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Robert Trigaux

Who's 'smartest' metro area in America? Would Einstein choose to live in Florida?



Einstein Would Einstein live here? Tampa Bay may not be Braintrust Central, but a new and only slightly-tongue-in-cheek ranking of the "smartest" major metro areas puts Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater well down the list. To No. 33, in fact.

The Daily Beast Web site decided to rank the relative intelligence of the top 55 American population hubs, from first-to-worst. The site was pretty scientific, using census data, educational attainment, the relative number of nonfiction books (assuming those of higher intelligence read more of these) versus fiction books and higher education opportunities in each area. Even political engagement, apparently another measure of intelligence, was measured. More on the criteria here.

So, who's smartest? Raleigh-Durham, N.C. -- home to Duke, Research Triangle and even... Progress Energy. Who brought up the caboose of the intelligence train? Fresno, Calif., was No. 55 and, the Daily Beast says, "It wasn't even close." Some of the numbers:

* The top 10 in smarts:1) Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; 2) San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose; 3) Boston; 4) Minneapolis-St. Paul; 5) Denver; 6) Hartford-New Haven, Conn.; 7) Seattle-Tacoma tied with Washington, D.C.; 9) Portland, Ore., and 10) Baltimore.

* The last five in smarts,starting with the dumbest: 55) Fresno, Calif.; 54) Las Vegas; 53) San Antonio, Tex.; 52) Louisville, and 51) Memphis.

* Smartest metro areas in Florida: 31) West Palm Beach, tied with Cleveland; 33) Tampa Bay; 37) Jacksonville, tied with Greensboro, N.C.; 39) Miami, and at 46) Orlando, tied with Houston.

Is this for real? There's something definitely to this, I believe, though living in Florida is not exactly a bastion of intellectual prowess. Still, the state is trying harder. Says the Daily Beast:

"Collective brainpower. More than sports prowess or political leanings or wealth or cultural accomplishments, this is the quintessential bragging point of a metropolitan area, the civic version of a playground taunt: I’m smart, you’re not."

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist   

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:26am]


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