The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Too smart for one's own good

I like to think of myself as an intelligent man. That's an obvious conceit, is it not? Some of you who have been reading my posts, or know me personally, are likely chuckling about that conceit. But I have, over the years, been presented with proof of my intelligence. Namely, IQ test scores.

People tell me how smart I am. Usually, though, they add another term for donkey to the word. I prefer to think of myself as a "brilliant idiot." I have said and done some of the dumbest things throughout my life. I blurt out something that comes to mind, I break into a school on a lark (Age 12), I go on a car theft spree one night with a couple of new friends (15), I get so blitzed that my hangover is clear to the bosses eying me as management material (35), I ride a motorcycle without a helmet (and often drunk or stoned on drugs) for years in southern California traffic (early 20's), and so much more.

I am obviously not a genius. I just tested well. I am not sure I would want to be a genius. The other night on "Criminal Minds" (a great show, by the way) wherein the resident genius character, Dr. Spencer Reid (well played by Matthew Gray Gubler), becomes introspective after a chance meeting with another highly intelligent young man who has designed some innovative medical treatment (and started a company based on it). He recalls that he had a dream to find a cure for schizophrenia by the time he turned 25. It is tied in with a search for a serial killer emulating the Zodiac Killer. This serial killer is a genius and chess master, stereotypically shown as an awkward social loser. Serial killers are typically profiled as highly intelligent socially inept misfits stuck in demeaning low-end jobs. I suspect the police like this stereotype because it no shame to be outsmarted by the highly intelligent.

In any case, Dr. Reid's introspection reminded me of my own. That's one of the drawbacks of being smart... you realize how poorly you've performed, how you have not lived up to your perceived potential. You recognize your mistakes and failures immediately. We all have regrets, of course, that's not confined to the intelligent. But the smart ones among us seem to feel those regrets more strongly.

A friend I had in the Navy, Herb, was a certifiable genius I believe. There is a battery of tests you take when you first enter the military (sometimes before) for classification purposes. The first two are called GCT (General Classification Test) and ARI (Arithmetic evaluation) and the combined score of these was equated to IQ to a great degree. It shouldn't have been because they involved knowledge more than inherent intellect. But Herb (a high school dropout at 16) aced them. They each had a max score of 75 and Herb's combined score was 150. I have no idea what happened to Herb after he was cashiered out on an "administrative discharge". Herb was a "brilliant idiot" who could not stay out of trouble. He would go AWOL on a whim. He ignored rules that interfered with anything he wanted to do.

I wonder just how many other Herbs are out there?

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