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Guest Gnome Chomsky

which major has the smartest students?

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Guest Gnome Chomsky

I don't know why, but I was thinking about this. Most Google searches produced results such as "best and worst college majors" and "highest and lowest paying college majors" and "most and least unemployment for college majors." However, I finally found a few things that matched what I was looking for. I know it's quite popular (at least in undergrad) for hard science majors to kinda look down upon social science majors and especially arts/humanities majors. Their reasons usually are because those fields are "easy" and "require little effort." Whether or not this is true, does it say anything about intelligence? Just because you choose a more "difficult" major than those hippy philosophy students, does that make you smarter than them? Anyway, I didn't create this thread to offend anyone. I started off in Arts & Humanities and Philosophy before discovering Linguistics and then finally adding Computer Science to my resume. I'm not taking any sides here. Anyway, I found a few links. Perhaps people can find better links and post them. 

 

One of them is just a blog, and it doesn't seem to give any information about how they got their results, but it compares average IQs of majors. This may or may not come as a surprise, but three of the highest IQ estimates of college majors are in English, History, and Art. Also, Computer Science and Engineering are toward the bottom, and Math is surprisingly average. 

 

http://inductivist.blogspot.com/2011/11/which-major-has-smartest-students.html

 

Now, this link kinda contradicts a lot of the average IQs mentioned in the previous link. It gives a little more information about the methods behind the statistics, but it isn't really that thorough. Anyway, Physics, Philosophy, and Math are some of the highest IQ majors. Engineering, Computer Science, Religion & Theory, English, and Humanities & Arts are pretty high. The lowest seem to be everything related to fields of "service" such as Social Work, Education, Counseling, and Childhood Development. 

 

http://www.statisticbrain.com/iq-estimates-by-intended-college-major/

 

I'll post one last link. This one seems to be more thorough in their statistical methods, but they don't break it up into as many categories as the previous two links. The highest IQs seem to be Engineering, Math, and Physics. Around the middle of the pack is Humanities, followed slightly by Arts. And, once again, way down at the bottom is Education, with Business falling slightly ahead of Education. 

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/finding-the-next-einstein/201108/how-brainy-is-your-major

 

The links I posted aren't nearly elaborate or reliable enough to form any absolute judgments, but they are enough to get you thinking about the types of people who choose certain majors. I believe the first link mentioned some of the smartest people choose "creative" majors such as Art and English that don't necessarily translate to high-paying jobs. I guess the "rebellious" mentality makes a little sense. Some of the smartest people in history didn't really care about how they were going to put food on their table. However, the other two links seem to support what a lot of people probably thought: that the "harder" majors like Math and Physics do require a little bit of natural brain power. What seems to be consistent throughout all the links is that the lowest IQs seems to be from people majoring in fields that are known to "help" and "serve" people, such as Social Work, Education and Counseling. 

 

Anyway, I was just wondering about this so I started doing a few Google searches. My links probably suck, but it was hard to find anything really legit. Still, it makes you think. I know this topic is probably a bit controversial and bound to offend people, but I thought I'd just post what I found and see if anyone has any better links and any other thoughts on the subject. 

Edited by Gnome Chomsky

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The first one stated, "Keep in mind that IQ is measured with a vocabulary test which favors verbal intelligence."

 

This might be off topic, but is IQ measured by a vocabulary test?

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Guest Gnome Chomsky

The first one stated, "Keep in mind that IQ is measured with a vocabulary test which favors verbal intelligence."

 

This might be off topic, but is IQ measured by a vocabulary test?

I thought it was more logic-based word problems, but I haven't taken a formal IQ test since I was a kid. 

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The first one stated, "Keep in mind that IQ is measured with a vocabulary test which favors verbal intelligence."

 

This might be off topic, but is IQ measured by a vocabulary test?

I smell YahooNews-esque BS.

Edited by ratlab

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I don't see the purpose behind having this sort of conversation with this particular medium of communication.

Nevertheless. I'm going to measure smarts by perceived happiness - because being happy is awesome. If you're a smart person you'll figure out a way to be happy.

So to hell with vocab, maths, etc.

Now this is only anecdotal: the happiest guy I ever met was a high school drop out. He worked various odd jobs - coffee shop, customer service, construction, and more. 
 

because the question forces the answer to be a type of major and not advice such as, "Drop-out and don't go to college"  I have to search for the major that puts you in a similar position as this guy.

Hmmm.


No marketable skills.
No job security.

AHA!

I have concluded. The happiest major is a humanties PhD... probably within some sort of Rhetoric sub-field.


Lucky me!

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"Ignorance is bliss," and the famous Hemingway quote "happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know," would both seem to contradict that intuition ;)

 

But the question/answers to the question are all hocus pocus anyway.

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"Ignorance is bliss," and the famous Hemingway quote "happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know," would both seem to contradict that intuition ;)

 

But the question/answers to the question are all hocus pocus anyway.

 

Hypothetically - I'd contend that Hemingway had a more strict definition of intelligence.

Perhaps I'd argue that intelligence is a measure of how well you can solve a problem.

Perhaps I'd argue that being unhappy is the worst of problems.

Perhaps I'd conclude that if someone has solved the problem of unhappiness : they are intelligent.

All hypothetical of course. I'd hate to argue about something this silly on the internet.

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All hypothetical of course. I'd hate to argue about something this silly on the internet.

 

My inclination is to respond that happiness is not trivial, but then you've already made that point by suggesting that achieving happiness might indicate superior intelligence (or, perhaps, more "useful" knowledge for a single individual?). So argue away, Internet stranger!

 

Of course I might respond that there's nothing intelligent about prioritizing only individual contentment over our communal responsibilities. But then I'm no fan of attempts to rationalize selfishness at the expense of others (but that leads to an argument about ideologies).

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My inclination is to respond that happiness is not trivial, but then you've already made that point by suggesting that achieving happiness might indicate superior intelligence (or, perhaps, more "useful" knowledge for a single individual?). So argue away, Internet stranger!

 

Of course I might respond that there's nothing intelligent about prioritizing only individual contentment over our communal responsibilities. But then I'm no fan of attempts to rationalize selfishness at the expense of others (but that leads to an argument about ideologies).

Of course I would have to point out the word silly does not equal the word trival.

Hypothetical I would direct you to this link http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=silly

While I'm making assumptions I'd sit back and assume a good pat on the back for such clever etymological word play.

Perhaps I would contend that there are multiple types of happiness- in my example I'd make the claim that this high school drop out was benefiting society the most that anyone with his particular skills could do - he was staying kind and out of the way. Yet- I would change my mind before saying that because of the elitist tones it takes.

Hypothetically I would argue that I meant communal responsibility all along. I'll pull up some quotes out of Buddhist philosophy regarding Anatta - I'd also post a super cool Lion King circle of life GIF.

Perhaps I would make an argument about my research interests - I'd argue that the most intelligent majors are working towards happiness for everyone. I would vehemently defend that I meant this from the start.

I would probably tie up the argument with a bit about my high school drop out guy. I'd say he isn't a burden. He isn't gaming the system. He isn't causing crime. He stays well read and discusses philosophy at the late night diner. He had a good reason to drop out when he dropped out.

Whew! sure glad we didn't have to have that talk. :-D

 

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Guest Gnome Chomsky

I don't see the purpose behind having this sort of conversation with this particular medium of communication.

Nevertheless. I'm going to measure smarts by perceived happiness - because being happy is awesome. If you're a smart person you'll figure out a way to be happy.

So to hell with vocab, maths, etc.

Now this is only anecdotal: the happiest guy I ever met was a high school drop out. He worked various odd jobs - coffee shop, customer service, construction, and more. 

 

because the question forces the answer to be a type of major and not advice such as, "Drop-out and don't go to college"  I have to search for the major that puts you in a similar position as this guy.

Hmmm.

No marketable skills.

No job security.

AHA!

I have concluded. The happiest major is a humanties PhD... probably within some sort of Rhetoric sub-field.

Lucky me!

This isn't a knock on humanities. As unreliable as the links I've found are, they consistently show philosophy, English, humanities, and art students to be of high intelligence (whatever that is). And you might argue that an intelligent is more confident in their ability and feels they don't need a "high-paying" degree. The ones who do consistently score lower on standardized and IQ tests are education, social work, business majors and a few others. I know that hard science people like to knock humanities students for "taking the easy way out" but I think they do that because they respect their intelligence and feel that they could "do better." Anyway, I do know some students who went through college like it was a trade school and didn't take a variety of classes like most of us have. I wouldn't say that makes them less intelligent, though they might have a smaller array of "knowledge."

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A graduate degree itself isn't even a measure of intelligence, it's a measure of expertise in your field. Knowledge of one field doesn't make you more or less smart. Are we coming at this from the view that there are not different types of intelligence? 

 

I'm abysmal at chemistry. But that's not my field of interest, that's not what I'm good at, and frankly, if I attempted to be a chemist I would look rather unintelligent. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would attempt to align themselves with subjects they're not exceeding at. 

 

There are also people who simply think differently. I think visually and verbally, I have "a good eye". I enjoy Art History because I'm good at it, and because it is highly complimentary to my intellect. I'm not very good at quant based intellect at all, and by someone else's measure, I wouldn't be very smart. 

 

All that to say: I would disdain any measure of "IQ" that only tests one or two indicators of intelligence, that disregards or demeans emotional/empathic/interpersonal intelligences which are valuable skills, and that...coincidentally puts fields most often associated with women at the bottom rungs of intelligence, because it devalues emotional intelligence -- which has often been associated (however incorrectly) with women and inferiority. I don't find educators or child development specialists stupid across the board. What concerns me is when their undergrad GPA minimum is a 2.5 (as it is at my school for Education). 

 

...and a measure of intelligence based off of the GRE? Why bother?

Edited by m-ttl

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Of course I would have to point out the word silly does not equal the word trival.

Hypothetical I would direct you to this link http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=silly

While I'm making assumptions I'd sit back and assume a good pat on the back for such clever etymological word play.

 

 

 

I'd just like to point out that the very link you provide makes my case of using trivial as a somewhat-synonym for silly: "Silly season in journalism slang is from 1861 (August and September, when newspapers compensate for a lack of hard news by filling up with trivial stories)." ;)

Edited by TakeMyCoffeeBlack

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I always found it interesting that service-based professions are consistently placed at the bottom of everything, e.g. IQ, GRE scores, GPA, etc. Yet, aren't teachers the ones educating all of the future doctors, astrophysicists, and mathematicians? Considering my major straddles the fields of "Education" and "English," I guess I cannot accurately gauge my IQ from these websites. Additionally, this is further complicated by my interest in and study of linguistics. cautiously_optimistic has it right.

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I'd just like to point out that the very link you provide makes my case of using trivial as a somewhat-synonym for silly: "Silly season in journalism slang is from 1861 (August and September, when newspapers compensate for a lack of hard news by filling up with trivial stories)." ;)

 :-P

 

I was more interested in "(cf. Old Norse sæll "happy,"  " 

 

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I don't see the purpose behind having this sort of conversation with this particular medium of communication.

Nevertheless. I'm going to measure smarts by perceived happiness - because being happy is awesome. If you're a smart person you'll figure out a way to be happy.

So to hell with vocab, maths, etc.

Now this is only anecdotal: the happiest guy I ever met was a high school drop out. He worked various odd jobs - coffee shop, customer service, construction, and more. 

 

because the question forces the answer to be a type of major and not advice such as, "Drop-out and don't go to college"  I have to search for the major that puts you in a similar position as this guy.

Hmmm.

No marketable skills.

No job security.

AHA!

I have concluded. The happiest major is a humanties PhD... probably within some sort of Rhetoric sub-field.

Lucky me!

 

I was ready to write an "Ignorance is bliss" reply like BeakerBreaker until I saw your beautiful logic: coffee shop guy = happiness; coffee shop guy = no marketable skills & job security; humanities PhD = no marketable skills & job security; therefore humanities PhD = happiness. Very beautiful logic indeed :D

 

On the topic of this thread, both "intelligence" and "happiness" in this context are too vague and ill-defined variables. We don't always agree on what it means and the consequence of that particular meaning of our choice, and I doubt we ever will, so what's the use of arguing?

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A graduate degree itself isn't even a measure of intelligence, it's a measure of expertise in your field. Knowledge of one field doesn't make you more or less smart. Are we coming at this from the view that there are not different types of intelligence? 

 

I'm abysmal at chemistry. But that's not my field of interest, that's not what I'm good at, and frankly, if I attempted to be a chemist I would look rather unintelligent. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would attempt to align themselves with subjects they're not exceeding at. 

 

There are also people who simply think differently. I think visually and verbally, I have "a good eye". I enjoy Art History because I'm good at it, and because it is highly complimentary to my intellect. I'm not very good at quant based intellect at all, and by someone else's measure, I wouldn't be very smart. 

 

All that to say: I would disdain any measure of "IQ" that only tests one or two indicators of intelligence, that disregards or demeans emotional/empathic/interpersonal intelligences which are valuable skills, and that...coincidentally puts fields most often associated with women at the bottom rungs of intelligence, because it devalues emotional intelligence -- which has often been associated (however incorrectly) with women and inferiority. I don't find educators or child development specialists stupid across the board. What concerns me is when their undergrad GPA minimum is a 2.5 (as it is at my school for Education). 

 

...and a measure of intelligence based off of the GRE? Why bother?

 

Your post reminds me of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. It always strikes me as more valid and applicable than the IQ test by acknowledging each individual's specialty or aptitude in a way. If the measurement is spatial or bodily-kinesthetic, I would be very very stupid.

 

http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/education/ed_mi_overview.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences

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Your post reminds me of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. It always strikes me as more valid and applicable than the IQ test by acknowledging each individual's specialty or aptitude in a way. If the measurement is spatial or bodily-kinesthetic, I would be very very stupid.

 

http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/education/ed_mi_overview.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences

 

It was intentional, yes. My ex-roommate's sister often struggled with the fact that she wasn't book smart like her younger sister was -- but she had immense technical skills as a chef. Her time in culinary school was where she excelled, and even if I can cook, I don't have the makings of a professional chef! Neither does her sister, who was always in awe of those abilities. 

 

It reminds me of a joke-phrase I started among friends back during the Beijing olympics in 2008... I would watch the teenaged girls in gymnastics, and joke that I hadn't done much with my life: "...all this, and I'm not even an Olympian!" But it's silly to compare myself to Olympians because I'm not even an athlete. And that's precisely the point, we can be intelligent in a multitude of ways, and be accomplished in many others but to someone else, we just won't be on the same level. 

 

And whatever happened to the STEM folk propagating the adage "correlation doesn't equal causation"? IQ doesn't dictate what you study, and what you study doesn't dictate IQ. 

 

correlation.png

 

;)  

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I think if we stick to the usual IQ definition (ability to solve problems - any type) then I'd say you'll find highs and lows in all areas.

Because in the most prestigious places you find those who do what they're told, rote memorize, and repeat without thought or consideration. You can also find those who do think though.

One thing I've always noticed is the relationship of IQ to trouble/struggle/unhappiness. It seems to be a standard curve, just offset to peak at a higher IQ than the norm. Low IQ? Blissfully ignorant. Avg? Meh, but can be content. Smart? Things are complicated. Really smart? Always having issues. Super smart? It's complicated. Genius? Content (I think this stems from being smart enough to not follow status quo but also smart enough to know how to make that work for them, play the system).

I think we also need to discern conditioning from understanding. Some people can be conditioned to do complex math, like a Pavlovian dog. They don't think about it or understand it conceptually though. With humanities and the lack of clearly correct/incorrect answers the understanding of the base concepts becomes very important. You can't be right no matter the answer you give unless you understand what you're talking about.

But that isn't to say the other areas are void of thinkers, rather they combine understanding with conditioned ability to do some great things.

Edited by Loric

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It seems that the entry barrier of departmental/university admission requirements are being forgotten.

 

As a US student expat, my experience with admissions are from foreign systems (UK and Australia), but from what I understand from back home, they translate well.  Here in Queensland, students take a test that functions similarly to the SAT, the Overall Position (OP) test.  The score is scaled from 1 to 25, with 1 being the highest number.  Law requires a 2.  Medicine and dentistry demand a 1.  Business and Architecture require a 7.  Social work or education will accept 13 and 12, respectively.  Those courses have the lowest entry barrier.  

 

If "hard science" departments lowered their entry requirements, I would imagine their graduates's average IQ would drop.  Consequently, if education aimed to accept only those with excellent credentials, average IQ of graduates would increase.  I believe Finland would be an example of the latter case.  

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Graduates of physics and theoretical mathmatics tend to have the highest IQ scores.

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I think natural and physical science students who do this are 1) insecure and 2) have never taken a humanities class, especially in at higher levels.  An intro "humanities for non-majors" class isn't really enough to measure the difficulty of these fields.  But I'm in an interdisciplinary graduate program that merges the humanistic social sciences, and I had to take a class in sociological and anthropological theory, and it was hard.  Way harder than the math and statistics, in my mind (I'm a quantitative psychologist).  The stats is easy to get, but thinking about the theory..?  I also took an honors philosophy course during undergrad and it took some thought.

 

I don't trust most IQ studies comparing...pretty much anything, since it's been shown that IQ varies widely by gender, race, and class because of the design of the tests.  I would imagine that women and lower-income folks are more likely to be majoring in social work and education.  Not to mention that psychologists who studied this haven't even agreed on a standard definition of intelligence, so there's no one test that can really measure overall/general intelligence (if there even is such a thing.  I think the one thing that psychologists DO generally agree on is that there are different types of intelligences).

 

Graduates of physics and theoretical mathematics tend to have the highest IQ scores.

 

Citation?  Actually it doesn't even matter, because there are citations supporting a variety of majors.  One I found has pretty much equal scores for physics, English literature, math, economics, engineering, and philosophy; another I found says the humanities and arts, along with political science, are about equivalent to physics and some types of engineering and math; I found another one that ranked English and literature, foreign language, and philosophy as equivalent with physics and math.  Whatever you want to find, you can find a "study" to support that assertion.

 

Furthermore, some of the studies' results are patently absurd.  The first one asserts that the top ranking majors' averages are all around 130, two standard deviations above the mean.  This is absurd; IQ tests are scaled to be normally distributed, which means that 95% of people score within two standard deviations (30 points) of the mean (so between 70 and 130).  The mean of any one major being ~130 would mean that 50% of the students in that major, for example, scored in the top 5% of IQ test scorers, which simply does not make any sense.  The last study I found actually didn't use IQ tests at all; they used the SAT-to-IQ test conversion (flawed in and of itself) assuming a mean SAT score to be equivalent to an IQ of 103, and then used average SAT scores for intended major.  The major problem with that, of course, is that these are high school juniors and seniors taking the exam, and their actual majors may be different from what they intended when they took the test.

 

These "studies" also never really say who and how many students they tested.

 

Unsurprisingly there aren't many actual peer-reviewed studies on this.  I did a quick Google scholar search and found nothing.

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I've decided that my major has the smartest students simply because I've decided that my self-confidence is a sniveling little worm this weekend. Next weekend, someone else's major can have the smartest students. I'll be good then. Are we all cool with that?

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