Sixty Years


I was talking with a church member the other day, someone with multiple degrees, who had been a military pilot, dean of a college, someone who had done amazing things with his life, and I was surprised how the conversation turned out. He told me I was a pretty intelligent person and inferred I was somehow in the same league with him. He said this because we have a similar worldview and this was a lesson to me. I don’t think he was trying to flatter me as he seemed quite genuine. There is no way I am anywhere close to that person in brainpower. We share a similar worldview because random environmental conditions led me away from all those things the average IQ is attracted to. Instead of sports and cars and endless popular culture distractions I liked to read books. After over half a century of reading those thousands of books, I am an expert at acting like I am smart, but I simply do not qualify as being highly intelligent. Make no mistake, I have a completely average IQ. If given a pass I might be able to learn to fly a military aircraft, and survive doing it a number of times, but it would eventually end badly. As smart as this person is, I, the less intelligent partner in the conversation, knew he was mistaken about me.

My fellow traveler made the mistake that most Americans are making. Most of us are just not that smart. Most of us are about average or below. Complex problem solving and the other aspects of a high IQ do not make a person some kind of higher life form, they just make them even more different when we are already each a unique being. Arguments like “Orchids and Dandelions” can be made explaining that the highly intelligent are in some ways quite fragile and this is why natural selection keeps so many trapped in stupid-world. Perhaps it is true and we need the tough-and-not-so-smart. And perhaps not. My own experience after over half a century of people-watching is that many who I would have certified as above average in intelligence, above me in that regard, were also true believers in some conspiracy theory I could see right through. So it is complicated. I am old now, with most of my life behind me, and what I have learned is there IS a profound mystery concerning our collective self-destructive behavior, and we must solve it if our species is to survive.

Harry Houdini related that it is the smart people who are the easiest to fool with stage illusions. Unfortunately for America the not-so-smart people seem to have their own illusions.

Published by billgamesh

Revivable Cryopreservation Advocate

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