Jordanians Have Fourth Highest IQ Among Arab Peoples…Study Republished Three Times Since 2006

AKEED, Anwar Ziadat

On Wednesday, 15 November 2017, local news websites published a story on Jordanians" IQ compared with other Arab countries. This is old news, which has been published three times since 2013 and depicted as new.

The Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor (AKEED) has observed that many news websites carried the story, which provides light news that interests readers, under different headlines: "Jordan Ranks Fourth…Learn About Arab People With Highest IQ," "Arab People With Highest IQ…Where Are Jordanians Ranked?" "Jordanians Have Fourth Highest IQ Among Arab Peoples," and "Jordan Ranks Fourth on IQ Index of Arab Countries."

The story, published on 14 November 2017, was taken from the website of Russia Today TV under the headline "Arab People With Highest IQ." The story ran as follows: "The following infographic shows the ranking of the IQ of Arab peoples based on a study conducted between 2002 and 2006 by British psychologist Richard Lynn and Finnish Professor Tatu Vanhanen. The study included more than 80 countries."

The website of Russia Today also published an infographic in mid-May 2016 under the headline "Infographic: 10 Nations With Highest IQ" without any information and without referring to the details of the study that it relied on, especially in terms of time and place.

The same news was published by the same website on 27 November 2013 under the headline "Study: Iraqi People Have Highest IQ Among Arab Peoples; Qatar and Sudan Rank at Bottom of List." The wording of the news was different.

The local websites that published the story acted unprofessionally. Some websites referred to the source and explained the time of the study, which is between 2002 and 2006, despite the fact that they republished old material. Other websites explained the details of the study and ignored the source, which is the website from which they took the story.  

Other local websites published the story without specifying the name of the entity or the researcher who conducted the study, the study community, and its time. This means that the websites published this information in this manner without specifying the time of conducting the study and its real date. This harms the standard of clarity and accuracy.

This news is not only old in foreign media, but it was also published previously by Jordanian media outlets and news websites. In 2016, the news was published on a large scale on local websites under the same headline "Jordan Ranks Fourth in IQ Among Arab Countries." Also, it was published in 2013 under a similar headline "Jordan Ranks Fourth Among Arab Nations According to IQ…Iraq Ranks First."

AKEED thinks that many websites that published the news recently worded it in a way to look new, while there is no reason for republishing a study that was conducted and whose results were published several years ago. Even if news websites see a justification for republishing, it is a professional necessity to note that the news is old.

According to professional standards, circulating old news and depicting it as new undermines the standard of clarity, which stipulates that media content must be specific and clear in mentioning facts and events and must contain all its key elements, including time. This has not been the case here.

Some international sources occasionally mislead readers, and perhaps media, due to overconfidence in them, especially since they have accumulated a good measure of reputation and credibility, which makes public opinion quickly influenced by them. Besides, their reports are carried and translated all over the world and they become a reference in the issue at hand. Local media outlets choose what they find appealing in these stories, but without responsibility for its content.

It is possible for a media outlet to commit a professional mistake sometimes, but publishing this news on all these websites simultaneously reveals the spread of the phenomenon of cut and paste, which is a violation of the ethics of the profession, and not attributing news to its sources.

On 16 May 2016, the Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor (AKEED) published a report headlined "Jordanians Fourth in IQ on Arab Level…How Local Media Misled Readers?"