The Obama Effect and our National Intellectual SubconsciousPosted: February 5, 2009
A recent, but small, [study](http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/education/23gap.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=obama%20test%20scores&st=cse) of whites and blacks before and after Obama was elected president revealed a very interesting phenomenon:
> Now researchers have documented what they call an Obama effect, showing that a performance gap between African-Americans and whites on a 20-question test administered before Mr. Obama’s nomination all but disappeared when the exam was administered after his acceptance speech and again after the presidential election.
WNYC’s awesome science podcast [Radio Lab](http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/), which more akin to [This American Life](http://www.thisamericanlife.org/) than say the slightly more run-of-the-mill [Science Friday](http://www.sciencefriday.com/), discussed this and in addition interviewed [Claude Steele](http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~steele/) who has conducted similar studies that revealed how self-perception can play a significant role in affecting academic performance and that simple environmental changes can effectively nullify that effect.
The Obama Effect, known as the [Stereotype Threat](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype_threat) among academics, reveals in yet another way Obama could, without doing anything explicit, without enacting a single policy, could help elevate this country in a very meaningful way.
But it also raises the question for me: how does having a stupid president for 8 years affect our National Intellect? And can stupidity in the White House actually pose a much greater risk to our society beyond bad legislation and corruption?
* [Listen to the Obama Effect on Radio Lab](http://blogs.wnyc.org/radiolab/2009/01/27/the-obama-effect-perhaps/)