Is brain power related to world power? Do smart people rule the world?
As Forbes describes their most powerful people list: “There are seven billion people on the planet. These are the 70 that matter.”
According to Forbes’ methodology, the four factors that determined who made the cut were:
1. How many people does the person have power over?
2. How great are the financial resources they control?
3. How many spheres of influence do they have?
4. How actively do they use their power?
But are these powerful people not just powerful, but smart and educated as well? It turns out we can investigate this, using the following methodology, which I have utilized before in my articles The Scary Smart Are The Scary Rich and Don’t Believe The Myth of The Billionaire College Dropout, which demonstrated the connection between brainpower and wealth:
“I have assessed whether the following people are in the top 1% of intellectual ability simply based on the school that they were admitted to as an undergraduate or graduate student. Attending an elite undergraduate or graduate institution requires a certain test score level, which according to Charles Murray in his book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, translates into an IQ score well within the top 1% if the institution has high enough median scores. According to Murray, “the average graduate of an elite college is at the 99th [per]centile of IQ of the entire population of 17-year-olds.” As a reasonably select cut, any school within the top 12 national universities or liberal arts colleges according to U.S. News & World Report rankings were categorized as “elite” and in the top 1%. In addition, Oxford and the Indian Institutes of Technology are among the most selective universities in the world, so they were also included as elite. Any school not in the elite category was labelled “excellent” as these schools are obviously quite good but likely do not have quite as high average standardized test scores. (For more on how a standardized test score can be translated into an IQ score, visit here.)”
Because the most powerful people lists include individuals from all over the world, university classification was made based on a country by country basis. Although Forbes has a most powerful women list, there is no most powerful men list. However, a most powerful men list can easily be created by removing the women from the most powerful people list. Doing this resulted in 64 men (out of 70 total people) and 100 women who were included in the analysis.
Photo: Jonathan Wai
The graph shows that for both women and men, brainpower and/or education level is extremely high for the most powerful people in the world.
Elite Schools (blue): 50% of the women and 66% of the men attended “elite” schools which indicate they are in the top 1% in brains. Graduate (red): 14% of the women and 3% of the men obtained a graduate degree which indicates they are likely in the top 1% in brains. Bachelors (green): 17% of the women and 20% of the men went to college which indicates they are likely in the top percentiles in brains. No College: 19% of the women and 11% of the men did not attend college.
81% of the women and 89% of the men went to college which means if you want to become one of the most powerful people in the world, you should probably not drop out of school and should plan on at least attending college.
Smart people really do rule the world.
© 2012 by Jonathan Wai
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