These Are the Presidents Who Were Geniuses (and How Donald Trump Compares)

Donald Trump talks a lot about his intelligence–particularly about how he’s a “very stable genius.” We’d all like for the president of our nation to be much smarter than your average person, but only a few of our past presidents can be classified geniuses. Read on for a look at which presidents were geniuses and how Trump compares (page 6).

1. What makes a genius

albert einstein

Albert Einstein | Central Press/Getty Images

Typically, the word “genius” goes hand-in-hand with a person’s IQ. If someone scores at or above the 98th percentile on an IQ test, they’re often considered a genius. But a lot more can go into the term: creativity, curiosity, emotional intelligence, charm–to name a few characteristics.

“[A genius is] somebody that has the capacity to inquire at that high level and to be curious to pursue that high level of understanding and then be able to communicate it to the rest of us,” says psychologist Frank Lawlis, supervisory testing director for American Mensa.

Which presidents, then, fulfill this definition?

Next: The smartest president of the United States

2. John Adams

President John Adams

John Adams | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

President John Adams has been called a genius for a few different reasons. For one: he had to mature at a very young age. Adams’ father also worked in politics, so Adams had to “be the man of the house” while his father was aiding in the strategizing of the Revolutionary War. According to The Washington Post, at the age of 10 he crossed the Atlantic and rode mules from Spain to Paris. At the age of 23, he passed the bar exam.

Next: This president makes the list as a founding father. 

 3. Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

President Thomas Jefferson makes the list for his contribution to the United States. As a founding father and the main author of the Declaration of Independence, he’s known for his incredible drive, intellect, and leadership. He also served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. According to The Post, he’s named the second-smartest president after Adams.

Next: A president with the power to inspire a nation 

4. John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy | AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

The Post names John F. Kennedy as the third smartest president of our time, predominantly for his ability to inspire a nation to go to the moon. Additionally, he was an impassioned speaker who knew how to reach the hearts and minds of America.
Next: Psychologists say this president had an impressive “intellectual power.” 

5. Bill Clinton

Former US President Bill Clinton speaks

Bill Clinton | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Psychologist Dean Keith Simonton (the man who orchestrated the study on presidential intellect that The Post sites) believes Bill Clinton to be a genius not just based on his IQ (somewhere between 136 and 159), but for his emotional intelligence and highly logical brain.

“His demonstrated capacity for mastering impressive amounts of complex and detailed information, his verbal eloquence and fluency, and his logical adroitness and sophistication — at times, as during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, verging on sophistry — places Clinton head and shoulders above his successor in terms of intellectual power,” says Simonton.

Next: How Donald Trump compares

6. Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House April 3, 2018 in Washington, DC

Donald Trump | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Where does Trump fit into all this? Somewhere at the bottom. Simonton says Trump’s comments about him being a “very stable genius” sound defensive.

“If he’s actually taken an IQ test, then why not report the results?” Simonton asked The Post. “I think we can guess why.”

Next: Where Obama might have fit in the mix

7. Barack Obama

Barack Obama in a dark suit against a black background

Barack Obama | Pablo Gasparini/AFP/Getty Images

Though the study that evaluates the level of genius of our past presidents The Post reported on didn’t touch on Barack Obama, Simonton has some thoughts about our former president’s level of intelligence compared to Trump.

Trump has claimed on Twitter  to have a “much higher” IQ than Obama, but Simonton says Obama is “obviously far more intelligent.”

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