Why ‘Kid Is Smarter Than Einstein’ Stories Are Junk

The Internet was abuzz this week over a 12-year-old English girl who has an IQ that is supposedly higher than that of both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Many outlets published stories on Nicole Barr’s super brain, including the U.K.’s Western Daily Press and Mirror, as well as Yahoo Parents and Cosmopolitan magazine. And all of them indicated she is smarter than the famed scientists.

12-year-old girl has a higher IQ score than Albert Einstein & Stephen Hawking: http://t.co/uw4CVcjIZd pic.twitter.com/hVW9MMUMiu

— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) August 3, 2015

Barr’s score of 162 puts her in the top 1 percent of the population, Ann Clarkson, a communications manager for British Mensa, told Yahoo.

Einstein and Hawking are believed to have IQs of 160. Kids, like Barr, who score higher are often compared to them and stories about children being “smarter than Einstein” pop up with some regularity.

But there’s one problem that all the geniuses put together can’t solve — it’s very hard, if not impossible, to say what Einstein or Hawking’s IQs are, Clarkson told The Huffington Post in an email.

“There is, as far as anyone knows, no evidence that Einstein ever actually took an IQ test,” Clarkson said. “I think Hawking probably has, if only as part of his treatment for motor neurone disease, but it seems he has never made the score public.”

Clarkson said the 160 number is a regularly quoted “guess” that “opens up a whole different debate about the difference between IQ and genius.”

So if anyone tells you they’re smarter than Einstein, tell them it’s a matter of relativity.

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