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How smart is Atlanta? That depends on whom you ask.
We might be No. 4—or we might be too dumb to make the charts.
Well knock me down and steal muh teeth! The real-estate blog Movoto (which ranked Atlanta as the country’s top city for both nerds and rednecks) also graded America’s cities, putting Atlanta at number four on its roster of the ten smartest cities. The rankings were based on “pieces of criteria” that included: education level attained; libraries and museums per person; and public school rankings. Another factor was per capita media consumption, a broad category covering papers, TV, radio, and magazines. (Apparently we weren’t hurt much by our other recent ranking—worst city for newspapers.)
But when Atlantic Cities mapped the cognitive abilities of Internet users based on scores on a fancy schmancy brain performance program called Lumosity, we didn’t even make the top twenty large metros. Apparently things like memory, processing speed, flexibility, attention, and problem solving—five key “cognitive areas”—are absent from our city’s brainy repertoire. (The brainiest big city according to Atlantic’s maps: Milwaukee.)
While some consider Atlantans about as sharp as mashed potatoes, others give us the benefit of the doubt. “It’s important to point out that the data are based on Lumosity users and likely skew toward more highly educated and affluent individuals,” cautions Atlantic Cities’s Richard Florida. In other words, maybe our nerds were busy working on their DragonCon costumes, leaving Lumosity tests to the rednecks.