Breaking News: Columbia is a Way, Way Smarter City Than StL

Aug 21, 2012 at 8:00 am
Make that "84,531 PEOPLE WHO ARE SMARTER THAN YOU". - image via
image via

Our good friends at the Daily Beast have decided to torment us with another set of rankings, this time a list of the 25 smartest cities in this fine nation of ours. Last time they did this, St. Louis came in 32nd. But this time, instead of using statistics, they're relying on science! Stats can be cooked, you see, but science is totally, utterly reliable.

Oh, wait, they used stats, too. But only for half the score. So there.

The science component of the rankings comes from Lumos Labs, the company behind Lumosity, purveyor of online brain exercises designed to make you smarter. The Beast boasts:

With data collected from more than 1 million users as part of its human cognition project, Lumos Labs was able to analyze performance for nearly 200 metro areas in five cognitive areas: memory, processing speed, flexibility, attention, and problem solving.

These scores were averaged into an "estimated IQ." The other half of the rankings came from the percentage of residents over 25 who had either a bachelor or a graduate degree. When the dust had cleared, the third smartest city in the U.S. of A. turned out to be Columbia, Missouri.

St. Louis, alas, did not make the top 25.

Columbia's Lumosity IQ is 101.3. (We should note that the Beast doesn't bother to explain what this number means, but if you go by regular IQ scores for people, an IQ score of 101.3 is perfectly ordinary. You don't get into the gifted range until you hit 115.) Of its residents above the age of 25, 28.4 percent have bachelors degrees and 20.6 percent have graduate degrees, which is probably not all that surprising in a town whose main industry -- nay, its very reason for being -- is a large research university.

For the record, Columbia is only outsmarted by Madison, Wisconsin, and Charlottesville, Virginia, both also home to major research universities. Both Madison and Charlottesville have moderately higher Lumosity IQs, but much smaller percentages of residents who have completed various degrees of higher education.

Coincidentally, today the Princeton Review released its lists of top 20 party schools and stone-cold sober schools. Mizzou appears on neither list. The University of Wisconsin-Madison, however, is the number 13 party school. And Champaign, Illinois, the nation's seventh most intelligent city is home to the University of Illinois, the fourth-biggest party school.

Is there any meaning in these rankings, or is it just coincidence? Well, we only live in St. Louis, which is not among the nation's most most intelligent cities, so maybe we should leave the question to the brighter minds of San Francisco or Seattle.