Hawaii called 'least intelligent' state in analysis

Published: Nov. 18, 2015 at 6:35 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2015 at 2:47 PM HST
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A Washington Post analysis designed to rank states based on an "intelligence score" was not kind to Hawaii.

In fact, Hawaii was ranked 50th on the list – in other words, the "least intelligent" state.


The Washington Post's "The Fix" section came up with the analysis as a rebuttal of sorts to a comment by Donald Trump, who asked a group of voters why Iowans were so "stupid" that they favored candidate Ben Carson instead of him.

The Post set to work to see just how "stupid" Iowa is and found, in fact, that it is the eighth-smartest state.

Massachusetts was ranked the "most intelligent" state, followed by Minnesota and New Hampshire. Hawaii came in last on the list, while Nevada was 49th and Mississippi was 48th.

How did the Post do their analysis? They looked at:

  • IQ scores (Hawaii’s estimated IQ score was 95.6. The state with the highest estimated IQ score was New Hampshire, at 104.2.)
  • 2015 SAT scores (Hawaii’s average score in 2014 was 1472, which meant it tied for 10th-lowest with Rhode Island.)
  • 2015 ACT scores (Hawaii’s average composite score was 18.5, the lowest in the nation; the national average was 21. However, 93 percent of Hawaii seniors took the test in 2015; that compares to 59 percent nationally.)
  • The percentage of college graduates in each state (About one third of Hawaii residents have completed college, according to the U.S. Census Bureau; that’s about 5 percent points lower than the national average.)

The Washington Post has pointed out that any ranking of intelligence is subjective and has built-in racial and socio-economic bias.

"Given how hard it is to identify objective metrics of intelligence, we worked with what we had," said the author of the analysis, Philip Bump.

Even so, the newspaper has gotten no small amount of flak for its list, published last week.

One online commenter noted that states that require most public school students to take the ACT, including Hawaii, performed less well on the analysis.

But another commenter asked readers to take the analysis for what it is: A way to point out that Iowans are actually pretty smart.

And Paul Miles, of Hawaii, shared this gem in the comments section: "We in Hawaii are smartest … because we figured out how to live in Hawaii."

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