Some pranks are so good they keep working over and over again.
Back in November 2002, someone (using the name Robert Calvert) created and posted to a USENET newsgroup a phony chart which purportedly showed the average IQ per state in the U.S., along with the average income and a column indicating how that state voted in the 2000 presidential election:
The IQ numbers were originally attributed to the book ‘IQ and the Wealth of Nations,’ though they do not appear in the current edition. The tests and data were administered via the Raven’s APT, and The Test Agency, one of the UK’s leading publishers and distributors of psychometric tests. This data has been published in the Economist and the St. Petersburg Times, though this does not mean it should be taken as fact.
The gag was that all the states that voted for Vice-President Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election were clustered at the top of the IQ scale, while all the states that voted for then-Texas Governor George W. Bush were clustered at the bottom.
The chart’s creator claimed to have been inspired by the book IQ and the Wealth of Nations and to have drawn his IQ data from the Ravens APM, but — save for the average income per state numbers, which were valid but outdated figures taken from the 1994 World Almanac — the chart was completely bogus. (The Ravens Advanced Progressive Matrices is not really a general intelligence test, nor do its publishers offer state-by-state test results data.) Nonetheless, a number of news publications (including the staid Economist) were taken in by the hoax — some mistakenly citing the information as having come from the book IQ and the Wealth of Nations, or even IQ and the Wealth of States — and published portions of the chart, and discussed it as if it were valid. (A similar hoax about presidential IQs produced similar media-fooling results back in 2001.)
Now, someone has dusted off the same chart and (omitting the economic data) applied it to the 2004 presidential election, keeping the primary gag intact: the “blue” (i.e., Democratic states) are all clustered at the top of the IQ scale, while the “red” (i.e., Republican) states are clustered at the bottom. Same hoax, different year. If presidential elections continue to produce the close results, expect to see this same joke again every four years.
Till, Francis. “Internet Hoax Tricks Mainstream Major: Not So Smart After All.” The National Business Review. 23 May 2004.
St. Petersburg Times.
“Does IQ Matter in Politics?” 20 May 2004.