John W. Pinkerton

Our feelings about the intelligent are different from our feelings about the physically gifted.  Perhaps the reason for this is that one can take pills to increase one’s physical prowess, but stupid is forever.

We applaud the overt displays of physical abilities.  We snub the brilliantly intelligent as social outcasts.  Matthew 5:15 chastens the Christian to not hide his or her light under a bushel.  If your light is intelligence, I’m not sure this applies.  When applying for a job, make sure you don’t present yourself as being smarter than the boss.

Chess is the one game sometimes played in public which celebrates intellect, but the practitioners are often looked upon as odd balls, freaks, much like professional soccer players.

There is a natural need to feel smart.  This discourse by Cliff Claven  makes the point: “Well you see, Norm, it's like this . . . a herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

Another way of feeling smart is making fun of those we feel are not as smart as we are; take the following as an example:

        Two men were digging a ditch on a very hot day. One said to the other, "Why are we down in this hole digging a ditch when our boss is standing up there in the shade of a tree?"

        "I don't know," responded the other. "I'll ask him."

        So he climbed out of the hole and went to his boss. "Why are we digging in the hot sun

        and you're standing in the shade?"

        "Intelligence," the boss said.

        "What do you mean, ‘intelligence'?"

        The boss said, "Well, I'll show you. I'll put my hand on this tree and I want you to hit it with your fist as hard as you can."

        The ditch digger took a mighty swing and tried to hit the boss' hand. The boss removed his hand and the ditch digger hit the tree. The boss said, "That's intelligence!"

        The ditch digger went back to his hole. His friend asked, "What did he say?"

        "He said we are down here because of intelligence."

        "What's intelligence?" said the friend.

        The ditch digger put his hand on his face and said, "Take your shovel and hit my hand."

I’m not commenting on the subject of intelligence because of my personal brilliance: I’m well below the genius level, and as time wracks its havoc upon my mind, I fall even farther.

Surely it’s not true or as true today as it once was that girls were encouraged by their mothers not to display superior intelligence: it was feared that their intelligence would decrease their desirability to men.  This doesn’t speak well for men or mothers.

Why is it that men seem to dominate history?  That they seem to have all the good ideas?  Is it because of superior intelligence?  Nope. It’s basically because of testosterone.  It makes men aggressive, obviously more aggressive than women.  Until a pill comes along to even the playing field, men will continue to dominate history and appear to be smarter.

Intellectual prowess, like physical prowess, must be tempered by moral standards in order to be useful.  Otherwise, the gifted are like small children with shotguns or Yosemite Sam.

Often, in my experience, folks identify people as having brilliant minds who are merely slaves to a belief or system of beliefs.  This saves them from having to form new thoughts.  Adolph Hitler is sometimes portrayed as brilliant: I doubt it, but he did have a belief system to which he adhered.

Some years ago, a big push moved through public education which suggested that intelligence is of many different kinds, not just those revealed by intelligence tests.  Hmmm, I think they were confusing talent with intelligence.  Although it would be nice to think of all folks as being brilliant in their own ways, it’s just not true.  A dim bulb is a dim bulb is a dim bulb.  Fortunately, some dim bulbs are also brilliantly talented.  Andy Warhol comes to mind.

Another big push which moved through public education a few years ago was the idea of collective intelligence.  Group activity was to be the wave of the future.  The truth: the dim bulbs always depend on the light of the bright bulbs.

Speaking of popular movements gone wrong: let’s not forget the movement to have all children have high self-esteem.  This was very effective and has resulted in an entire generation of dim bulbs not even realizing that they are dim bulbs.  This is a great disadvantage to the dim bulbs: they conduct their lives as though they are the smartest folks on the block.  While in public schools, they speak of becoming doctors and lawyers and scientists.  Most actually become waitresses, laborers, and hamburger flippers.  Look around you: how has the high self-esteem dogma worked out?

Common sense, a flawed label, is flawed in the way it is applied.  Dim bulbs are often heard saying that the intelligent don’t have common sense which apparently they possess.  The implication is that those with superior intelligence are somehow lacking.  What’s lacking is the foolishness to place one’s self in situations which teach the dim bulb not to touch the hot stove again.  The intelligent avoid doing this in the first place.

Most of us depend on the few with superior intelligence.  The few must avoid being killed by the many with inferior intelligence.  An old Saturday Night Live skit illustrates this perfectly.  Cave men were led  by a pretty clever fellow.  Along came  another fellow who was obviously of superior intelligence: he invented controlled fire and the wheel.  The leader saw a threat in this fellow and crushed his head with a rock.  The leader then thought out loud, “Now, I’m smart.”

Often, people confuse intelligence with wealth.  I don’t think I need to prove this point extensively.  I’ll just point to the governors of Texas to prove my point: most were amazingly wealthy; many were amazingly stupid: after all, there ain’t no stupid like Texas stupid.  Take Governor Bill Clements: “We - with a capital we - we made a considered judgment decision over several months,'' the Governor said, ''that commitments had been made and in the interest of the institution, the boys, their families and to comply with the N.C.A.A., that the program would be phased out and that we would comply in a full sense of integrity to all the rules and regulations.''  What was “phased out” immediately was the SMU football program.

Another thing that causes folks to confuse stupidity and intelligence is verbal ability.  A good talker  can dazzle one with his or her verbiage. The brilliantly verbal have marked advantages in life until someone actually listens to their verbiage and realizes that they speak gibberish. The  best examples of this can be found among our present Washington politicians.   “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”  Nuff said.

Some critics claim that IQ tests do not measure intelligence, but rather a specific skill set valued by those who create IQ tests.  Sounds like sour grapes to me.


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