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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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Dumb and dumber?
delirium happy
I feel a rant coming on...

Right. I'm smart. I'm not bragging about it, but I am. I breezed through the education system with flying colours, and then went off to Oxford university to discover that I was the most naturally intelligent of those doing my subject at my college (and then I dropped out shortly after, but that's not the point).

So what has all this taught me? Well, it's left me with a fairly good appreciation of who is intelligent and who is dumb. This is not a relative scale. Friends of mine, with low self esteem, sometimes claim that they are dumb. When I tell them that no, they are not, they say that they're not as smart as I am. Big fucking deal. Neither are 95% of the population, and that doesn't mean that they're all dumb. And I'm not as smart as Richard Feynmann, and that doesn't mean I'm dumb. It isn't a competition.

Being smart is not a value of worth, any more than being blonde, tall or female are. It's just the way you are. By and large, the sort of people who do feel that being intelligent makes them superior tend to be, I find, moderately but not spectacularly intelligent -- maybe around the 70th percentile or so. It didn't take me very long to figure out that if I only socialised with people as intelligent as I am that I'd get very lonely before too long.

Nor is intelligence a sure path to success. Speaking as a highly intellignet two time dropout and layabout bum, I think I can say that with a fair degree of certainty.

So, to anyone who thinks that they're dumb (and this is not aimed at any one specific person), stop and think about it. Are you really? Are you even below the 50th percentile? What about the 95th? I think that it's something like 5% at either end which are considered outliers on a normal distribution. It takes all sorts to make up the human population. Society as we know it would be equally screwed with a glut of Einsteins as it would with a glut of manual workers.

And then if you still think that you're dumb, then consider why it bothers you. Very few people are totally hapy with themselves. Personally, I'd like to have slightly wider hips and a better singing voice. But I don't think either of these make me less worthwhile as a person. They just make me someone with the figure of a stick who can't sing. No big deal. And yet intelligence has some sort of stigma attached to it. Smart is good. Sure, and 2 legs bad. Smart is not good. nor is it bad. It just i>is</i>, so try to stop worrying about it?

(and before anyone asks, this is not aimed at any one specific person)

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(Deleted comment)
That too. In fact, "intelligence" on its own is a fairly meaningless conept.

Awww... You adorable creature!

Also that there's not a single notion of "intelligence", for which a point (or range) on a line can be determined. People can be intelligent in many different ways. According to standard current schooling methods, we are very intelligent, but what does that mean? What kinds of things are we good at? What do we struggle with?

Mostly the glitterboi

People is people... an' tha's as far as it goes - IMO anyway :)

Society as we know it would be equally screwed with a glut of Einsteins as it would with a glut of manual workers.

Coincidentally, I'm halfway through Poul Anderson's Brainwave, where he explores some of the consequences of everyone suddenly acquiring a radical increase in intelligence. (It's still in the dystopic stages, but I have every faith in Anderson (:)

Mmm, that sounds interesting. I'll cop to wishing people would suddenly acquire an increase in intelligence, even a modest one -- okay, maybe only the people in my immediate vicinity, ahead of me in line at the store. But I hadn't thought much about what the consequences would be if the change were sudden, large, and across the board.

And for completeness's sake, it was indeed a brilliant book with a nicely satisfying, if somewhat human-chauvinist ending.

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