Okay, so I'm not the biggest fan of George W. Bush and his neoconservative politics. I think a lot of times he doesn't represent me, the typical financial conservative, with his "bring it on" foreign policy and general lack of long-term planning. In any case, I still vote in Texas, which is roughly 65% Republican.

That having been said: heisenberg, the jig is up.

The IQ by states table that has been thrown around the Internet as of late is a hoax. (People have asked where they can view the table: one site is http://americanassembler.com/features/ - scroll to the near bottom.) It was conceived by some joker, who stole a table that had states ranked by income per capita, and then simply fudged some numbers for their various IQs. They were even so confident in people's inability to read and discover for themselves, that they attributed the table to a source: IQ And the Wealth of Nations, an important book by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen about the discrepancies between intelligence and economic output in modern society.

The book itself is a fairly dull (yet vastly important, if my World Politics professor is to be believed) read, focusing entirely too much on the economic plight of the Third World, and then waxing apologetic about the inherent cultural and class bias in the typical IQ test and how this sort of "cultural gap", where countries like Hong Kong that have an average IQ of 106 while Ethiopia languishes at 67 simply means that Hong Kong is more culturally similar to the other more industrialized nations and therefore their economies align and prosperity ensues.

My miniature book review aside, the important thing to remember is that this book compares the IQs of nations, not states. There is no table in any of the book that has any reference to the various IQs of the American States. The source cited, in fact, does not contain the data cited. Hoax Element #1.

But perhaps the data is factual, while the source was merely added to give it more weight than another would? Well, if you have access to any National Educational Assessment scores, or SAT scores, across the states, you'll see that, in truth, intelligence among the states is most closely associated with - drum roll - racial percentages of population. Yes, states like North Dakota, Utah, Minnesota, and Connecticut, which are predominantly white, all perform significantly better on these tests (and therefore presumably IQ, a similar metric) than states like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia, all of which have large populations of minorities. Yet while the correlation between minority populations and income is also extant (and thus the original income by states ranking remains somewhat valid for discussing intelligence), the chart as posted places states like Utah and North Dakota extremely low on the list, when in fact they are some of the most highly "intelligent" states in America. Hoax Element #2.

So, the data is fudged, and the source is a lie. The question now remains: who put on the charade? There are only two real possibilities. The first (and perhaps most obvious) is that some malevolent trickster preyed on liberal sensibilities about Bush (and by extension, conservatives) being stupid, and made up this chart for their amusement. But the second, and more insidious charge, is that someone made up this chart to prove that both sides will jump on any information, factual or otherwise, to somehow stake their claim to superiority in the great political debate of our times. The fact that this chart has been summarized without a wink by The Economist, one of the most highly touted newsmagazines in the entire world, is particularly damning towards their legitimacy, since it took me only 10 minutes to verify myself (by picking up my old copy of IQ and the Wealth of Nations) that the table did not exist as stated.

For years, a number of academic liberals (I do not use this word in the pejorative sense, merely the ideological one) have claimed that IQ tests are worthless, racially and economically biased and too often used merely for social and political purposes. For further reading on how IQ tests have shifted from an almost entirely leftist paradigm of meritocracy and environment-neutral social mobility to its current stigmatization as a polarizing and unfair examination, read Michael Young's The Rise of Meritocracy, or for a less biased historical take, Adrian Woolridge's Measuring the Mind. Both of these books have been adapted into college classrooms for the past twenty years. You would be hard pressed to find a self-declared liberal stating that IQ tests are fair and represent true intelligence.

And yet, when the numbers turn in their favor, see how quick they are to jump on its merit in expressing some sort of truism about American politics. This is called having your cake and eating it, too, and frankly, it doesn't sit well with me. It has seemed almost strikingly obvious that IQ tests are culturally biased towards the wealthy, who have easy access to books and knowledge bases (witness that nearly 40% of America does not have regular access to the Internet, and this is heavily biased towards whites, urban areas, and the affluent) and are rarely forced to work until after they have finished college, thus giving them free time to prepare themselves academically.

I've discounted IQ tests for as long as I could remember. I quickly debunked this list as well, for giving Connecticut an IQ of 113 - which is almost patently ridiculous, since IQ is mutable in large populations (i.e. everyone tends towards 100) and such a mean (with the common IQ standard deviation of 15) suggests that 84% of Connecticut have above average intelligence. If you don't mind me saying so, ha ha ha. Under the same metric, 84% of Utah is below average intelligence. For emphasis: HA HA HA.

But people will believe what they want to believe (and sometimes post it in prominent international journals), and this will make IQ tests increasingly worthless over the years. Ten years ago, two Harvard professors wrote a book expounding IQ as the right way to "judge" people for worth called The Bell Curve. In the book they stated that while IQ was culturally biased, it was science's goal to simply remove the bias, while keeping the importance of IQ intact. Such folly has been perpetuated for hundreds of years, and now it is the liberals who are continuing this nonsense. Such folly need not be perpetuated any more, needs to fade away, so that we can truly judge people by the content of their character; let's hope sooner rather than later.