Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Smartness Cult

This is a repost of a comment I made on an eternity road entry about intelligence. The subject was brought up in the comments on my Subtelty and bullshit post, and indeed the post itself, and I thought it'd be approrpiate here.


Some folks assume that the very intelligent (or those that think they are) sit around all day congratulating themselves on how smart they are.

The mean of the various IQ tests I’ve had comes out to about 180, the lowest was 157, the highest over 200. According to the most recent numbers I’ve seen, there are somewhere between 6000, and 60000 people smarter than me in the world (gotta love those orders of magnitude eh).

That and $4.50 gets you a starbucks latte.

My intelligence is a fact of my life. I’m very proud of my capability, but my raw intelligence is no big deal to me. I generally don’t make a thing out of it, and when I mention it it’s as an interesting fact, or most frequently to explain why I was able to come up with an answer in the way I have (I'm a bit of a trivia nut and frequently come out with weird correct answers to weird obscure questions). I can’t imagine being any other way, and I just dont think about it on a daily basis.

As many have pointed out in the past, the highly intelligent really do think differently, and others often find it disconcerting. They may even be hostile to your ideas, no matter how they are presented, because of their own insecurity about intelligence. They may percieve you as arrogant. They may become self righteous.

Such is life.

More in the extended entry

Our society has a love hate relationship with intelligence. Clearly it is one of the highest commercially valued attributes. The very intelligent are in general higher valued by society than the less intelligent.

The intellectual elite certainly shout the praises of the highly intelligent, since of course they percieve themselves to be highly intelligent(often correctly; intelligence has little to do with common sense or factual reality).

On the other side, the intelligent are often looked on with self righteous indignation. “how dare they think they’re better than us”. Or we are geeks, freaks, weirdos (and I am, and I celebrate this fact) etc…

We mock the intelligent, we parody them, we have many derogatory stereotypes etc… Some discriminate against them. Some dont want to work with them.

We as a society are simply not comfortable with what we do not understand. The highly intelligent are therefore in a position where they understand more than most others, which makes many of those people uncomfortable, even resentful or fearful.

Unfortunately making this relationship worse, many very intelligent people are exactly what the rest of the world hates about us: they are arrogant and overbearing, they have poor social skills, they have little regard for others feelings etc…

Again, such is life.

The thing that angers me about all of this is those that pretend that either intelligence is not a factor, or that it is somehow unfair that some are more intelligent than others.

I ask, “How is it unfair using what god or nature or my parents gave me?”

So then they get into veil of ignorance or inherent value bullshit, which they almost invariably use to justify why I should be artificially handicapped against others, to “level the playing field”.

Excuse the vulgarity but, fuck you. Go read Harrison Bergeron and then please fuck off and die.