Is Donald Trump Smart? As noted by the Chicago Tribune, Donald Trump has the peculiar habit of constantly referring to himself as “smart.” Whether this is actually true or not is open to debate – although most smart people don’t feel the need to describe themselves that way.
For instance, you don’t hear Stephen Hawking saying through his speech synthesizer, “I’m a pretty smart guy.” But just what does being smart – or more accurately intelligent – actually mean?
Defining the ‘Smart’ Guy That Is Donald Trump
Smart definitions and the characteristics of intelligence vary according to the expert you ask. Broadly speaking, modern psychologists define intelligence as problem-solving, learning capacity and the ability to use any knowledge that’s been gained in new situations. Trump would seem to come up short in all of these areas, given his distaste for reading, intelligence briefings, and similar activities.
While most psychologists believe that individual abilities — such as mathematical or verbal ability — vary from one person to the next, they disagree as to whether there is a “general intelligence” common to all people. But to the average person on the street, it seems obvious sometimes that some people are more intelligent than others.
It should be noted that the concept of emotional intelligence is very different than general intelligence since it involves the ability to recognize emotions, understand emotional dynamics, manage one’s emotions and use emotions to aid in creative thinking.
Emotionally smart individuals tend to be highly successful in their careers — although definitions of “success” also vary. It’s possible that Donald Trump could be what is considered “emotionally intelligent.” Certainly, he knows how to manipulate the emotions of others. However, some psychologists argue that emotional intelligence isn’t really intelligence at all.
Asking How Smart Is Donald Trump
Smart people have traditionally been considered those who do well on IQ tests. But since Donald Trump — as far as we know — has never taken any professionally evaluated IQ tests, the issue of how smart he is isn’t easy to resolve — regardless of how obvious the answer might seem.
The purpose of an intelligence test is to determine one person’s intelligence and rank it on an overall scale. By contrast, an aptitude test is designed to determine someone’s capacity to learn. Achievement tests simply determine what an individual has already learned. And we already know that Donald Trump isn’t a big reader.
The Stanford-Binet test – named for early 20th century psychologists Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon – was designed to guide people toward career choices. The term “intelligence quotient” – IQ – is derived from this test. It’s not really designed to retroactively judge the intelligence – or lack thereof – of someone like Donald Trump.
But these days, the most often used intelligence test is the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. The advantage of this test is that it provides an overall IQ, as well as individual scores within particular topics, such as memory, processing speed and verbal comprehension. Weaknesses in certain areas might indicate a disability. On the other hand, IQ scores are only relevant relative to other people’s IQ scores.
People below 70 in the score are usually considered to have an intellectual disability and often have issues living independently in later life. It’s unlikely that Trump would have an IQ this low since he would never be able to function successfully in his business.
Donald Trump And His Genes
As reported by the L.A. Times, in a number of speeches and statements he is given over the years, Donald Trump has suggested he’s a strong believer in “genes.” He seems to mean by this that some people are simply superior to other people. Implicit in these statements is the idea that he is one of these “superior people.”
This idea of the genetic superiority of certain people is not unheard of and was particularly popular among Nazis in Germany during the 1930s and 40s. And given that Donald Trump has German ancestry and that his grandfather immigrated to the United States from Prussia — a province of Germany — Trump holding this view is perhaps not surprising.
Of course, the Germans themselves following World War II mostly came to recognize that the concept of “Aryan supremacy” was absurd and had no basis in science. Genetically, the differences between the different races on earth are so minuscule as to mean virtually nothing.
So, is Donald Trump smart? There’s no denying that Donald Trump is successful — at least in a sense. But success alone doesn’t prove intelligence. On the contrary, many of history’s greatest conquerors have been breathtakingly stupid. Donald Trump’s ability to manipulate the emotions of others also doesn’t necessarily indicate intelligence — although it may say something about the intelligence of his audience. The answer to how smart Trump himself is may — unfortunately — be determined by the first few months of his presidency.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]