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Criminal Minds: How Reid's IQ Compares To Other Geniuses

All the agents of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit on CBS's "Criminal Minds" have their strengths, but when it comes down to pure intellectual prowess, Dr. Spencer Reid is by far the most invaluable. Portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler, the prodigy investigator's wealth of knowledge and deductive skills alone have been responsible for answering some of the toughest questions on "Criminal Minds" and cracking some of the show's most perplexing and harrowing cases. His pop culture legacy begs the question: How does his intelligence compare to what we might encounter in the real world?

With an IQ of 187, Reid is well above the average distribution of scores between 85 and 115 (via Healthline), making his mind one of a kind. He's also safely above the threshold for what many would consider "genius" — a score of 140, according to CNBC. While Reid would undoubtedly put most of our IQs to shame, where he would sit amongst others of a similar intellectual caliber is a far more interesting question — and one with surprising results.

Who Criminal Minds' resident genius beats out

With his 187 IQ, Reid sits at the very far end of the bell curve. While this is quite an impressive feat on its own, what's even more impressive is who he outranks in that position. The estimated scores of both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking — figures synonymous with the idea of intelligence — come in at around 160, meaning that Reid beats them by more than 20 points. And though Hawking himself may have insisted to The New York Times that "people who boast about their IQ are losers," this number makes Reid smarter than some of history's greatest innovators and a formidable adversary for any bad guy.

A couple of more contemporary figures fall short of Reid's score as well — like the then-youngest member of Mensa, Kashe Quest, who was admitted in 2021 at just two years old with an IQ of 146, says CNN. Then there's Jacob Barnett, who has a reported IQ of 170 (per Time); he was the youngest student ever admitted to Waterloo's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and now studies quantum gravity. It's safe to say that Reid enjoys some very good (and very smart) company.

Geniuses who outscore Reid

While there's no doubt about the brilliance of Reid's intellect, there are a few minds out there who have his IQ beat. Both former wunderkind Kim Ung-Yong (via The Korea Herald) and columnist Marilyn vos Savant (via CGTN) were at one time world-record holders for their IQ scores, each higher than 200. In addition, William James Sidis, who created his own language as a child (per biographer Amy Wallace) and enrolled in Harvard at just 11 years old, could have had an IQ above 250, according to NPR. This would make him one of the highest scorers ever.

The disciplines of those with genius-level IQs seem to vary considerably, though none seem to have made careers in law enforcement like Reid has on "Criminal Minds." His expertise in a broad swath of subjects speaks to the benefits that knowledge in one area (or many) can bring to another vocation, as his PhDs in mathematics, engineering, chemistry, and philosophy all prove useful in tracking down criminal masterminds. And though his IQ would make him one of the highest-scoring intellectuals in the modern world, he would likely be more renowned for his achievements in his field — just as the most recognizable real-world geniuses are.