The 30 IQ Point Bridge

For decades we in North America have watched anything intelligent viewed with deep suspicion. From high school clichés, to ‘charisma’ politicians, the mainstream has marginalized the intelligentsia.

The years from the 60’s and 70’s till now have become even more dumbed down, the effect of an educational system and media that refused to acknowledge dissent or accommodate debate. Pierre Trudeau, a man with great intellectual resources and strong debating skills, was considered vaguely effete, unsympathetic, and just not a guy you could trust. Jimmy Carter gave way to George Bush, Pierre Trudeau to Stephen Harper. Firmness in policy was respected far more than any intellectual debate about that policy. The news media stopped even attempting to look intelligent, with covers of the most respected papers and magazines devoted to voyeuristic prying into personal, not public information. We now have more specific words, ‘Asperger’s’, ‘sociopaths’ and ‘narcissists’, and these words are thrown out at intelligent people with as little regard for applicability as the old words were.

Lately, there have been hopeful signs. Many felt that the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency was a strike for intelligence. That has not proved to be the case, but the very fact that the people voting thought they were voting for intelligent, participatory governance is a huge step in the right direction. Canada’s wistful fondness for the son of Pierre Trudeau is an even sadder manifestation. But for every hopeful sign, there seems an even more violent backlash against intelligence and a bigger outpouring of fear and hatred. What is going on?

According to Leta Hollingworth’s research, to be a leader of his contemporaries a child must be more intelligent but not too much more intelligent than them. A discrepancy of more than about 30 points of IQ does not allow for leadership, or even respect or effective communication. Hollingworth notes: A lesson which many gifted persons never learn as long as they live is that human beings in general are inherently very different from themselves in thought, in action, in general intention, and in interests. Many a reformer has died at the hands of a mob which he was trying to improve in the belief that other human beings can and should enjoy what he enjoys. This is one of the most painful and difficult lessons that each gifted child must learn, if personal development is to proceed successfully. It is more necessary that this be learned than that any school subject be mastered. Failure to learn how to tolerate in a reasonable fashion the foolishness of others leads to bitterness, disillusionment, and misanthropy [3, p. 259].

It is definitely the case that some intelligent people deserve the fear and hatred they inspire, though they may not share that view. Too many intelligent people debate like cats batting around a new shiny toy, looking, not so much for information and idea exchange, but rather for soft spots that they can swat for their own amusement. It is very natural that people with inferior knowledge or debating skills will then refuse to attempt to communicate. It is not fun to have a conversation with someone who is obviously bored with your ideas and must appear invincible at all times. Listening skills are essential for communication and both sides must not only be able to change their minds, but they must be seen to be able to change their minds.

Invincible seeming intelligence has been a means of workplace survival for many. Politicians are completely given over to a listening style that includes eye rolling, head shaking and tolerant smiling, all miming the inferior intelligence of their opponent. People who enter into a debate with someone of greater intelligence will frequently ape those mannerisms to cover for a lack of content in their argument. If the audience does not understand the argument anyway, the mannerisms may convince them that the wrong side has presented the best arguments.

While superior intelligence is not an indicator of inferior morals, neither is it a guarantee of superior morals. Intelligent people must have their actions reviewed for ethics just as everyone else must, and this may also contribute to mistrust and fear. If the public does not understand the actions taking place, they have no reason to trust that those actions are above reproach. Sometimes it is easier to just vote for the person you understand.

This is the way it has been. But this is not the way it has to remain.

There is no one more intelligent than the internet. The internet is more than capable of reviewing the facts, logic and morals of everyone in a position of power, if we can get the information we need to review. There is no one less intelligent than the internet. There is every level of discourse on absolutely any topic. Everyone can choose the company they enjoy debating with. There is no one more trusted than the internet. Despite all efforts by established ‘fact’ holders to discredit everything that goes on here, we all know, there is nothing we haven’t already ripped apart ourselves and discredited if necessary. Wikipedia may have errors, but it also has links, and anyone can click on history to view the fighting that supported the information they see.

For the first time in history, we have a working model that will enable us to use our most intelligent resources effectively in our governance. We just need to build the bridges.

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19 thoughts on “The 30 IQ Point Bridge

  1. Really good article and concepts. Wonderful new world as you say. For the first time ever the intelligent people whose curiosity drives them to seek the truth have power.. collectively a legion :)

  2. Thank you for writing this, Georgie. It makes me think of so many things that go off in all different directions.

    About Trudeau: I was there, and I was already a critic. The War Measures Act was utterly shocking from a man we’d believed was a champion of civil liberties, and some of us have never been able to get past that. Trudeau was politically smart, though, in ways that we needed, and I realize now that even Chretien, his pupil, brutal though he was in many ways, grasped what you say above about leading from the front but not too far out in front. We have no one that canny around any longer, not yet.

    Translating specialized knowledge to lay language is a very special talent. Journos (the good ones) and editors know this because they have to do it themselves and they also need to find people who can do it for many different fields. Many very smart people cannot communicate to laypeeps.

    Real leaders have to have the translation talent, and it is found unpredictably — people just respond to it when it appears. We often call it charisma, but it’s more than that and it is valuable, worth defending, if it’s being used for good. You can see where I’m going with this … ;-)

  3. @tomi01 Thank you!

    @skdadl I have edited my second paragraph. It was the result of combining two paragraphs with deletions and did not read very clearly. What you are saying re. Trudeau was what I was trying to say … he had everyone’s trust and lost it. When the chips were down, he felt Canadians were too stupid to understand, and brought in a paternalistic and harsh measure without explaining it well at all. Trudeau loved the idea of democracy in theory, but watching the average reporter try to debate with him was painful (links). He is one that needed bridges and also people to debate him on his own level. That said, I miss the intelligence and independence of so many of our politicians from that era. And, misguided or not, he was the last PM whose ethics I trusted. The “little guy” whose daughter happened to be married to Paul Desmarais’s son didn’t do it for me, not to mention the others.

  4. Trudeau did have something though. Even those of us who were angered by him, from the left and from the right both, knew that he was not your usual politician. I even thought he was personally foolish sometimes, and yet he survived looking foolish.

    What’s the line? “He haunts us still.” Gee: once we had a smart PM. Who compromised.

    You can find the long interview he did in retirement with Charlie Rose on YouTube. It’s enough to make you weep when you think of anyone else in public life right now.

  5. What a fascinating and reassuring perspective, thank you. This affirms so much of what I think and finally encapsulates it in a way that makes sense.

    There has been such a ‘levelling’ of education that has worked hard to appeal to the lowest ability in order to be inclusive – yet underfunded enough to be unable to raise the bar of learning very much higher.

    Your comment about the election of Obama echoes my own thoughts at the time; it looked as if the voters wanted to state that they were not racist and that well-worded promises, meant more than what had gone before. Whatever the outcome of this presidency – the FACT of Obama’s election remains a positive one.

    …and the internet; for me it puts me in the middle of what must surely be such a hugely historic time for us. I discover, as social networking offers me a ringside seat to watch scientists debate things I will never hope to entirely comprehend – but adore observing just for the cleverness of it. I have thoughts or words that I can’t entirely recall the meaning of …and the internet provides the answers instantly, thoroughly and truthfully (with enough research just to be sure).

    There is so much more to the internet too and it is all the possibles and unforeseens that keep it so damned exciting. I do worry about the closing-in of authority and censorship… but I truly believe there are far more ‘good intelligent’ people, than ‘bad intelligent’ people – and I think there are a lot of them in highly capable positions within this internet.

    Delighted to have read you for the first time Georgie :)

    Namaste,
    Tina Louise

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  7. @skdadl I can’t find it, if you come across it again ever, send me a link? Yes, our political landscape right now is a bit of a desert. If you hear me yelling at MP’s, please forgive, it is so frustrating.

    @tinalouise Thank you! I’m very glad to meet you and hope you’ll visit often. :)

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  10. Another fine article.

    I see mention of Robert Heinlein.

    “Stranger in a Strange Land” is my bible.

    It’s an interesting read with current events in mind.

    Choose Happiness!!

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  14. When I originally commented I appear to have clicked on
    the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment.
    Perhaps there is a way you are able to remove
    me from that service? Kudos!streetdirectory

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