Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bob Dunning: We’re only 10th on the smart list?


From page A2 | June 30, 2013 |

I’d like to thank the 432 fellow Davisites who over the past week have sent me the sad and troubling news that Davis is no longer the Second Most Educated City in America, but has slipped all the way to 10th.

Whether the ranking committee at Luminosity was aware that the Water Advisory Committee has agreed to dump fluoride in the local water supply is unclear. Also unclear is whether or not that information would have advanced our ranking or perhaps sent it into a tailspin.

Writes Crystal, who graduated from Sac State and actually admits it: “Oh Bob! I don’t know what to think about this. As a Sac State grad, I suppose that’s not surprising.”

No, what is surprising is that you live in this town and still admit to being educated with a bunch of Hornets. Most Davisites keep such information to themselves.

“This article ranking Davis 10th Smartest City is troubling for many reasons,” Crystal continues. “First, of course, is that there are apparently nine other cities considered smarter than us.”

Can’t say those Sac State grads aren’t quick with their math.

“But, what I think I’m most upset about is that Business Insider chose to use a photo of a clock to represent our town. It’s a beautiful clock and a beautiful sunset behind it, but no bikes? No water towers? No Farmers Market? No Arboretum? The only reason I can think of for using this particular clock is that it has no numbers on it. Clearly, you have to live in a Top Ten Smartest City to be able to tell time on a clock with no numbers.”

Either that or be a Sac State grad.

My friend Torgny, however, seems untroubled by the fact that our hometown’s intelligence quotient is clearly slip-sliding away.

Writes Torgny: “Isn’t it a self-defeating poll? If you’re really smart, won’t you decline to waste your time taking silly tests designed to determine, for a silly article, which city has the brightest people?”

You have a point there, Torgny.

“Doesn’t this poll simply reveal which cities have the most people with too much time on their hands and too little things of interest to do with that time?”

Game, set, match, Torgny.

Then again, maybe it’s all sour grapes. Maybe we really do have a problem with the nine cities who finished above us (see Crystal’s math, above) and should appeal to the Davis City Council and the Planning Commission to do something about it.

Still, even though we’ve established beyond a reasonable doubt that any poll ranking Davis as low as 10th Smartest City in America is bogus on its face, it may be worth our while to at least examine those cities and town ranked ahead of us.

No. 1 is Stanford, which most of us have always thought is actually in Palo Alto. But maybe they’re talking just about the Stanford campus itself and not Palo Alto proper, which is a bit like considering UC Davis but not East Davis.

Truth be known, just like young Davis City Councilman Dan Wolk, I once studied at Stanford. It happened on a beautiful fall afternoon in October of 1964 in the shadow of the Hoover Tower. I had gone to Stanford to watch its football team, then known as the Indians, take on my beloved Oregon State Beavers. Because I had a midterm coming up the following Monday, I took along an American history book and “studied” it for an hour or two before heading over to the stadium.

Thus, I can truthfully say on my résumé — I believe those with a Ph.D. call it a “curriculum vitae” — that I “studied at Stanford University.”

What the judges apparently didn’t take into consideration, or maybe didn’t even realize, is that the last time our own UC Davis football team took on the Stanford football team, we were the smart ones and they were the ones making dumb mistakes.

Not being first in absolutely everything — especially something as basic as intelligence — is a mortal blow to our community’s soul, but not one without a solution.

All we need to do, really, is convince 20 or 30 families from East Davis to immediately move to Stanford, which will have the simultaneous effect of raising our town’s IQ while dramatically lowering Stanford’s.

As a patriotic citizen who believes in taking one for the team, I have already packed the van and convinced my family that we’ll be taking “a little ride” down the peninsula to the promised land.

It’s the least I can do for the town that I love.

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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