Will Rogers? Robert Muldoon? Herbert L. Carver? Anthony S. Rogers? Harry Woodhead? Lynn T. White? Robert Ruark? Dewey F. Bartlett? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: There is a humorous remark about migration that initially seems a bit paradoxical. Here are two versions:
When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, they raised the average intelligence level in both states.
When all those New Zealanders went to Australia, the average IQ in both countries was lifted considerably.
This phenomenon occurs when the migrating group have an average intelligence that is lower than the mean in the starting location and higher than the mean in the destination location.
U.S. humorist Will Rogers has received credit for the first statement, and New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon has received credit for the second. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: These two quips belong to an evolving family of expressions which is difficult to trace because of its variety. The earliest match located by QI appeared in 1939 within the “McComb Daily Journal” of Mississippi. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
Puzzle: You name the counties:
A man is said to have moved from one south Mississippi county to another, and when he did he raised the intelligence level of both counties.
The joke above referred to a single person moving instead of a group migrating, but the idea was the same. The jest appeared in a column by Herbert L. Carver.
Will Rogers died in 1935. He received credit for an instance in 1970. But this late citation provided only very weak evidence. Robert Muldoon received credit from an eyewitness in 1990. But this joke schema was already quite old in 1990.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1939 April 6, McComb Daily Journal, The Jackson Go-Round by Herbert L. Carver, Quote Page 5, Column 5, McComb, Mississippi. (Newspapers_com) ↩