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McCain`s Reported IQ
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April 17, 2008, 06:33 PM
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When John McCain was released by the North Vietnamese in 1973, he began to participate in a series of psychiatric and medical exams by U.S. doctors, the American Ex-Prisoners of War study, that went on for two decades. In late 1999, he let several news organizations paw through a big stack of his records from this project (with some parts redacted, which apparently referred to his first marriage).

Does anybody know if these (and other military) records of McCain`s are online anywhere? The news reports from 1999 make it sound like he just let some of his (favorite?) reporters read through them to summarize, rather than release them to the public.

In 2004, John Kerry posted a whole bunch of his military papers online, from which I was able to figure out how his performance on his military officer aptitude test compared to George W. Bush`s on a similar test: a little lower (just as Kerry`s GPA at Yale was revealed, after the election, to be slightly lower than Bush`s GPA at Yale). Kerry`s documents were scanned images of papers, so they weren`t Googleable. I didn`t find out about Kerry`s documents until the fall of 2004, so I imagine it`s unlikely that McCain has posted much yet.

The military shrinks gave McCain good marks for mental stability. The main bad-sounding thing that anybody published (other than one embarrassing medical condition) is that he has a "histrionic pattern of personality adjustment" (i.e., he`s a big drama queen), but probably anybody who wants to campaign for President is kind of like that.

They tested his IQ twice. I can only find the second (and presumably higher) result. Time wrote in 1999:

Included in the records is a 1984 IQ test. His score, 133, would rank him among the most intelligent Presidents in history.

How exactly Time would know that 133 "would rank him among the most intelligent Presidents in history" is not explained. The only known tested IQ is JFK`s (which was in the 115-120 range at prep school). I`d long heard that Nixon scored 143; when I tried to verify it a couple of years ago, I found lots of webpages saying that Nixon`s IQ was 143, but all their supporting links pointed to a 1999 article by ... me. And I`ve forgotten where I got that figure. (I would guess I got it from the late historian Jim Chapin, who would certainly be a reliable source, but I don`t know for sure where I got it.)

It all sounds pretty good, but there aren`t any records from other POWs to compare them to in order to tell whether the POWs` examining doctors were playing it straight or were accentuating the positive.