i love this little feeling whenever I do something that I didn’t think I could do, something I wasn’t smart enough to figure out or that I was too lazy to work through. every time I pick up a practical skill, like driving in the snow, and I realize it’s not as complicated as I thought, or every time I realize how to do a math problem, like integrating and differentiating functions, that I thought I’d never get, it doesn’t just make me think “this wasn’t as hard as I thought” - it makes me think “maybe I can do this. maybe i am just as smart as him or her.” and most importantly, it makes me think - “maybe I can accomplish just as much as him, or her, or anyone else.”
it’s a tiny thing, but it adds up and I feel a little bit stronger each time it happens.
I think it’s really interesting how intelligence is measured and what value it’s given as an attribute of people. IQ tests claim to be a metric to give a rough idea of how intelligent someone is, but what does that really mean? An IQ of around 66 corresponds to “moderate mental retardation” - and before I go on, i want to make the point that being mentally retarded isn’t a simple thing at all. It’s not a yes/no condition; there are as many different degrees of it as there are people in the world. For instance, my uncle is retarded, but he can dress himself, make his breakfast, take the bus to his job, and come back home. His conversation options are a bit limited, but he’s not the stereotypical hand flailing, wheel-chair bound person that most teenagers associate with the word “retard”.
Okay, so if intelligence is a gradient, and 66 is moderate retardation, what does that say about someone with an IQ of, say, 150? Such an IQ corresponds to being “highly gifted” (in the same way as retardation, “giftedness” is also a highly variable spectrum). For the person with an IQ of 150, the average person has a score that is 2/3 of theirs. But for the average person, a retarded person has an IQ that is 2/3 of theirs. Does this mean that the difference between a retarded person and an “average” person intellectually is the same between that average person and a gifted person? If so, do average intelligence people seem to think and act in a mentally impaired way to highly gifted people? To put it bluntly, do average people seem retarded to geniuses?
I’m going to move away from the IQ analysis and move on to some less number heavy stuff, but before I do, some personal thoughts on the whole concept of the “Intelligence Quotient”;
1. Although I used it as a quick and dirty method of illustrating my point, I think IQ is mostly bullshit. “Intelligence” is such an unbelievably complex concept that even giving a name to it dumbs it down. Trying to encapsulate it quantitatively is ridiculous. Trying to make it conform to a single number on a scale is criminally insane. That’s not to say that it doesn’t generally tend to conform roughly with how “smart” we think someone is; I just think that putting a number on “smart” is inherently impossible from the beginning. Intelligence can manifest itself in all sorts of creative, analytical, mathematical, sensory, musical, artistic, empathetic, etc ad nauseum ways, and a single number just doesn’t do it justice.
2. I personally have a distaste for organizations like Mensa that restrict membership based on IQ percentile. The implied standard for Mensa is being in the top 1% of intelligence, since it’s the top 1% of IQ. But like I said, this is a crappy way of measuring intelligence (if there even is a good way) and so it all just seems like one big ego trip to me.
3. I don’t ever plan on getting an IQ test. I feel like I won’t be happy with whatever I get; if it’s in the standard deviation, it’ll make me think I’m just average and my intelligence is always limited. If it’s far below, I’ll think here’s something wrong with me, and if it’s far above it’ll make me feel uncomfortable about the whole thing. I don’t want to know what I would get and I think I’m better off not knowing.
Okay. Let’s move on to a less mathy look.It’s weird to me that intelligence, “smart-ness” is treated like a trait equal to any other; Sally is really strong. Fred is really fast. Ian is really intelligent? If our intelligence is what defines us as reasoning, self aware beings, are more intelligent people more “human”? Are smarter people somehow farther removed from the roots of animalism, of being mindless beasts? At this point I’m just thinking, and honestly I really don’t think any of this has any merit. It’s just an interesting line of thought to me.
I guess it just seems like we measure intelligence in two different ways. The first is in a simple, “oh, she’s really smart, she got a 94 on the exam” way. You might think someone is smarter than you in that way, but they aren’t any more or less enlightened or “human”. Mental work just comes faster to them, like an overclocked processor on a computer. This is how I see most of my friends who are smarter than me.
The second, and more morally ambiguous way we measure intelligence is in terms of reasoning and self reflection; “oh, he’s a genius. he’s thinking on a totally different level. i couldn’t even understand what he’s talking about.” This is how I tend to feel about 2 or 3 people I know. In this sense, it’s not just that they’re doing the same work faster; they’re running a totally different operating system.
I don’t really know. This is a really tricky topic and it’s sort of painful emotionally to think about. I don’t mean for any of this to be a serious argument; it’s all just musings and thoughts. Intelligence is vague, confusing, and ultimately impossible to specifically and exactly define, so I hope it didn’t seem like I tried to do so.
I can’t think of how to end this post. Have a nice December!
razigna asked: You win the prize for best name pun in an tumblr url.
thanks! you win the award for chillest title font on a tumblr.
Why the Westboro Baptist Church are American Heroes (I know, just let me explain)
There’s nothing that brings people together quite like a common enemy. Time and time again, historical leaders have used political enemies and scapegoats to organize and embolden their people. From Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jewish people during WW2 to North Korea’s angry and sort of bizarre anti-western rants, there’s a very large body of evidence to prove that one of the best ways to get people to work together and put their differences behind them is to pit them against a bigger threat (whether or not that threat actually exists). Even Emperor Palpatine used the Trade Federation’s droid army against his own Republic clone troopers - sorry, Star Wars tangent. You get the idea. So, what could possibly bring together the wide ranging political, religious, and social views of 300 million Americans?
The Westboro Baptist Church is everyone’s favorite family-friendly, non-confrontational and tolerant place of prayer. Among their many warm hearted tenants are the claims that God hates dead soldiers, America, and of course, fags. He also apparently gets a kick out of plane crashes and school shootings. So why in the world would anyone have anything against these well meaning pilgrims? Well, the WBC protests a lot more than just military funerals - they also seem to dislike Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston, tornado victims, the band Slayer and eleven-year-old brain tumor victims.
So what is the pattern among all these different groups they protest?
And that’s what’s really interesting.
There is no coherent explanation for why the WBC does what it does. They have no friends in the world; even the KKK has counter protested them. You’ve seriously got to be pretty bad to be called hateful by the damn KKK. Protesting military funerals alienates them from the American public, but they are quick to also denounce any other countries that might have even the slightest anti-american sentiments. Their strategy is actually pretty simple. “A horrible tragedy happened? This is God’s punishment for you all not worshiping him. A beloved celebrity died? Good, s/he was a horrible person.”
So with the way he’s set up his church, Fred Phelps has established himself as the man we love to hate. And with signs like “God Hates Dead Soldiers”, and “Planes Crash God Laughs”, it’s almost like he’s purposefully trying to get people to hate him.
Hmm… in a country as divided as ours, what would it take to bring people together?
I think we might be on to something here. At the end of the day, I see three overall options;
1. Phelps and his clan are certifiably batshit insane and legitimately believe what they say. This to me is the most boring option and also the one that is at first the most believable.
2. Phelps and his church are a little crazy, but they’re more like internet trolls; they enjoy being galactic douchebags and they love the attention that comes along with it. Whether or not they believe the stuff they’re saying doesn’t really matter in the end; it’s just a game for them. This one is probably the most likely.
3. Maybe, just maybe… they’re some of the bravest, kindest, and downright genius people in the country. By acting in such over the top and ridiculously offensive manners, they’ve not only brought us together (you might not like what the military does, but you probably don’t believe that they all deserve to burn in hell), but they’ve also helped sustain national dialogue on important social issues. In order to ensure they aren’t affiliated with the church, many churches have moved to become more accepting to gay people. Simply by existing, they’ve tested and helped strengthen federal free speech laws.
If Batman is the hero Gotham deserves, is the WBC the hero America needs?
By being there to take the full force of scorn, mockery, and disdain (rightfully so, of course) from the general public, perhaps they’ve done something no one else could do - they’ve forced us to finally work together to get stuff done. They figured it out. They figured out the one way to bring us together, and it was by sacrificing themselves. It’s not just smart. It’s not just brilliant. It’s a stroke of genius.
When Severus Snape did what he did at the end of the sixth harry potter book, it was because he knew that by taking the blame for it, he was ultimately becoming the target that would allow Harry Potter to defeat Voldemort. He chose to make himself the villain in order to serve the greater good.
In a way, whether it was intentional or not, that’s what the WBC has done. It’s reminded us how silly and inconsequential our differences are. It’s shown us how far we’ve come as a society, and how much farther we still have to go. It’s proven to us that everyone, even those who we hate, deserves the right to free speech. It’s shown us that religion can be imperfect, and that we might not have all the answers - and more importantly, that that’s okay.
Kudos to you, Westboro Baptist Church.
Fuck you, Westboro Baptist Church.
God I feel wrought with emotion.
The stress is like a constant storm, constantly wrecking what I am able to fix. Every day is a whirlwind of success and failure and joy and dismay, and I’m waiting for the work to pay off. I feel like a runner on the last stretch of the mile, running so hard my muscles burn away to nothing, until I lie at the finish line, with a first place medal and two bloody stumps where my legs were. I need someone I can trust, someone who can shoulder this burden with me, who I can at least confide in and feel safe with - and I know that this person is me. They say to not ask for a lighter burden, but for stronger shoulders; and I know that if I stay true to myself and struggle to the end it will all be worth it. But the pain is in forcing myself to make the hard decisions, to try to better myself and make myself a better human being while simultaneously fulfilling my obligations to friends and family. All the things I want, all the fulfillment I crave, I know I can do it. I’ve defeated the part of me that accepts failure a long time ago, and I’ve become at least the core of the person I want to be - I’ve created a mindset that will not allow me to compromise on my values or my goals. Now I just need to mold this nugget of who I am into the shape of who I want to be. Between the never ending stream of thoughts and the weight in my heart of keeping secret my own battles, it is tough.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.