The Claim That Trump’s IQ Is 156+ Is Tenuous At Best

There’s been chatter on twitter that Donald Trump’s IQ is 156.

Naturally that got my curiosity up.  So I did a little research.  It appears this story first appeared in Aug 2015.  The author is a psychotherapist who wrote an article about the IQs of John Kerry and George Bush during the 2004 election.  According to him he accurately determined the IQs of both Kerry and Bush based on their military test scores and determined that Bush’s IQ was higher.  He claims the story was picked up by the New York Times.

The problem is the New York Times story cites “Steve Sailer” and his name is “Sam Sewell”.   I spoke with Dr. Sewell to get the back story on Sailer’s article as well as his claim to have written it.  It turns out that Dr. Sewell had come across John Kerry’s test scores on Kerry’s campaign website and speculated that if he could find George Bush’s scores he could compare the two.  For personal reasons he tipped off Sailer to his research and conclusions, and Sailer took it from there.

On his own blog he references his own article on IQ but titles it “REPOST and REMINDER – My 2005 article on candidate IQ”.  Sewell actually published his own research in 2005, after the election was over and Bush had been reelected.

So who is Rev. Sam Sewell?  He’s a Christian psychotherapist, a Mensa member, a naval intelligence veteran of the Vietnam era, a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana, Lafayette) and of the Union School of Ministerial and Religious Studies (now defunct).  In Rev. Sewell’s words the Ph.D. program was an “unorthodox” Ph.D program conducted by Dr. Samuel Baskins.  The program was an early attempt at what is now known as distance learning.

This is an interview of Dr. Sewell on the Manning Report.

Sewell has this to say about his 2004 analysis of Kerry’s and Bush’s IQs.

After lengthy research and lots of help from IQ experts I proved my point. Kerry had an IQ between 115 and 120. Bush had an IQ between 125 and 130.

The story was then published on the [1] web. That is the essence of my acorn contribution to the 2004 election.

My acorn must have fallen on fertile ground because the New York Times [2] picked up the story and now the whole world knows that Bush is smarter than Kerry.

“Wow!” I said to myself. Talk about maximum effect for minimum effort! But, the acorn just kept growing.

Based on his background and qualifications, Dr. Sewell’s analysis of Bush and Kerry is probably valid, and he’s now speculating that Trump’s IQ is 156 “at a minimum”.  This is quite remarkable.

Donald Trump graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and anthropology.  Mensa  doesn’t accept SAT scores from after 1994.  However Mr Trump was a student at Wharton when it was possible to derive an accurate IQ core from known SAT scores.   Given the usual requirements for admission to a top school like Wharton, I estimate that Mr. Trump has a 156 IQ at the minimum.
The standard description of this level of intelligence is “Genius – Exception intellectual ability and capable of looking beyond known facts.”  However, the percentile rating is more revealing than the raw score.  A 156 IQ is at the 99.9905490555 percentile.  That means that Donald Trump is smarter than 99.99 percent of the people on planet earth.  Not only does Trump qualify for membership in Mensa but he could join the Triple Nine Society.

There’s a problem with his analysis however.  Donald Trump didn’t enter Wharton as a freshman.  He transferred to Wharton in his junior year.  Furthermore, he makes an assumption about Trump’s SAT scores, but those are unknown.  Trump has never released his records from Wharton, so any analysis is fraught with uncertainty.  Even based on the median SAT score of 1400 (verified with the university), his IQ would be in the 137-140 range.

According to the Penn State Admissions Department transfers must provide SAT scores (along with grades and other information), but there is no minimum score required and 25% of transfer students will be below the median score of 1400.  Considering that Trump may have used a special favor to enter Wharton, it’s entirely possible that his SAT score was below the median, meaning his IQ could well be in the 120 to 130 range.  Dr. Sewell confided in me that the focus of his article was not Trump’s IQ but his personality traits, and his speculation about Trump’s IQ was just that, speculation.  Furthermore, he was surprised to find that Trump was a transfer student at Wharton.

Furthermore, if Trump’s IQ was anywhere near his estimate, Trump would qualify for MENSA. Can you imagine Trump qualifying for MENSA and not using that as a cudgel to berate others for their stupidity? The fact that he hasn’t bragged about being a MENSA member is suggestive that his IQ isn’t high enough to qualify.

As an aside, Donald constantly brags about graduating from Wharton business school, but he never points out that he did not receive an MBA from the prestigious Wharton School of Business.  His degree is from the Wharton School of Commerce and Economics.  Donald attended the Wharton School as an undergraduate and received a BS degree only.  Not clarifying that leads to an assumption on many people’s parts that he received an MBA from the graduate school, which really would be impressive – much more impressive than graduating from the undergraduate school with a BS in economics and anthropology.

Another site recently estimated Trump’s IQ at 125, but the methodology leaves much to be desired and can only be described as rank speculation.

The bottom line is, no one knows what Trump’s IQ is.  It’s almost certainly not 156 as Sewell speculates.  If it were, he should have graduated with honors, but he did not.  He wasn’t even on the Deans List.  In line with his bent for self promotion, Donald has never corrected news stories that claim he graduated first in his class even though it’s provably false.

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