Sunday, November 1, 2015


Is getting smartre (smarter) the way to go?  (See my blog post, NIETZSCHE IS PIETZCHE BUT SARTRE IS SMARTRE, May 29th, 2011.)  Just how smart does one really need to be to get happy and ahead in our Western a-go-go world?

Intelligence (smarts) refers to the ability to reason deductively or inductively, think abstractly, employ analogy, synthesize and apply information to new domains.  Smart is a measure of how you think, not what you know, though admittedly what you know is positively influenced by how smart you are.  For the sake of this essay, I shall use the terms intelligence and smart interchangeably, as if they were synonyms.

Over the years there have been various methods of measuring intelligence, and from the public view, measuring such smarts seems to be important.  At one time I had the task of administering the WECHSLER PRESCHOOL & PRIMARY SCALE OF INTELLIGENCE (WPPSI) and the GOODENOUGH DRAW-A- MAN TEST (now referred to as the DAP (DRAW-A-PERSON), to approximately 100 elementary students.  Both smart tests feature quantitative scoring systems of intelligence, though the correlation between them is rather low.

Though proving an interesting challenge, testing 100 students also provided my but-so-what epiphany.  After such an enterprise I have now have little in the power or the purpose of IQ testing in schools, but that is another public ship to sail on my ranting sea shanty.

Let us imagine how this intelligence, this smart testing of ours began.  Perhaps lightning struck a tree and the forest in which we lived caught fire.  Or perhaps we were caught in a drought causing all the nuts and berries and wild animals to be at a premium.  Or perhaps we were caught in some hurricane flood and became isolated from the collective.  Whatever horrid happenings we experienced, we had to move on.  Over time we’ve had to flee the fires; we’ve had to follow the dry gulches; we’ve had to construct new shelters, fashion new weapons; we’ve had to set sail and we’ve had to invent the wheel.

If ever our problems are evolutionary novel, such as those expressed above, it’s easy to believe that the more intelligent individuals fare much better than those less intelligent ones.  This is survival of the fittest.  This is Darwin.

However, it is nonsensical to believe that intelligent individuals are better than the less intelligent at solving the lifetime evolutionary happiness problems such as mating, way-finding, and interpersonal relationships.

  • MATING: More intelligent individuals are no better than less intelligent individuals at finding and keeping mates.  High intelligence has never been a necessary requirement for getting a mate.  For instant proof just go to any crowd and look around.  As a participant observer (a real life ethnographer), it is apparent that anyone can get a mate.  (Dear reader, I’m a product of the make-love-not-war sixties.  Speaking empirically from my emergent adulthood days, to get laid you didn’t need to be intelligent -- you just needed to be anthophilous.  Flower children fornicating with other flower children were the normative behavior for the Beatles era.)

  • WAY-FINDING: Those more intelligent are no better at finding their way out of a forest than their not-so-intelligent counterparts (though granted, they may be better at employing a map or navigation device if one is in hand).  In a force-majeure, be it a firestorm or windstorm or enemy-storm, who is it that will really save the day, never mind the people?  My bets are on the scavengineers, not the scholars.  In a sense, I’m supposing this to be a contest betwixt the adventurers and the conservatives.  If ever it comes to a moment of urgency for staying alive, I’ll pick the side of the derring-do for my leader.  

(On a personal note ... Ambisinister is the apt descriptor for my mechanical hands.  I drive a car but I never lift the hood.  I can edit my blog but I can't design it.  I can thrum a guitar but I can't read a note.  In a line ...    If it can be fixed with a knife and fork – I’m your guy.)  

  • INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: From the street corner popcorn stands to the sky scrapers of Corporate America, for their successes interpersonal relationships mean EVERYTHING.
If you consider the pursuit of making money in a capitalist economy, having an    acquisition of smart credentials for your curriculum vitae are obviously essential.  (There is always a colubrine line of parents credit-carding their children into after school and summer school academic jumpstart programs.  But so what -- in the long haul down the generational line, does it really matter? )  

This essay is certainly not about the madcap contrasting with the mindful.  This essay is only about middle-class Westerners exaggerating the importance of intelligence for everyday happiness of everyday life.

Marching along with myself in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week are the DAVID CRUISE MALLOY, DARREN FORBES, TRENT LEGGOTT, REBECCA LASCUE, REGAN HINCHCLIFFE, AND KATIE MILLER.  Each of us took to our guitars to the stage for the folk edition, THE DIVINE NINE SINGER-SONGWRITER AUTUMN SHOWCASE at the BUSHWAKKER (in Regina, Saskatchewan). 








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