Thursday, March 05, 2009

Evidence from the GSS that military personnel are above average in intelligence

The DoD uses four tests (comprising the AFQT) that serve as a proxy for IQ in making recruitment decisions. The lowest quintile doesn't get in at all, and fewer than 4% of those in the armed forces perform at a level that suggests they have an IQ of lower than 93. So it's not surprising that the military population is, on average, more intelligent than the civilian population is.

NAEP testing strongly suggests this, and the GSS provides evidence for it as well. The survey asked 1,195 whites if they were currently working for or ever had worked for the military or the DoD. The average IQ of those who have and those who have not, converted from Wordsum tests with the assumption that the mean white score constitutes an IQ of 100:


The leftist stereotype that dumb, destitute, and desperate people often turn to the military because they have no other options is bunk. The evidence points in the other direction, indicating that military personnel are, if anything, a cut above the civilian population they serve.

* Due to the small sample of non-whites who have served in the military, only whites are considered here.


Jokah Macpherson said...

Everyone I know who is in the military is in it because that's what he or she wanted to do since youth; this includes both service academy graduates and regular enlistees. There were no "last resort" decision involved.

I think the intelligence myth may be due to the fact that, although your data indicates military intelligence (hah!) is slightly greater than the population at large, it would probably not compare favorably against a population of, say, people with graduate degrees. When a person's social circle is limited to well-educated people, the intelligence portion of the myth is true in a relative sense.

Audacious Epigone said...


I think that is accurate. Half Sigma has offered a similar explanation before. But if it is admitted to, it can be used to launch into a discussion of other groups and how military personnel compare. It's not long before the graduate degree guy really starts getting uncomfortable. Walking him into PC traps is easy at that point.

BGC said...

Do you have standard deviations for these average IQ scores?

To play devil's advocate, it _might_ be that military IQs have a smaller SD, and therefore fewer very high IQ folks as well as fewer with low IQ.

Nick said...

Related to this, military types are disproportionately rural and southern, and SWPL types assume that southern or rural mannerisms signify stupidity.

Though perhaps this is giving them too much credit. They probably just think, "I don't like the military and certainly wouldn't ever want to be in it, so anyone who does must be stupid or screwed up." And like everything liberals believe, it is declared to be a fact w/o any proof or, indeed, evidence.

Anonymous said...

AQFT = Armed Quorces Falification Test!

Audacious Epigone said...


That's what I thought might be the case, but the military SD is higher. 30% of the military respondents scored a 9 or 10, compared to 16% of non-military. But 17% of military scored 3 or lower, compared to just 10% of non-military.


That sounds right. Geography, idioms, and ideals (patriotism, duty, etc) all work against military personnel in the eyes of whiterpeople.


That was, uh, a test... I'm glad you were paying attention.

BGC said...

Very interesting. In a rational world this info. would be a mainstream media talking point.

Slightly higher average IQ with a wider SD characterizes many studies of men versus women.

As the sex ratio would (I suppose) favour men in the military, it may be worth analyzing men and women separately.

Audacious Epigone said...


Wow, perspicacious as always. The gender difference is startlingly large. I'll quantify it in a post soon.