Well, I shouldn’t have inquired. But I did and found national rankings on supposed state-smartypantness.
However, forget the “smartest.” What’s up with the rankings of the so-called “dumbest states”? In ascending order from the bottom up, the dubious luminaries are Nevada, Arizona and California.
Am I glad not to be licensed to practice in California or I’d had the trifecta, thanks to my bar admissions in Nevada and Arizona. Think this dim-wattage may rub off on lawyers bar-ticketed in all 3 states?
Or as it was recently posed by Minneapolis, Minnesota law firm Nilan Johnson Lewis, “How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?” (And by the way, Minnesota is ranked 9th smartest state). But for other light bulb answers, also see James Fuqua’s “Lawyers & Light Bulbs.“
Although the inference-generating methodology may be suspect, the research reported last year by Seth Fiegerman at “The Dumbest States in America” | Lifestyle | Mainstreet placed Nevada as the dumbest state in the Union with Arizona right behind and California coming in third. The study used several data points, including statistics compiled by research company Morgan Quitno Press, student-teacher ratios, dropout rates, and math and reading proficiency scores.
Of Nevada, Fiegerman wrote, “According to one recent survey, Nevada had the worst public school system in the country, excluding D.C. (lucky for them, not a state and thus not ranked here). On top of this, fewer than 20 percent of Nevadans have completed a bachelor’s degree and only 86 percent have graduated high school. The average SAT score in this state was a 1485, which was the 11th worst nationwide.”
As for second place Arizona, Fiegerman said, “Arizona was ranked as the worst state according to Morgan Quitno’s list. Students received dismal scores on their math and reading proficiency tests in middle school and just 84% of the population has graduated from high school. A recent survey this year claimed that Arizona’s K12 education is the fifth worst in the nation. Another unrelated survey found that the vast majority of high school students in Arizona (96.5%) would be unable to pass a basic citizenship test if they needed to. Too dumb to be American? That’s a problem.”
An earlier report, though, Best Educated Index statistics, had a bit of rank reversal. Arizona was in last place and Nevada crawled up to 47th place. But that’s what happens with statistical massaging. See States Compared – StateMaster.
Yet another survey using different data came up with a list of America’s purported “smartest and dumbest cities.” It used its own IQ rating, book sales (2) and college degrees to rank 55 cities as America’s “smartest and dumbest.”
Las Vegas, Nevada came in dead last. And Phoenix, Arizona wasn’t much better at 45th place. See Smartest Cities – The Daily Beast.
What all this leads me to conclude is that, statistically-manipulated inferences notwithstanding, there’s probably something to all of this. After all, Alexis de Tocqueville did say “We get the government we deserve” and as I consider the record deficits, unremitting foreclosures, persistent unemployment and generalized governmental ineptitude that’s long afflicted all 3 states, these rankings could be spot on!
(1) Montana is ranked the 6th smartest, “According to one survey, 92% of the people in Montana have at least a high school diploma, which is the third most nationwide.”