Despite the commonly-used phrases 'It’s not rocket science' and 'It’s not brain surgery', experts in both fields are no smarter than the general population, suggests a study.
The findings of the study show that both aerospace engineers and neurosurgeons have similar levels of intelligence to those in the general population. The study was conducted to simply put to rest the debate surrounding intellectual superiority when it comes to certain professions.
According to the researchers, both specialities might be unnecessarily put on a pedestal, and that phrases unrelated to careers such as “It’s a walk in the park” might be more appropriate.
To help settle the age-old argument of 'It’s not brain surgery' or 'It’s not rocket science', the researchers compared the intelligence of 329 aerospace engineers and 72 neurosurgeons with 18,257 members of the general public.
Based on the examination of the data from rocket scientists and neurosurgeons, researchers ascertained that no single profession can be considered the smartest.
The participants completed 12 tasks using the Great British Intelligence Test (GBIT) on the Cognition platform. In addition, they answered questions specific to their age, sex, and experience levels in their respective fields.
The tasks given to people in professions generally perceived to be smarter than the general population included different aspects of cognition (reasoning and planning), working memory, emotion processing abilities, and attention.
Then, these results were compared to those gathered from 18,000 people in Britain.
Published in the Christmas edition of BMJ, the study's findings show that only neurosurgeons displayed some amount of difference with faster problem-solving speed but also showed slower memory recall when compared to the general population.
In terms of differences between aerospace engineers and neuroscientists, the study's results suggest that the former have higher attention and mental manipulation while neurosurgeons had higher scores in semantic problem-solving.
This study highlights that everyone has a "range of skills, some people are better at some things and other people are better at other things," study author Aswin Chari (neurosurgical trainee at Great Ormond Street Hospital), was quoted as saying by The Guardian.