Wayne Allyn Root smarter that Barack Obama?

Wayne Allyn Root's Million-Dollar Challenge:

But the thing Root really wanted to talk about was Obama's grades. Specifically, he was willing to bet a million dollars that he earned a better grade point average at Columbia than his old classmate, and that the only reason Obama went on to Harvard Law School was the color of his skin.

Here's an article in The New York Sun, Obama's Years at Columbia Are a Mystery. For what it's worth, note that:

Mr. Miller acknowledged that Mr. Obama displayed academic achievement at Harvard, where he graduated magna cum laude and led the Harvard Law Review. Still, Mr. Miller said, he would like to see information about how Mr. Obama performed in various subjects at Columbia.

Basically people want to take a look at Obama's college transcript; we know for example in 2000 that Al Gore and George W. Bush were mediocre students, though Gore showed significant improvement in his grades. McCain has not released his transcripts either, and we know that he graduated in the bottom 1% of his class at the Naval Academy. Half Sigma is claiming that Sarah Palin's IQ is in the range of 110 (2/3 of a standard deviation above the norm) based on the fact that she transfered colleges 5 times and graduated from University of Idaho with a degree in journalism without having written any stories for the student paper. And we all know Joe Biden's touchiness about his IQ.

Since intelligence is moderately heritable,1 the fact that Obama's mother managed to finish her Ph.D. in anthropology and that his father completed a master's degree in economics from Harvard in 1965 should be added to the calculus (I note the year and discipline because it was before widespread affirmative action and in a field where failure is a non-trivial possibility). It seems likely that of the four nominees of the major parties Obama is probably the brightest, and, the fact that all graduated from university suggests they are smarter than the norm .2 Intelligence has been an interesting variable in the American presidency. Some of the early holders of the office, such as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, were intellectuals of serious caliber. There have been cases where very bright candidates lost to duller ones who were still more political clever and adept; Herbert Hoover vs. F.D.R. and Richard Nixon vs. John F. Kennedy come to mind.

1 - Because intelligence is heritable the fact that neither Track nor Bristol seem college bound, and that Bristol's significant other seems to currently be a high school dropout, should be added into any calculation of Sarah's IQ.

2 - McCain's class rank is a serious variable, but, the fact that Megan McCain did manage to graduate from Columbia, albeit with a degree in Art History, does imply to me that he is above average in intelligence.

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Performance in university/post-secondary coursework seems much more attributable to personal circumstances rather than IQ. Sure, with all things being equal IQ would play a significant role in performance but this is rarely the case. For instance, if someone is struggling with motivation in their particular major or has a family crisis occurring at home, I don't care what their IQ is -- they're going to fall below their abilities.

"seems much more attributable to personal circumstances rather than IQ. "

You need to allow for restriction of range, Suppose we sent a young Joe Biden or Sarah Palin to Cal Tech: they'd flunk out with 100% probability. On the other hand, within the group actually admitted to Cal Tech, variation in other factors might explain more of the variance in academic success - but that is because there isn't all that much variation in IQ in Cal Tech's freshman class.

In other words, you're wrong.

Now, did Obama get into HLS because of affirmative action - would he have been denied admission if he had been a white kid with the same test scores and academic record? It's highly likely, but we don't know. He has not released those records. We know (if reports are correct) that Obama graduated in the top 10% of his class at HLS, but details are lacking. In the same way, we know that McCain graduated in the bottom 1% of his Academy class - which ranking was affected by disciplinary demerits as well as grades - but again, details are lacking.

Of course, such records are a poential political minefield: I would guess that scoring too high would actually do a candidate more harm than scoring too low.

At least at my university, art history is a very work-heavy, reading-heavy, writing-heavy discipline, and has a much higher weed-out rate than I expected on hearing that it existed.

Wasn't affarmative action at Colombia U. for Italian-Americans? Incidentally, I, PhD Professor Emeritus received my BS while on Scholastic Probation.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 06 Sep 2008 #permalink

Wayne Allyn Root's comment is both ignorant and offensive. Even if he did get higher grades than Obama at Columbia (I have no evidence either way) any college admissions officer can tell you that grad schools look at a lot more than grades and skin color. Obama might have had a B average, but gotten in because of an amazing LSAT score. Or the strength of his post-college work experience as a community organizer. Or maybe he just wrote a great essay. No matter how he did at Columbia, Obama has certainly achieved much more with his life than Root has. See: http://libertarianobama.blogspot.com/2008/06/more-wayne-allyn-root-nutt…

Obama might have had a B average, but gotten in because of an amazing LSAT score

there's a lot of people with perfect grades and amazing LSAT scores for harvard law to choose from, really. the part about post-college stuff though makes more sense.

For a Libertarian to go that far in the weeds in quibbling about credentialization and GPAs strikes me as ridiculous. Is Libertarianism about honoring the highest GPA?

By John Emerson (not verified) on 06 Sep 2008 #permalink

For a Libertarian to go that far in the weeds in quibbling about credentialization and GPAs strikes me as ridiculous. Is Libertarianism about honoring the highest GPA?

i suspect he was looking for some press. also, the Libertarian Party tends to attract kooks and anti-social types.

Bill Bradley only got a 485 verbal? That's really terrible. He shouldn't have gotten into Princeton with that. I got a 750 (pre-centering) which was the highlight of my academic career. :)

Bill Bradley only got a 485 verbal? That's really terrible. He shouldn't have gotten into Princeton with that. I got a 750 (pre-centering) which was the highlight of my academic career. :)

he was a jock. they can be less intelligent because they want them to play on their team (he didn't get an athletic scholarship to princeton, but no doubt they would have been excited to have such a good player on their team). i know a woman who was accepted into columbia based on her volleyball and had total SAT around bill bradley's level (neither of her parents were alumns and they weren't rich enough to donate, so i assume they were honest when they said that it was her athletic prowess).

p.s. she was a 4.0 student, just a hard worker as opposed to being super-bright.

Well, we know Michelle Obama was an Affirmative Action pick, she admitted so herself (indirectly with her "Everybody said I wouldn't get in because my tests scores were so low.").

It's quite possible Obama's clear personal charm had an impact wrt interviews and recommendations. Of course, part of that charm is an internalized affirmative action. Most liberal whites I know would go out of their way to help someone like a young Obama. It would bolster their own self-image tremendously. Most liberal educated whites are massively impressed by even moderately educated blacks. I don't blame Obama for taking advantage of white liberal guilt. (Although I do blame him for attending a racist church, and befriending terrorists, etc, etc -- but that's a separate issue.)

It seems plausible that an Obama presidency will be the high-water mark for Affirmative Action. The backlash has been building for a long time and that would cement it. When the Obama girls go to college the issue will be front and center and so plainly unfair and discriminatory. But we'll see.

I'm surprised Republicans don't use that as a wedge issue to go after the asian vote. It's not big, but it's non-trivial. And the asian population is growing fast, at some point they are gonna get pissed that they are blatantly discriminated against in schools and government hiring

The big revolt is when middle class whites decide they've had enough of state-sponsored racial discrimination.

I'm surprised Republicans don't use that as a wedge issue to go after the asian vote. It's not big, but it's non-trivial.

asians are in states like hawaii, california, new york. etc. not swing states. they should move to ohio if they want people to pay attention....

A state like Virginia is almost a swing state. It's been reliably Republican but is trending Dem as Northern Virginia has gotten richer and more urban. Virginia is 5% asian, concentrated mainly in NoVa. Lots of Vietnamese and Koreans.

New Jersey is a reliable Dem state, but Republicans get close. Jersey is 6% asian.

There's potential for the asian vote to make a difference in a few states, but, yeah, most are not in swing states. And in the classic midwest swing states its more of an intra-white fight. I don't know about the Western swing states as much.

Another couple decades and the asian vote could be quite important. Projections I've seen show a doubling to 10% by 2050.

Florida is only 3% Jewish and is 2.5% Asian. Of course, the Jewish vote in Florida is more uniform than the asian vote, and therefore more easily politically pandered to and more cost effective to target.

Virginia is 5% asian, concentrated mainly in NoVa. Lots of Vietnamese and Koreans.

remember that some groups, like koreans, are naturalized at very low rates right now. but your point is well taken.

Florida is only 3% Jewish and is 2.5% Asian. Of course, the Jewish vote in Florida is more uniform than the asian vote, and therefore more easily politically pandered to and more cost effective to target.

jews are a good model though. they wield power through donations and focus on a few specific issues. unfortunately for asians they are heterogenous. but we'll see.

p.s. i believe the 10% number is predicated on two points

a) same immigration rate and weights
b) no admixture. as it is, someone who is 1/4 asian like keanu reeves is pretty much white.

Or Rob Schneider - 1/4 Filipino.

or dean cain or reiko aylesworth or mark paul gosselaar (i believe his mother is a mixed "indo" so 1/4 is a good estimate). of course, tilly sisters and kristen kuek implicitly play white characters all the time and they're all 1/2 asian, you don't even have to wait 'till someone is just 1/4.

IQ correlates with academic success at the group level, and also with attained social class. But the correlations are not tight enough to allow prediction of individual IQ from group membership. This especially applies to low social class.

High social class (eg medicine, law) requires a pretty high IQ although, because so little IQ testing is done, there doesn't seem to be much hard data on this. The average IQ of physicians seems to be about 130 in the US and the UK. But I don't know what the standard deviation would be.

But low social classes (by most methods of calculation) only have a moderately low average IQ - around 95; and this means that the low social classes have a much greater variance in IQ, including some very smart people who (for a wide range of reasons) do work classified or paid as low social class.

In other words the social class distribution of IQ is positively skewed - and this picture has been seen for nearly the past century. I.e. it seems there are a significant numbers of 120 IQ labourers, but very few or zero 90 IQ physicians/ lawyers.

And IQ interacts with the personality trait of Self-Discipline / Conscientiousness in predicting academic success - indeed personality may be more important than IQ:

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/PsychologicalScienceDec2005.p…

Also IQ and Self-discipline are not very highly correlated (or uncorrelated, or even inversely correlated in some studies - the matter is unclear at present).

So - if we use academic success to estimate individual IQ, we need to apply very generous confidence intervals because academic results are a consequence of both IQ and self-discipline (which are independent), and high levels of one will compensate for deficiencies of the other.

Certainly, being in the top x percent for academic success is _not_ the same as being in the top x percent for IQ.

"Most liberal whites I know would go out of their way to help someone like a young Obama."

And most conservative whites I know would go out of their way to help someone like Sarah Palin - a beauty pageant contestant who hunts and fishes and shares their cultural values. So the effects probably even out to some degree.

Since intelligence is moderately heritable

Perhaps Palin's sister is worth looking at, maybe there is a less anecdotal way of putting this, but it seems like someone who marries Mike Wooten, a seeming alcoholic with a string of failed marriages, doesn't likely have an IQ over 100 (though I realize other factors could be at issue). Sarah seems to be the brighter one, her sister praises her intelligence in interviews, but then the praise is likely relative to her own ability. And siblings tend to vary about 10-15 points in IQ on average I believe, so that seems to potentially jive with Sigma's 110 estimate.

Don't know the standing of the first school Palin attended, Pacific Hawaii University, but it was only founded in 1965 which really wasn't long enough at the time to have built up much of a reputation so I'd suspect it wasn't that selective. Attending a not to selective private university out of state might suggest test scores being more of barrier to getting into a school than affording tuition.

Asian-Americans, like Jews and African Americans, would be much more Republican than they are except that they fear American bigotry, which the Republicans make a point of appealing to.

The Obama argument is silly. Besides doing well at Harvard Law, Obama has also put together the best national political organization the Democratic Party has seen since 1964. (Clinton's 1992 and 1994 campaigns were good for him, but they left the party weak and divided. He succeeded at the expense of the party.)

By contrast, Root is the VP candidate of a factionalized, chickenshit third or fourth party that has already managed to have a financial scnadal (Harry Browne) despite not having any money.

Bragging about GPAs and SATs more than two or three years out of college is the mark of a total loser.

By John Emerson (not verified) on 07 Sep 2008 #permalink

"Bragging about GPAs and SATs more than two or three years out of college is the mark of a total loser."

he's a libertarian party member.

I'm skeptical that asian vote democratic out of fear of bigotry. A better explanation is to look where asians live. Immigrants tend to arrive in cities, which are dominated by Democrats.

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find much anti-asian bigotry differential between Repubs and Dems. The anti-Japanese push in the 80s was led by Dem. union workers, bosses and pols. There are anti-China defense hawks on the right, but just as many anti-China protectionists and labor/enviro leaders on the Left.

You can find anti-black attitudes, but most asians I've known have been anti-black -- especially the immigrants who haven't learned to mask their true feelings.

The academically successful asians adapt so well to American culture that many adopt white liberal guilt (odd, but true). Many rich non-immigrant asians become, in effect, upper-middle class whites. And many (of the women, at least) marry into upper-middle class white families.

So, the asian voting block has a) immigrants in big cities who get rolled up in Dem machine politics and b) well-off, educated non-immgrants who listen to NPR. These are both part of the base of today's Dem Party.

I'm simplifying, of course. Repubs have had some success with, for example, anti-Communist Vietnamese communities in places like Houston.

The "Republican are bigots" line lacks explanatory power. I'm not saying it's not part of the propaganda war, but I think other explanations are more accurate.

The "Republican are bigots" line lacks explanatory power. I'm not saying it's not part of the propaganda war, but I think other explanations are more accurate.

there's a specific issue; the rise of anti-immigration sentiment among the republican grass roots in 1994 in california. in '92 bush won the asian vote. by '96 clinton did, and it has stayed democratic since. like blacks with the welfare state, asians are with immigration (cutting off welfare rights to immigrants in welfare reform was a problem for many asians because their older parents might be supported by these programs).

this sort of very precise nexus of the asian american political orientation can be illustrated by the alam that many indian american democrats felt in 2004 when the dems started emphasizing the outsourcing issue. just immigration this is a marginal issue to the mainstream, but very important to asian ethnic communities. since the dems are generally half-hearted with their anti-globalist rhetoric and never really implement it i think asian americans will be OK with and not defect to the republicans on that account.

Plenty of upper middle class whites are Republican, probably a majority nationwide. One study concludes that most media are located in areas where the upper middle class tends Democratic and liberal (NYC, DC, LA, maybe Boston and the Bay Area), but that isn't true of most of the country.

People who feel that they might sometimes be the object of bigotry are more sensitive to signs of bigotry. Even if they're reading too much into something, it's an effect. But I don't think that they're reading too much in. A big chunk of the Republican core constituency is white Christians who don't do nuance, and even if the republican leaders aren't strictly bigots, leaders can't always control followers and sometimes are controlled by them.

By John Emerson (not verified) on 07 Sep 2008 #permalink

Plenty of upper middle class whites are Republican, probably a majority nationwide. One study concludes that most media are located in areas where the upper middle class tends Democratic and liberal (NYC, DC, LA, maybe Boston and the Bay Area), but that isn't true of most of the country.

yes. thomas frank is wrong.

The political affiliation of upper-middle class whites is interesting. In the richest cities isn't part of the reason upper-mid whites are Dem is because they are more concerned about income inequality because they feel it themselves?

If you are are a reasonably successful mid to upper-mid white in, say, Omaha, there aren't many aspects of Omaha life that are totally out of your reach. But if you live in DC, NY, SF, etc. you are within a degree or two of the social networks of people with vastly more wealth -- and there are institutions around to cater to those people. Insanely expensive restaurants, entertainment, skyboxes, etc, etc.

So the greater income inequality among upper-mid whites(I need a better definition of what counts as upper-mid) makes them feel lower in status and support more redistrbution perhaps?

If you make $150k in DC, NY, SF you will meet people who make $250k or $400k or $1 million. You will here people gossip about ultra-expensive trips and weddings and wine cellars.

My impression was that the more urbanized and wealthy a city, the more the whites consider income inequality a problem. Mid-sized and smaller cities have flatter income distributions (partly because the high IQ people go to the big city to make the big bucks) so the whites are less jealous of each other.

Every man just wants to be richer than his neighbor and brother-in-law.

I always thought Obama got into Harvard because his father was an allumni. Obama got into his prep school in Hawaii (as he admits in his book) because his grandfather's boss pulled some strings. Obama himself said he was likely the result of AA and said he was not embarrassed by that...I saw that in a TV interview during the primary season. Still his father had a Master's of Ecomomics from Harvard (pre-AA).

A state like Virginia is almost a swing state.

To my great surprise, Virginia is exactly tied (45 % each for McCain and Obama) according to a poll from August 12th.

(There are a few other surprises in that map.)

that has already managed to have a financial scnadal (Harry Browne) despite not having any money.

Wow. Cool.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 08 Sep 2008 #permalink

"We know (if reports are correct) that Obama graduated in the top 10% of his class at HLS, but details are lacking."

Not necessarily. From 1999 onwards, the top 10% at HLS are magna cum laude (what Obama allegedly received) and the next 30% are cum laude (collectively, honors). Before that, the various classes of honors awarded were based on achieving a certain fixed GPA. However, rampant grade inflation in the 80s and 90s made a joke out of the honors standards, with something 76% of the class receiving an honors degree. Obama graduated in 1991, so graduating magna may not mean that he was in the top 10% (though it does mean that he did relatively well - well into the top half). I have, however, been unable to find what the proportion of magna cum laude to cum laude was at the time Obama was there, so what his exact class rank may have been is just speculation.

It would also be interesting to look at his transcript to see what grades he received in various courses. Required first year courses and large 2nd and 3rd year bar and business related courses are generally taught as lecture courses and grades are awarded according to (allegedly) anonymously graded final exams. (However, Profs. may give students a "bump" up or down due to "exceptional class participation" and/or poor attendance.) Seminar courses offered in the 2nd and 3rd years of law school are generally graded on the basis of a paper produced by the student (again with bumps up or down for participation and attendance). In such courses, the grader knows the students identity. Seminar courses often involve subjects like critical race theory which a young man who writes stories about "race and inheritance" would probably be drawn to. I would love to know what subjects Obama took and if his transcript is full of As in seminar courses and more modest performances in required and bar/business exam-based courses. Also, with the allowance of "bumps," Profs. still have some room to fiddle with the grades they want to give students even in the later type of courses.

It is also noteworthy that Harvard, at the time Obama was there, as now, has affirmative action slots for blacks on Harvard Law Review, and that the presidency of HLR is an elective, not grade-based position.

Basically, there isn't enough data to know exactly how well Obama did academically at HLS and whether he received any special treatment because of his race.

"his father completed a master's degree in economics from Harvard in 1965 should be added to the calculus (I note the year and discipline because it was before widespread affirmative action and in a field where failure is a non-trivial possibility)."

Are you sure that political considerations were not involved in admitting and graduating African students (as opposed to African Americans) even back then? After all, his father did come to the US to study at Hawaii on a program sponsored by the US and Kenyan governments to create closer ties between them.

"Obama might have had a B average, but gotten in because of an amazing LSAT score"

I couldn't find data on the numbers of blacks scoring in the 98th percentile on the LSAT or better (which would be about the cutoff for the bottom quartile at HLS) back in 1987 (when Obama likely took the LSAT), but looking at data from the 90s and 00s, you can usually count them on one hand. Granted, they usually all end up at HLS, Yale and Stanford, and maybe Obama is one of them, but they are very rare and there aren't even enough of them to account for the number of blacks at any one of the top 3 law schools.

Re McCain's Intelligence:
As reported by Steve Sailer, McCain appears to have scored IQ 133 in 1984. (http://isteve.blogspot.com/2008/04/mccains-reported-iq.html)

However, rampant grade inflation in the 80s and 90s made a joke out of the honors standards, with something 76% of the class receiving an honors degree.

is grade inflation as much of an issue in law school? i thought that class rank was a proxy often used by firms during hiring, and that would be irrelevant/useless if there was no dispersion.

"is grade inflation as much of an issue in law school? i thought that class rank was a proxy often used by firms during hiring, and that would be irrelevant/useless if there was no dispersion."

Yes and no. Class rank is important vis-a-vis one's classmates, but the prestige of the law school is at least as important. For instance, you'll get many more job offers if you're in the bottom half of you class at Harvard than in the top 10% at, say, a 3rd tier school like Syracuse (Biden's alma mater). Being in the top 10% at a top 20/1st tier, but not top 6 law school, like Cornell or Vanderbilt is probably better than being in the bottom half of Harvard.

Even though class rank adjusted for school prestige is the main academic factor in hiring, law schools have undergone massive grade inflation. It's not as crass as in undergraduate programs, where A/A- is the most commonly awarded grade at Harvard (89% get honors). In most law schools, the average is set on either a B or B+ (usually the former) and the curve is pretty tight, with most students getting between a B- and B+ (or B and A-). Profs. have some leeway when constructing their grading curves. They often have to have a certain mean, but can choose to have a broader or narrower distribution (i.e., lots of As and Cs, or everyone gets a B). Also, 2nd and 3rd year courses (especially seminars) tend to be graded more leniently than 1st year required courses. Back in the 60s and 70s, the curves tended to be centered on a C, so there had been a grade inflation of about one full letter grade or more, which has played havoc with GPA based honors distinctions and caused many schools to go to class rank based honors instead. I don't think this grade inflation has anything to do with boosting graduates job prospects because it doesn't really change one's class rank. Instead, it probably arose out of the need to make non-asian minority student's records look respectable. (There is much truth to the joke "C" stands for "colored.") Getting a D is so stigmatized that in effect law schools shifted there grades up one and don't really give anyone anything less than a C- no matter how bad their work is. According to Sander's article on affirmative action in the Stanford Law Review, the average black student is in the 6th percentile in clase rank and 92 percent are in the bottom half of their class. Most of these students would have failed out in the 60s and 70s, but grade inflation allows them to have a C average. The degree of affirmative action in law schools is truly staggering and at ever level black students are hugely mismatched with the white and Asian students. For instance, at Michigan when the Gratz and Grutter cases happened, not one black student had an LSAT score as high as any white or Asian student at the school. The gap at a school usually exceeds 1 SD on the LSAT. At Harvard, for example, which, along with Yale, has the pick of the best black students, the average black scores at about the 85th percentile nationally on the LSAT, but the Average white and Asian student is in the 99th percentile and basically none score lower than he 97th. You can count the number of blacks in the entire US on one hand that score that high in any given year.

I read that Obama's mother was admitted to U. of Chicago at age 16 but was not able to attend. If true she was super bright.

^^ Yes, both of Obama's parents were extremely intelligent and academically accomplished.

It's interesting to talk about whether Obama benefited from affirmative action or not (he probably did), but the discussion here is a little detached from reality. People are ignoring the elephant in the room: Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. He was in the top 10% of his class (or maybe 20-30%, according to an above post about grade inflation) at the top law school in the country. At the same time he was serving as an editor/President of the Harvard Law Review, a full-time job in itself. We also have a number of testimonials from his colleagues and teachers at Harvard Law. Top constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe describes Obama as "the best student I ever had."

It's extremely unlikely that Wayne Allyn Root could have performed at this level. Now Root could plausibly have had higher grades than Obama at Columbia (Root could even have a perfect or near-perfect GPA). But at Harvard Obama showed a level of academic brilliance that Root has never achieved--and that very few people have ever achieved.

Barack Obama is certainly smarter (in an academic sense) than Wayne Allyn Root for the simple reason that he is smarter than just about everyone, including me and you and all the other people reading this blog.

"the fact that all graduated from university suggests they are smarter than the norm"

You can have an IQ slightly below the norm (95-100) and still graduate from the University of Idaho, especially if you take 5 years and get a lot of credits a community colleges.

After giving the matter more thought, and seeing some new evidence (her kids drug habits, a video of an interview of her best friends in Wasilla), I think her IQ may be around 100.

It will be interesting to see how she does in that Biden debate. I hope she gets asked some questions that require thinking, rather than questions where she can just regurgitate a canned response.

"Suppose we sent a young Joe Biden or Sarah Palin to Cal Tech: they'd flunk out with 100% probability. "

There isn't any possible way you could know this as they didn't go; the assurance that they would "flunk out with 100% probability" is just flat-out wrong.

Likewise, if you concede that Obama did well at Harvard Law School, and you think grades are significant, then you have to admit that HLS was right in admitting him. Given that no one making comments here has more than a vague idea of why Harvard admitted him, perhaps it's just as simple to assume that if he lacked the grades (as Root suggests) then the admission officers are good enough to spot students who will do well at Harvard. Really, what's the claim here? Dumb guy does well at Harvard because he worked hard? (good thing he didn't go Cal Tech)

I'm not going to spend time arguing with PG on LSAT scores; and his "joke" (C stands for colored) doesn't need further comment.
However, I love the "Re McCain's Intelligence:
As reported by Steve Sailer, McCain appears to have scored IQ 133 in 1984." So, McCain did poorly at the Naval Acadmey not because he was stupid but because he was lazy.

Barack Obama is certainly smarter (in an academic sense) than Wayne Allyn Root for the simple reason that he is smarter than just about everyone, including me and you and all the other people reading this blog.

You manage to make your statement rather weaselly by including 'in an academic sense'; I'm quite confident that plenty of people reading this blog, including me, would outscore Obama on an IQ test. As for the academic credentials, as far as I'm concerned gcochran > Obama.

There isn't any possible way you could know this as they didn't go; the assurance that they would "flunk out with 100% probability" is just flat-out wrong.

To significant figures I agree with the assessment that they would flunk out with 100% certainty. The very slight doubt arises not from the chance that someone with 110 IQ could hack it at Cal Tech - it can't be done - but from the possibility that my estimate of their intelligence is off by more than a standard deviation. In any case gcochran's comment was only intended to illustrate the problem of restriction of range.

"To significant figures I agree with the assessment that they would flunk out with 100% certainty."

So you concede my point; the 100% certainty figure is flat-out wrong, unless you add a (to use your phrase) "weaselly" qualifying phrase.

IQ isn't destiny, yet, you then repeat the same absolute claim, that someone with an IQ of 110 cannot possibly graduate from Cal Tech. To borrow from your certainity, that claim is utter nonsense. If you can't be serious, then you shouldn't post a reply.

I'd also point that you don't know the IQ's of Palin or Biden, but you've extrapolated that Palin's is 110 by her academic record. Yet you object to someone saying that Barack is smarter in an academic sense, and then announce that most of the people reading this blog are smarter than Barack. How odd: Sarah Palin has an IQ of 110 because she went to 5 schools before graduating; Barack Obama, despite graduating near the top of the class at an elite university that most people reading this blog couldn't didn't have the grades or the LSAT scores to get into, isn't smarter than most people reading this. That seems to be a very unlikely claim.

Oh j, do you actually regularly read this (generally non-partisan) website, or are you just some angry Obama supporter who stumbled across this? No one is saying that Obama is stupid (I personally think he has an IQ of at least 125 and probably in excess of 130). I think most people on this thread think he is probably the brightest of the four P and VP candidates. (Consensus ordering would probably be Obama > McCain > Biden > Palin.) The discussion is about his degree of "smartness." Is he extraordinary or just another fairly smart guy. Unfortunately, when looking at the academic records of NAMs, AA makes it hard to acurately interpret such records. (As Sowell would say, it casts doubt on the achievements of able NAMs.) This was basically Root's point. There's a lot of hype about Obama being a genius (as opposed to just a very skillful orator and politician). Let's see the proof.

Here's a project for industrious people who want to see if Obama is among the nation's brightest: Every year about 1.5 million college-bound American highschool juniors take part in the National Merit Scholarship competition. The SAT/PSAT is basicall an IQ test (http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/001837.html) and virtually all top students take it. Obama went to a fancy Prep School and almost certainly would have taken the PSAT. Local newspapers usually list the National Merit Scholars, who are the roughly the top 1% of scorers (standards vary a little bit by region) on this de facto IQ test. One could check if Obama were one of them, or one of the Commended scholars (96th percentile or better). (Make sure that it is actually an award for the National Merit Scholarship Program and not the National Achievment Program also run by the NMSC, which is specifically for blacks (and has much lower standards). One could dig through Hawaiian newspapers in the year Obama would have taken the test and see if he mentioned. Obviously, if he is mentioned, it would be proof that he has a high IQ (probably in excess of 140).

You're the one arguing that academic achievement equals IQ. I'm a National Merit Scholar, and yes my IQ is in excess of 140; I went to a top 20 law school, but not Harvard; I didn't apply. I might have gotten in, given my grades and LSAT, but the truth is that Harvard rejected 10 applicants with my grades and LSAT for every one that they accepted.
And, had I gotten in to Harvard, I can guarantee that I wouldn't have done as well as Obama.
So, this isn't about supporting Obama, This is a relatively simple point: if you want to claim a correlation between academic success and IQ, then your correlation for Obama, even at 130, is far too low (and despite your relative ranking of Obama ahead of McCain, someone else on this thread has put McCain's IQ score at 133, making your relative rankings wrong.)
If academic success=IQ=intelligence, then yes, Obama is certainly smarter than most of the people reading this thread, and given that, under this line of argument, that most people accepted into Harvard Law School have IQs equal to or greater than 140 (if they have the same grades and LSAT that I did, then their IQ must be as high as mine), it means that Obama must be smarter than a lot of people with IQs of 140.
If you want to make the arguments, then you need to live by the consequences of the arguments.

J, we seem to have had similar life experiences. I too was a National Merit scholar (in 1995) and went to a top 20 law school (not Harvard, to which I also didn't apply). You are severly mischaracterizing what I said (and don't seem to understand what correlation means by the way you are using it in your post). Nobody here said academic success=IQ=intelligence. First, to be clear, by intelligence, we are talking about g (the general factor of cognitive ability). What people said is that academic success is correlated with g (so by knowing academic details, particularly field of study and the associated probability thresholds re g and being able to master the material, one can make very rough guesses about a person's level of g), which is different than saying academic success=g. Accademic success is not, however, nearly as highly correlated with g as a highly g-loaded mental test such as an IQ test, an SAT or LSAT. Also, no one is saying that g is the only thing that matters in a president. Presumably Woodrow Wilson (president of Princeton U.) and Jimmy Carter (Nuclear Engineer) were very high in g, but made a hash of being president. Some of our duller presidents were very successful.

Also, as I pointed out above, AA and affirmative grading make it very hard to interpret a NAM's record. For instance, we know that Obama took courses from Prof. Derrick Bell at Harvard, who is a black anti-white racist who teaches critical race theory nonsense. How many of these types of courses did Obama take while at Harvard? Since he won't release his transcript, we don't know. I could easily see a young black man like Obama "Dreaming about his father" and obsessing over "Race and Inheritance" being drawn to such courses and being awarded As in them. Unless we see his transcript, we don't know if he was primarily taking CRT courses as his options in 2nd and 3rd year, or if he was taking meatier courses like taxation of partnerships or corporations, Securities Regulation, Corporate Law, Closely Held Business Entities, Trusts and Estates, etc. If he was taking mainly race stuff instead of bar and business oriented courses, would be have done as well in the bar and business oriented courses? Even on his required courses, how much could we gleen from looking at his transcript? If he got an A- or B+ in torts or contracts, is that what he was awarded on his blind graded exams, or did he really get a B+ or B that was "bumped" up for "outstanding class participation." If so, was his class participation truly outstanding, or was this a case of "affirmative grading" by an ideologically motivated prof.? (Notice that while he is masterful in front of a teleprompter, he often seems like a stammering fool when asked to give off the cuff responses, as one has to do in the heavily socratic style of 1st year law school classes.) You're probably ticked off by what I'm bringing up and will say I have no proof. You are absolutley correct. However, we are back to the point Root was making. Because of affirmative action and affirmative grading, it is very hard to draw anything conclusive from the record of a NAM. This is a shame and is unfair to those who are truly talented, but stigmatization is the price they pay for the massive institutionalized preferences in our academic system.

Furthermore, I was the one posting the link that seems to indicate McCain has a 133 IQ and, again, you attack me for something I didn't say. My ranking that you object to is my personal opinion and I could be wrong. The only data point we have is for McCain, and, given his age, it may not be all that accurate any more. I think Obama probably is higher in g than McCain, which is what I said. However, he might not be and I wouldn't be astounded if his IQ is only 125, but I doubt it is any lower. Again, your misuse of the term "correlation" seems to lead you to believe that "have to live by the consequences" of an argument I never made.

Quickly through the points:
I never told you to vote for Obama, and I never said vote for the smartest candidate. You might consider the intelligence of candidates in a primary, when you agree with the positions of the candidates, but in the general election, vote for the candidate that you agree with unless you believe that the person is so incompetent as to be unfit for office or so dishonest as to be unreliable.
Second, I regard the idea that there is a "g" as general intelligence as an unsubstantiated claim, lacking in proof, amd more importantly, lacking in proof that IQ measures it. IQ tests measure how well you do on IQ tests, which is a kind of intelligence, and similar to other test taking intelligence (thus the correlation between IQ scores and SAT scores.)
Third, I meant IQ=Academic success as a shorthand to indicate high correlation and not exact equivalency. Sorry for the confusion my lack of precision caused.
Fourth, one aspect of law school is learning to make persuasive arguments, even with professors that you disagree with. You can believe that a particular professor is full of crap, but that's really beside the point.
Given a blind grading system, no one is going to be bumped up from the middle of the class to near the top of the class by participation score add-ons.
As to "You're probably ticked off by what I'm bringing up and will say I have no proof. You are absolutley correct."
I'm not ticked off, but I don't find your speculations even a tiny bit convincing. In essence, the claim is that maybe Obama didn't really do well at Harvard, they just rigged the system for him. I don't buy it. Harvard is an elite school, filled with guys as smart as you or I, and as you know, law school is a competitive environment. It's not a particularly challenging environment if you dont' care about your class rank and only want a degree, but it's hard to be at the top of the class because you have a lot of bright workaholics who want to be there. The days of "look to your left, look to your right, a third of you will be gone" are long over, and you can slide through even an elite school BUT you won't be at the top of the class. I really don't care what classes Obama took: he had to be better than a lot of very smart grinds. If nothing else, he had to do well in the first year courses (you won't graduate magna cum laude if you tank the first year). His participation in law review is also likely a sign that he did well, if, as I believe, Harvard still considers academic performance in making selections to the law review.

Finally, I don't know why you posted the information about McCain's IQ being 133 if you don't think it's accurate, but I don't object to your rankings per se. Rank them any way you want, but if you think IQ has a high correlation with academic success, than you ought to say that Obama has a very high IQ. And, if you don't think that, then you ought to say that he worked very hard when given the opportunity to go an elite school. Don't vote for the guy, but at least concede that maybe, just maybe, Obama did well because he is either a hard worker or smart.
Finally, I'll throw some humor in just to make everyone happy

A lot of people believe that BYU only beat the Washington Huskies last week because of the celebration penalty, and that's why the Cougars shut out UCLA this week: so that the PAC 10 would have no excuses.
Well, as they say as BYU, "always throw your beer cans out in someone else's garbage."

Abraham Lincoln had 18 months of formal schooling. He wrote with with an elegance and straightforwardness which stands the test of time.
Discussions of Education here are useless because Obama wasnt judged by the same standards for admission because he is black.
Self deprecating liberals love to feel good by helping a mminority and ripping off a better qualified caucasion.
What matters is how much a president cares about the average American. To Obama ,an average American is a "typical white person" . Its Obvious from McCain's service to his country how much he does care.