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First-Born Smarter Than Their Siblings? We'll See

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

There's a noteworthy study out of Norway to tell you about today, and the verdict is in. When it comes to siblings, the older child is smarter. That bit of argument fodder was revealed in today's issue of the journal Science. To determine it, scientists sampled the IQ test results of 240,000 Norwegian men.

They found that the average IQ of firstborn men was slightly higher than that of their younger siblings. Their analysis says nothing genetic about firstborns makes them smarter. It's all in how they're raised. May we generally trust Norwegians and Norwegian studies, but today, just to be sure, we commissioned our own survey of men who have brothers.

We sent reporter Fred Kight of member station WOUB out to do the job.

Mr. MATT CHEERIO(ph) (Resident, Kansas City, Missouri): My name is Matt Cheerio. And I'm from Kansas City, Missouri.

FRED KIGHT: Couple of questions for you. What is the square root of pi?

Mr. CHEERIO Does that exist?

KIGHT: Name the six types of quarks?

Mr. CHEERIO Of quarks? Is that a rock?

KIGHT: And obviously, you have a sibling. You have at least - did you say two?

Mr. CHEERIO Three

KIGHT: Older or younger?

Mr. CHEERIO Both younger.

KIGHT: Do you think that your siblings are smarter or dumber than you? And why?

Mr. CHEERIO Oh, I think they're about the same. Everyone's got different levels of intelligences.

Mr. ANTHONY KERRIGAN(ph) (Resident, Athens, Ohio): My name is Anthony Kerrigan and I'm from Athens.

KIGHT: What is the square root of pi?

Mr. KERRIGAN: Pi - 3.14, so

KIGHT: Name the six types of quarks.

Mr. KERRIGAN: Corks? What kind of corks?

KIGHT: Quarks.

Mr. KERRIGAN: Oh, quarks. I don't know.

KIGHT: You have a sibling, a brother ...

Mr. KERRIGAN: A younger brother.

KIGHT: A younger brother, all right. Is he smarter than you?

Mr. KERRIGAN: I would say he is. Oh, he's the youngest and my parents push him a little harder than they pushed me.

Mr. MARK LABAR(ph) (Resident, Athens, Ohio): Mark Labar, Athens, Ohio.

KIGHT: What is the square root of pi?

Mr. LABAR: No idea.

KIGHT: Name the six types of quarks.

Mr. LABAR: Again, no idea.

KIGHT: You have a sibling?

Mr. LABAR: I have a brother and two sisters.

KIGHT: Your brother is younger, older?

Mr. LABAR: He's younger.

KIGHT: Is he smarter than you?

Mr. LABAR: He's pretty smart. But I guess I just think I'm smarter.

Mr. TOM PAYNE(ph) (Resident, Bay Village, Ohio): My name is Tom Payne. I'm from Bay Village, Ohio.

KIGHT: What is the square root of pi?

Mr. PAYNE: There is none.

KIGHT: Name the six types of quarks.

Mr. PAYNE: Quarks make up atoms, don't they? I don't know. I learned that in like seventh grade.

KIGHT: And you have one brother?

Mr. PAYNE: Younger.

KIGHT: Is he smarter than you?

Mr. PAYNE: No. I've been there more, seen more, done more.

KIGHT: One final question, are you Norwegian?

Mr. PAYNE: No.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: An informal analysis of comparative sibling IQs from reporter Fred Kight in Athens, Ohio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.