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Intelligence Testing for Candidates

There's no pass/fail, but voters get to see the results before voting
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(+4, -3)
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We all want smart well educated elected officials. Minimum requirements have been proposed, etc. but who makes those rules.

So, I propose that an organization be started that designs a test to be administered to those running for office. It should be administered as soon as the list of candidates for the ballot is finalized. In order to make this successful, the test will need to be viewed as relevant and fair to a wide range of political views. If it becomes a partisan tool, it is likely to fail since candidates from one party may decline to take the test. Just like debates these should be seen as a tool, likely sponsored by a news agency to sell more advertising, that candidates will want to participate in for publicity. to increase the entertainment value, the news agnecy may also invite a few well known people to do the test as well. Maybe some ex-politicians would be interesting for comparison, or celebrity "smart people", plus get some celebrity generally thought of as being dumb to take the test as well. We may be surprised.

The test should cover a range of topics, but should focus on verifiable facts. These can include information about politically hot topics, but should focus on background information that is undisputed, not conclusions that are disputed. The point being that we want leaders who know and are able to remember a lot of facts. Of course a good policy maker will verify facts before making important decisions, but that doesn't always happen, and the direction for negotiating and planning is often made before verification of facts, so the more reality based a candidate is, the better off we are.

Each answer will have three parts: first, the answer, second an indication of how sure the candidate feels about their answer, and third, a space for clarifying statements. The questions should be designed so that generally no clarifying statements are needed. After the test results are made public, candidates will no doubt discuss any controversial answers, but if the candidate says that the question was unclear, they should have mentioned that in the clarrifying statement.

A candidate who answers lots of questions correctly is obviously a good thing, but even more important is a high correlation between answer correctness and confidence. There should be a lot of questions that any slightly above average intelligence person ought to know, but there should also be quite a bit of trivia on a wide range of topics. An average candidates might be expected to know less than 25% of the trivia answers, but ideally they might be strong in an area of interest (which could be interesting to know), and they should know when they know the answer and when tey are guessing or have a vauge recollection.

scad mientist, Mar 20 2014

The "Best and Brightest"? http://www.huffingt..._hp_ref=mostpopular
"Susanne Atanus, Who Blames Gay Rights For Tornadoes, Wins GOP Nomination For Congress" [Klaatu, Mar 20 2014]

Where do congress members graduate from http://www.usnews.c...members-of-congress
[theircompetitor, Mar 21 2014]


       //but should focus on background information that is undisputed//   

       Good luck finding some.   

       You'd do much, much better testing voters. Good luck on that one too.
theircompetitor, Mar 20 2014

       All you need is a completely standard IQ test with publication of the result. The rest can be left for the People to decide on. The smartipantses can debate that the tests are a good measure of potential competence, ripping the dummies who think its unfair to shreds with cutting sarcasm; and the voting public can give their sympathy votes to the bewildered underdogs in all this. As long as it's public, you're pretty much covered against the ifs and buts and complications.   

       That said, it's always worth remembering that Verwoerd - who invented apartheid - had a proper Dutch doctorate. Intelligence is no protection against stupidity. (Apart from all the other things one could say about his theories.) But of course this would quickly become a favourite debating point of Gerald Bostock, and similar politicians, so there's really no need to mention it.
skoomphemph, Mar 20 2014

       For politicians to get things done, they need to compromise & have EQ more than IQ.   

       The electorate is deliberately embracing factual errors. They will vote for the representative who shares those views, no matter how "factual".   

       Someone (Congress) will have dominion to update the test. When one party gets into power, they will pervert the test to score their opponents worse, including facts like "Is the Evangelical Christian Jesus the one true God?" Whether the test is optional or not, they have the incentive & means to pervert the test.
sophocles, Mar 20 2014

       The idea says // I propose that an organization be started that designs a test //   

       That organization could theoretically be started by congress, but I had in mind a news agency, prefferably a joint effort by Fox and PBS. If they pervert the test, the test will no longer be useful and/or candidates will decline to participate, making the test irrelevant. When the test becomes irrelevant, this organization goes out of business. I'm hoping that self preservation instincts will cause the organization to produce a new test every election that gives useful results to the voters.   

       Similar reply regarding finding undisputed facts. If facts are choosen that are undisputed by 90% of the population, then 90% of the population will find the results very useful. Even the 10% that disagree will still find the test results useful because they can see what answers were given. It's just that the precalculated scores might not be as useful.   

       I specifically don't want this to be primarily an IQ test. To the extent that someone with high IQ might be better at remembering facts and possible solving some number problems solving questions on the test, that's fine.   

       I agree they need to have EQ to get things done, but if they have no IQ, they'll get the wrong things done. I don't know enough about EQ, but I imagine such thing would give someone an advantage in a debate and other areas of campaigning. This idea would be a supplement to those. Hopefully it would reduce the number of complete idiots that get elected.
scad mientist, Mar 20 2014

       Yeah, scad, this idea is better than most in a useful category.   

       [+] good enough & then some for the HB   

       But, for the real world, we've found that anything that starts out as pure can & will be co-opted by the powerful if that tool disrupts their power.   

       For example, the "2-party" system in the US is really bad & getting worse. They could both agree that "Goldmann Sachs broke no laws & are a valuable institution". This test could simply further entrench those narrow, bought, views.
sophocles, Mar 20 2014

       The problem with all such ideas is that they seek to filter candidates, which by necessity reduces democracy.   

       The strange bird Klaatu linked, for instance, has -- at least per the all knowing web -- a degree from Northwestern -- one of the toughest schools to get into. Her beliefs may certainly be out of step with the beliefs of most people, but she does not hide those views, so while they certainly may be a reason for someone to avoid voting for her, it would violate the principles of this democracy to their very core to say that her beliefs should disqualify her.   

       The reality is this:   

       1. Most people in politics are significantly more intelligent than the average voter.
2. The average voter would much prefer to say "It's Goldman Sachs fault that I borrowed equity on my house for 3 years instead of going to work, and then I lost my house because they loaned all that money to Finland." then to say "Jeez, I was a freakin idiot, and could probably lived in a smaller house driving a car I could actually afford, and occasionally cook for myself instead of going out." It is really tough for the politicians, who totally understand this, to sound sympathetic and yet not destroy the financial system that makes the country and the world run.
3. Most people in politics say things to get elected that bear no relationship to what they actually may believe.
4. That is not going to change until the AI overlords take over. Want to fix stuff? Run for office. Or better yet, work on the overlords
5. The system is not getting worse. For worse look at what led to the Civil War. The system is to some extent continuing to adjust to the 24 hour news cycle and to everyone having an opinion. It is simply preventing a sudden wind from tipping over the tent, and it's actually quite amazing at that.
theircompetitor, Mar 20 2014

       // We all want smart well educated elected officials.   

       Disagree with the premise, this is certainly not the case.
tatterdemalion, Mar 21 2014

       //Most people in politics are significantly more intelligent than the average voter.//   

       eh? that doesn't track. I'm not sure that has anything to do with intelligence, or not.   

       Either way it's "applied intelligence" that would be important. IQ of 300 doesn't mean anything it if they only show up to line their pockets or are having a competition to see which can make the stupidest decisions and still get reelected.
FlyingToaster, Mar 21 2014

       // The problem with all such ideas is that they seek to filter candidates, which by necessity reduces democracy. //   

       // it would violate the principles of this democracy to their very core to say that her beliefs should disqualify her. //   

       [theircompetitor] Did you read the idea (or even the subtitle)? This idea doesn't disqualify anyone. It is simply an additional way for people to get information about candidates.
scad mientist, Mar 21 2014

       Yes, seeing as it's just meant to be an information source, making it all public would clear up most of the uncertainties that matter. That includes what to make of the results. (There are about a million different answers.)   

       I still think devising a special test is a complication and a point at which it could get compromised. Make it a standard test in common use, and those whose main interest in life is tied to the usefulness of the test will defend it against anyone.   

       As for EQ? Well I suppose some academic has devised some (general) test somewhere. That'll do. Leave the details for the pubs of the world, and all the fist fights that follow the EIQ debates that are shouted to there.
skoomphemph, Mar 21 2014

       [FlyingToaster], representatives have overwhelmingly at the very least gone to college -- only 34 out of the 2010 Congress didn't -- see linked article. So that means more than 90% are college educated, whereas only 20% of the population is. Many are from Harvard, Stanford and Yale. As I said in a different post, my personal Congressman, Rush Holt, is a Jeopardy champion and a renowned physicist.   

       It is completely obvious that members would be "above average", if only because it would take some additional skills -- if only the skills to attract money -- to get elected.   

       As to applied intelligence, again, definitionally, these are the people who are best -- among 300M citizens -- at wheeling and dealing.   

       There is no doubt they occasionally make stupid decisions, as all humans do. But it is absurd to think that they are somehow "underqualified".   

       [scad_mientist] -- I find the idea irritating in a number of ways -- but fundamentally, it does not bring anything new. Everything and anything you want to know about candidates is typically already available, including their GPAs, their SAT scores, where they went to college, and most importantly, their position papers on everything from Alaska to Zambia. There is ample evidence as to their intelligence, or lack thereof. You think you can fix whatever you think is wrong by assigning some score for the voter to use?   


       This idea is searching for a panacea to a problem -- -- presuming we think there is a problem -- that originates with voter apathy, and voter tribalism -- not representative qualifications.
theircompetitor, Mar 21 2014

       See my previous idea for 'Awareness quotient'..
Steamboat, Mar 21 2014

       [tc] the people you have the option to vote for are at the top of their field. Similar intelligence would be found in those physicists, car-salesmen, small-business owners, rock'n'roll musicians, etc, who are also outstanding candidates in their field.
FlyingToaster, Mar 21 2014


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