The Draft and Army IQ

Following up on Chuck's mention of "military intelligence" in his latest column, this short article from 1951 noted the (perhaps unexpected) effect that a military draft has on the average IQ of GIs.

St. Petersburg Times - Oct 13, 1951

Intelligence Average of GIs Going Up
HEIDELBERG, Germany — The intelligence average of American troops in Germany is going up.
Reason: The draft.
Officers in the U.S. Army's European Command headquarters here say Army intelligence averages go up every time there is a military draft.
"With the draft, we get the extremely brilliant persons, as well as the average or slightly below average persons," one officer explained. "The 'brilliant' persons usually do not enlist in the Army as a private."
     Posted By: Alex - Thu Feb 25, 2016
     Category: Intelligence | Military | 1950s

And I witnessed this in real life working with the military. By the time I was ready to throw in the towel one grunt asked me, "What is a spouse"? when filling out a form. Now, just to make matters worse he pronounced the word "spooce".

This was back in the 80's and, by then, I'd realized that we were already in an era of "dumbing down America".
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 02/25/16 at 09:38 AM
NOT at all unexpected.
Posted by F.U.D. on 02/25/16 at 01:58 PM
Just like all the stupid warnings now on products. My jar of peanut butter actually has a warning that the product contains peanuts.
Posted by BrokeDad in Midwest US on 02/25/16 at 02:19 PM
That officer was pretty prescient in 1951. Some twenty five years later the required draft registration stopped, a few months before my 16th birthday. Although the lottery hadn't been in effect for a few years, with the wind down of U.S. involvement in Viet Nam, it still was a hassle. The "all volunteer" forces that resulted brought in the people who were lacking in education, resources and had no real prospects otherwise.

Attitudes towards the military were different than today - those of us who are a little above the rest in intelligence weren't interested.

Fast forward some twenty years: I worked with the Air Force at McClelan AFB near Sacramento for three semesters while at university. It was a repair base for heavy bomber, transport and fighter aircraft. I found most everyone intelligent and competent. I don't know how the personnel stack up today, but again, attitudes are different.
Posted by KDP on 02/25/16 at 02:47 PM
It's my impression that standards are much higher these days. The draft ended because there was less need for warm bodies, meaning also that the services could become more selective. The entrance tests you have to take are harder than for most community colleges.

It was once standard that judges could give a guy a choice between going to jail or enlisting. These days, entering with a criminal record is much harder.

In my day, intelligent people went into the Air Farce, those with guts became a Marine, and if you were smart enough to usually figure out which end of a rifle to point at the enemy, you were Army material. (The less said about sailors the better.)
Posted by Phideaux on 02/25/16 at 03:05 PM
I do not find that statement even slightly surprising. In fact it stands to reason that it would be so.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 02/25/16 at 07:41 PM
So when I was drafted in 68 as a college drop out, two semesters, I found many of the lifers and young volunteers lacking in some basic skills like reding, writin and rithmitck. Since we worked with some advanced signal equipment I was forced to start to learning them in the basics. Comic books and porn novels, the written kind, along with cost of liquor and prostitute's was good for math. It helped to maintain interest and develop skills. A number of draftees had college and even graduate degrees and they help run the company. The drafted E-4 company clerk with a masters in economics was in charge of the company, not the officers or alcoholic master Sargent. A interesting time indeed.
Posted by Gator Guy on 02/25/16 at 08:29 PM
GG - off topic, but your comment reminds me of a tutor I had in college for Statistics. He would write up math problems to solve with his "college kid" target audience in mind - solving problems about beer, drugs, sex and such. I specifically remember one problem involved the probability of a "two pump chump" lasting longer than two pumps if he didn't smoke weed beforehand. I got an A in that class.
Posted by Courtney on 02/25/16 at 09:26 PM
I joined the Navy before the draft could get me. I thought that having a warm rack, 3 square meals a day, and no mud to crawl through were pluses.

I'll agree that there was some pretty dead wood floating around the Chief's Mess then, again, there were some pretty sharp old squids around too.

Any, yes, the Air Force seemed to have a higher average IQ than, say, the Army or Marines but, IMHO, most of that was book learnin' with no practical experience due to the AF's push that everyone have a degree! Had to keep those walls papered somehow.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 02/25/16 at 11:23 PM
@ Expat47:
Yeah, I left the Air Force with enough paper to cover a wall, most of it less value than the paper it was printed on.

I chose the Air Force for one reason: In the other branches, an officer hands you a weapon and says, "Go over there where those guys are shooting at you, and shoot back."
In the Air Force the enlisted said: "Sir, your plane is all loaded up and ready to go. You're all set to go fire on those guys shooting at you. I'll be right here when(if) you get back, Sir!"

It seemed the safer choice.
Posted by Captain DaFt on 02/25/16 at 11:44 PM
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