So after reading this:
I decided to make these:
Recently, I made mention that I find it upsetting when I see someone of what I consider to be high intelligence dating someone who is very obviously their intellectual inferior.
Actually, what I said was more along the lines of “why would a perfectly smart person date someone who is a complete fucking idiot?” But whatever, same thing.
A friend of mine observed, correctly, that our own personal standards of intelligence vary greatly across the spectrum; in other words, my assessment of who can be deemed intelligent versus his are probably not the same. For example, my guess is that as far as smarts go, he places more emphasis on knowledge of technology and science whereas I am more concerned with a knowledge of history and literature. That isn’t to say he hasn’t read any classic literature or that I don’t understand fundamental physics, only that when we identify intelligence in other people we are looking, primarily, for different things.
He continued to say that, more so than intelligence, he values common interests when getting to know a prospective mate. Who can disagree there? What’s the point of dating a brilliant mind if you find them to be dull in all other areas of life? If the things that you know, the knowledge you’ve gained on whatever array of topics, are of no interest to the other person does that make either of you stupid? No, probably not. Just incompatible.
Are our interests are dictated by our intelligence? Do we feel drawn toward things based on the way our brains work? Are we hard-wired, as a result of our upbringing and cognitive development, to want to learn more about one thing more than another?
Or is our intelligence dictated by our interests? Will our personalities, not our smarts, compel us toward certain activities and subjects and then, as a result, we choose to learn more about them?
And really, is there actually any such thing as a stupid person? Especially when it seems that, in either of the above scenarios, we are largely influenced as children what to be curious or interested in, by our environment and familial structure. Would we care about sports if our fathers didn’t? Would we be avid readers if our mothers weren’t? Would we have chosen for ourselves to begin piano lessons at seven?
I’ve given it thought and have concluded that yes, there are absofuckinglutely still stupid people in the world. And here’s why.
Regardless of whether intelligence influences interests or the other way around, regardless of whether your dad bought you a baseball glove or your mother read you “The Hobbit” as a child, you are ultimately a free-thinking, free-willed individual, capable of exploring and questioning and challenging the world around you. You may do so in any way you see fit, should you have the mind and the willpower. Everyone, every last one of us has the potential to be a goddamned genius. I mean, like, a real brilliant motherfucker.
So why aren’t we?
Because the thing that defines an intelligent person is not how much they know or what they know it about. It is not their college degrees or their large vocabulary. It does not mean they make six figures a year and read the Wall Street Journal, and it is not measured by honors and awards.
Intelligent people are the people who have an insatiable desire to know all the things. They never will, and they know that too, but they’ll be damned if they’re going to stop trying.
Intelligent people want to keep learning. They don’t just stop when they’re satisfied because they are never satisfied. They don’t stop because they found something did not interest them when they went to learn more about it – they just move on to the next thing.
Intelligent people Google “where does the word flapjack come from?”. They stay up an hour longer to watch a documentary on Alfred Hitchcock, because why the fuck not? When they have a question they ask it, and when they disagree they say so. When they are proven wrong, they admit it.
Stupid people do not care to know things outside of their comfort zone. They will not venture outside of their genre, and they will listen half-heartedly, almost dismissively, when people mention things that bore them.
Stupid people Google things like “who is Justin Bieber dating?” They have read Stephanie Meyers but do not know who Anne Rice is, because who the fuck cares? They do not ask questions other than the obligatory polite ones, and when they disagree they are often stubborn and caustic. When they are proven wrong, they become more angry.
Well then! That solves that, yes?
Just because the term is over until the fall doesn’t mean you can’t gobble up some knowledge……
Today’s menu: some popular bits of history that are actually complete and utter bullshit. Bon appetit!
1. JFK’s statement “Ich bin ein Berliner” does not translate to “I am a jelly donut.”
2. Marie Antoinette was not only widely recognized for being a charitable humanitarian but also never made the infamous statement, “Let them eat cake.”Furthermore, the kind-hearted queen’s last words were, “I’m sorry sir, I did not mean to do it” – spoken to her executioner whose foot she had stepped on while ascending the platform to be beheaded.
3. Henry VIII, most often depicted as a fat troll of a man, was, in his youth, incredibly handsome and well-built.
4. Although widely believed to be the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, many scholars believe that The Great Pyramid was likely built for another purpose. It is the only pyramid with a Grand Gallery and, while other pyramids feature only descending passages, the Great Pyramid has ascending passages as well. What’s more, the interior is totally void of inscriptions, murals, or any other type of art – curious indeed for the tomb of a pharaoh. And, although tomb robbery could explain the absence of Khufu’s body it does not account for the lack of wall art or larger pieces of sculpture. The passages are simply not large enough for robbers to have removed items of the scale found in other tombs.
5. Einstein did not fail math. Ever.
6. The 300 Spartans at Thermopylae did not stand alone – a regiment of 700 Thespians and 400 Thebans also remained behind to fight the Persians.
1. Every person on earth plants and nurtures at least one thing during their lifetime.
2. It is no longer considered weird to hug a stranger who looks like they need it.
3. There are no longer people in existence that “hate” kids. You don’t want kids, fine. You’re uncomfortable around them, okay. Hell, you can even find them irritating. But I firmly believe that a person who can hear the laugh of a child or watch them chase a butterfly across the yard and still assert that they HATE kids is pretty much the embodiment of what is wrong with the world.
4. On that note, let’s get rid of hating stuff entirely. No more hating movies, or celebrities, or weather. Just…don’t like stuff. Why be a dick about it?
5. Everyone reads “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. I don’t know why. Just a gut feeling.
6. College is free for anyone at any age and is no longer vocational. You study whatever the hell you want. You want to know more about Greek mythology and women’s lib, then go learn it. You don’t graduate – you just learn until you’ve learned all you want. Unless you’re in a specialized field, like medicine or law, why do you need a goddamned degree to manage a call center? Why in the hell are we charging people to get smarter? THAT is stupid.
7. Places like soup kitchens and homeless shelters have to turn away volunteers because they have too many.
8. Child molesters are executed. Immediately.
9. Everyone gazes up at the stars at least once each night, until they feel both humbled and honored to have a place in the universe.
10. We don’t wait until a species is endangered to start giving a shit about them.
11. We care more about what people do with their talent and knowledge than what they do with their genitals.
12. We do not just embrace change – we strive for it.
13. People are no longer our neighbors – they are our friends.
14. Creating art, literature, or music are viable career paths rather than hobbies.
15. Love is more abundant than money and money is more abundant than struggle.
1. It is impossible to put adequate time and effort in to a blog when the breadwinner has both a fractured elbow AND the proven ability to produce sperm powerful enough to bless my previously vacant uterus with twin girls.
2. 6’4″, 240lb former linebackers are big, whiny babies who will milk the fuck out of their injuries until they discover they can’t effectively use a mouse to play Diablo III or Far Cry. Then, suddenly, they’re “fine, no really, I’m totally fine.”
3. Do not attempt to eat nachos while operating a motor vehicle on the freeway in your favorite dress.
4. With properly executed timing, it is possible to send Kyle in to gales of raucous laughter by saying, “Yeah, Jake Gyllenhall!”
5. Being in a pool is way more fun when your kids are with you.
6. Do not attempt to sit atop your kid’s inflatable seahorse float.
7. Junebugs get scarier and disgustinger with each passing year. So much so that I’ve broken the rules and made up the word “disgustinger.”
8. Audiobooks were invented by a bookish wife and mother who desperately wants to read a book but quite literally does not have the energy to hold it up. Thank you, random wifemom!
9. Just when you think you’ve fixed everything wrong with your car, you will get a flat tire.
10. More than a decade later and after thousands of crashes and hundreds of saved game losses, I am still wildly, deeply in love with The Sims.
I’ve missed you guys! Welcome back, Me!
I’ve had this discussion with fellow parents before but have never actually put it in to writing. I was inspired to do so by a comment on my blog by ceruleanstarshine, who it seems has the same views as I do when it comes to children, vocabulary, and education.
To begin, let me just say that I hate baby talk. I have never used it with my girls, I have never used it with other children. Any time someone has used it with my children, or has spoken to them with that sort of dumb-downed language that one might use with a puppy, I have politely requested that they stop it and that they speak to them as they would any adult. Clearly, some topics are off-limits – we don’t discuss sex, or politics, and because I am an atheist, I try to avoid religion entirely. I have no interest in shattering their belief in fairy tales or wrecking their innocence by telling them there’s no Santa Claus. But, in most regards, the verbal exchanges with my 4-year-olds differ little from those I have with a 40-year-old.
It irks me to no end when someone points out that my child “doesn’t know what a word means.” Of course a preschooler doesn’t know the meaning of the word monotonous, or audacity, or pragmatic? Any guesses as to how they’d find out?
That’s right – you tell them. The four-year-old is an inquisitive creature; the strongest word in their arsenal is why, followed closely by what. As in, “What is monotonous?”; “What is audacity?”; “What is pragmatic?”. How difficult is it to give them a simple, articulate definition and then solidify the meaning by using the word in a proper context:
“Asking me if you can have a piece of candy ten times a day gets very monotonous.”
“You have a great deal of audacity, suggesting that I go to the bank and tell them to give me money to buy you candy.”
“It would not be very pragmatic for the bank to give out loans solely so that I can stock up on candy.”
The biggest mistake a parent can make is to speak to their child with the same vocabulary that the child uses. It limits them. Is your kid stupid? Of course not. There is no such thing as a stupid child; every child has the capacity to be a goddamned genius. So why would you talk to them as if they are anything less than brilliant? I’m not claiming to raise tiny little prodigies, but I’ve got a better shot at raising future Harvard grads simply because I do not assume that my girls are not smart enough to understand or curious enough to ask about that which they do not understand.
If your first grader is reading at a first grade reading level that is not, as far as I’m concerned, something to be proud of. You should want them to be ahead of the curve rather than fall in line with it, to exceed expectations instead of just meeting them.
Before my children turned four, they knew what gravity was. They can name the closest star to Earth, and they know that the sun is actually a star. They know the nearest galaxy is Andromeda and that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. They know what a black hole does, that there is one in the center of the Milky Way, and that they are formed when a star goes supernova. They know all this because Kyle and I were watching Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” and they happened to walk in the room. They asked us questions. And, rather than assume that physics was too far beyond the scope of their intellect, we answered them in a way that was both easy to comprehend and inspired them to ask us more.
So if you are the type of person who looks at people like me weird when I use polysyllabic words around my children, when I correct their grammar, or when I explain abstract concepts to them, I feel bad for you. But mostly, I feel bad that you don’t have the faith or confidence in your own offspring’s ability to learn. After all, school can only teach them so much – it’s up to you to fill in the gaps.