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  (Source: Oxford Press)
Data from over 3 million users helped build picture of local brainpower

San Francisco-based indie edutainment internet software company Lumosity has a bonafide hit, with its cognitive training app.  Consisting of over 40 games, the online portal is supposed to boost your memory and problem solving skills, similar to Nintendo Comp., Ltd.'s (TYO:7974) Brain Age for the Nintendo DS.

With over 3 million users, the site decided to offer up an interesting data mining analysis, determining which cities in America have the "smartest" citizens (as assessed by puzzle solving and memory skills).

It appears that Iowa and Indiana are among the most mentally endowed states.  More specifically, the top 10 cities are:
  1. Ithaca, N.Y.
  2. State College, Penn.
  3. Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ind.
  4. Iowa City, Iowa
  5. Ames, Iowa
  6. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  7. Bloomington, Ind.
  8. Madison, Wisc.
  9. Lawrence, Kans.
  10. Pullman, Wash.
Seattle (90) and San Francisco (114) both scored relatively well.

Washington D.C. (154), Portland (155) and Chicago (188) scored in the middle.

Red = not so smart; Green = smart [click to enlarge] [Image Source: Lumosity]

In the worst category, Texas and North Carolina get hit particularly hard.  The lowest ranking cities include:
  1. Wilson, N.C.
  2. El Paso, Tex.
  3. Talladega-Sylacauga, Alab.
  4. Albany, Geor.
  5. Brownsville-Harlingen, Tex.
  6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Flor.
  7. El Centro, Calif.
  8. Kinston, N.C.
  9. Laredo, Tex.
  10. Lumberton, N.C.
Los Angeles (309) and New York City (382) (which was lumped with Newark/Jersey City) were among the worst scoring large cities.

Lumosity has an interactive map of its results here, and a full white paper on the study here [PDF].

Sources: Lumosity [map], [white paper; PDF]

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Not surprising
By aurareturn on 7/2/2013 4:48:11 PM , Rating: 5
Those top cities are college towns with great universities.

RE: Not surprising
By Ammohunt on 7/2/2013 5:31:43 PM , Rating: 2
Education != Intelligence

RE: Not surprising
By Schadenfroh on 7/2/2013 5:53:43 PM , Rating: 4
Education does help unlock potential.

RE: Not surprising
By GulWestfale on 7/2/2013 9:19:16 PM , Rating: 4
hmm... austin is one of the fastest growing US cities, and has a lot of high tech industry... i wouldn't lump them in with some dumbass redneck town and declare all of texas "stupid". i just come from a trip to the DFW area, and i loved every second of it. didn't get shot, didn't see too many people with 26" rims on an old caprice (there's always a few though, right?), and everyone was really quite nice. YEE-HAWWWW. oh, and i bought a cowboy hat lol

RE: Not surprising
By Ammohunt on 7/2/2013 9:46:40 PM , Rating: 2
Texas is my favorite state try South Padre Island next time.

RE: Not surprising
By ImEmmittSmith on 7/3/2013 10:21:22 AM , Rating: 4
If you notice, the Texas cities on the list are border towns.

RE: Not surprising
By rs2 on 7/3/13, Rating: 0
RE: Not surprising
By nafhan on 7/3/2013 9:25:52 AM , Rating: 2
Education also helps one do well on IQ-type tests (can't say if Luminosity's Smart Thinking falls into that category).

Also, keep in mind that what we're actually seeing here is nothing as conclusive as "smartest and dumbest", we're seeing how well people in different cities do at this particular "brain training" game, and that's it.

RE: Not surprising
By Ammohunt on 7/3/2013 11:57:49 AM , Rating: 2
It helps to make you good at taking tests for sure.

RE: Not surprising
By 91TTZ on 7/7/2013 8:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
You're overlooking the obvious fact that education doesn't have much of an effect on IQ-type tests. While education would certainly help a person get a job in their field of study, it isn't going to raise IQ scores by any appreciable amount.

I think the more important fact here is that college towns have populations that have been filtered for intelligence. For instance, I'm sure that the areas surrounding Yale and Harvard will contain a higher percentage of people with high IQs than a factory town. It all comes down to demographics and probability.

RE: Not surprising
By sixteenornumber on 7/3/2013 2:54:13 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder how many people, even readers of DT understand you syntax.

RE: Not surprising
By DrApop on 7/2/2013 5:49:44 PM , Rating: 3
Not just college town but towns where the bulk of the population are the college students.

Other places like LA, while not "college towns" do boast large universities. But the university population is dwarfed by the overall city population.

All this study shows is that college students likely spend more time playing games on their computers and cell phones than the average person who is out there in the working world

RE: Not surprising
By Donkey2008 on 7/4/2013 3:20:58 PM , Rating: 2
Very sound logic.

RE: Not surprising
By BRB29 on 7/5/2013 3:29:20 PM , Rating: 2
All this study shows is that college students likely spend more time playing games on their computers and cell phones than the average person who is out there in the working world

More like they're in school so all that stuff is fresh in their mind. You can't expect a Psychologist with a PhD working for 10+ years to remember everything in trig and calc.

RE: Not surprising
By marvdmartian on 7/3/2013 8:16:35 AM , Rating: 2
Yet, wouldn't the results expressed by Lumosity also be a measure of how many people use their service in a given area?

Being a college town could actually skew the results, if the majority of the users there are the young adults going to college.

On the other hand, is it fair to label another town "less smart", if they have 3 users, all of which were pretty dumb??

This sounds more to me a marketing strategy for more business, than a scientific study's results.

RE: Not surprising
By Devilpapaya on 7/3/2013 1:13:08 PM , Rating: 2
You should read the white paper. The study was normalized to account for things like age/gender distribution and no area/city was included that didn't have over 500 users.

RE: Not surprising
By ProZach on 7/3/2013 4:59:14 PM , Rating: 2
And yet, a certain university's football team doesn't quite measure up to the overall academe. *cough*wazzu*clears throat*

RE: Not surprising
By AntDX316 on 7/5/2013 6:46:39 AM , Rating: 2
lol.. the country people are really dumb

No surprise...
By jnemesh on 7/2/2013 6:22:52 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone who has been to El Paso could tell you that they would be at the bottom of the list.

RE: No surprise...
By retrospooty on 7/2/2013 6:40:22 PM , Rating: 2
LOL... I flew through El Paso last month, just a layover at the airport. I was looking out the window as we came in to El Paso. This is only funny if you ever played any of the old Sim City games... From the air, El Paso looks exactly how the industrial areas looked when you neglect them and they get all run down, brown and rusty. It was a total trip. Almost surreal.

RE: No surprise...
By retrospooty on 7/2/2013 6:45:16 PM , Rating: 3
I couldnt find a run down picture, but this is exactly what El Paso looks like from the air... Only more run down looking, darker and rustier than this pic.

RE: No surprise...
By daboom06 on 7/2/2013 7:33:17 PM , Rating: 2
that makes me want to play sim city 2000 again. i miss it so

RE: No surprise...
By JediJeb on 7/3/2013 1:35:40 PM , Rating: 3
I think the last time I played Sim City was in 1990 lol. When if you had a 386 you were a hacker or something :)

RE: No surprise...
By AntDX316 on 7/5/2013 6:48:40 AM , Rating: 2
I thought El Paso was classy like Beverly Hills.. they have taco/salsa stuff named after El Paso..

RE: No surprise...
By Jeffk464 on 7/3/2013 12:28:52 AM , Rating: 2
El Paso belongs more to Mexico than the US

RE: No surprise...
By ClownPuncher on 7/3/2013 2:09:28 PM , Rating: 2
At least their salsa isn't made in NEW YORK CITY

Is it funny or is it just wrong?
By retrospooty on 7/2/2013 4:48:38 PM , Rating: 1
To point out that 9 of the 10 worst are all southern cities and the one that isnt is a border/farm town in CA where almost no-one speaks the native language.

??? I think funny ;)

RE: Is it funny or is it just wrong?
By MozeeToby on 7/2/2013 5:41:48 PM , Rating: 1
Considering the data was gathered from a website that seems to be available only in English, I'm going to have to go with "irreverent".

By FITCamaro on 7/3/2013 8:05:25 AM , Rating: 1
Thinking you probably meant "irrelevant".

irreverent - Showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously.

irrelevant - Not connected with or relevant to something.

Better luck next time at trying to appear more intelligent.

RE: Is it funny or is it just wrong?
By Schadenfroh on 7/2/2013 5:49:59 PM , Rating: 5
It is not surprising, blacks and Hispanics tend to lag behind their Asian and European peers when it comes to academics due to a variety of socio-economic factors. In all but one, non-Hispanic Whites / Asians (when combined) are a minority.

Based on the demographics on wikipedia:
Wilson, NC: 48% black, 7% Hispanic
El Paso, Tex: 3% black, 87% Hispanic
Talladega-Sylacauga, Alab: 31% black, 1% Hispanic (non-Hispanic white majority)
Albany, GA: 72% black, 2% Hispanic
Brownsville-Harlingen, Tex: 1% black, 73% Hispanic (Based on Harlingen)
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Flor: 21% black, 42% Hispanic (Miami Metro Area)
El Centro, Calif: 3% Black, 82% Hispanic
Kinston, N.C: 63% black, unknown Hispanic
Laredo, Tex: 0% black, 96% Hispanic
Lumberton, N.C: Around 29% non-Hispanic White, 38% Native American, 25% Black

Note that Hispanics of any race were the source of most of the Hispanic statistics, so there might be some overlap given black Hispanics.

By Torched on 7/3/2013 9:28:26 PM , Rating: 2
This is probably the most important statistic we can get from this data. I'm white. I live in the Miami-Dade metro area and I'm the minority. Many people will just look at the map and make a generalization based on the location.

By mrwassman on 7/2/2013 5:17:40 PM , Rating: 1
The people doing these puzzles... do they have a life?

RE: ???
By seamonkey79 on 7/2/13, Rating: 0
RE: ???
By SlyNine on 7/2/2013 6:06:39 PM , Rating: 4
You are so awesome...

RE: ???
By seamonkey79 on 7/2/13, Rating: -1
RE: ???
By HoosierEngineer5 on 7/2/2013 8:09:47 PM , Rating: 2
Touch a nerve, did they?

RE: ???
By Paj on 7/3/2013 8:25:52 AM , Rating: 1
Remember kids, intellect = boats

Strange game
By fic2 on 7/2/2013 5:01:50 PM , Rating: 5
A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

By voodoobunny on 7/2/2013 5:31:16 PM , Rating: 4
If you take the Deep South all the way across to Texas, there are only *three* places that show up in the Top 50 rankings *at all* - two of them are university towns in Texas (Austin and College Station, TX), and one is Opelika, AL. That one just baffles me. Oh, and one token appearance for Tuscaloosa AL.

Go Southerners!

I bet
By FITCamaro on 7/3/2013 8:03:05 AM , Rating: 2
That the mechanic who can build an engine with their eyes closed might not be the best at some of the "games" on that website.

Does that make them "stupid"? No.

RE: I bet
By Gondor on 7/3/2013 12:11:34 PM , Rating: 2
Stupid is who stupid does.

Well, not "college towns"
By mike9000 on 7/7/2013 7:48:21 AM , Rating: 2
Yale and the Big Ten.

RE: Well, not "college towns"
By mike9000 on 7/7/2013 8:01:04 AM , Rating: 2
Well, make that Cornell and the Big Ten. Whatever. But what I find interesting is Miami-Dade (and from the map Palm Beach County looks just as red), North Carolina, and NYC all have tons of well known Universities and still did bad. Whereas areas with similar demographics and culture (Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago) did great.

By HostileEffect on 7/2/2013 11:08:27 PM , Rating: 3
The first thing that comes to mind when I see the red pattern is our illegal immigration issue...

By maevinj on 7/2/2013 4:54:01 PM , Rating: 2
I live in the town ranked 472, and I can tell you from personal experience, these mfers are as stupid as they come.
I actually wasn't surprised the town is on the list.

Dallas results
By Scaredy Retard on 7/2/2013 5:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
I wish my area (DFW Metroplex) was a bit more precise regarding compartmentalization of areas, but it's still interesting nonetheless. Like all large cities, some areas are better than others, and here, some parts of DFW remind you that King of the Hill wasn't a cartoon so much as a documentary on Texas.

Go Texas A&M & UT!
By drumsticks on 7/2/2013 5:41:10 PM , Rating: 2
Go texas A&M and college station! 11th is pretty darn good! 112th isn't too bad for those people down in Austin though :)

Hell Yes Penn State!
By Engineer913 on 7/2/2013 9:33:01 PM , Rating: 2
Cornell beat us though :(

As other's pointed at, for example State College is by far mostly college students OR the people who work at the University (Highly educated PhD's, Post Doc's, etc). Either way nice to be high up on this list :)

Iowa's Acronym
By HackSacken on 7/3/2013 11:18:29 AM , Rating: 2
I suppose I shouldn't use Idiots Out Wondering Around anymore as this study makes it false.

Demographic bias
By YearOfTheDingo on 7/3/2013 11:32:03 PM , Rating: 2
The results are pretty easy to explain. If you look up the census info of the cities on the list, you'll see that those at the top have small population under 18, whereas children are a larger percentage those for on the bottom.

1. Ithaca, N.Y. -> 8.2%
2. State College, Penn. -> 5.1%

114. San Francisco -> 13.5%
309. Los Angeles -> 23.7%
382. New York City -> 21.6%

470. El Paso, Tex. -> 29.1%
475. El Centro, Ca. -> 29.7%
477. Laredo, Tex. -> 35.0%

All the data is showing is that kids like to try new things but don't have much patience for things like brain teasers.

Not any big surprise
By talikarni on 7/8/2013 4:10:58 PM , Rating: 2
Now compare their maps to votes from the last election and you will see those with bad scores all are blue counties, and the ones that scored medium to good are mostly red (conservative/Republican) counties... coincidence? Nope didn't think so...

IQ Correlation
By wolfchen on 7/16/2013 2:36:54 PM , Rating: 2
It would be interesting to see the results arising from correlating distribution maps of IQ, religious fundamentalism and political party affiliations. Think of Tea Party, anti-science and American Taliban type personalities influence on society.

Red states are um.. red
By bildan on 7/2/13, Rating: -1
RE: Red states are um.. red
By KCjoker on 7/2/13, Rating: 0
RE: Red states are um.. red
By superflex on 7/2/2013 8:06:06 PM , Rating: 3
Seems to align perfectly with minority populations (blacks and Hispanics) which mindlessly vote democrat.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By Samus on 7/2/2013 9:13:28 PM , Rating: 4
You all act like there's somebody who could be doing a better job than Obama. Alternative options: McCain/Palin(!) or Romney(!!)/Ryan

RE: Red states are um.. red
By FITCamaro on 7/3/2013 8:06:25 AM , Rating: 2
A bunny that did absolutely nothing would be doing a better job.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By BRB29 on 7/3/2013 9:17:04 AM , Rating: 2
Don't forget romney and his magical balanced budget while cutting taxes by 20% when we're already in a huge deficit.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By Nutzo on 7/3/2013 10:38:15 AM , Rating: 2
Unlike the current guy who raise taxes and spend, resulting in more than tripling the deficit.

Lowering taxes for everyone would have helped the economy a lot more than the stimulus which mainly consisted of giving billions to Obama supporters.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By Schadenfroh on 7/3/2013 12:08:24 AM , Rating: 3
The following maps do favor the ones posted in the OP.

(Race distribution)

(Income distribution)

Wealthy whites / Asians appear to perform better on said puzzles than impoverished Hispanics / blacks, not surprising given the bad hand the latter was dealt.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By JediJeb on 7/3/2013 1:53:33 PM , Rating: 3
Wealthy whites / Asians appear to perform better on said puzzles than impoverished Hispanics / blacks, not surprising given the bad hand the latter was dealt.

Not positive it depends on a dealt hand or what is done with the hand that is dealt.

I am a non-wealthy white, who comes from a farm background. But I had an interest in science, I and my parents worked hard to put me through college to get a degree in chemistry and I have work in that field for 20+ years with a determination to learn as much about what I do as I possibly can. Now I have many people from around the world who listen to what I have to say about the work we do because I know what I am talking about.

For the opposite side of the coin, I had a friend in high school who came from a wealthy family, he was very intelligent and could have been anything he wanted to be. He ended up flunking out of college because he cared more about having fun than learning. Now he works in a saw mill. Socioeconomic background only holds people back when they refuse to break away from that mold and allow it to define their life.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By Master Kenobi on 7/3/2013 5:26:54 PM , Rating: 2
I second this. It's poor decisions and a lack of determination that holds people back. The "dealt hand" argument is a tired one that serves merely as an excuse for people who make poor choices.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By KPOM1 on 7/2/2013 10:40:16 PM , Rating: 2
Seems to align perfectly with conservative politics.

Yes, LA and NYC are known Tea Party hotspots.

Los Angeles (309) and New York City (382) (which was lumped with Newark/Jersey City) were among the worst scoring large cities.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By gamerk2 on 7/3/2013 3:09:48 AM , Rating: 2
Outliers exist. Note the blob of red in the South-East though.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By Solandri on 7/3/2013 4:19:56 AM , Rating: 3
When the two biggest population centers in the country don't match the hypothesis, they are not outliers. They're a pretty strong indication the hypothesis is wrong. Remember, the hypothesis is based on people, not cities. So having some remote village of 150 people in Alaska not fit the hypothesis is not too far-fetched, and thus a likely outlier. But having two cities representing 1/25th the entire country's population not fit is statistically nearly impossible.

The data, while interesting, suffers from two statistical problems. (1) It's a self-selected sample, not a random sample. (2) It's arbitrarily grouped by city/county - things that have nothing to do with intellect (or some abstracted measure of it). That makes it susceptible to Simpson's paradox (google it) - arbitrarily grouping data can create trends contradictory to what's really going on.

An example of (1) is that Texas specifically and southern states in general have higher SAT scores for hispanics than the rest of the country. The reason turns out to be that a smaller percentage of hispanics tend to take the SAT in these states, and those that do tend to be the top students. That means the statistic is a measure specific only to hispanic SAT-takers, rather than a measure of hispanic students in general.

An example of (2) is that Red states tend to be net recipients of federal funds, while Blue states tend to be net federal tax contributors. This despite the fact that Republicans on average have higher incomes and thus tend to be tax contributors, while Democrats tend to have lower incomes and thus tend to be government spending recipients. The reason turns out to be the arbitrary grouping of the population into states. Basically, the wealthiest Republicans tend to live in or near urban areas. Those urban areas tend to vote Democrat thus making the state Blue. So the arbitrary grouping into states means tax contributions by individual wealthy Republicans get incorrectly attributed to Democrats simply because they happen to live in a state which votes Democrat.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By JediJeb on 7/3/2013 1:56:49 PM , Rating: 2
This discrepancy is also shown in the fact that the democrats carried most of those large cities yet the last presidential election was just about even on votes cast for each party nation wide.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By Donkey2008 on 7/4/2013 3:36:08 PM , Rating: 1
You would be really surprised at how many conservative Republicans live in the Southern California area. It is just unfortunate that a lot of the American population believes everything they hear on Fox News or conservative radio. Say something like "socially liberal, fiscally conservative" and it totally blows their minds.

RE: Red states are um.. red
By powerwerds on 7/9/2013 4:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
I too am waiting for the political representation of these two ideals. I am from the south. On the one side my dad runs a family business and is typical southern Republican. My siblings and I are college educated and have all arrived at world-views individually different from our parents. The running of a business coupled with a dire observance of a large population of tax revenue negative peoples that can only be most positively termed as parasites, lends me a strong reverie of fiscally conservative policies. On the other hand my brother has a boyfriend, and I feel very passionate about a couples/ woman's right to abort. I obviously do not support other socially liberal policies that by their nature oppose fiscal conservatism.

I find the data interesting, but not surprising. Do they have data by country? Also, I believe the progression of our societies can only humbly be described by our lowest common denominator and so to really truly advance we need to bring the bottom up.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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