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Andy Borowitz: Rocket Scientists Not as Smart as Originally Thought

Posted on Sep 15, 2006

By Andy Borowitz

Rocket scientists, long considered the gold standard in intelligence among all professionals, are not nearly as smart as originally thought, according to a controversial new study published today by the American Association of Brain Surgeons.

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The study, which appears in the organization’s monthly publication, Popular Brain Surgery, is titled “The Intelligence of Rocket Scientists: Myth Versus Reality,” and suggests that rocket scientists’ reputation for smartness is largely undeserved.

“It does require a superior intellect to function as a rocket scientist,” the article concedes. “Having said that, though, rocket science is not brain surgery.”

The article drew an immediate rebuke from a spokesperson for the American Society of Rocket Scientists, who blasted the study as “state-of-the-art pro-brain surgeon propaganda.”

“As rocket scientists, we take offense at this naked attempt by a devious cabal of opportunistic brain surgeons to supplant us as the smartest people on the planet,” the spokesperson said. “If rocket science is so easy, we’d like to see these so-called brain surgeons give it a try one of these days.”


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Professor Davis Logsdon, a University of Minnesota expert who studies the turf wars between rocket scientists and brain surgeons, said that he believes the latest controversy between the two groups has been overplayed.

“The fact of the matter is, the smartest people in the world have always been, and will always be, University of Minnesota experts,” he said.

Elsewhere, after a backup punter at the University of Northern Colorado was accused of stabbing the starter in the leg, he said in his defense, “It was either that or start taking steroids.”

Award-winning humorist, television personality and film actor Andy Borowitz is author of the new book “The Republican Playbook,” to be published in October. To find out more about Andy Borowitz and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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By Marina, December 9, 2006 at 9:55 am Link to this comment
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What could be more fascinating and more difficult than working on the BRAIN. Brain “architecture” is the most difficult thing ever existed!!

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By APR, November 4, 2006 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment
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After having read some of the comments, I can’t believe that many took the article seriously. Jeez, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that it was just a satirical piece.

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By cash, October 23, 2006 at 9:41 am Link to this comment
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I guess it takes a rocket scientist to figure out a humorist was being funny in the is post.  The only group that didn’t have a comment or protest were University of MINN experts, so they must really have it going on.

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By JRM, September 24, 2006 at 1:33 am Link to this comment
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I, for one, think rocket science is really hard.  One time, me and my friend Dave made a molatov cocktail to throw into the outdoor fireplace but we spilled a little gas on the floor of the garage and, instead of cleaning it up, I suggested we burn it.  So that’s what we did only we didn’t move the gas can very far away and the can lit on fire.  Dave ran back to get some baking soda (as if a box of baking soda would stop a 2 gallon can of gasoline from burning) but he could only find sugar which the gasoline seemed to like.  I tried to slide it out of the garage but it tipped over and spilled all over the place.  We both got out OK but the garage didn’t do so well.  My dad happened to be the fire chief and found the match about a millisecond after he arrived and he also didn’t believe us when we said we saw someone running away right after we noticed the smoke. Hey, what were we talking about?

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By Sherman Pearl, September 20, 2006 at 9:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thought this poem I wrote recently might be an appropriate response to Borowitz:


This poem is not rocket science yet it, too,
is trying to thrust itself out of orbit,
rise into the unknown.  It will not,
however, rain missiles on unseen enemies;
nor was it fathered by transplanted Nazis.

Rocket science is what easy “ain’t”.
Art is infinitely more fragile, builds spaceships
out of spider webs.  But it knows
how to mourn those lost in the ether;
it lets us witness their travels through time.

It is not rocket science
but it hitchhikes onto the scientists’ rockets.
When they land on alien worlds
it unveils the beauty under the bleakness;
it transmnits urgent reports from the dark side.

Art is the lonely capsule
that wanders through space after the rockets
have fallen away.  It is the gasp
of astronauts who’ve glimpsed a magnificence
science can’t name.  It is that name.

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By Tim, September 19, 2006 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment
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One need only look at Werner von Braun.  He was an accomplished rocket sceintist, but he never questioned the morality of working for the Third Reich.  He designed the V2 rockets that rained death upon London.  He was not tried for crimes against humanity because the U.S. space program needed his expertise.

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By BMac, September 18, 2006 at 11:02 pm Link to this comment
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C’mon, this isn’t rocket surgery…

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By tomack, September 18, 2006 at 7:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If we could only implant a human brain into a rocket, then we’d have something. I mean, if the penis rules the brain, why can’t the brain rule the rocket. Or, perhaps it would be easier to implant a penis in a rocket. That way, we could leave the brain completely out of the decision making process, and let the penis and the rocket—which are virtually one in the same—do all the…heavy lifting…as it were. Sort of like how the Bush administration works.

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By duzey, September 17, 2006 at 10:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Brain surgeon smart?  I don’t think so.  They are like the plumbers in a field of hydraulic engineers.  Neuro scientists finds out how the brain works and the surgeons carries out those tasks.

Rocket scientists might be smart, but they are just engineers, problem solving people trying to get something to work.  The theoretical scientists are the smart ones since their mind works on an abstractive level where nothing could be applied.

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By Donovan, September 17, 2006 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, as if there was ever a topic that is as undeserving of discussion it’s this one.  Less, of course, it’s done over some drinks at a bar in Crete.  Otherwise let’s leave to the brain surgeons and rocket scientist to settle; perhaps in a cage match.

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By sdk, September 17, 2006 at 3:07 am Link to this comment
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Rocket science, as such, is no longer cutting edge technology. The metaphor is likely dated to the 1930s.

I worked with NASA, and while the people around me were bright, most (myself included) were not astounding.

Genius, I believe, is cutting edge.  Seeing things in a new way and then bridging both intellect and resources to create something new; whether it be a paradigm or a a new gadget.

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By SamSnedegar, September 16, 2006 at 6:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the only brain surgeries I have done were on a parakeet of mine who lost his memory and a neighbor who kept losing his car keys; the parakeet, after a brief recovery period started remembering things he never knew, and the neighbor started finding car keys everywhere he went. I will admit that the human brain might be a little bit more complicated, but it is also a lot larger than either the parakeet’s or my neighbor’s, so I think I can safely say that brain surgery is not what it’s cracked up to be. As far as rocket science goes, there is nothing to it: just stick the rocket in an empty coke bottle and light the fuse.

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