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New study ranks Lawrence ninth smartest city in the country


I didn’t even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, yet I feel like I am an expert in the world’s toughest subjects. Maybe it is because I work in the ninth smartest city in America.

That’s right, according to a new study, Lawrence is the ninth smartest city in America. The report is by Lumosity, the online company that administers a host of brain exercises and tests to users. The company claims to have the largest database of cognitive performance of any company in the world.

The company tracks how Lumosity users score by geography, and then compiles a host of lists. Lawrence ended up No. 9 on the list of 478 “core-based statistical areas,” which is kind of like a metro area. (What am I doing explaining things to Lawrence residents? You already knew that.)

As one economic development professional told me, rankings are a dime a dozen, but Lawrence is in awful good company in the top 10. In other words, this is the type of ranking that will look good in marketing materials.

Here’s the Top 10:

  1. Ithaca, NY
  2. State College, Penn.
  3. Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ind.
  4. Iowa City
  5. Ames, Iowa
  6. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  7. Bloomington, Ind.
  8. Madison, Wisc.
  9. Lawrence
  10. Pullman, Wash.

The Lumosity folks didn’t stop there, though. They also ranked communities based on what type of cognitive skills they possessed. Lawrence ranked in the top 50 of all five cognitive areas: No. 8 for attention; No. 14 for flexibility; No. 15 for problem solving; and No. 22 for speed. As for what area we ranked the lowest in: Memory at No. 35.

The Lumosity officials also broke down the rankings by age group for each community. This may be very useful information for Lawrence. Every age group in the city — except for one — scored in the Top 50. The under 35 age group ranked No. 15, the 35-55 age group ranked No. 8, but the 55-plus age group was not ranked in the Top 50. (This is where this report can be very useful. Lawrence is trying to become a retiree destination, but perhaps we ought to make them pass some sort of test first.)

In case you are wondering, the community with the smartest 55-plus residents was Columbia, Mo., another Midwestern city seeking to become a retiree destination. Columbia also ranked No. 3 in the 35-55 age category. Interestingly, Columbia did not rank in the Top 50 in the under 35 category, the one which would encompass most of the students at the University of Missouri. (This study may produce a useful marketing campaign for potential Mizzou students. The University of Missouri: You’ll get smarter once you leave us. Or for the alumni association: The University of Missouri — The dumbest years of your life.)

The younger age group really must have pulled down the overall scores because despite ranking in the Top 3 in two areas, Columbia overall ranked No. 41.

The study also ranked four other Kansas communities. But before I give you those, I forgot to mention that the cognitive area that Lawrence scores the lowest in is memory. We were ranked No. 35 Now, onto the other Kansas rankings:

• Kansas City, Mo.-Kans: No. 84

• Topeka: No. 96

• Wichita: No. 211

• Salina: No. 338

Our in-state rival Manhattan was not ranked in the 478 core-based statistical areas. I can only surmise (but since I’m in Lawrence, I’m pretty good at it) that Manhattan didn’t qualify because Lumosity required at least 500 users from a geographic area in order for it to be ranked. I’ll let Lawrence retirees off the hook also , and say the sample size issue is probably why they weren’t included in the Top 50 either. Lumosity required at least 200 users from an age group before they considered it to be a sufficient sample size.

As for other rankings, surely you are curious about who ranked at the bottom of the list. Well here you go, here’s a look at the bottom 5:

• No 474: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach (That’s no fair. You try taking a Lumosity test while on spring break in Fort Lauderdale.)

• No 475: El Centro, Calif.

• No. 476: Kinston, N.C.

• No. 477: Laredo, Texas

• No. 478: Lumberton, N.C.

That’s it. That’s the last one. But wait. Before we wrap this up, I forgot to mention that the cognitive area Lawrence scored the lowest in was memory. We were ranked No. 35. If you want to read the entire report — you’re brainy, so you do — you can find it here.


boiled 9 months, 3 weeks ago

And the " tendency to blame the president for everything that happens" 6-7-8 years ago?


boiled 9 months, 3 weeks ago

A majority of "smart" cities voted for Obama, huh? I think the study may have started sometime earlier on in his first term 'cause I don't see a whole lotsa smart things coming out of this administration, however his fundamental transformation is actually coming along quite nicely. I'm starting to not recognize America like I used to. But, then again I am not that smart.


Jean Robart 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Who's kidding who? I moved out of Lawrence---does that automatically make me unsmart?


bearded_gnome 9 months, 3 weeks ago

this rating of course fails most of all from the problem of how the ratings were compiled, who were the participants.

people self-selected themselves into this.

while this is worth a grin and a nod, it isn't worth much more.

now, if researchers did a well controlled study across metro areas controlling for participants and their variables, one could draw some meaningful conclusions.

also remember that "intelligence" itself is a complex concept often hard to conceptualize. makes it difficult to compare.

thus, chicagoans might be high in a particular form of intelligence while Lawrencians higher in another type within the overall blanket term "intelligence."


happyrearviewmirror 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Pardon a few of us with first-hand experience for remaining skeptical.


hujiko 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't doubt that Lawrence ranks higher than most communities in terms of average intelligence, but if you're gullible enough to believe playing games improves your mental acuity I've got some snake oil you might also be interested in.


oletimer 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I always wonder how they do the research on deals like this. 9th? Really? Kinda like the journal world crowing about all their "awards" they win. neither situation seems right


blindrabbit 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Whoever conducted this "smart" survey obviously never attended a Lawrence City Commissioners Meeting!!!!!


Richard Heckler 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Fair amount of brain cells and Always Low Wages = Lawrence,Kansas.

I say these rankings depend on the real estate industry for their information = not based on substance necessarily. All about selling houses and used cars.

This survey/ranking is a bit bogus... why? Boulder Colorado is not in the top 10.

Wisconsin is being taken down the same tubes as Kansas = Koch Nazi Empire


Chuck Woodling 9 months, 3 weeks ago

All rankings are the lowest form of self-publicity.


jane_doe 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't know why the two Iowa ones bother me. I've been to Iowa. The Ex was born in Iowa. Ooooooh wait. There we go. He tainted the state. And he certainly is not a smart man. So there you go.


blindrabbit 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The Lawrence ranking is especially significant as the rest of Kansas is headed in the opposite direction, adopting a more ignorant GOP-Koch-A-Kola political posture. The bumper slogan "Kansas as Bigoted as You (want, are, guessed)" is becoming more apparent as Smilin Sam and his ilk of C-Street Daydream Believers dominates the State


Mollie New Leaf 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Because Lawrencians totally need another thing to brag about. Get a Lawrencian started talking about Lawrence and they won't shut up! Town pride! :)


bearded_gnome 9 months, 3 weeks ago

so ... here in Lawrence instead of % for art, we ought to be doing % for Postit Notes instead?

I'm sure that Town Talk contributed to the overall high Lumosity rating for Lawrence! that, and the downtown coffees.


smileydog 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Every top 10 city on the list voted for Obama....hmmmm, part of his grand illusion coup. I wonder who owns this internet company? Soros?


Catalano 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Lowest in memory, huh? Well, that explains why we keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

(Posted so Wilby wouldn't have to remember to do it.)


LogicMan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Let's put those smarts to good use and create new high-paying businesses!


LogicMan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

What was the one we were ranked lowest in? ;-)


Patricia Davis 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I knew I was smart, I just couldn't remember why.


MacHeath 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah, but how were we rated in memory?


jayhawklawrence 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I would love to see them rank state governors and legislators.


boiled 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Well great! But just wondering if some Negative Nellies in Lawrence will say this study is flawed like the study on treatment of the homeless that came out a few years ago. ;-)


patkindle 9 months, 3 weeks ago

oops , I thought it said county that would be correct


skull 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah, and first on the "dark spiritual areas" list!!!


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