This ‘article’, like most of what I will write here in the future, will be a way for myself to organise my thoughts so as a result it will be unfocused and messy. Recently I have been wondering about the effects of having or achieving an understanding of the world to a degree greater than that of the average person.
I do not mean to insinuate that I have a high IQ or something, let’s say I have an IQ of 100 for the sake of estimation, only that I have followed and observed others that do. It is important to firstly describe these people, to do this I will describe three examples of intelligent people that I can talk about in some detail.
The first is a young man who I went to high school with and has recently ran in a local election near me (he wasn’t elected); by far he is the least cynical of the three. Speaking to him is like talking to someone who has read the same book as you, only they are two or three chapters ahead of you, for this reason, this peer of mine was able to run rings around most of the students in school and most of the teachers too. Notably he was into engineering with enough practical knowledge to craft his own radio receiver, then just a year later able to manufacture a small turbine system, unsurprisingly he went into an apprenticeship with an engineering company. The last time I spoke to him was on a bus, at that point I had finished college and so my politics had dramatically changed, they had changed in a way so that I was saying very similar things to what he once said, (again with the book analogy), at this point is seemed he had almost transcended politics, obviously he hadn’t as he ran for the local elections but this was my impression anyway. What I actually want to point out here is that his high intelligence simply put him on a different level to most people but still he never felt alienated, this will be important later I promise.
The second type is an older guy, who grew up in China and learnt many languages. If memory serves me well, he could speak Russian, Japanese, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and American. I do not know him personally, but I listened to a long interview with him where he outlined his worldview and what he found when studying the history of various cultures. His main takeaway is that much of a country’s traditional stories, internal history and cultural artifacts could be dismissed, the reason for this being the lack of perception each of these cultures had about the other. For example, if two cultures were referencing the same point in history, often reports will contradict each other and so it is not a case of one culture being correct and the other incorrect, they are both probably wrong and this is also evidence that these cultures are backwards, naïve, intolerant, etc. I’m sure you can fill in the rest. Only through rigorous study of languages can these gaps be bridged; this is the reason he is our saviour from the pits of naiveté we find ourselves.
The third is someone I talked to on Discord with recently. An individual with an IQ of 137 putting him in the top 2% of the population for intelligence, in other words, he is super intelligent, and I don’t say this to flatter him, I am just repeating what I saw on a chart. He spoke to me and a few others about intelligence, how it was measured and recorded, bought up names that none of us had heard of and regretfully had to notify me that I was using a terrible microphone. This conversation is one of the reasons I am writing this because of his contempt for the idiots who surround him. Most people are idiots, even those at average levels of intelligence and possibly those with an IQ of 110, in fact having an IQ of 110 is the worst because this makes you a mid-wit and why I shrewdly decided to mark my own IQ at 100 as to be impervious to such an attack.
I could talk about many more intelligent people but doing so would be somewhat superfluous. Instead, I would like to use these three individuals mentioned above as archetypal examples of what intelligent people are like.
One of my main findings in higher education, this being as an undergraduate in a computer science course, is that the University as an institution does not possess any special knowledge, going to university is an exercise in accumulating prestige for yourself and used to filter out those who are not suited towards a vaguely academic environment. For this reason, I was very disappointed, family, teachers and other individuals with some authority will talk up this thing called a university in a quasi-religious manner, but this institution does not do what they think it does. I believe this could be an extension of Tony Blair’s ‘Education, Education, Education!’ motto but I’m not sure. This then, during the end of my first year, caused me to become quite annoyed with those who attach too much importance in going to university. What I am trying to put across with this anecdote is that it is very easy to become angry and upset with individuals who are not intelligent enough or are not mentally oriented to understand a concept or the nature of a situation. Another quick story I can think of right now is how I got annoyed when I was trying to explain Pythagoras’s theorem to one of my peers about six years ago, for some reason they just couldn’t understand how the volume squared of the longest side in a right-angled triangle was equal to the sum of the volume squared of its two other sides, after providing simple examples and more intuitive geometric illustrations, they could never quite understand what I was describing to them and again this caused frustration.
With particularly intelligent people, many experiences and interactions like those I have bought up will likely have happened to them and as a result has caused them to grow contemptuous of the normal man. With the people I talked about, two of the three dismiss the average person because they don’t know enough to understand the world correctly. The implications of this attitude could be both positive and negative, I have no doubt that the output from this type of person is improved after they cut out the errors of the larger population but if taken to the extreme, this attitude can also become poisonous.
In the case of the second example, I was quickly disappointed by their outlook. Historical events and even events that have occurred in the very near past are often misrepresented this is true but the conclusion to dismiss the past also means a decision is taken to miss out on the collected wisdom of that culture. His conclusions were still sound, that more people should dedicate their time to learn about other cultures and potentially understand their language; I would argue that, in the west especially, that everyone who wants to do this already does thanks to the internet.
I remember vaguely listening to Wyndham Lewis’ book ‘The Art Of Being Ruled’ here he briefly mentions becoming angry when one witnesses stupidity then urges the reader to instead think of stupidity as failure, the implication here to understand that because failure is part of human nature it is irrational to become angry over such a thing. I don’t understand the significance this logical removal, why not simply say that stupidity is natural in people so if you become angry over such a thing you are only harming yourself. I will now bastardise a Buddhist teaching: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” I imagine that Wyndham Lewis must have been surrounded by a lot of arrogant people who are the type that do not perceive their own shortcomings so the re-packaging of stupidity into failure made for a more agreeable message, it is not too hard to spot these people in academia today but then again, I am only guessing about Lewis’ intentions.
Not carrying a resentment for the less intelligent is more than possible, such can be seen from the first anecdote I gave and what this leads me to believe is that factors other than intelligence are involved in such sentiments; it is very easy to sway a lot of people based on the activities of a few thousand individuals in southern USA for example, where intelligence or the perception of intelligence is instrumental in the formation of this intellectual resentment; personality type and general life outlook can also be overwhelming factors. I think it’s appropriate to advise that those who know themselves to be or those who happen to think they are being particularly smart in a moment should remember that anyone can be dumb. History is a graveyard of the highest likelihood.
Reading this back, I am not particularly happy with what I have written. More can certainly be said on this topic but in the end I got bored and very conscious that I was getting too preachy. If my conclusions and interpretations seem accurate to others then I guess I have achieved something but ultimately I think this will be something I never amend outside of my own mind.