Prague, Czech Republic – Measuring someone’s intelligence is a tricky thing, and it gets even trickier if you try to calculate how smart whole countries and populations are. But as Einstein said, “the difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits”. And as long as something has limits, then it should theoretically be possible to measure it.
The debate on the best ways to measure intelligence has been raging since, well, the early days of philosophy, modern-day psychology and has boomed with the development of social sciences. Many types of methodologies have been used for countless studies on the topic, with varying and sometimes contradictory results.
But new ranking of the world’s smartest countries has been released, and it contains most interesting results for Central European nations: according to the Cleverest Countries index, designed and compiled by Vouchercloud, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic all rank among the world’s most intelligent countries.
The study takes into account three variables, three different tools to measure past, present and future intelligence: the total number of Noel Prize wins (past), IQ test results (present) and educational achievements (future).
First, let us give credit where credit is due: Japan, scoring consistently highly across all three metrics, comes out in 1st place worldwide and is crowned the world’s smartest country. The rest of the top 5 is made up of Switzerland, China, the United States and the Netherlands.
Hungary ranks as the 16th smartest country worldwide, achieving its highest score in the school test ranking (14th). Poland stands at the 21st place (but 15th, tied with Australia and Israel, when it comes to the number of Nobel prize wins) and the Czech Republic ranks 23rd, placing highest in the national IQ category (19th worldwide).
A closer look at the specific variables shows strong differences between the West and the rest of the world. The Nobel Prize category is completely dominated by Western countries: the U.S. comes out on top and boasts the highest number of Nobel Prize wins (368), followed by the U.K. (132), Germany (107), France (62) and Sweden (30). Critics have long criticized the Nobel Prize for being disproportionately dominated by Western countries and the mere reflection of the West’s geopolitical and cultural supremacy over the last century. To put things in perspective, only eight laureates were chosen from outside Europe or the United States between 1901 and 1985.
But the West’s domination quickly fades away in the IQ and school results categories. Singapore ranks 1st in both categories: the small South-East Asian city-state boasts a national average IQ of 107.1 (followed by China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan). The first non-Asian country is Finland, ranked “only” 7th.
Singapore also ranks first in the world in school test results (followed by South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan). Here too, the first non-Asian countries – outside of Russia, 6th – lag far behind, with Liechtenstein and Switzerland ranking respectively 10th and 11th in the world. Although European countries dominated this particular ranking until the 1970’s, East-Asian countries began to take over the upper rankings in the 1980’s, up until today.
According to this index, the top 25 smartest countries in the world include 15 countries in Europe, 7 in Asia, 2 in North America and 1 in the Middle East.
Not only are they among the world’s most intelligent countries, but Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic also top the charts in other surprising areas: