The Obama Effect and our National Intellectual Subconscious

A recent, but small, study of whites and blacks before and after Obama was elected president revealed a very interesting phenomenon:

Now researchers have documented what they call an Obama effect, showing that a performance gap between African-Americans and whites on a 20-question test administered before Mr. Obama's nomination all but disappeared when the exam was administered after his acceptance speech and again after the presidential election.

WNYC's awesome science podcast Radio Lab, which more akin to This American Life than say the slightly more run-of-the-mill Science Friday, discussed this and in addition interviewed Claude Steele who has conducted similar studies that revealed how self-perception can play a significant role in affecting academic performance and that simple environmental changes can effectively nullify that effect.

The Obama Effect, known as the Stereotype Threat among academics, reveals in yet another way Obama could, without doing anything explicit, without enacting a single policy, could help elevate this country in a very meaningful way.

But it also raises the question for me: how does having a stupid president for 8 years affect our National Intellect? And can stupidity in the White House actually pose a much greater risk to our society beyond bad legislation and corruption?

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4 Comments

Bravo. Both on Radio Lab and thoughts on the Obama Effect. I can tell you the Bush Effect...um, well, um...I thought I could...

Wow, it's interesting to see the Obama phenomenon in that way. It's also an interesting thought as to how Bush affected us the last 8 years in the same respect.

Obama spends my money on undocumented Latinos.

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