

  3. #4 Joe
    August 15, 2007

    Question: Have you ever considered that the IQ test is unreliable? Perhaps it is culturally biased. Perhaps people with low scores have unrecognized dyslexia, or a need for reading glasses. Perhaps it really only reflects education, not native ability. Perhaps there are many kinds of intelligence that are inadequately represented by one number …

    Reply: Have you ever considered that, perhaps, your low score means you are as dumb as a box of rocks?

  4. #5 RJS
    August 15, 2007

    Thanks for the link.

    Indeed, the most telling bit of trivia on the graph is that while scientists and doctors rate the same on the high end of the scale, the barriers for entry for a physician (apparently) seem to be higher. That is, the lowest end of the graph is higher for physicians than the lowest point on the graph for scientists.

    I wonder if a crude correlation could be made between relative difficulty of getting into med school as opposed to traditional graduate school? It would neatly explain this phenomenon.

  5. #6 dyslexic_angeleno
    August 15, 2007

    “you are as dumb as a box of rocks”

    Well, then, if Joe says so ….

  6. #7 Dave S.
    August 15, 2007

    However, if you actually believe this survey (and what physician wouldn’t want to believe it?), apparently as a profession physicians have the highest IQ.

    What male physician you mean, since this graph only includes males. There is a corresponding graph for females, but physician (MD or equivalent) appears nowhere on that graph.

  7. #8 Melissa G
    August 15, 2007

    I have observed two children as they’ve grown from babies into toddlers…

    Child A was saying his ABC’s and spelling words with magnetic letters since he was 18 months old. He counts to a thousand and makes puns in more than one language. Has memorized entire film scripts. However, to this day (he’s four) he tries to cram square pegs into round holes and shows no ability for rotating shapes in his mind– also he wants large toys to cram into tiny toys. (It’s as if the laws of physics are his enemy and he refuses to submit!) He doesn’t want to be taught how to do stuff, he wants to already know it.

    Child B (age 5) still won’t say his ABC’s, but he has an amazing sense of shapes and spatial relationships, has been beating the clock on the “Perfection” board game since he was three years old. Shows eagerness to learn about the laws of physics and use them to invent stuff. He wants to learn how things work.

    Both of these kids are clearly intelligent, but I will bet money Child B scores higher on an IQ test than Child A, because that’s the kind of intelligence those tests are designed to measure.

  8. #9 Joe
    August 15, 2007

    @dyslexic_angeleno: I hoped my post would be seen as totally tongue-in-cheek. I cribbed it from a comic strip I saw ca. 1990.

    Note- I said “unrecognized dyslexia,” as was the case for my three, younger brothers who had trouble in school in the 1960s and 70s. They are wicked smart, they just need more time to read something (e.g., a test question).

  9. Since the ‘college professors’ are in a seperate category, they could be excluded from the other categories containing scientists. And the ‘natural science’ category seems to include technicians.

    So I think we can keep up our believe that M.D.’s are overpaid handymen. 😉

  10. #11 dyslexic_angeleno
    August 15, 2007

    Thanks much Joe. Sometimes I don’t get “tongue-in-cheek”, so I appreciate your reply.

  11. #12 j
    August 15, 2007

    Too many granites hurtling around hospitals for this to be true. Especially the lower cutoff shown. I do not have mental capacity to dissect the statistics;)

  12. #13 anjou
    August 15, 2007

    The Gould book referenced in a comment above, The Mismeasure of Man, is excellent.

    When psychologists test IQ, we look less at the overall score and focus on the pattern of abilities seen on subtests of the IQ test which tap different cognitive functions. Folks with very different patterns of abilities can come up with the same IQ score.

  13. #14 Drugmonkey
    August 15, 2007

    I like Perry and Crean 2005, which tells us that some doctors are too dumb and that this leads to malpractice.

    The risk associated with dumb scientists is much lower in importance.

  14. #15 ArtK
    August 15, 2007

    One word: Engor.

    Test him and the whole range for physicians goes down the toilet.

  15. #16 Dale
    August 15, 2007

    It’s Wisconsin, for crying out loud! What do you expect?

  16. #17 Mike O'Risal
    August 15, 2007

    I wonder where mycologists fall on the scale. I know I’ve been outsmarted by a mushroom on one or two occasions.

  17. #18 John Wilkins
    August 16, 2007

    IQ is a very good predictor of one thing: academic success. Given that medicos are drawn from the highest achieving students because course entry scores are the highest, it follows that medicos will be the highest IQs.

    But a point to be noted – high IQ individuals are often the least socially ept, and are often not creative or flexible thinkers (which might explain why so much medicine is ossified in protocols). Being high IQ merely means you can get into high-IQ groups, like Mensa. It is no guarantee of common sense or other forms of intelligence (like the imagination needed to overcome social consensus views like dualism and religion, and to understand the nature of evolution).

  18. #19 Jud
    August 16, 2007

    Remember those placemats with puzzle questions diners used to have? I think IQ tests are equally valid as measures of intellectual ability.

    Besides Gould’s “Mismeasure of Man,” which I heartily recommend, I’d also suggest David Owen’s “None of the Above.” My favorite section of the latter book is a reading comprehension section taken from an SAT test. It’s not at all difficult to get all 4 questions correct. The kicker: Owen leaves out the material one is supposedly reading and comprehending. It’s an object demonstration that higher scores are available to those who are more attuned to the thinking of the questioners, regardless of the knowledge the questions are supposed to measure.

  19. #20 Bob, DVM
    August 16, 2007

    Chuckle #1: “It’s Wisconsin, for crying out loud! What do you expect?”

    Hey, hey, hey now–be nice or I’ll send the goons to drop a big block of cheese on yo head. And not the good stuff, either.

    Chuckle #2: the category “MD or equiv.” MD equivs of the world, unite!!!

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