Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

The old saying goes, “It’s not rocket science.” But are rocket scientists and brain surgeons really that much smarter than us?

Research recently published in the British Medical Journal says neither career choice indicates a higher level of intelligence compared with the general public. To settle the long-debated phrase, researchers tested neuroscientists and aerospace engineers using the Great British Intelligence Test, which measures working memory, attention, emotion processing abilities and more. Nearly 750 neuroscientists and aerospace engineers were tested as well as 18,000 British citizens.

The results? The neuroscientists and surgeons didn’t test significantly higher than the rest of the population, lead author Dr. Inga Usher told CBS News. She said she found the results laughable – the scores were “pretty evenly matched.” There were two significant differences: Problem-solving was quicker for neurosurgeons than for the general population, and memory recall was slower for neurosurgeons than for the general population, according to the peer-reviewed study.

The study was limited in its geographical reach and can’t accurately represent the large range of aerospace engineers and neurosurgeons. The researchers partnered with Brainbook, a charity that aims to educate the public “neurological and neurosurgical diseases.”

When it comes to whether it’s appropriate to use the phrases “it’s not rocket science” or “it’s not brain surgery,” the researchers said it’s best to consider “other professions might deserve to be on that pedestal.” “It would be disingenuous to say you don’t need to be smart to (be a neurosurgeon or aerospace engineer),” Usher told CBS News, but she added that both professions may be “unnecessarily put on a pedestal.”