The Origin of the Wonderlic Test (and Which Manning Scored Higher)

© David Bergman/Corbis

If book smarts translated to field sense, NFL coaches would be desperately recruiting mathletes. But a soaring SAT score is the last thing you need to excel on the gridiron.

According to Jonah Lehrer, author of the 2009 bestseller How We Decide, “The velocity of the game makes thought impossible.” Instead of thinking, athletes rely on fast-twitch intuition, gained from countless hours of training. They need to build instincts.

Yet, every year, rookies in the NFL take the Wonderlic test before they enter the league. The 12-minute IQ exam dates back to World War II, when the government used it to select candidates for pilot training. Then, in the 1970s, coach Tom Landry co-opted the Wonderlic to help him find future Dallas Cowboys. Before long, the test became synonymous with football. New editions of the iconic Madden video game even come loaded with a souped-up exam.

Still, test results of NFL stars rarely correspond with their quarterback ratings. Terry Bradshaw (Wonderlic Score: 15) may never be a finalist for a MacArthur Fellowship, but that didn’t stop him from winning four Super Bowls and serving as a TV football analyst for nearly 30 years.

Sample Questions

So why does the NFL use the test? Some speculate that a low score gives team owners an excuse if they want to bail on a high-salary player. Others think the exam is just good branding—after all, other pro leagues don’t test for IQ. In 2005, The Wall Street Journal picked the three teams with the highest Wonderlic scores, dubbed them “Team Protractor,” then monitored their seasons. They went a dismal 14-34.

While the Wonderlic test is a major part of the NFL’s recruitment process, the Wonderlic Corporation is uneasy reciprocating. After all, the company tagline is “pinpointing accuracy.” If Team Protractor was any measure, they may need a new angle.

As for the Mannings, not only has Eli won more Super Bowls, he reportedly outscored Peyton on the Wonderlic 39 to 28.

This article appeared in the September/October 2011 issue of mental_floss magazine.

The Real Bay of Pigs: Big Major Cay in the Bahamas

When most people visit the Bahamas, they’re thinking about a vacation filled with sun, sand, and swimming—not swine. But you can get all four of those things if you visit Big Major Cay.

Big Major Cay, also now known as “Pig Island” for obvious reasons, is part of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. Exuma includes private islands owned by Johnny Depp, Tyler Perry, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and David Copperfield. Despite all of the local star power, the real attraction seems to be the family of feral pigs that has established Big Major Cay as their own. It’s hard to say how many are there—some reports say it’s a family of eight, while others say the numbers are up to 40. However big the band of roaming pigs is, none of them are shy: Their chief means of survival seems to be to swim right up to boats and beg for food, which the charmed tourists are happy to provide (although there are guidelines about the best way of feeding the pigs).

No one knows exactly how the pigs got there, but there are plenty of theories. Among them: 1) A nearby resort purposely released them more than a decade ago, hoping to attract tourists. 2) Sailors dropped them off on the island, intending to dine on pork once they were able to dock for a longer of period of time. For one reason or another, the sailors never returned. 3) They’re descendants of domesticated pigs from a nearby island. When residents complained about the original domesticated pigs, their owners solved the problem by dropping them off at Big Major Cay, which was uninhabited. 4) The pigs survived a shipwreck. The ship’s passengers did not.

The purposeful tourist trap theory is probably the least likely—VICE reports that the James Bond movie Thunderball was shot on a neighboring island in the 1960s, and the swimming swine were there then.

Though multiple articles reference how “adorable” the pigs are, don’t be fooled. One captain warns, “They’ll eat anything and everything—including fingers.”

Here they are in action in a video from National Geographic:

Pop Culture
The House From The Money Pit Is For Sale

Looking for star-studded new digs? For a cool $5.9 million, reports, you can own the Long Island country home featured in the 1986 comedy The Money Pit—no renovations required.

For the uninitiated, the film features Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as hapless first-time homeowners who purchase a rundown mansion for cheap. The savings they score end up being paltry compared to the debt they incur while trying to fix up the house.

The Money Pit featured exterior shots of "Northway," an eight-bedroom estate located in the village of Lattingtown in Nassau County, New York. Luckily for potential buyers, its insides are far nicer than the fictional ones portrayed in the movie, thanks in part to extensive renovations performed by the property’s current owners.

Amenities include a giant master suite with a French-style dressing room, eight fireplaces, a "wine wall," and a heated outdoor saltwater pool. Check out some photos below, or view the entire listing here.

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”



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