Court upholds police discrimination of smart people?

The Internets are not always accurate! Here’s a little example and holiday bonus for you kind skeptics — and other people — who have brightened my holiday. Operators at Darksydothemoon -at- aol via Paypal are standing by if you wish to contribute this year. My finely tuned skeptic sense told me this report about a police department excluding applicants who score too high on the intelligence test had to be a joke. It turns out it’s not, but it’s also not quite what it seems.

ABC News — Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took the exam in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125. But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.

I’d like to see that data about getting bored. We’ve all heard that before, but is there reason to believe it?

Common sense would tell you the reason people apply for police jobs is because they want to go into law enforcement. It’s hard to believe that someone who really did choose a profession would be quicker to get bored than someone who didn’t. It’s also hard to imagine being a police officer as boring, compared to other jobs smart people do like math teacher or computer programmer. Has COPS lied to me lo these many decades?

But it’s a bit of a moot point: this all happened in 1996-2000. It’s pre-recession, it’s pre 9-11 — and we all know 9-11 changed everything! Well, if 9-11 changed anything, it would presumably change the misguided idea that only normal or below normal intellects would excel in law enforcement … at least we can hope. For some reason, likely the increased scrutiny on police in general lately, it got dredged up and passed around the Intertoobz this week. Some posters clearly did so thinking it was relevant news.

Anyway, all you have to do is check the date or use the google. The same Internet that allows outdated or outright false info to get passed around as current news or legit history also makes it easy to fact check most of it in a few seconds, without camping out in a large library and reading through a bunch of old, dusty books or peering at endless rolls of gritty microfiche. Hell, there’s a date in the freaking article, in the money graf, on this one. But nooooooo! That’s too much work, the headline is so much more fulfilling and so much easier to read.

So if you see it pop up on Facebook or Twitter, now you know to take it with a grain of salt.


  1. says

    Granted that it’s a 20-year-old story, I still wonder if they merely believed smart people make lousy cops, or if they had actual evidence. I understand there’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of hurry-up-and-wait; murdering black people and getting away with it is only a small part of the job.

  2. A Masked Avenger says

    And this is irrelevant because since then police have taken to hiring geniuses? And the department in Ferguson is actually the local Mensa chapter? How is it “old news” that above average intelligence is a disqualifier?

    Note that departments don’t publicize this fact, so you’re never going to see the headline, “Chief: Yep, We’re Still Idiots.”

  3. dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!" says

    Yeah, I really don’t see how this changes anything. All I see is a guy who made a snap judgement about the plausibility of this headline and when he couldn’t find anything to back that up fell back on “well surely things have changed since then.”

    You want to play skeptic? Show some evidence that things are any different today.

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