Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Intelligent or Smart?
I've often wondered about the intelligence of smart people.
For years, I've wondered why many of the people who are considered successful do not always appear intelligent or act intelligently proportional to their perceived success; yet, their success indicates that they are smart.  How can that be?  In (at least American) English vernacular, intelligent and smart are used interchangeably, as are unintelligent and stupid.
I began to see a distinction between the concepts, intelligent and smart, and conversely, unintelligent and stupid.  The reason for using the term, intelligence, is self-evident, indicating an objective quantification of an individual's intellectual faculty.  The words, stupid and smart, are natural choices, given common use and understanding, to indicate an individual's usage of given intelligence, low or high.  Other words for stupid, e.g. dim, thick, obtuse, can involve irrelevant connotations.
Further, intelligence is relatively lasting, given its biochemical source, barring the effects of aging or brain trauma, whereas stupidity and smartness can be fleeting, lasting for seconds or a lifetime.
That is not to say that successful (read smart) people cannot also be intelligent.  Carl Sagan, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and many others are/were intelligent and smart.  But, anyone who would argue that all successful people are necessarily, or by definition, highly intelligent would need to explain to me apparently successful people such as Donald Trump, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, any Kardashian, and many others.  Of course, some would further argue that those people are also intelligent, requiring the results of intelligence testing to be convincing.
Conversely, the concept does not imply that intelligent people are always smart.  An intelligent person can design and build a fully functional and innovative jet-powered skateboard and stupidly decide to immediately test its feasibility on a busy highway or over the Grand Canyon.
Intelligence is innate, relatively stable, objective, and measurable by proven and continually updated methods[1].  Smartness, like stupidity, is not innate but is the result of a conscious decision and is therefore subject to capriciousness.   Smartness/stupidity is subjective and not measurable by anyone's behavior which can change in an instant and is seldom, if ever, admitted or discovered for reasons implied below. 
Smartness and stupidity cannot be measured.  It cannot be quantified by tests or by bank accounts, for example, since bank balances are affected by inheritances, mistakes, and intelligent or unintelligent decisions.  However, smartness/stupidity can be judged, albeit without great accuracy, using success as an indicator.  There are several forms of success, e.g.  affluence, notoriety, power (pull, authority).  
If viewed philosophically, i.e. without moral judgment, there are many identifiable behaviors that can be used to gain success: deceit, lying, self-discipline, theft, manipulation, education, flamboyance, fraud, forgery, intimidation, tenacity, coercion, among others.  (See?  Not all those traits are, even in the non-philosophical sense, negative.)  The biggest difference between any two humans lies in what they are willing to do to get what they want.
I submit that using the words, intelligent and smart, or unintelligent and stupid, interchangeably serves only to confuse. The practice leads us to assume that, because someone is successful, regardless of their methods to achieve success, they are also intelligent enough to head corporations, serve in significant elected positions, or make momentous military decisions.
In the case of elected office, the more (financially) successful person can afford to spend vast sums on advertising and an entourage to maximize their chances of being elected.  Ultimately, their success depends on the intelligence of the American electorate, but that's a subject for another time.

[1] There are, of course, arguments against IQ tests, asserting that they are inherently biased, inaccurate, and meaningless.  There are also arguments against evolution and for creationism.  I suspect that there is a correlation somewhere.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

FatherhoodMy reason to blog

This past October, 2011, I became a father for the first time when my wife delivered our baby girl.*  Not unusual at all since babies are born every day.  However, when our daughter was born, I was sixty-five years old.  (My wife is obviously much younger than I am.)
I have been around newborns, infants and toddlers a few times in my life but never out of necessity.  This time it was required and I have been with my daughter every day. I've witnessed the small and subtle changes in her development as she masters the skills of head and neck stability, holding her back straight, grasping, vocalizing, unsupported sitting, crawling and many other developments that I'm sure are too subtle to notice yet.
The day that we brought her home was the first time in my life that I changed a diaper.  It is not a difficult task to master, basically mechanical movements that ensure that the bum is clean, dry, and powdered; the diaper is securely but not too tightly attached; and the baby is smiling when it's all over.  That last part is not  always easy to accomplish – and doesn't always happen – but we talk to her and follow her progress in vocalization and ask her questions to assess her curiosity and responses.
Like most parents, we have high hopes and great aspirations for our daughter.  She will be tall, no doubt, placing in the 90-95%ile so far; slim, placing in the 50%ile; and with eyes which color has settled on bright blue with a dark blue outline. 

She is the main reason I started this blog.  I have learned a few things during my life and I want to pass them on to her. Still, I want to include input from others so that she has, not only my view, but those of other people with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and philosophies.

* I am lead to believe that I have a child, born in 1968 in northern Japan in Aomori Prefecture, but have not been able to confirm that.  It's a long story.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Why blog? 2.0
(This is a continuation of my 5/24/12 post below)

Well ... the e-sphere offers much more than a method to conveniently order products online; rapidly research a Kia's fuel sender unit and other innumerable bits of information; and assertion of political, religious, commercial, and social agenda.  It offers an opportunity to share views across cultures, scientific disciplines, religions, social strata, and countless other perceived barriers.  Of course, this is only true if we are willing to maintain duplex communications, i.e. speak and listen or, more accurately in this case, write and read.
Human society has evolved, through tens of thousands of years, into its current format of parochial, self-serving, defensive enclaves, i.e. countries, nations, states, cultures, religions, political affiliations, etc.  The reason, irrelevant now, can be summed up in three words – prehistoric human nature, but that is not justification for its continuation into what we generally – and charmingly – refer to as modern times.  Those enclaves will continue to exist as long as their leaders are given the power to sponsor and promote the differences that define them. 
The e-sphere – the internet, the web, blogosphere, email and the electronic matrix that supports and flows from it – provides an opportunity for rational individuals the world over to understand all other rational individuals the world over – through personal blogs.  Granted, there will always be those individuals who will stick to their views regardless of rational discourse and the opportunity to learn from and about others. However, those are not rational individuals and, if they blog, their site is not personal; rather, it is an interest blog, a site that perpetuates a self-serving view, a rigid perspective, a conclusion prior to evidence.
That is the reason to blog – to put forth into the e-sphere rational thought, civil discourse, and differing views.  As the strongest metals rely on mixtures with other metals and chemicals, e.g. chromium-nickel-copper stainless steel, the strongest philosophies, thoughts, and perspectives will rely on hybridization and input from many sources rather than a single, inbred source.