FACTCHECK: What is Kesha’s IQ? Is K$sha a Mensa Genius?

Kesha Sebert in high school

“What is Ke$ha’s IQ?”

What is Ke$ha’s IQ? Is Kesha as intelligent as websites say? According to hundreds of websites, Pop singer K$sha has an IQ of 140 (“superior”). This “fact” has been repeated over and over. Walk with me on my theory of knowledge journey. Please note, I have an open mind on the matter and am not attacking Ke$ha.

(I may come off too analytical or skeptical, but my point is so show how to navigate through fact checking. What does it take to verify if memes are real or not? Considering so many people have been tricked by fake or biases news, I believe the research involved in this article is appropriate.)

I thought I’d use Kesha’s 140 IQ “fact” as a demonstration of how to use theory of knowledge to filter through what we “know”. With “fake news” and memes being so popular, it is a good exercise for fellow truth seekers. In a world full of debates about politics, religion, economy, science, government, law, and creativity, it’s imperative that you strive to be informed.

What Prompted My Research into Kesha’s IQ

I first came across the “Kesha 140 IQ” claim on Cracked.com in 2013. I was suspicious immediately. It was not because I am close-minded about a pop-singer having a high IQ, but because IQ tests aren’t public domain. Very few people actually take a valid one (the Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scale) administrated by a doctor, researcher, or scientist. Have fun trying to access those records. Cracked.com has a loose source policy for aspiring writers- they require secondary sources on the net to “prove” something (then again, Medium requires none, and here I am, so...it just demonstrates that you must be ever vigilant in terms of critical thinking).

My first thought was “Since I doubt there’s a document scan of Kesha’s IQ results, this knowledge is coming from someone promoting Kesha, such as her publicist, a fan, or Kesha herself. What are the implications of that? Is it 140 if the primary source is biased?”

Google Kesha IQ

I went to Google because its search results are still superior to other search engines. I typed “Kesha IQ”. Most people will digest instantly the first entry in a search result or top snippet according to many Search Engine Optimization (SEO)experts. Here is the top result, which most people read, believe to be true, and then move on to something else:

uber-facts.com: “Ke$ha reportedly scored a 1500 on her SAT’s, a near perfect score, and has an IQ of over 140 which puts her near the genius category.”

The site (it was called OMG-Facts.com in 2013) has no IQ 140 source yet uses the word “reportedly”. Anyway, there is a link back to an “original” article located on WWD.com, a popular and somewhat authoritative fashion website:

Though bright and academically minded (by her account, she scored a 1500 on the SAT and planned to study psychology and religion at Barnard College), Sebert was quickly convinced by Gottwald and his frequent collaborator, Max Martin — of “…Baby One More Time” fame — to drop out of high school several months shy of graduation in order to give singing a go in Los Angeles.

So it appears the primary source was Kesha herself, although I was still missing a smoking gun via exact quote or PDF of her IQ exam.

Another Google result: A broken URL/error. However the summary from Google is indexed as:

12 People With Surprising IQ Scores | ThreadThink | Page 3
threadthink.com/12-people-with-surprising-iq-scores/3/
Pop-star Kesha Serbert, better known by her stage named Ke$ha, is capable of more than pumping out hit singles like Tik Tok and Your Love Is My Drug. Kesha has a genius IQ of 140, and scored a near-perfect 1500 on her SAT.

Another Google result: This was my 2013 article from the Dailyskew.com, in which I examined critically this issue, but I am pulling the plug on that website and it will be gone. This article you are reading right now on Medium is the update, and there is no telling how far it will reach in the rankings. (Give me some heart love and comments to see.)

Another Google result: uber-facts.com again. Google sure values that site so much.

Another Google result: Wikipedia:

Kesha attended Franklin High School and Brentwood High School, but claimed that she did not fit in, explaining that her unconventional style (e.g., homemade purple velvet pants and purple hair) did not endear her to other students.She played the trumpet and later the saxophone in the marching band in school, and described herself in an interview with NPR as being a diligent student. After attaining a near-perfect score on her SATs, she was offered a full scholarship at Barnard College, but instead chose to drop out before graduation to pursue her music career.[14][15][16][17]

Footnote 15 is of interest, as it links to NPR, which I will discuss shortly. The other footnote source comes from Songsinmypocket3 from Youtube. Wikipedia gets a fail for that. Thankfully, Kesha confirms she went to high school and band camp on Tennessee in interviews.

Another Google result: A Huffington Post slideshow which links to Time Magazine. Once again Kesha talks about her SAT score, but not IQ:

Speaking of which, is it true you got a 1500 [out of 1600] on your SATs?
Yeah. I was all set out for, like, a life of academia.

Another Google result: Yahoo Answers from years ago. Users voted this answer as the best response: “She’s probably smarter than she let’s on. Her songs make her seem pretty dumb though.” Another answer:

-go to npr.com and search “kesha interview”. she’s incredibly smart. she would go to lectures on history for fun. not kidding.

In 2013, Amirite.com was on the first page in Google, although it is not today. This is what I picked up thenfrom that website, which also has user generated content:

-Shakira also has a genius-high score. They should be out curing cancer, but instead they’re doing…that.
-I have a theory that the average new pop artists is some kind of evil genius. Future pop artist — “People actually pay for this crap? Holy there’s a shitload of money to be had here!” I imagine they say that while stroking their cat and laughing maniacally.
- It was in Seventeen Magazine.
- AND omgfacts. It is pretty credible, they list good sources.
- Lil Wayne was a straight A student, and honor student til he dropped out when he was 14
- 140 is, in fact, legally a genius.
- Lady Gaga is also incredibly smart. She’s a legitimate piano prodigy and attended Johns Hopkins CTY, a summer camp for extremely academically advanced students when she was younger.

So I learned that fans of pop singers try to disprove a stigma about singers not being smart. There’s also the “I’m smarter than you are because I know that Kesha has a 140 IQ, because it’s not obvious that she does” mentality. We also learned that forum posters have little or no authority on some items, including the “facts” of OMGfacts having “good sources” and 140 being a genius level. We learned Seventeen magazine may be a source. Anyway, I like the theory proposed that a pop singer is probably smart because they generate money making “crap”.

More Legwork into Finding Out Kesha’s IQ

Okay, so we have some sources to investigate. Seventeen Magazine’s November 2010 issue is behind a paywall. I typed in some long-tailed keywords in Google and came up with a blog post written by Jordan’s Life on ANDPOP.com. The author wrote about the actual article in Seventeen Magazine. Here’s the quote from Jordan:

“The controversy came from an old interview with Seventeen Magazine where they claim the woman who wrote “We R Who We R,” is much smarter than she appears. “Ke$ha was also a certified genius, with an IQ over 140 and an SAT score of 1500.”

Seventeen supports their discourse with a quote from the singer, but she never addresses the test scores they provide.

Jordan seems to be a legit blogger and based on other posts, an authority on celebs. Therefore I will accept Jordan’s citation. Now let’s check out NRP and see if we can get any more sources.

Here is an actual interview transcript. NPR did a great job because Google can’t crawl and translate audio content efficiently without a proper text translation.

SIMON: I’m told you had just about perfect SAT scores.
Ms. SEBERT: It was close — 1,500. I was like, very studious. I was actually in the international baccalaureate program, in AP; I, like, loved physics and math, and I was in the marching band. And then after that practice, I would drive to Belmont — it’s a college in Nashville — and just for fun, listen in on Cold War history classes, just ’cause — I just think it’s so interesting.

I did some other searches and just got more of the same comments from people stating the 140 IQ as fact- keep in mind Jordan said “over 140”. As you can see even with the photo I attached from Cracked,even the SAT score was misreported (1200 or 1500?). So the fixed numbers are fuzzy.

The primary source of Kesha’s IQ is…

The primary source of Kesha’s IQ is Kesha herself. Would she have a reason to lie or exaggerate? Has she established herself as an honest person? I don’t know. But the bottom line is that she’s the source.

Although she dropped out of high school, according to her she was in the IB program and took AP classes, and scored high on her SAT. I did all of those things to, but not all my classmates had an IQ over 140.

The IQ test results cannot be found on the internet. The proof of being in the IB Program comes from her NPR interview. Did she get the IB Diploma (like I did, which I could scan as evidence, and my school could vouch for me) or take IB classes? Well, if she dropped out at age 17, she could not get the IB Diploma.

What Now?

It would take an investigative journalist to go to her two high schools and start asking questions and looking for documents to confirm. Schools generally don’t give IQ tests, but private clubs do. When was it given? Was the result exactly? Does she still have the piece of paper? Does someone want to ask her about that?

Is Kesha smart? If Kesha actually was in the IB Program, took AP classes, and scored well on her SAT, then, yes, Kesha is smart (i.e. 110 IQ or above). However, the claim of “IQ 140″ is pending evidence, unless you’re OK with her word. (And technically without evidence of her academic career, in many ways I am giving her the benefit of the doubt about IB/AP/History, but I am more focused on her intelligence quotient score).

Another source of knowledge besides public records, other people, and history are our own instincts. What do your instincts and intuition tell you? Well, mine says that Kesha has an above average intelligence, but her IQ may be exaggerated or perhaps she took an invalid IQ test. (For example, you may take a random IQ test online right now, but it would not be an authority). My instincts tell me that she probably regretted dropping out and getting a GED later on, so she likes to talk about how smart she is (yet her Grade Point Average is omitted from her choice of words).

Theory of Knowledge (“ToK” for my fellow IB alumni)

Although Kesha’s actual IQ is irrelevant to our lives, this exercise in theory of knowledge should have been instructional to be critical of “facts”. Once you start searching and cannot locate an authoritative primary source, you have the right to be skeptical about the “fact”. I did not prove or disprove anything- Kesha may very well have an IQ of 140. I just chose Kesha as an example to illustrate theory of knowledge. (It is ironic that Theory of Knowledge is an IB course and abbreviated as ToK by teachers and classmates, and Keisha’s song is called “TiK ToK”.)

We get bombarded with facts, figures, stats, and opinions 24/7 thanks to the news cycle, radio, TV, newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, in the classroom and the water cooler at the office. Sometimes we get upset or change our lives based on things without any primary or verifiable sources. Sometimes people rage and protest. There’s a reason why “I read that on the internet” is a disparaging phrase, but the REAL problem is that you probably fall into that same trap every day. You can rationalize it by saying you don’t have the time or desire to fact check every fact you’re bombarded with, but for major issues it becomes necessary to do the research. My advice is to take everything with a grain of salt.

Don’t fall into the trap of relying on “fact checking” websites to do the legwork for you, such as factcheck.org, politifact.com, or snopes.com. Even they have get too deep into the weeds of semantics and miss the point. If we uncover a verified fact that contradicts our currently held view we are passionate about, we should reconsider our stance instead of disregarding it. If you get into the habit of fact checking on your own you will become more critical about the junk you’re hit with every day.

You also want to be careful and not argue how many angels are dancing on the head of a pin. This would be like us getting into a fight over if Kesha’s SAT score is 1200 or 1500, or if her IQ is 130 or 140. There exists bits of knowledge that we don’t and can’t know right now, from direct experience, scientific experiments, or supposition. These cause the most anger and disputes: What created the universe? How did life begin? What is consciousness? Which is the best form of government? What was the past really like? Which economic plan is the best?

What Readers Think

In my 2013 article on Kesha, I received comments which I will publish here, since the Dailyskew.com site is going offline soon:

Jimmy: It’s an interesting article which clearly identifies the flaws that getting information from the internet can have.
She is a highly intelligent manipulator tapping into the glorified world of teenage rebellion for fame and profit.
She has become the glowing example of how to make lots of money off of teenagers to record companies everywhere and she embellishes the role she plays to perfection.
I believe that Ke$ha is as intelligent as she says she is and is knowingly and willingly portraying herself in such a way that captures the attention of less intelligent teenagers for profit and fame. I also believe that if you could spy on her behind closed doors, she would be an extremely different person to the one we see presented to us in public. I also believe that due to her high intellect, she will be able to continue this act without it being exposed as fake, unless she gets unlucky, for she is a person who understands how the system works and will continue to exploit it for as long as she can.
Bam: Yeah, there’s the fact she knows how to hit a target audience. On purpose, not like gandam style. She’s pretty normal on interviews. And she does a good job.
And also the fact it takes some degree skill to make music, we could spend all day underestimating it, trying to sound smarter… there’s no way we could imitate her product, even if we tried, so give lets her some damn credit for it.
It’s not like her IQ is claimed to be 160, then I’d also call absolute bs. And you could argue 140 is a bit biased, but who cares. Maybe if she makes another test she’ll score 130, who gives a damn? The point is she’s actually smart. Not Justin Bieber lucky-dumb… being famous by luck and having just a good voice, or lady gaga-like fake-smart eccentric bullshit.
Aqua: I only came across this page because I knew to skip past all the uncredited sources…I wish this was higher up in google’s search results. More people need to be aware of this.
Jorge: Mind blown. Is she a smart manipulator? Are there large crowds of sheep that can be EASILY profited from by just being a little introspective, or self reflecting enough to be aware of what’s hot and attack that angle. Or maybe she’s a bullsh*ttin liar…but who knows. Mind blown. Gonna go self reflect some more before I go back to studying
Andy: The hypothesis that she may be smart, etc. is not supported by any facts presented in this search for knowledge. The previous commentors all jumped onto this when the author simply allowed for the possibility. More probable is that she has been called simple/dumb etc. initially by various industry pundits so she made up a lot of stuff to fire back. The way she speaks, etc. you’d think someone who was truly in IB/AP and into Cold War history would have at least name-dropped a few esoteric facts and had names of favorite teachers, etc. That nobody followed up at NPR or Rolling Stone, etc. really speaks to “who cares if it’s true” virtual reality that is pop culture. I mean where’s the Katie Couric question “So what was the name of the Cold War class? Were their several? What about them interested you?” Or a Physics q: “What do you think about the Higg’s Boson?”
Danny: I had the exact same thought process as you after I’d read this article.
It’s apparent that magazines and websites reference each other as resources. However, Kesha’s words from the interview with Simon are ultimately referenced throughout these forms of media. Kesha participating in an interview with Simon is the only evidence of her IQ being anywhere near 140. Kesha’s words from the interview is the primary source of this information.
Now look at this:
SIMON: I’m told you had just about perfect SAT scores.
If we know that the primary source of the, “fact,” that Kesha’s IQ = 140 is Kesha herself in that interview. What does it tell us about Simon saying, “I’m told you had just about perfect SAT scores.”

Your Turn: What is Kesha’s IQ?

What do you think? If you have any interviews or sources, please contribute and link them. Did you go to school with her? Sound off on theory of knowledge or fake news! Don’t forget to click on the little heart so this article can be seen by more eyes.