While he was still a Democrat running the presidential race, many had questioned Joe Biden’s ability to function cognitively and brought up the touchy subject of IQ. But even now that he’s taken office to become the oldest American president, the question hasn’t really subsided.
Biden has some really bizarre gaffes and seems a little goofy, but social awkwardness shouldn’t be the yardstick by which we measure how well a president functions. If we did, how could we explain Trump? Still, given our preoccupation with intelligence, the question of IQ is bound to come up again whenever Biden mumbles something mildly unintelligible or does something that stumps the crowd. To all present and future doubters, here is something that you should know about Joe Biden’s IQ.
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Trump challenges and screening tests
Trump had been on his high-horse, chanting the phrase “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV” in a display of his seemingly prodigious cognitive abilities ever since he took a screening test in 2018. According to him, he had dazzled the doctors with his “good memory, because I’m cognitively there”, sending a not-so-subtle jibe at Joe Biden when the presidential race was still on.
Trump had taken it to Twitter and TV interviews (as he was wont to) to challenge Biden to take the same cognitive test. However, experts have since clarified that it is not some cognitive test, nor is it a test to measure IQ. The screening test is designed to find out people who have problems and doing well on it only shows that the person is ‘functional’ in the broadest sense of the word.
It didn’t come as a surprise when Trump’s five-word phrase started getting an unlikely moment in the spotlight, especially from late-night TV show hosts and comedians who couldn’t resist turning the subject of smarts that the former president is so fascinated with into a laughing stock. Trump is a self-declared “genius” who’s got “the best words” but he’s not one to live contentedly in his own bubble. He has tried to weaponize everything, even his screening test, to be used against Biden. However, in doing so, he has set a very low bar to jump over, even for Biden who is nearing his eighties.
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Does old age affect IQ?
Many have thought Biden unfit to function as the POTUS, mainly due to his age. But what they fail to realize is that age doesn’t affect IQ. Only brain injury or surgery gone wrong can affect cognitive functioning on multiple parameters to lower one’s IQ. The fear that dementia could be the reason behind Biden’s blunted wits and social awkwardness may be true. But dementia mainly affects memory, not IQ.
An Average Joe?
So far, there is no proof that Biden’s taken any kind of IQ test or, even if he has, its results haven’t been made public. The only thing that would allow us to deduce his IQ is the fact that he was smart enough to graduate from law school, even though he did graduate with one of the lowest scores in his class.
Academics don’t always correlate highly with IQ, but there are some studies that show an IQ range within which most lawyers lie. According to one paper, the typical lawyer IQ lies between 115 and 130. Of course, there are outliers in both directions, but since we can’t get an exact number, we’ll take the average to be indicative of Biden’s IQ. A reasonable projection could then be around 120, making him a little above average in terms of IQ.
Biden’s far from being a genius, but at least he doesn’t recommend people inject bleach as a cure for COVID-19 or thinks that nuking hurricanes would dissipate them.
Even though Biden may not be the smartest president the USA has ever had, he does have one important trait that makes him fit for the job – intellectual humility. Unlike his predecessor, he is aware of his limitations and surrounds himself with people that are smarter than him. This is why we shouldn’t see Biden as the president but “Team Biden” that runs the presidency.
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