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:
- Ithaca, NY
- State College, Penn.
- Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ind.
- Iowa City
- Ames, Iowa
- Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Bloomington, Ind.
- Madison, Wisc.
- 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.