If you’re a fan of Beyonce, then you’re probably kind of dumb. Just thought you’d like to know. Also, Justin Timberlake, T.I. and Lil Wayne listeners aren’t the brightest lights on the Christmas tree either, so, if you’re one of them, don’t apply for Jeopardy. It’s okay, don’t worry, just put on your Dre headphones and accept the hard fact that there are some things – well, actually, many things – that you will never understand. And the sooner you realize that, the happier you will be.
So what’s the deal with this blog post? Well, you see, a CalTech student named Virgil Griffith conducted back in 2009 a highly scientific study about how music tastes correlate with intelligence. Oh, by “highly scientific”, I mean he figured out college students’ favorite music by looking at their Facebook profiles and compared that data to a college population’s overall S.A.T. scores, creating a tongue-in-cheek statistical look at taste and intelligence.
The New Yorker broke it down like this:
Students who listened to pop stars like Beyonce and Lil Wayne are stupider than students who listen to Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, or Beethoven. […]
The list is an excellent instrument of provocation, especially because it seems a little, well, racist, or at least classist. […]
Interestingly enough, Billy Joel has the fifteenth-smartest preference population (average S.A.T. score of 1147), while jazz (that’s right — the entire genre) has the one-hundred-and-twenty-seventh (average S.A.T. score of 946). Led Zeppelin beats Weezer, and Weezer beats Ben Harper. The top three: Beethoven, Sufjan Stevens, and Counting Crows (hey, no one ever said that intelligence was the same thing as good taste). The bottom three: Beyonce, T.I., and Lil Wayne (hey, no one ever said intelligence was the same as popular success).
As for his own place on the scale, Griffith’s favorite band is Daft Punk, which didn’t make it onto the list, and his SAT score was “actually fairly low — 1370 out of 1600. I’m actually a little embarrassed by it,” he told the WSJ, though he then noted, “My GRE was a very acceptable 1490 out of 1600.” The bands that are on the list that he likes? “I actually like Tool a lot, and I see Tool is one of the dumber ones on there. That’s pretty charming.”
Griffith revealed the results of his research on Music That Makes You Dumb, which includes a handy chart in which you can evaluate how smart you and your friends are.
As for me, my own music tastes are very eclectic, so the chart tells me that I am simultaneously smart and dumb, which must be some kind of achievement in and of itself, right? The study doesn’t really reveal what it means that I am obsessed with fellows like Thelonious Monk, Tom Waits, Mike Patton, Placebo, Muse and Bruno Mars or ex-boy bands members like Robbie Williams, but I can make assumptions. I’m kind of a stupid music pervert, that is. But you see? I realize that; therefore, I am happy.
What about you? Read the list again. Gnash your teeth. Laugh. E-mail people about how manifestly foolish this study is. Enjoy. Then let me know what you think. Beyonce fans, remember to use spell-check.
According to The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker, Griffith is a 25-year-old Caltech graduate student known for embarrassing numerous corporations with his WikiScanner, the database that tracks the sources of anonymous edits to Wikipedia entries. He is used to creating controversy, or at least being accused of trying to stir it up — as the founder of WikiScanner, a database that tracks the IP addresses of anonymous Wikipedia editors, he revealed that the CIA, the Vatican, and staff of various members of Congress (among others) had made edits on the site to remove potentially sensitive information.