“It’s not rocket surgery”: New study shows brain surgeons and rocket scientists aren’t the smartest people

“It’s not brain surgery” and “it’s not rocket science” are idioms used to denote something simple — as opposed to describing operating on the body’s most complex organ, or getting objects into orbit — but a new study shows the folks behind those professions aren’t necessarily the smartest. 

According to a study in the British Medical Journal, scientists used results from the Great British Intelligence Test to pit 72 brain surgeons against 329 aerospace engineers, and then compared their scores to those of more than 18,000 Britons not in those fields. 

The results, in short, found that there was “no significant difference” in how aerospace engineers scored versus the general U.K. population. “Meanwhile, neurosurgeons only showed faster problem solving and slower memory recall, compared to the wider population,” the study found.

“Most of the domain scores for both [specialized] groups were within the range of those in the general population,” the scientists noted. 

In short, “Both specialties might therefore be unnecessarily placed on a pedestal, and other phrases such as ‘It’s a walk in the park’ might be more appropriate.”