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On G.W. Bush's IQ (or Lack Thereof)

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Netlore Archive: Forwarded email attributed to the nonexistent 'Lovenstein Institute' claims a recent report proves G.W. Bush has the lowest IQ of any modern president.

Description: Email hoax / Satire
Circulating since: July 2001
Status: False (see details below)


Example:
Email contributed by Jason M., July 16, 2001:

Report: President Bush Has Lowest IQ of All Presidents of Past 50 Years

If late night TV comedy is an indicator, then there has never been as widespread a perception that a president is not intellectually qualified for the position he holds as there is with President GW Bush.

In a report published Monday, the Lovenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania, detailed its findings of a four-month study of the intelligence quotient of President George W. Bush.

Since 1973, the Lovenstein Institute has published its research to the education community on each new president, which includes the famous "IQ" report among others.

According to statements in the report, there have been twelve presidents over the past 50 years, from F. D. Roosevelt to G. W. Bush who were all rated based on scholarly achievements, writings that they alone produced without aid of staff, their ability to speak with clarity, and several other psychological factors which were then scored in the Swanson/Crain system of intelligence ranking.

The study determined the following IQs of each president as accurate to within five percentage points:

147 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D)
132 Harry Truman (D)
122 Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)
174 John F. Kennedy (D)
126 Lyndon B. Johnson (D)
155 Richard M. Nixon (R)
121 Gerald Ford (R)
175 James E. Carter (D)
105 Ronald Reagan (R)
098 George HW Bush (R)
182 William J. Clinton (D)
091 George W. Bush (R)

The six Republican presidents of the past 50 years had an average IQ of 115.5, with President Nixon having the highest IQ, at 155.

President G. W. Bush was rated the lowest of all the Republicans with an IQ of 91. The six Democrat presidents had IQs with an average of 156, with President Clinton having the highest IQ, at 182. President Lyndon B. Johnson was rated the lowest of all the Democrats with an IQ of 126.

No president other than Carter (D) has released his actual IQ, 176.

Among comments made concerning the specific testing of President G. W. Bush, his low ratings were due to his apparent difficulty to command the English language in public statements, his limited use of vocabulary (6,500 words for Bush versus an average of 11,000 words for other presidents), his lack of scholarly achievements other than a basic MBA, and an absence of any body of work which could be studied on an intellectual basis. The complete report documents the methods and procedures used to arrive at these ratings, including depth of sentence structure and voice stress confidence analysis.

"All the Presidents prior to George W. Bush had a least one book under their belt, and most had written several white papers during their education or early careers. Not so with President Bush," Dr. Lovenstein said. "He has no published works or writings, so in many ways that made it more difficult to arrive at an assessment. We had to rely more heavily on transcripts of his unscripted public speaking."

The Lovenstein Institute of Scranton, Pennsylvania, think-tank includes high-caliber historians, psychiatrists, sociologists, scientists in human behavior, and psychologists. Among their ranks are Dr. Werner R. Lovenstein, world-renowned sociologist, and Professor Patricia F. Dilliams, a world-respected psychiatrist.

This study was commissioned on February 13, 2001, and released on July 9, 2001, to subscribing member universities and organizations within the education community.


Analysis: You'd think Americans would have grown weary of "Bush is an idiot" jokes by now (Aug. 2001), but the popularity of this forwarded email suggests otherwise. It's obviously a work of satire. Even so, the text has frequently enough been cited as factual to generate heated, though undeserved, debate.

I've found no evidence of the existence of a "Lovenstein Institute" in Scranton, Pennsylvania or anywhere else. (UPDATE: Yes, I know there's a website purporting to be that of a real-life "Lovenstein Institute," but it was created well after the Bush IQ email first began circulating, and is equally bogus). There is no trace to be found of a "Dr. Werner R. Lovenstein, world-renowned sociologist" or "Professor Patricia F. Dilliams, world-respected psychiatrist" — not in this world, at any rate. Every fact and figure in the message appears to have been fabricated. Some versions claim the text was originally published by the Associated Press, which is not the case.

The true source of this work of fiction was www.linkydinky.com, which is home, appropriately enough, to a humor mailing list.


Take the Poll: "Would you be surprised to learn that G.W. Bush has a lower IQ than previous presidents?"


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Further reading:

Bush Gets Bad Rap on Intelligence
By St. Cloud Times columnist Aubrey Immelman, 14 Jan 2001

Do Dim Bulbs Make Better Presidents?
Slate, 3 Nov 1999

Who Was the Stupidest U.S. President?
Cecil "The Straight Dope" Adams tackles the question uppermost on everyone's mind


Last updated: 11/06/08


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