It doesn't take a genius to recognize the vast number of contributions the people of Jewish ancestry have made in modern history. According to a 2005 scientific paper, "Natural History of Jewish Intelligence", Jews as a group inherit higher verbal and mathematical intelligence than other ethnic groups, on the basis of inherited diseases and the peculiar economic situation of Jews in the Middle Ages. Specifically, the Ashkenazi Jews
- those who originated in Eastern Europe, such as Albert Einstein (left) and Carl Sagan (right) - tend to have higher intelligence than other ethnic groups; in fact, about 80% of modern Jews have Ashkenazi ancestry.
One observational basis for inferring that Jews have high intelligence is their prevalence in occupations and ﬁelds with the high cognitive demands. While only about 2% of the U.S. population is of full Jewish descent, 27% of United States Nobel prize winners in the 20th century, 25% of Fields Medal winners, 25% of ACM Turing Award winners, 9 out of the 19 world chess champions, and a quarter of Westinghouse Science Talent Search winners have either full or partial Jewish ancestry. However, such statistics do not rule out factors other than intelligence, such as institutional biases and social networks. Therefore, a major criticism is that both the concepts of "Ashkenazi Jews" and "intelligence" are socially rather than genetically defined and have no biological basis. Undue weight is also given to the statistics because people of partial ancestry (half or less) are included, but only compared to the portion of the US population of full descent.
A more direct approach is to measure intelligence with psychometric tests. Different studies have found different results, but most have found above-average verbal and mathematical intelligence in Jews, along with below-average spatial intelligence - the ability to comprehend three-dimensional images and shapes.
The average IQ score of Jews has been calculated to be between 112–115 according to one study and 107–115 in another. A study found that Jews had only mediocre visual-spatial intelligence, while their verbal IQ (which includes verbal reasoning, comprehension and working memory) compensated for this with a high median of 125.6.