Donald Trump described himself as a “stable genius.” Joe Biden challenged another old man to an IQ test competition. These are things that never happened with George Bush, and I scoured the internet for reliable IQ numbers on politicians. I learned that a US government official IQ tested a group of German military and political leaders. So near as I can tell, the only data available on the intelligence of government officials came from the Nuremberg trials after World War II. An American psychologist, Gustave Gilbert tested the 21 former Nazi officials with an early Wechsler IQ test, with the following results:
|Schacht, Hjalmar||Minister of Economics||143|
|Seyss-Inquart, Arthur||Reichkommisar of Netherlands||141|
|Papen, Franz von||Chancellor||134|
|Raeder, Erich||Grand Admiral||134|
|Frank, Hans||Governor of Poland||130|
|Fritzsche, Hans||Director of Propaganda||130|
|Schirach, Baldur von||Hitler Youth Leader||130|
|Keitel, Wilhelm||Field Marshall||129|
|Ribbentrop, Joachim von||Minister of Foreign Affairs||129|
|Speer, Albert||Minister of Armaments||128|
|Rosenberg, Alfred||Minister of Occupied Territories||127|
|Jodl, Alfred||Colonel General||127|
|Neurath, Konstantin von||Minister Foreign Affairs||125|
|Frick, Wilhelm||Minister of Interior||124|
|Funk, Walther||Economics Minister||124|
|Hess, Rudolf||Deputy Fuhrer (until 1941)||120|
|Sauckel, Fritz||Head Labor Deployment||118|
|Kaltenbrunner, Ernst||SS, Head of Security||113|
|Streicher, Julius||Newspaper Publisher||106|
All were above average – most, excepting the publisher of the party newspaper and the head of security (Streicher and Kaltenbrunner) above the “normal range” of intelligence. The only thing I can generalize from the sample is that you don’t have to be dumb to be a nazi, and that isn’t a conclusion I like.
There’s a chart at IQ Comparison that shows the probability of each score. For example, Julius Streicher, with an IQ of 106, almost made it into the top third of the population. Kaltenbrunner, at 113, scored in the top fifth. Hermann Goring, at 138, was statistically the sharpest knife in a drawer with 177 others. Hjalmar Schacht, with an IQ of 143 was one out of 278 . . . and he was acquitted of all charges at Nuremberg.
There is a clickbait series on US presidential IQ scores – complete to two decimal points, and it looks unreliable to me – so this seems to be the best available data. I suspect we could develop some pretty good estimates on recent presidents, if we had their ASVAB or college placement scores – but most of our presidents preceded IQ tests. In 1916, Terman set the minimum standard for genius at 140 . . . so Trump may well have scored above that – basically, the probability in the general population is 1 in 261. Biden probably did have a better than 50-50 chance of beating a random 83-year-old in an IQ test. I’ve seen Einstein listed at 160 – a one in 31,560 probability.
In a nation of 330 million, we have about as many smart people as dumb ones – and, if we extrapolate from the Nurenberg IQ tests, we have some equally bright people in politics, and bright politicians can do some really dumb things.