Dean Simonton

Dean SimontonIn existographies, Dean Simonton (1948-) (CR:21) is an American social psychologist noted for his 1980-present genius studies work, particularly those of American Presidents.

Early parental death | Geniuses
In 2002, Simonton, in his Great Psychologists and Their Times, gave a partial list of scientists, philosophers, and psychologists, common to the phenomenon of early parental death and genius. [4]

Race | IQ
Simonton has done a certain amount of work on “race”, which he calls an “extremely slippery concept” and IQ. In his “Race and Racism” section of his 1994 Greatness: Who Makes History and Why, he comments about how someone in the 1930s calculated an IQ 200 estimate for a 9-year old African-American girl. [2] In 2009, one of his articles received an Award for Excellence in Research, for a study of the association between childhood giftedness and adulthood genius in a sample of 291 eminent African Americans. [3]

Presidential IQs
The following, below right, are the top 16 smartest American Presidents according to Simonton's 2006 study, as compared to a 2013 colloquial poll, below left, conducted by American genius studies scholar Libb Thims, the results of about 25-35 people who were the in-person queried with: "Who are the Three Smartest American Presidents", of which 18 were able to give answers: [6]

Smartest Presidents
(2013 colloquial opinion)
Smartest Presidents
(2006 Simonton ranking)

1.Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) 11180
John Adams (1735-1826) 173
2.Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)8160
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) 160
3.John F. Kennedy (1917–1963)6

John F. Kennedy (1917–1963)158
4.Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945)6

Bill Clinton (1946-)156
5.Bill Clinton (1946-)5

James Madison (1751-1836) 155
6.Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)5

Jimmy Carter (1924-)153
7.John Adams (1735-1826) 2

8.Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924)2

Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924)152
9.George Washington (1732-1799) 2

Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)149
10.James Madison (1751-1836) 1

James Garfield (1831–1881)148
11Jimmy Carter (1924-)1

Chester Arthur (1829–1886)148
12.Ronald Reagan (1911–2004)1

Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)148
13.Barack Obama (1961-)1134
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945)146
14.Lyndon Johnson (1908–1973)1

Millard Fillmore (1800–1874)143
15.Harry Truman (1884–1972)1

John Tyler (1790–1862)142
16.James Monroe (1758–1831)1

Franklin Pierce (1804–1869)141

Simonton, curiously, seems to consider John Adams to have the highest IQ, ahead of Thomas Jefferson (who he ranks second in intelligence), which is odd being that Jefferson was often known as a walking encyclopedia, interested not just in political science, but also natural science, philosophy, and atheism/religion conflicts. While John Adams may very well have been the patriarch in the creation of his two cultures genius protege great grandson Henry Adams, the second greatest of the social Newtons, it remains to be seen of Adams senior was sharper than Jefferson.

Education | Creativity
In the 1980s, Simonton conducted a study of geniuses, creative geniuses vs. leadership geniuses, and educational level for each. The following is The following is Simonton’s 1983 “Formal Education, Eminence, and Dogmatism: the Curvilinear Relationship” diagram, showing the eminence (of the 301 Cox geniuses) versus level of formal education, shown adjacent to a verbal synopsis of his findings: [1]

Simonton model f

“These days it is virtually impossible to get anywhere in these fields without a JD, MD, or PhD. On the other hand, most artistic creators, revolutionary scientists, and other more unconventional achievers may have much to lose and little to gain form continuing with more than a smattering of higher education. They may need enough formal training to acquire certain basic knowledge and skills, such as the ability to write well and to carry on an informed conversation. Beyond that, the increased inculcation of more specialized disciplinary preoccupations may only interfere with more important pursuits. For instance, success in many fields is strongly correlated with voracious and omnivorous reading, and undisciplined activity that may suffer under academic demands.”

(add discussion)

Simonton completed his BA in 1970 in psychology at Occidental College, and his MA (1973) and PhD (1975) both in social psychology at Harvard University, the latter of which he traces his academic lineage (Ѻ), supposedly, back through James Cattell, Wilhelm Wundt, and William James. Simonton currently is a psychology professor, teaching courses on the history of psychology and genius and creativity, at the University of California, Davis.

1. (a) Simonton, Dean K. (1991). “When Giftedness Becomes Genius: How Does Talent Achieve Eminence?”, in: Handbook of Gifted Education (pg. 343); editors: Nicholas Colangelo and Gary A. Davis. Allyn and Bacon.
(b) Simonton, Dean K. (1984). Genius, Creativity, and Leadership: Historiometric Inquiries. Cambridge University Press.
(c) McCurdy, H.G. (1960). “The Childhood Pattern of Genius”, Horizon, 2: 33-38.
(d) Simonton, Dean K. (1983). “Formal Education, Eminence, and Dogmatism: the Curvilinear Relationship” (abs), Journal of Creative Behavior, 17(figure 1):152.
2. Simonton, Dean K. (1994). Greatness: Who Makes History and Why (pg. 31). Guilford Press.
3. Dean Simonton (overview) –
4. Simonton, Dean K. (2002). Great Psychologists and Their Times (Table 9.2). APA Books.
5. (a) Simonton, Dean K. (2006). “Presidential IQ, Openness, Intellectual Brilliance, and Leadership: Estimates and Correlations for 42 U.S. Chief Executives” (pdf), Political Psychology, 27(4):511-26.
(b) IQ estimates [of US Presidents] by academics (section) – Wikipedia.
(c) Thims, Libb. (2013). "Poll: 3 Smartest American Presidents?" (N=25-35/18), Nov 11.
(d) Note: a quick estimate for Obama's IQ was made based on the mean of a number of spurious Internet sources: 110-160 (Ѻ), 120-130 (Ѻ), 130 (Ѻ), 145 (Ѻ).

Further reading
● Simonton, Dean K. (2013). “After Einstein: Scientific Genius is Extinct” (pdf), Nature, 602:493, Jan 31.
● Simonton, Dean K. (2018). The Genius Checklist: Nine Paradoxical Tips on How You Can Become a Creative Genius (pdf). MIT Press.

External links
Dean Simonton (faculty) – University of California, Davis.
Dean Simonton –
Simonton, Dean – WorldCat Identities.
Dean Simonton – Google Scholar.

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