Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Artificial Stupidity

To quote the Buffy musical episode, "I have a theory".

It goes something like this: few people are truly "stupid". I don't believe we are born "tabula rasa" per se (I studied biochemistry and genetics for way too many years to stick to that belief), but I do tend to think that, in this matter at least (as with many others), where the nature Vs nurture battle comes in, nurture wins. Especially in cases of "viable offspring" of humankind, with a quasi-normal genome and what-have-you.

One's IQ has been proven to be able to fluctuate within a lifetime, and "imho" - and the "ho" of others before me - IQ is not a 100% reliable form of "measuring intelligence" anyway, since intelligence itself is a debateable term, drawing mainly from social and personal expectations and standards. And one may find that a person they once thought of as unintelligent may prove to be intelligent after all, even according to the same person's standards - just look at the millions of examples of students who were classified as "non-bright" that end up achieving great results, either at school or later on in life. Intelligence is such a relative term, such a matter of circumstance, so arbitrary...

I tend to face people with very little leniency as regards to my expectations of their intelligence. I do realise that this is only based on my own definitions of intelligence, my own understanding of each case and each person as we interact, and my own value of what-I-call-intelligence above other things such as avoidance of offense to others. And I can't help but accept that this causes me more grief than it does to others - although I do tend to avoid taking such matters too personally or too emotionally, or even "for granted". All my opinions, estimates and judgements hold true for me only until proven otherwise, or until I think of "better ones", anyway.

But the truth of the matter is, I do believe that what's ultimately responsible for a person's intelligence is themselves. Yes, I firmly believe that circumstance and their upbringing play a major part in this, but, just as we won't "completely forgive" a criminal because of his upbringing or the circumstances of their crime, I still believe that, all things taken into consideration, anyone could possibly have evolved otherwise, and there's always a chance to learn better.

Maybe if my father hadn't sat me down when I was three years old to teach me how to read and write, and if he hadn't told me off for not remembering what "k" looked like the first time around (this is probably my first memory - a Mel Trivial for you lucky readers), maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't be here writing this blog post today. But then again... who knows? I could have discovered that reading and writing appealed to me anyway when I eventually went to Grammar School, and, one thing leading to another, I could have had the same urge to write this specific post tonight, using these exact words. Who can tell?

Still, just take a person whom you consider stupid as your personal example. Picture them in your mind, remember the time when you last thought "hey, he's so bloomin' stoo-pid!" and hold that thought. Just assume, for a moment, that they really are stupid, that your verdict was correct and that your current definition of what stupidity actually is holds true for mankind in general (which it doesn't, but just pretend, for the sake of this thought experiment). Then ask yourself why this person reacted in that specific way. Was it the way they were brought up? Was it the fact that they spoke or acted before applying the necessary thought? Was it because they hadn't yet been exposed to the same experiences, ideas or knowledge that you have? It may be a combination of these factors, and possibly even more. But all of these factors are usually changeable, up to a certain point. It's just a matter of "Is it worth the effort?" or "Why should I bother? I'm not their mother!"

So, Than, next time you tell me off about spending too much time or effort trying to "educate the masses" or "explain things that should be obvious to people who refuse to understand them", just attribute it to my own mild version of a Messiah Syndrome, and smile 'cause you love the oft-romantic idiot that is me.


JMai said...

I admit, I tried your exercise. I once dated this guy that was so unforgivably stupid, and the one thing I really remember about him was the vacant look he would put on when you asked him a really tough question -- for example, "who is the President of the United States?" Since he is the stupidest person I can think of (mainly because of that look), he was the first person I thought of when I tried your exercise.

My conclusion -- he's really just a moron. Yes, he probably had been exposed to different experiences and ideas. Yes, he was most likely raised in a very different environment and educated differently. At the end of the day, though... he's still just a really, really stupid person.

Of course -- I did date him for a few weeks, which doesn't say too much about me now, does it?

Bunny Dee said...

Yep. No judgements here, though... That's the point, really...

He probably was incurably stupid - i wouldn't know. I'd probably classify him and treat him as such if I ever met him.

But the point is that, as you admitted, there were reasons for it. And the main purpose of this blogpost was to point out this simple but often forgotten fact, which usually leads me at least to wallow in the apparent absurdity of the matter.

It's not that absurd if you think about it. And it's none of our concern, unless we choose it to be. One can choose to try and change their "moron of choice", to ignore them completely, or to be really, really bothered by the other person's stupidity. What I wanted to urge people to do is to follow option #2, or at least option #1 if it doesn't appear too futile at the moment, and you have the spare time and energy. Anything else causes you too much grief.

JMai said...

I see your point. The irony is, the very people you're trying to protect/educate/engage are the ones who will probably never read your blog. Unfortunate, that.

Now I'm off to read your recent post. You're ever so much more prolific than I as a blogger. Lol.

Bunny Dee said...

"The irony is, the very people you're trying to protect/educate/engage are the ones who will probably never read your blog. Unfortunate, that.">>> :) So true, that...
Oh well... Can't blame me for trying ;)

"You're ever so much more prolific than I as a blogger.">>> I liked what I read in yours... Still, I can't help it, sometimes I need to write things down, and where better than *here*, where anyone can read it and few people ever do ;)

JMai said...

It is kinda nice having a random, semi-anonymous soapbox to stand on whenever you feel the urge. Preach on.

Atalante said...

It's good to see some of my thoughts in your blog. Organized, well written - probably better than they would be if I was doing the clicking - and, of course, without even the slightest effort from my side. :P

Mel is a good bunny, we love Mel. Especially when she thinks about things that we think about, and blogs them!

Bunny Dee said...

Heh. Thanks sweetie :D
I love it when I do that... It makes me feel less like a sociopath :P