Smarts
March 01, 2011, 04:21 AM
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Matt Hinton writes about the upcoming NFL draft:
Usually, leaked Wonderlic scores are embarrassingly low. Not so, however, for Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, who nearly aced the test, scoring a 48 out of a possible 50 according to his hometown Fort Worth Star-Telegram. That score puts him on the high, high end of potential employees in any field, and especially among NFL quarterbacks. A 48 is twice the league average for incoming QBs, and matches the highest score for a quarterback on record, belonging to current Buffalo Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, a Harvard grad. (Here is the most complete database of Wonderlic scores by quarterbacks through 2006. Only one other starter last year, the 49ers' Alex Smith, managed a 40 on the test; only one NFL player, former Bengals punter Pat McInally – another Harvard grad – is believed to have scored a perfect 50.)

By that standard, McElroy is one of the smartest quarterbacks in league history – no surprise, considering he was a finalist for a Rhodes scholarship last fall and has always been praised more for his poise and decision-making than his arm or athleticism.

If the mean on the Wonderlic IQ test is 21, and each additional right answer is worth 2 points, then a 48 is equal to a 154 IQ. On the other hand, I suspect the kind of guy who is aiming for an NFL quarterback career might do some serious test prep. In the case of one college quarterback who jumped from 94 to 136 in his two tries, you gotta wonder if his agent might have pulled a few strings. (Wonderlics by position here.)

If you take Peyton Manning as the gold standard of NFL quarterbacks (114) and Eli Manning (136) as representative of the merely pretty good NFL quarterback, then the usefulness of the test starts to look like it might be more in answering questions like: Smart enough to stay out of jail? Smart enough to not get caught for steroids? Smart enough to learn the playbook?

Meanwhile, Natalie Angier in the NYT riffs off Natalie Portman's Oscar:

Among the lesser-known but nonetheless depressingly impressive details in Ms. Portman's altogether too precociously storied career is that as a student at Syosset High School on Long Island back in the late 1990s, Ms. Portman made it all the way to the semifinal rounds of the Intel competition. ...

Ms. Portman is one of a handful of high-profile actors who happen to have serious scientific credentials - awards, degrees, patents and theorems in their name.

Natalie Angier being Natalie Angier, she goes on to list only female actresses such as Hedy Lamarr, who co-invented frequency-hopping for confidential radio transmissions. One actor ignored by Angier is action hero Dolph Lundgren, who came to America on Fulbright Scholarship to get an advanced degree at MIT.

Among directors, sci-tech-eng skills are not uncommon. Frank Capra was a chemical engineering graduate of Cal Tech, for instance.