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Most Americans Think They're Smarter Than Most Americans

55% say they've got above-average smarts in YouGov poll

(Newser) - Americans don't think the country as a whole is all that bright, but they point the finger at other people instead of themselves. A new survey by YouGov finds that 55% of Americans consider themselves smarter than the average American. Meanwhile, just 25% say that Americans overall have above-average... More »

To Sound Smarter, Use Your Middle Initial

And if you want people to trust your kid, give him an easy-to-pronounce name: studies

(Newser) - Want to be seen as an intellectual? Here's an easy first step: Start using your middle initial in writing. Doing so, a study finds, boosts "positive evaluations of people's intellectual capacities and achievements." The study—run by researchers Wijnand A.P. van Tilburg and Eric R.... More »

SAT Is Like an IQ Test —and It Works

Slate essayists say it can and should play a valuable role for colleges

(Newser) - The SAT is a favorite punching bag these days, with critics saying it should be eliminated from the college-application process. But in an essay at Slate , David Hambrick and Christopher Chabris come to the test's defense on several fronts. Those who say the SAT is a lousy predictor of... More »

Men's IQ Easier to Spot Than Women's

Study asks people to guess IQ by looking at faces

(Newser) - It's easier to guess men's intelligence than women's just by looking at their faces—maybe because we're so distracted by female beauty, according to a new study . Czech researchers gave IQ tests to 80 male and female students, took photos of them, and asked 160 students... More »

Goats: Way Smarter Than You Thought

Study: They can learn complex tasks and remember them

(Newser) - Goats aren't known for being the Einsteins of the animal kingdom, but they're highly adaptable to challenging environments—and that may be because they're a lot smarter than researchers had believed, Phys.org reports. Scientists in London and Switzerland gave goats what they called a "complex... More »

Big Reveal: FBI Had Mole Who Met bin Laden—in 1993

He then died on a CIA mission

(Newser) - The FBI once had a mole so deep within al-Qaeda that he met with Osama bin Laden and provided the intelligence necessary to thwart his planned attack on a Masonic Lodge in LA, new investigative reports from the Washington Times and NBC News have revealed. The informant started out as... More »

Older Brains Are Slower —but Smarter

Wealth of knowledge, not weakness slows things down

(Newser) - When elderly people seem slow or forgetful, it's not because their brains are weaker, but because they have so much knowledge stored up, according to new research. A team using computer models found that measures used to test cognitive decline are flawed and that the wealth of information to... More »

NSA Able to Decode Most Calls, Texts Worldwide

Washington Post unveils latest Snowden material

(Newser) - The NSA is capable of breaking the encryption used on most phone calls and text messages worldwide, the latest Edward Snowden leak shows, though it's not certain how often the agency actually does it. Under US law, the NSA can't eavesdrop on citizens' conversations without a court order.... More »

Guardian Has Published Just 1% of Snowden Materials: Editor

Alan Rusbridger faces questions over national security

(Newser) - The Guardian has only published about 1% of some 58,000 files leaked by Edward Snowden—and it's unlikely to "publish a huge amount more," says editor Alan Rusbridger. He spoke to a British parliamentary committee as he faces scrutiny over whether the paper had weakened national... More »

NSA Chief Offered to Quit, Obama Said No: Report

Agency struggles to get back on its feet after revelations

(Newser) - With the NSA reeling from Edward Snowden's leaks, its leader offered to step down—but the White House quickly put the kibosh on that idea, an administration source tells the Wall Street Journal . Gen. Keith Alexander's offer followed Snowden's entrance into the spotlight in June, notes the... More »

How My Dog Learned a Toddler-Level Vocabulary

Patience and play helped Chaser learn 1K words: John Pilley

(Newser) - Chaser the border collie knows about 1,000 words, and if you believe a Duke researcher, she may be "the most scientifically important dog in over a century." But her skills aren't necessarily out of your dog's reach, writes Chaser's owner, John Pilley, in Time... More »

NSA Plays Key Role in Drone Attacks: Report

New Snowden documents reveal agency's involvement

(Newser) - The CIA isn't the only government agency deeply involved in drone attacks. NSA tracking of phone calls, emails, and other "signals intelligence" is essential to the program, documents given by Edward Snowden to the Washington Post show. The agency has a special division, the Counter-Terrorism Mission Aligned Cell,... More »

We Distrust, Spy on Pakistan More Than You Think: Files

Snowden's 'black budget' shows 'no other nation draws as much scrutiny'

(Newser) - Included in the summary of the $52.6 billion "black budget" leaked by Edward Snowden: quite a bit of money spent keeping an eye on Pakistan. Despite the fact that Pakistan is technically a US ally, the documents reveal it is as much a target of US surveillance as... More »

Snowden Reveals Spy Agencies' $53B 'Black Budget'

We spend vast sums, still have critical intelligence gaps

(Newser) - The US has budgeted $52.6 billion on its intelligence operations this year, according to classified documents Edward Snowden leaked to the Washington Post . Yet those operations are, by their own assessment, doing a less-than-spectacular job on a host of critical intelligence questions. Here are some highlights of the Post... More »

NSA: Yes, Some Officers Spy on Their Spouses

Practice is known as LOVEINT

(Newser) - You've heard of PRISM , you've heard of XKeyScore , but have you heard of ... LOVEINT? That's the NSA's nickname for when officers use their spying abilities to snoop on their partners and spouses. Amidst recent revelations last week that the NSA violated privacy rules some 3,000... More »

Germany is NSA's 'Most Prolific Partner': Report

New documents reveal extent of US-German spying cooperation

(Newser) - Barack Obama isn't the only world leader suffering over leaked information about NSA surveillance—Germany's Angela Merkel is also in the firing line. On Friday, she spent her annual news conference dealing with increasing concerns that the US has been spying on German citizens, the New York Times... More »

In a First, CIA's No. 2 Will Be a Woman

Avril Haines taking over deputy director job

(Newser) - CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell has announced his retirement, making way for the first woman to take the job. Avril Haines, 43, is a White House lawyer who has worked in the State Department and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She hasn't worked in an intelligence post before, Bloomberg notes,... More »

North Korea Nuke Report Declassified by 'Mistake'

Officials cast doubt on nuclear intelligence report

(Newser) - John Kerry has arrived in South Korea amid fears the North could be poised for another missile test, the AP reports. Kerry's first trip to the Asia-Pacific as secretary of state, during which he'll also visit China and Japan, was planned prior to concerns about a possible launch.... More »

CIA Too Busy With Drones to Spy: Report

Hagel panel says agency isn't gathering enough intel

(Newser) - US spy agencies have neglected intelligence gathering operations in strategically critical places like China, the Middle East, and elsewhere, because they've been too busy flying drone strikes and conducting quasi-combat operations, a classified report warned President Obama last year. The panel, headed by Chuck Hagel and former Sen. David... More »

Italian Spy Boss Gets 10 Years for Helping CIA

Niccolo Pollari sentenced over imam's 'extraordinary rendition'

(Newser) - Italy's former head of military intelligence has been sentenced to a decade in prison for helping the CIA kidnap a Muslim cleric in Milan, Reuters reports. Three Americans have also been convicted in absentia over the plot, though they're not likely to serve their sentences. Egyptian imam Abu... More »

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