My provocative opening question is not without reason. I am led to wonder whether Presidential or Prime Ministerial candidates should be forced to undergo IQ tests, before running for office, worldwide. This would ensure that unhelpfully dumb candidates did not get elected based on their charm, charisma, good looks, sonorous voice and popular appeal, alone. Those characteristics, whilst admirable in an actor, do not aid performance in decision making at the helm of a nation - they just make one look good whilst doing it.
This question came to mind after stumbling on some videos of President Obama "speaking", without a teleprompter. This is quite something to watch. He is totally incoherent, the words appearing randomized, without meaning in relation to each other - a stuttering, stumbling, rambling mess. I was shocked. I have never, actually, seen a poorer example of spontaneous speech than the videos of Obama on Youtube, speaking without a teleprompter, on asthma treatment, at a town hall. He quite obviously has no idea at all what he is talking about or what he should be saying. Without the teleprompter - which had failed - he is unable to construct a coherent thought. In the video he is seen to make excuses, saying he hadn't been sleeping much. It is quite sad - and shocking to watch.
Now I must say at this point, that I know very little about American politics, not having followed it closely. I also have no real interest in it. So my pointing out that Obama has trouble speaking without a teleprompter, should not be seen as a political statement. I have no wish to have any influence on American politics. I am just drawing your attention to a remarkable inability to speak spontaneously of a US President. Personally, this is not what I expected to see. I expected much more polish, skill and fluency from President Obama, than that. I suppose, therefore, that I had been influenced by all the image making that surrounds the man. I had not had the chance to see the underlying truth. Well, now I have. It is quietly sobering.
Take a look, if you will at the videos on Youtube that show Obama's propensity for verbal clumsiness and mistaken utterances. Try searching for "Obama without a teleprompter", and "Obama Gaffe Mania". The latter is a compilation of errors which are quite wide ranging in type and subject matter. They show that President Obama has great weaknesses in many areas.
Now, you will no doubt recall that President Bush (the last one), was frequently accused of being dumb. He also made quite a few errors in public, which gave the impression that he wasn't the brightest of the bright. So, my remarks do not just apply to President Obama, but Presidents in general. The question is: how bright should a President be?
I would suggest that a President should be bright enough to be able to understand all the issues put to him, for a decision to be made. A President should also be able to speak spontaneously, without script writers, on any subject pertaining to the ruling of a nation. Thus, a President should be well-informed, bright and capable of speaking clearly and thinking effectively. The gaffes, by President Obama, do not show these qualities. One of them, for instance, speaks of him being able to see many fallen heroes in the audience today. Thus it is that President Obama doesn't know that a fallen hero is a dead person. At least, his tongue doesn't know. This kind of statement does not encourage the belief that President Obama is an intelligent man. However, as I have said, there are other former Presidents, too, who were of questionable intellect.
It seems to me, that a minimal acceptable IQ for a President or Prime Minister, might be 130. That is two standard deviations above the mean for a Caucasian group and at the lower margin of "moderately gifted". One person in forty four has such an IQ, in Western nations. That doesn't seem too stringent, nor does it seem too light a requirement. Basically, such a person, as a child, would typically be the brightest person in the class, of an ordinary school. That should be the minimum intelligence for a candidate for high office. Anything less, risks the election of someone who cannot understand deeply enough the nuances of the decisions they have to make.
It is said, by some researchers, that a leader should not be more than 30 IQ points above the led, if they are to communicate effectively with them. This is an unfortunate constraint since it works directly against the ability of leaders to understand the issues they must grapple with. However, my proposed threshold of 130 is on that limit and is, therefore, still within the optimal range for effective leadership. Furthermore, it seems to me, that higher IQs than that would have the benefit of better decision making, which might overcome any decrement in the ability to lead through effective communication to the masses.
What is President Obama's IQ? I have no idea. However, I would be utterly unsurprised if it were considerably below my suggested cut off. The same applies to former President George Bush, of course. It seems to me that America would be better off with brighter Presidents than it has been its habit to elect. My proposed requirement for a decent IQ, in political candidates for high office, would ensure that politicians, in high office, at least, had the mental wherewithal to make informed decisions.
Do you agree? Do you think politicians should be forced to undergo publicly declared IQ tests? Would this improve the quality of political life, the world over? Or would it be unfair in some way, to require political figures to be at least moderately smart? Please give me your thoughts below.
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Labels: ideal IQ, intelligence, President Barack Obama, President Bush's IQ, USA