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Monday, October 5, 2009

St. Louis Nation's 24th-Smartest City, But Wash. U. Medical Alums Still Allowed to Date Ivy-Leaguers

Posted By on Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 3:15 PM

Fall is a suspenseful time for the nation's smartest people. No, we're not referring to the announcements of the winners of the MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants or the Nobel Prizes. Those things are all small potatoes compared to The Daily Beast's ranking of America's Smartest Cities, which came out yesterday.

Think about it. Most of us will never get $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation or an all-expenses-paid trip to Stockholm. But we can all take pride in contributing to the overall intellectual prestige of our home metropolis, at least as determined by an online news site.

And huzzah, St. Louis! We came in 24th of 55! Tied with Chicago! (Which they will, of course, take as further evidence that they are having a very bad week.)

The Daily Beast assigned its rankings based on a number of categories, including number of libraries and college graduates, number of institutions of higher learning per capita, voter turnout and, most strangely, nonfiction book-buying habits. ("We focused on nonfiction as an imperfect proxy for intellectual vigor," admits the Beast, "since overall sales are dominated by fiction works that, while entertaining, aren't always particularly thought-provoking.")

Here is St. Louis' (somewhat patronizing) citation:
The city that symbolizes the middle of America, its Gateway Arch a stepping off point to the west, St. Louis appropriately took the middle ground for nearly all our parameters and was among the bottom 40 percent for nonfiction book sales.
If only someone here had had the presence of mind of the used bookstore-owner in number 50 Harrisburg, who claimed that his city's poor book-buying habits were proof of its thrifty culture!

St. Louis' "IQ", according to The Daily Beast, is 108. If we were a person, we would be just above average. The nation's smartest city, Raleigh-Durham, comes in at a Mensa-worthy 170, while the dumbest, Fresno, has an IQ of 3, which renders it almost too stupid to exist. (Which, come to think of it... It came as a shock to learn Fresno even qualified as a city.)

While we know we should be pleased to be tied with our longtime rival, Chicago, we can't help but feel slightly depressed by our number 24 ranking. Milwaukee came in at 15. And Kansas City tied for 17. That's seven places higher than St. Louis! (Though only eight lousy IQ points.) Kansas City is smarter than St. Louis?

(All mathematics were performed by Unreal, our resident Mensa member. Speaking of which, do any of Kansas City's papers have a Mensan on staff? We think not.)

Our sister paper, the Miami New Times, calls shenanigans. Miami came in at 39, but blogger Kyle Munzenrieder claims the data has been tainted by including all the dumb people in neighboring Broward County.

Still, there is some good news, at least as reported by the New York Times Style section, our source for all the important and ground-breaking news of the day. (Newsflash: potbellies are now hip. But only on men.)

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