Philly Metro Is One of “10 Smartest Cities in America”

Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, one of Drexel's new architectural jewels.

Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building at Drexel University, which mints smart Philadelphians.

Realtor Mag reports that Philadelphia has made a rather flattering top 10 appearance in CreditDonkey’s lis of the U.S.’ smartest cities. Obviously, is not the Pew Center for Urban Demographic Research Science Intelligence (which surely exists), but dig the four factors the company took into account:

1. Percent of population with bachelor’s degree or higher
2. Mensa chapters in the state
3. Library cardholders per 1,000 people
4. Property crimes per 100,000 people

The first and third are fairly intuitive, no matter what you think of higher ed or reading. But Mensa? There are just too many idiots in Mensa (who broadcast their Mensa membership at every opportunity) for this to be useful. The fourth factor is surprising; here’s the rationale:

We figured that a city isn’t “smart” if there are a bunch of “unsmart” people living there. So we looked at a measure of generally unintelligent behavior: the number of times people have burglarized, vandalized or done some other property crime in 2012, according to FBI data.

Mensa and crime stats were both weighted half as heavily as those of library cardholders.

Philadelphia’s numbers:

Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 33.3%
Mensa chapters in state: 5
Library cardholders per 1,000 people: 0.6
Property crimes per 100,000 people: 2,666

That makes the city No. 9 out of 10. Our almost-last-place finish is a result of crime and a lack of comparable interest in Mensa.

Study: Smartest Cities

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  • critical mass

    This would not qualify as one of the top ten smartest surveys ever done, since all of the cities except Harvard had a 0.6 per 1000 people library card rate. All of the cities have a high density of colleges and thus a lot of graduate students, professors, adjuncts, and alums who decided to hang around (which is generally an emotional rather than intelligent decision). As for a bachelor’s degree, that’s hardly a signifier of intelligence; it just means you’re a reasonably privileged conformist. And as you pont out, anyone who belongs to Mensa is by definition unintelligent.

    That leaves the crime rate. It would be easy enough to argue that intelligent people would not live in a city with high crime, if they didn’t have to.

    • Jason

      “it just means you’re a reasonably privileged conformist”
      “intelligent people would not live in a city with high crime”

      get over yourself.

      • critical mass

        You must be one of those people they’re talking about, since my very basic point danced right across the surface of your undoubtedly gargantuan brain.

  • commenters bring our stats down quite a bit.

    • DTurner

      Hey, it’s been quite a bit better since they added Disqus; not good, just better.

  • Randjk

    Interesting article… I will add that Boston often boasts about being the academic center of the country! A little known fact is that the Philadelphia metro area is home to more than 47 colleges and universities!