If someone were to ask you “name a smart person that’s alive today”, Neil deGrasse Tyson may be one of the first names mentioned, and for good reason.

He’s contributed to the public education of astronomical sciences, astrophysics, and physical sciences fields that have helped change the way that millions of people understand life and our place in our universe. He’s featured on many popular television shows like The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. He’s also hosted NOVA ScienceNow and StarTalk Radio. On top of all this, he holds the position of the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.

So how intelligent is Neil deGrasse Tyson? Some may say that he’s a certified genius and holds one of the highest IQ scores known to man.

Sources on the internet place Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s IQ score at 123. However, this number has been wildly criticized as being made up and not based on official test results. Many also pointed out that 123 was coming from a source that was critical of Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

The reality is that no official IQ score for Neil DeGrasse Tyson exists – he has not publicly stated what his IQ score is, and it is unlikely that he will do this any time in the future. Either he has never actually taken an IQ test, or he does not want to disclose that information to the public. For now, people can only estimate what his IQ score would be. You can check out our list of IQ scores of famous people to see reported IQ scores of other scientists, celebrities, and famous people.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Intelligence

Either way, here are some other notable things about him that can provide some insight into his level of intelligence. Spoiler, he’s definitely very smart:

  1. Tyson chose to attend Harvard for his undergraduate degree and majored in physics.
  2. 2) He holds MPhil and PhD degrees in astrophysics from Columbia University.
  3. Tyson became acting director of the Haydem Planetarium at age 38.
  4. Tyson has authored many astronomy books such as Death By Black Hole and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (which he wrote after Bill Clinton asked him to explain astrophysics in simple terms). He also writes for the “Universe” column for Natural History magazine.
  5. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry and the Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.
  6. He has won many awards, including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences, and the Stephen Hawking Science Communication Award for his work in communicating complex scientific ideas to a wide audience.
  7. Neil Degrasse Tyson has dabbled into music, getting into a rap battle with B.o.B about the flat Earth theory and releasing a subsequent song.

About IQ Scores

Most IQ test scores range from about 70 to 130, however this is dependant on the IQ test being administered. The average score is designed to be close to 100. In a normal distribution, most people have a middling score, with progressively fewer people scoring either lower or higher.

This range isn’t rigid, however. There are also different types of distributions. In some cases, a score of 120 is average instead of 100, and the range may extend from anywhere around 80 to 145 or 130 to 170.

IQ scores are not a perfect predictor of success in life, but they are a good predictor of certain outcomes. If you have ever taken an IQ test, you could have read an article about how your personal IQ score is the best predictor of whether you are likely to be successful at work.

IQ scores are often depicted as being changeable throughout development, but it is important to note that these scores are based in comparison with others in the same age group. IQ tests are used widely in various settings. They are also seen as useful for determining if a person is intellectually disabled or gifted on an individual basis. These tests are also favored by courts to determine defendant competence and criminal responsibility.


Image credit:

Bruce F Press, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons