Rocket scientists and brain surgeons not necessarily smarter than the public, study finds


Researchers investigated whether a profession had intellectual superiority and found that they were roughly equal.

There were also few differences when comparing aerospace engineers and neurosurgeons with the general population.

Online intelligence tests were administered to both neurosurgeons and aerospace engineers in the UK, Europe, US and Canada. Responses from 329 aerospace engineers and 72 neurosurgeons were included in the final analysis.

The study, published in the Christmas issue of BMJ, was professionally conducted and peer-reviewed, but this special issue of the British Medical Journal is generally devoted to light studies.

“The main goal of our study was to settle this debate once and for all and provide rocket scientists and brain surgeons with evidence to support their self-assurance along with the other party,” Inga Usher of the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery in London and colleagues wrote.

The researchers tested study participants, who were required to have graduated in the relevant specialty, in several cognitive areas, including emotional discrimination and motor control.

They then assessed the cognitive characteristics of each specialty using the Great British Intelligence Test from the Cognitron platform, which is used to measure distinct aspects of human cognition, covering planning and reasoning, working memory. , attention and emotional processing skills.

Aerospace engineers and neurosurgeons were “equally matched in most areas,” the researchers found, but they differed in two areas. While aerospace engineers showed better skills in mind manipulation, neurosurgeons were better at solving semantic problems.

There were also few differences between the two professions and members of the public.

“Compared to the general population, aerospace engineers did not show significant differences in any area,” the study authors wrote.

“Neurosurgeons were able to solve problems faster than the general population, but showed slower memory recall speed. “

The researchers suggested that people stop saying “it’s not rocket science” as if it means something is particularly difficult.

“In situations that don’t require quick problem solving, it might be more correct to use the phrase ‘This is not brain surgery’,” they suggested.

“It is possible that neurosurgeons and aerospace engineers are placed unnecessarily on a pedestal and that ‘It’s a walk in the park’ or some other phrase unrelated to careers is more appropriate,” they added.

The team also wanted to question the public’s perception of the sectors, which are expected to be understaffed in the coming years and could benefit from a less exclusive appearance, the researchers suggested.

“Other specialties may deserve to be on this pedestal, and future work should focus on determining the most deserving profession.”

CNN’s Maggie Fox contributed reporting.


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