A recently released Portfolio.com study purports to map out the smartest cities in America. The study ranks the “brain power” of 200 metropolitan areas using data sourced from the American Community Survey, and organized according to levels of educational achievement and corresponding income. In other words: it’s not as much “Top Brainiest Cities” as it is “Top Most Formally Educated Cities, Likely A Reflection Not Of Intelligence But Of Access To Resources, As Impacted By External Factors Like Class, Race, Etc.”
To be sure, it’s a headline-grabber, and it probably drove a lot of much-needed traffic to Portfolio.com. But should we even call it a study? Seems to me that it’s closer to a big bag of assumptions about access to education and what it means to be intelligent. And that’s just dumb.
Plus, as a veteran of multiple institutions of higher learning, I can say with confidence that some of the dumbest people out there are the ones with the most degrees and greatest “earning power.” So, Boulder, Colo., don’t shoot the messenger, but this doesn’t actually mean you’re the brainiest city in the union. What you are is the city with the most highly educated people. I’m sure it doesn’t take a college degree to figure that out.