In honor of St. Patrick’s Week, I decided to post about Irish American comic Rosie O’Donnell. Rosie is one of the most successful talk show hosts in history. At it’s peak, The Rosie O’Donnell show, which ran from 1996 to 2002, was second only to Oprah in the ratings, and when she returned to TV in 2006 as co-host of The View, she single-handedly put that show on the map. Since then, she briefly did a show on Satellite radio and briefly hosted a cable show on The Oprah Winfrey network: OWN. So what is her IQ?
$100 million dollars
Thanks to her incredibley successful talk show in the 1990s, Rosie is worth about $100 million dollars. In another post I cited data suggesting the average self-made U.S. decamillionaire has an IQ of 118 (U.S. norms) and the average self-made U.S. billionaire has an IQ of 133. I do not have any actual data on the IQs of self-made centimillionaires, but we might guess it’s roughly half-way between: IQ 126. The next question is whether Rosie is likely smarter or dumber than the average self-made centimillionaire.
When Rosie appeared on TV, her head would look very big. This caused her former arch nemesis, shock jock Howard Stern to viciously ridicule her for being a “pumpkin head”. One day I saw Rosie come out on her show and ask the audience if anyone had a bigger head than her. One person stood up and shocked the crowd by announcing their head circumfernce was an astonishing 24″. Rosie said hers was 24.5″ and that unless your head is bigger, don’t mention it. 24.5″ is an astonishing five standard deviations above the mean for U.S. baby boomer women. Little did Rosie know that Oprah, the one talk show host she couldn’t beat in the ratings, has an even bigger head. It’s unlikely either women are aware of the link between intelligence and head size, as this is dismissed as 19th century pseudoscience, at best.
The correlation between IQ and sex adjusted head circumference is about 0.21. If the average self-made centimillionaire has an IQ that is 1.73 standard deviations (SD) above the U.S. mean, then, to over-simplify, we might crudely expect them to have sex adjusted crania that is 1.73 SD(0.21) = 0.36 SD above the U.S. average. That makes Rosie’s crania about 4.64 SD bigger even than the average self-made centimillionaire.
Assuming the 0.21 correlation between IQ and sex-adjusted head size holds among centimillionaires (and it should, given that the full IQ variance surprisingly seems to exist within economic classes), then we’d expect Rosie’s IQ to be 4.64(0.21) = 0.97 SD higher than the average than the average self-made centimillionaire’s. In other words, we’d expect Rosie’s IQ to be about 140 (in both U.S. norms and U.S. white norms).
Is an IQ of 140 plausble?
An IQ of about 140 is extremely high, making Rosie potentially smarter than 99.5% of U.S. whites. Many people would argue that Rosie can’t be that smart since she believes in 9/11 conspiracy theories and turns to actress Suzanne Somers for medical advice. However I heard “American’s smartest man” Chris Langan in an interview express suspicion about 9/11. Further, conservatism is a sign of low IQ, and there’s nothing less conservative than questioning the official story of 9/11 or being distrustful of the pharmaceutical industry. Indeed Rosie is so unconservative that she infamously called Americans terrorists
Rosie, like Oprah and perhaps even Donald Trump, turned against the Iraq war before it began, but Rosie is so unconservative that rather than being proud of her enormous wealth, like Donald Trump and even Oprah, she told Oprah financia guru Suze Orman that she’s embarassed by it.
Rosie vs Trump
Speaking of Trump, Rosie famously made fun of him in 2006 when she was co-host of The View. Rosie’s tirade inspired screams of laughter from the crowd, and when Hillary Clinton appeared as a guest on the show in the next segment, she commented on how funny Rosie was. Trump and Hillary were still friendly at the time, so Trump must have been furious that he could be mocked so successfully on an afternoon lady’s talk show. Indeed Trump was so shell-shocked by Rosie’s attack that he spent weeks calling Rosie a fat low IQ pig loser on every show that would listen.
At the time I was very disappointed in Trump, who I generally like, because I expect a billionaire to behave with more class, and to be smart and secure enough to ignore such taunts, but instead Trump took the bait, diminishing himself while giving Rosie more ratings.
Indeed, Rosie and Obama were perhaps the only two people to get the better of Trump in the exchange of public insults. Obama did so by mocking a red-faced Trump to his face at the White House correspondence dinner, but the difference is, Obama had the best comic writers in America writing his material, while Rosie did it off the cuff. So even though I think Trump is very bright, it’s possible Rosie is 15 IQ points higher.
Indeed it seems Trump still isn’t over Rosie’s attack, as evidenced by him recently losing the Iowa Republican Primary arguably because he didn’t want to debate there, because he was still mad at moderator Megyn Kelly for asking him about Rosie.
On the other hand, Rosie is now a has-been, and Trump is almost the President of the United States.
Further evidence that Rosie has a high IQ is that she appeared on Celebrity Jeopardy and won, which shows an ability to absorb information, and retrieve it rapidly. On her show she was famous for knowing the lyrics of almost every song that came up. I also recall her once boasting about doing well on a game show called Win Lose or Draw, where you draw a picture and others must guess what you’re drawing. This game requires lateral thinking.
On the other hand, I recall Rosie once saying she did not take Advanced Placement classes while in high school and I also seem to recall her saying she got a combined score (verbal + math) in the 700s on the old SAT (way below average for a college bound teen), but she also said it was because she was trying to cheat off a friend, but it didn’t work because the friend had a different copy of the SAT. She has said that growing up, she was great at Geomrtry but bad at Algebra. But academic tests don’t suit Rosie. She’d be better off taking a more holistic intelligence test like the Wechsler, preferabley an older version (adjusted for the Flynn effect) that included fun tests like Picture Arrangement.
Rosie vs Oprah
Overall, I think Rosie, like Oprah, has a genius IQ of around 140. Both women are freakishly extreme on the two most Darwinian correlates of IQ: money and brain size; and both women are examples of how brilliant people with mediocre educations can rise to the top through real world adaptive behavior, drive, personality and luck. Rosie has huge wealth (though not nearly as huge as Oprah’s) and Rosie has a huge head (though not as huge as Oprah’s). You would thus expect Oprah to also have a higher IQ, but because Rosie comes from a much higher IQ race, the two women are probably about the same. Here’s Rosie reflecting on what it was like to compete with Oprah on daytime TV: