When you think of someone perhaps “not having the sharpest knife in the drawer,” does that person necessarily live in Las Vegas?
The Daily Beast does. Las Vegas has just been “honored” by the Daily Beast as the second-dumbest city in the country in their first-ever study: “A city that prides itself on sin performs predictably for each of our intellectual-based criteria.”
How was the ranking computed? They only ranked metropolitan areas (the cities and their suburbs) of 1 million people or more, using Census data, with the definition of each greater metropolitan area defined by Nielsen. That gave them 55 U.S. cities n all. All data was then organized on a per-capita basis, so that a resident of Norfolk, Virginia, and New York, New York, had equal weight. They we’re looking for the brainiest cities, not the biggest.
Then they divided the criteria into two halves: Half for education, and half for intellectual environment. The education half encompassed how many residents had bachelor’s degrees (35 percent weighting) and graduate degrees (15 percent). No credit was given for “some college or some grad school”— only rewarded those who finished the race. The intellectual environmental half had three subparts. First, they ooked at nonfiction book sales (25 percent), as tracked by Nielsen BookScan, the nation’s leading provider of accurate point-of-sale data, which tracks roughly 300,000 titles each week. They focused on nonfiction as an imperfect proxy for intellectual vigor, because overall sales are dominated by fiction works that, while entertaining, aren’t always particularly thought-provoking. They also measured the ratio of institutions of higher education (15 percent), as defined by the federal government—different than just measuring college degrees, this acknowledges that universities don’t just churn out diplomas, but instead drive the intellectual vigor of cities. Finally, many studies link intelligence and political engagement, so we weighed this, too, as measured by the percentage of eligible voters who cast ballots in the last presidential election (10 percent). (Their relatively small weighting acknowledges that numerous other local factors can affect turnout.)
Once that had all these comparable, per-capita figures, they then ranked the cities in each category, assigning 10 points to those near the very top, and 0 to the bottom, with scores allocated between in a broad bell curve. They then added the totals, and multiplied by two, which made for a perfect score of 200, a wash-out score of 0, and an average score right at 100—close to the exact parameters of a classic IQ test.
So, what do you think? Do you think Las Vegas deserves the IQ score of 11 that Daily Beast assigned?