On average, members of which one of the listed professions/occupations are the most intelligent?

In your opinion, members of which one of the professions/occupations listed above are, on average, the most intelligent? (The list is in alphabetical order)

Of course, I’m not even going to try to define “intelligence”; just follow your intuition or personal definition.

Note also, please, that you must make your choice only from the professions/occupations listed. There may well be another one, not listed, whose members you feel are more intelligent than all of the listed ones. But that’s not the question. You must choose only from the professions/occupations that are listed. OK?


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It takes a few minutes for the poll to show up.

ETA: and there it is.

I should have mentioned that once there’s a ‘good’ number of votes, I’ll say what I would have guessed would be most chosen (and why). Worth waiting for, eh?

Interesting results so far.

At this point, the numbers are still a little low, so I won’t share my thoughts just now (the suspense must be killing you, I’m sure). Alas, I have an early morning so won’t say anything more until then.

And, to those that have voted already - thank you! Much obliged.

I’m really surprised that some of those categories got any response, particularly doctors and lawyers, but also a couple of the others.

I think engineers absolutely needed to be on the list, they’d have been the runaway winners.

I think that novelists would have the broadest range but some of the smartest are probably way ahead of the pack. But then again they are lumped in with the Twilight author.

I’m anticipating a vapid debate between the majority, who say “physicists and mathematicians”, and those few who say novelists, lawyers, musicians, etc, who will probably bring in the idea of “people smarts” versus “book smarts” and the concept of “emotional intelligence”.

I was thinking about the average scores by profession on the Wonderlic test:

Unfortunately, they don’t show jobs like Rocket Surgeon or Biophysicist. I’m sure SDMB members average about a 65 on that test.

The more I think about it, the more I have to go with the norm and pick maths/physics. The multiple intelligences view would be nice, but it meaningless in this context, as there’s really not a group that has a higher overall score of the different types. So you’re stuck with picking one type of intelligence over the others.

Note that this had a lot to do with the averages, as the best in most of these fields are really intelligent, even by the classical definition. (The only exception seems to be fine artists, where the best seem to just have an intuitive grasp.) The problem is that the rest kinda balance most of them out. Math/physics is the only field I can think of that has mostly smart people all the time.

The only one that came close to allowing me to use multiple intelligences was the musician, but the problem with that is the averagest thing again–while the best have high levels of all intelligence types, the worst have the absolute lowest in most. Also, limiting it to professionals (vs. amateurs) is not sufficient: you really have to subdivide it to get any real data. Pop/classical is a real divide, as is performer/composer. The absolute best can do it all (although the performer’s intelligence is more about being able to improvise, which many cannot.)

I do want to give a shout out to clergy, though. There’s a certain type that are really intelligent, but it’s more of a philosophical intelligence. But they also some that may even be lower than the musicians

First, thanks to everyone who’s participated so far.

I am surprised, actually, at the margin of ‘victory’ for mathies and physicists. But I certainly would, and did, pick that group too. In my experience, and from stuff I’ve read, they are ‘invariably’ smart, often scary so and eclectically so - many play an instrument, well; speak a bunch of languages; are more than conversant regarding literature, history, well, like I said, eclectically smart.

I think that biochemists & biologists are much more clever nowadays than, say, 25 or 30 years ago. Since the advent of genetic and recombinant techniques, very smart people, it seems, often opt to pursue biology or biochem.

Medical doctors - we are clever, aren’t we. More seriously, when I graduated, I’d say the majority of my classmates were actually pretty intelligent (my classmates, not me!). Today, though, I, and many of them, wouldn’t even have a chance of getting in. At least where I teach, the young’n’s are way smarter than we were. All of them it seems stood first or very close as undergrads, speaks lots of languages, etc.

I hope to spout more later, but I will say that I think clergy are under-rated.

“Rocket surgeon” - now that demands brilliance :wink:

I didn’t coin it. I think that there is a board member “It’s Not Rocket Surgery”, who took it from someone else’s post, who…

Yea, another vote for engineers! :smiley:

But what kind? ME? EE? CE? :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, not someone else’s post, but from a quote by David Lee Roth, who was busy skewing the musician vote lower.

I voted for physicists/mathematicians also, but don’t tell my wife, who is a biologist.
I suspect this category wins because it involves concepts that the average person understands less well than the flesh and bones and plants that a biologist works with. But I think that they are actually pretty close.

It seems to me that biology and biochemistry require a lot of talent and persistence in rote learning. Organisms and organic chemicals can be amazingly complex and there’s a ton of things to memorize. I’m strong in mathematics and a number of things but my eyes glaze over when I see anything about organic chemistry, beyond freshman stuff.

ETA: I think math has the highest IQs. I’ve heard that most science Nobel winners have fairly high but not extraordinarily high IQs.

It was easy for me to dismiss mathematicians because I believe people ( think rainman) can simply have their brains wired that way. Clergy? Meh! I personally think when aligning that trade with intelligence is an oxymoron. Fine artists, musicians and doctors … One trick ponies. Novelists? Any group that includes Barbra Cartland and Geoffrey Archer has their average IQ infinitely reduced beyond that which the greatest novelist can elevate.

I ended up with the people skills people. it seems to me that the ability to think outside the box, identifying the truth or critical information from the background noise requires multiple skills and then using and applying that information gives a greater depth to ones intelligence.
Engineer? When I was at school I could hardly spell it, Now I are one!

I think it’s worth noting that today, to be a biologist or a physicist or a mathematician in any meaningful sense means to have a PhD in that subject. Therefore those are also the categories likely to have the most years of education. People who study physics or math or biology at the bachelor’s level are mainly found in the profession “teacher.”

The top professions are also professions in which a person can be successful relying almost solely on conventional, analytical intelligence. A journalist probably has a bachelor’s level of education and is unlikely to be successful without serious people skills in addition to some level of analytical intelligence. It might be more fair to compare biologists to doctoral-level journalism professors.

I guess it depends on the purpose of the comparison. If I were picking my phone-a-friend for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I think I would go for a PhD level journalism professor, especially one who also got some practical experience along the way, over a PhD level mathematician.