The President's daily decision, how Gotti got to the top, homicidal honchos, and other matters. THE MOST IMPORTANT STAT

(FORTUNE Magazine) – People with high IQs rise to the top. Our latest excuse for embroidering this fateful fact is the Desert Storm victory parades, which drew crowds of 800,000 in Washington, D.C., and a couple of million in New York City. In both parades, the star and possibly smartest guy in the crowd was four-star General Norman Schwarzkopf, whose intelligence quotient is 170. That is, at least, the figure endlessly floated by the media. Nexis reports 34 sightings of a 170 IQ for Norm in the period since Saddam invaded Kuwait. (The figure seems not to have been newsworthy before then.) We have no figures on Saddam, mainly because we elected not to capture and test him. The Nazi war criminals tested after the end of World War II proved to be quite intelligent. For example, Hermann Goering had an IQ of 138, Franz Von Papen 134, Albert Speer 128. When these figures were first published by the press, a lot of readers wrote in to complain that it was glorifying the bad guys. But, of course, an IQ score is not a measure of human worth, only of the brain's ability to process data efficiently. An IQ of 170 is truly prodigious. IQ scores are normed so that the average is 100. About two-thirds of Americans have IQs between 85 and 115; about 95% are between 70 and 130. Mensa, the international high-IQ society, requires applicants to have scores in the top 2% of the population, which implies a minimum IQ of around 130. Among Mensa members who have been written about in this magazine is former CEO Donald Petersen of Ford. Recent research on the link between intelligence and careers encourages you to think of the occupational pyramid as a kind of disguised IQ pyramid. Sociologist Linda Gottfredson of the University of Delaware, a major contributor to this research, has written: ''The occupational hierarchy has evolved naturally and is sustained over time because enduring differences in intelligence among workers create pressures for segregating work tasks into different occupations by intellectual complexity . . .'' At the low end of the IQ range, life's options are limited. With an IQ in the 70-75 zone, you will not understand a whole lot of what they are talking about in school and will almost certainly not graduate from high school. If your IQ was below 85, you would have trouble making it as a major-league baseball player even if your basic athletic skills were superior. That is, at least, the hunch of eminent psychologist Arthur Jensen of the University of California at Berkeley. A major-leaguer has to be able to make split-second decisions about hitting or taking a baseball traveling at 95 miles per hour, and Jensen's research shows significant links between IQ and reaction time. The IQs of those who rise to the top are hard to come by, mainly because most such folks are shy about their scores. Not shy was Spiro Agnew, who arranged a luncheon with the editors of Time after the magazine said he was unqualified to be President, and there made the point that his IQ was 130. Nixon biographer Roger Morris says RMN tested at 143 when he was in Fullerton High School in California. Kennedy biographer Thomas C. Reeves tells us JFK tested at 119 just before entering Choate Academy. That last figure looks low. Might there have been some kind of testing error? The ''standard error'' for the Otis test -- the one taken by both future Presidents -- was six IQ points. That means there are two chances out of three that the true IQ is within six points of the reported score. So maybe Jack really was entitled to 125. But then maybe Nixon was worth 149. The only gangster whose IQ we have come across is John Gotti, who weighed in at 110 when tested at Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn, an institution in which he did not linger overlong. In Crime and Human Nature, James Q. Wilson and Richard J. Herrnstein present data indicating that criminals have IQs clustered around 92, i.e., eight points below the national average. So Gotti's modest test result is not an exception to the general rule about high scorers rising to the top. Schwarzkopf's briefings left us dazzled, like everybody else, but we have had trouble nailing down the facts about his IQ. Several of the news stories in our Nexis search indicate that back around the turn of the year, the 170 figure was being cited by his staff to various reporters. Nowadays, the staff seems wary if not panicky about the whole subject, and it professes not to know where that figure came from. Somebody in high military circles is evidently smart enough to figure out that boasting about IQs is not the way a fellow gets ahead in America.