Madly Crazy, Crazy Smart

This is quite a serious post, so I am going to use pictures of macarons to add a little color and levity. Ready? Let’s go!

I remember learning chess as a kid; thinking it was impossible to learn every piece and the moves they could make. I was wrong of course, learning the pieces and moves was easy, learning the strategy of the person across from me was/is much more difficult. And that’s why it’s fascinating. That other person is representative of life; quite honestly puzzling from time to time, and sometimes you can build a strategy to make the best of it, but other times you have to wing it. When you are faced against something bigger, smarter than you, you throw caution to the wind, learn from it, and you work against defeat. There will always be something that challenges you, it’s natural; none of us are superior enough to say that we are undefeated. It’s how we handle these challenges, what we learn, that matters.

Intelligence enables such deep explorations into often ambiguous and therefore difficult ideas, it can be yourunraveling trying to express them. I’ve found recently that intelligence is growing more and more difficult to gauge. When did people strive to be less smart or worse, stop trying to use it? When did we decide that reading was inferior to watching. hearing about politics is better than discussing them, finding things that you find fascinating is better than delving into why they are so fascinating? Have we decided that intelligence is better used when seeing a movie in 3D instead of thinking?

If you think this is a rant, it is: stupidity is on the rise. Most kids today, if they are different they are an outcast OR they are accepted into a group full of different people, that in the end, all want to be alike. But if they are different, their parents may urge them to be more like everyone else, OR like my parents did, they are told they are unique, special. Well when I was a kid, hearing that didn’t help. Now that I’m an adult, knowing my own traits as unique they may be, helps. Knowing myself helps me relate to others and keeps me from being lost. And that’s why I’m troubled; self introspection is useful if done when necessary, problematic when not done at all or too much. But it would be remiss to say it doesn’t involve intelligence.

Intelligence is necessary, from knowing not to stick your hand into a pot of boiling water or listening to President Obama tell you why he wants healthcare for our country, or even watching the movie Inception. If you don’t know why that water is going to burn you, the details of universal healthcare or what Inception is about after you watched it, find out, learn about it, don’t sit there complaining about something you don’t understand. No one is too old to learn and there are so many resources out there that anyone can get their hands on if they are willing enough. If you don’t understand, don’t chalk it up to being difficult, chalk it up to being challenging. Rise to that challenge. And if you are too lazy, then you’ve been warned. Stupidity may be on the upswing, but intelligence will always, ALWAYS, be prevalent.


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2 Responses to Madly Crazy, Crazy Smart

  1. dave says:

    nooooo, not you too!

    I suppose it’s part of getting older. It seems like everyone I know reaches a point where they start tsk-tsking, tut-tutting, and wringing their hands over the state of “kids these days.” Before you know it you’ll be telling those neighborhood brats to GET OFF YOUR LAWN.

    There is some indication that kids these days are smarter than their parents. James Flynn noticed an odd trend while researching the re-norming of IQ tests. Over the last century IQ tests have consistently been made more difficult to keep the norm at 100. If kids are getting dumber you’d think the tests would have to be made easier. (This trend of each generation being smarter than the one previous is known as the “Flynn Effect.”)

    Steven Berlin Johnson wrote a wonderful book attempting to explain why each generation seems to be smarter than the one before.

    There is some suggestion the trend of increasing intelligence started to plateau in the mid-1990s in developed countries. However, I suspect the plateau is temporary, and that we’ll see more intelligence increase in the century to come. (Read Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus for an explanation of why.)

    Anyway, hope NY is being good to you! I sure do wish I was helping you taste-test all those delicious treats.

  2. Diana says:

    I love how you interspersed macaroons in a serious post about how lazy our society is getting.

    I read a book once that was discussing the shortening attention spans of modern man. It talked about how the Lincoln-Douglas presidential debates went on for hours, and how the audience listened intently the whole time. That would never happen today, because we couldn’t stand to devote that much time to real thought and debate without having a commercial or some other stimulation.

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