The Unexpected Intelligence Rankings Of 30 Influential Historical Figures

By: Lydia Iseh | Last updated: Sep 23, 2023

Which famous figure springs to mind when you hear “genius?” Perhaps Tony Hawk or Isaac Newton? Well, it is high time you expanded your horizons! There are many extremely gifted people out there who may come as a surprise. 

As you may know, intelligence takes various forms, but an IQ score of 140+ usually means you’re in the genius club. And boy, are there some big names among the bunch! From legendary scientists and philosophers to A-list celebs like Madonna, this list of brilliant minds will blow your mind! 

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s IQ and Rise to Success (132 IQ)

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a world-champion bodybuilder, a politician, and even a Hollywood superstar. But what sets Arnold apart from the rest? It might just be his IQ, clocking in at an impressive 132. 


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With brains, braun, and a movie star smile, Schwarzenegger is a household name. From Mr. Universe to Terminator, the Austrian-born icon has won against every challenge in his path. Even during his time as a governor, he was able to prove that with determination and intelligence, anything is possible.


Tony Hawk: The Genius Skating Board Legend (144 IQ)

During Tony Hawk’s teenage years, his high energy level and dedication propelled him to master the skateboard like no one before him. His parents contributed to his success, supporting his skateboarding fetish and allowing him a singular focus. 


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According to CBS News, Hawk’s 144 IQ places him in the top 0.1% of the population. Thus, it’s no wonder he has been able to make such a deep impact on the world of skateboarding and beyond. Hawk is living proof that brains, along with skills, take one to greater heights.

Martha Graham: Dancing to the Beat of Her Genius Mind (150 IQ)

Martha Graham, the renowned “Dancer of the Century,” left a memorable mark on the world of dance and the arts. In fact, her unique abilities have been recognized by Time magazine. Also, the public has praised her as one of the most iconic women of the 20th century.  


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With an IQ of 150, Graham’s instinct was as sharp as her dance moves. To date, her keen mind and signature dance moves continue to inspire generations of dancers. 

Mark Zuckerberg: The Brain Behind the Facebook Empire (152 IQ)

Mark Zuckerberg’s name is synonymous with Facebook, the social network that has certainly changed the world’s mode of interaction. 


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As the network’s CEO and co-founder, Zuckerberg has revolutionized both the tech and business worlds, making him a multi-billionaire in the process. According to IQTest, Zuckerberg’s impressive IQ score of 152, along with his innovative mind, makes it apparent that he will continue to shape the future of tech and beyond. 

Micheal Jordan: Scoring High on the Court and IQ Tests (154 IQ)

Micheal Jordan continues to maintain his title as a legendary basketball player. His distinctive talent and undeniable influence on the sport have made him a legend. However, Jordan’s impact extends far beyond basketball. 

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His passion for business and marketing made him an icon and a brand in his own right. According to Celebrity IQs, his estimated score of 154 proves that his strategic mind played a significant role in his success. 


Hardy Lamarr: From Hollywood to Tech (154 IQ)

Hardy Lamarr is well known for her stunning performances in classic Hollywood movies. But there was much more to this actress than meets the eye. 

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Aside from fame and glamor, the star was also a brilliant inventor whose works laid the ground for modern Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies. With an IQ of 154, Lamarr’s intelligence was as remarkable as her beauty. Her legacy remains an inspiration to today’s inventors. 


Elon Musk: The Mind Behind SpaceX and Tesla (155 IQ)

Elon Musk is increasingly becoming a household name thanks to his revolutionary work at SpaceX and Tesla Motors. However, there is more to this story. Behind the genius ideas and spirited business moves lies a unique mind. 

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With an IQ of 155, as reported by IQTest, Musk’s ability to think outside of the box has led to the most groundbreaking inventions of our time. Despite the numerous obstacles and setbacks, he continues to push forward his vision for a better future. 


The Incomparable Nicola Tesla (160 IQ)

Nicola Tesla is greatly deemed as one of the smartest innovators in history. With his genius mind and exceptional level of creativity, he continues to inspire and surprise people around the world, cementing his place in history as a legend.

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His numerous contributions to science and technology include the development of the wireless transmission of energy, the Tesla coil, and his most famous, the AC motor.


Stanley Kubrick: The Cinema Genius (160 IQ)

Lights, camera, action! Stanley Kubrick was not just a creative director—he was a certified genius with a jaw-dropping IQ of 160! 

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Although different sources claimed that his IQ might have been as high as 200, a more accurate estimate puts him at a still-impressive 160. So, when next you find yourself wondering about the effects of 2001: A Space Odyssey or the memorable A Clockwork Orange, remember it was all thanks to Kubrick. 


Mary Wollstonecraft: The Brainy Feminist (160 IQ)

Mary Wollstonecraft, a philosopher and literary icon, is recognized for her incredible ideas on gender equality. But did you know she has an IQ of 160?

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Well, with this score, it’s no wonder that her determination drove her to challenge the patriarchal norms and advocate for women’s rights. Her seminal work, “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” laid the foundation for the feminist movement. 


Charles Dickens: The Literacy Mastermind (165 IQ)

The name Charles Dickens conjures images of memorable characters and stories. With great masterpieces like Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, and Oliver Twist, he remains one of the most adored authors of all time. 

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According to IQTest, Dickens’ score is estimated to be an impressive 165. This is probably why he was able to create such complex characters and vivid settings, two great aspects of storytelling and literature. 


The Great Mind of Stephen Hawking (IQ 160-170)

From Hawking’s groundbreaking theses to his best-selling books, his contributions to science were nothing but monumental. 

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His theories on black holes challenged our knowledge of the universe. With these ideas, he earned worldwide acclaim, even inspiring an appearance on The Simpsons. With an estimated IQ estimated ranging from 160 to a staggering 170, it is no surprise that Hawking was such a remarkable force, despite being diagnosed with a debilitating motor neuron disease. 


Charlotte Brontë: A Brilliant Female Linguist (165 IQ)

Like Charles Dickens, Charlotte is also a name synonymous with timeless literature. With classics like Jane Eyre, she remains one of the most revered writers of the Victorian era. 

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However, Brontë was more than just a literary genius. As a woman in a male-dominated society, she paved the way for other female writers to follow her lead. With an IQ score of 165, according to Geni, it’s no surprise that her works still capture the minds of readers. To date, her influence still reflects in the work of some female writers. 


Carl Segan: Cosmic Intellect (170 IQ)

Segan was more than just an astronomer—he was a pioneer of science education. He conveyed scientific ideas to the masses through his educational TV shows. His research on planets during the ‘70s earned him much credit in the scientific community. 

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But, it was his intellect that truly set him apart, with an IQ of 170. Thanks to Carl’s immeasurable impact on science, his legacy remains an inspiration to modern science communicators.


Judith Polgár: The Undisputed Chess Queen (170 IQ)

In case you’ve never heard her name, Judith Polgár is deemed the greatest woman to ever play chess. At the astonishing age of 15, Polgár smashed records by becoming the youngest international grandmaster in history. 

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With an IQ of 170, according to Reader’s Digest, Polgár’s brilliance on the board is top-notch. Also, she has secured her spot as the greatest female chess player of all time. Don’t miss out on the legacy of this chess prodigy!


Pablo Picasso: Unleashing Creativity with Genius Brushstrokes (175 IQ)

Picasso was a man of multiple talents, but his most impressive was undoubtedly his level of creativity. With works like Guernica and The Old Guitarist, he changed the world of art and brought modernism into the limelight. 

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However, it wasn’t just his paintings that made him a legend. He also produced remarkable ceramics, sculpture, and even writing. It’s no wonder then that Picasso’s IQ was off the charts. According to Geni, he had an IQ of 175. His mind was indeed a cut above the rest, and it showed in his works. 


Immanuel Kant: Mastering Morality and More (175 IQ)

Immanuel Kant was a philosopher whose ideas persist in shaping modern philosophy. His knowledge of ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics have influenced numerous thinkers for decades.  

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Kant’s intelligence was exceptional, with an estimated IQ of 175 according to Celebrity IQs. His formidable intellect is why he was able to tackle complex philosophical problems that still baffle scholars today.  


Michelangelo: Unraveling the Mind Behind Masterpieces (177 IQ)

You can’t gain a reputation as a great artist without possessing something of a special mind. Michelangelo’s artistic passion extended to poetry, engineering, sculptures, and architectural designs. 

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But his stunning paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel may be what made him more famous. It is no surprise that the website, Finances Online, estimated Michelangelo’s IQ to be a mind-blowing 177. 


Rene Descartes: The Brain Behind Modern Philosophy (177 IQ)

Rene Descartes, the Father of Modern Philosophy, was an influential thinker who made notable contributions to the fields of mathematics and philosophy. 

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His concepts and theses have stood the test of time, making him a famous historical figure. According to Finances Online, Descartes had an IQ score of 176. This is proof of his exceptional intellect and analytical mind.


Cleopatra: The Queen of Brains (Est. 180 IQ)

In prevalent culture, Cleopatra, an Egyptian queen, is often known for her beauty. 

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However, with her eloquence in over ten languages and knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, she was a true scholar. According to Reader’s Digest, her IQ is estimated to be around 180, should it be measured in recent times.


Marie Curie: Radiating Brilliance (180-200 IQ)

Curie’s contributions to science and the knowledge we now have about X-rays are distinctive. These contributions have ultimately landed her Nobel Prizes on two different occasions. 

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Of course, she couldn’t achieve such as feat without a sharp mind. Speaking of her IQ, Reader’s Digest reveals that it could have been anywhere from 180 to 200. Curie’s legacy as an intelligent scientist is an inspiration to generations to pursue their passions and make groundbreaking findings. 


Stargazer Galileo Galilei and his 182 IQ

Galilei was a true Renaissance man. Not only did he excel in the field of astronomy, but he also did great in mathematics and physics. 

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He changed the way we understand the universe through his telescope invention, but clearly, his accomplishments extended well beyond this. According to FinancesOnline, Galilei’s IQ, estimated at 182, speaks to the outstanding depth of his brilliance.


Alan Turing: The Genius Who Paved the Way for AI (185 IQ)

Alan Turing was not only the father of computers but also a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence. The Englishman’s contributions to the Second World Conflict’s code-switching efforts helped turn the wave of the conflict in favor of the Allies. 

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Additionally, he also helped design the world’s first electronic computer. With an IQ score of 185, Turing’s brilliance continues to inspire and influence modern computer scientists. 


Thomas Edison: The Brilliant Lightbulb Behind the Lightbulb (185 IQ)

Thomas Edison, for many people, is a prolific inventor who left a memorable mark on history. He is best known for his archetypal inventions and development of the lightbulb, the movie camera, and the phonograph. However, this was not all, he also possessed a remarkable intellect. 

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According to Geni, his IQ was an impressive 185. This figure allowed him to view the world in a different way and approach problems with an innovative mind.  


Friedrich Nietzsche: A Mind Beyond Conventional Morality (190 IQ)

Friedrich Nietzsche was well-known in the world of philosophy for challenging traditional ideas of morality and studying new ways of human nature. 

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His influence is still felt today, as his societal, psychological, and cultural ideas persist to inspire modern-day philosophers. With an IQ of 190, as estimated by Geni, Nietzsche’s perspective and distinct intellect set him apart as a true genius of his time. 


Isaac Newton: Unrivaled Brain Matter (190-200 IQ)

Newton is inarguably one of the world’s most famous and celebrated scientists in history. His contributions and ideas about gravity, astronomy, and math have a profound impact on our understanding. 

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Reader’s Digest notes that Newton’s IQ would have been between 190 and 200 if measured today. Overall, you can tell that Newton’s legacy is proof of his phenomenal intellect. 


Einstein: A Wavelength of His Own (205-225 IQ)

Like Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein was another scientific brainiac whose theories changed our knowledge of physics positively. From relativity to quantum mechanics, the German’s work in theoretical physics still inspires modern science. 

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But just how intelligent was he? Business Insider notes that Einstein’s IQ should be between the range of 205-225, putting him in a league of his own.


William Shakespeare: The Bard’s Brainpower (210 IQ)

One doesn’t come up with some of the greatest works of English literature without possessing an exquisite mind. Shakespeare’s literary creation is exceptional and has captivated audiences for centuries. 

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It is no wonder that his mind was unique, with an estimated IQ of 210 by Reader’s Digest. This score shows Shakespare’s place as not only a literary legend but a true intellectual bigwig. 


Leonardo Da Vinci: The Mind-Blowing Brainiac Renaissance Man (220 IQ)

Leornado Da Vinci’s intelligence spanned various fields, including art, music, science, and invention. 

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With his mastery of numerous fields, it is no surprise Reader’s Digest estimates his IQ to have gone as far as 220. Of course, this should not catch you by surprise, considering his achievements during his lifetime.