In the first Republican debate, Ben Carson argued that when it comes to being a good president, “the thing that is probably most important is having a brain.”
While a high IQ does not guarantee success, it is true that intelligence is often associated with effective leaders. But does that trend hold true for U.S. presidents? Are the most successful presidents also the most intelligent?
With that question in mind, InsideGov ranked the 27 smartest presidents in U.S. history, using data from UC Davis professor, Dean Simonton. In a 2006 study, Simonton used historiometric methods to estimate each president’s IQ, analyzing information from their biographies and writings that would indicate a higher-than-average intellect.
This list is by no means definitive, but it should give a good sense of which presidents were highly intellectual. Interestingly, eight of the presidents on this list either never attended college or dropped out before finishing their degrees.
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