"My lord, what a mornin'
  My lord, what a mornin'...

        What constitutes intelligence, how to measure intelligence and who is and is not actually possessed of particular intelligence, are all sometimes serious questions posed by those within the highbrowed ivory tower elite of modern society (serious and elite, that is, according to some of them).  Since what might actually constitute and define brain acumen is rarely thought through very carefully by the common masses, those who nominate themselves as somehow being possessed of superior mental ability thus remain strongly entrenched in the darkness of the puffed-up vanity of their own self-deceit, assuming by default of superficial conjecture that they are somehow, possessed with greater mental shrewdness than the rest of us.  We go blindly along accepting that those who identify themselves as smarter than the majority must know what they are talking about and therefore, rarely if ever is our modern society's biased and twisted concept of mental aptitude challenged.

        In America we have the Mensa Society, a rather dubious collection of profiteers of cranial chicanery, who fancy themselves at the pinnacle of intellectual endowment.  Self-appointed guardians of intellectual snobbery and elitism, they ostracize and thumb their noses at the rest of us because we do not seem to measure up to their myopic caste-system conception of the human intellect.  The fact they themselves admit that none of us here at the human level have any idea how to even define intelligence, let alone how to accurately measure such an aloof and elusive concept, doesn't seem to in the least bit hinder their assumption to the throne of the kingdom of cerebral pedantism. Not surprisingly, the online test that Mensa offers, ostensibly to help discern one's intellective ability, does not contain a single question regarding how to solve pollution, war, murder, rape, prejudice or any of the other major ills of our modern species, neither does it harbor a single thought on how to improve human motivation and/or how to encourage love, peace, goodwill and Human and Civil Rights.  Apparently the discursive denizens of the Mensa ivory-towered hotel for the erudite illuminati have not considered whether or not any of this has anything to do with intelligence, which kind of provides the rest of us a clue or two as to the tear-puddle depth of their own ill-judged illusory capacity towards perspicacious reasoning.

        Standard modern ideas of brain superiority rest largely on one's ability to remember facts, ideas and formulas and to a lesser extent, conceptualize and rationalize through a set of given ideas, problems and/or situations.  The trouble with modern Intelligence Quotient tests is that those who imagine themselves to be possessed of more cleverness than the average motel maid or garbage truck driver invent them.  Thus, these tests contain prejudicial superficial perspective and bias toward those possessing conceptual and memory capability, as opposed for example, to those good with their hands, those good at helping people, those good at oratory and moving masses of people in a positive direction, those good at survival, those good at reproduction, those good at painting, sculpture, music or some other form of art, those good at staying healthy and more importantly, being happy and literally hundreds of other possible ways that true intelligence could and arguably should, be measured. And, since none of us have any idea what we are talking about anyway, let us examine a few alternative ideas of how to measure this rather vague and harebrained notion we call "intelligence". . .

        Perhaps the fairest way to determine brainpower would be if we could figure out how to calibrate what people manage to overcome, as opposed to what we seemingly achieve.  In this type of measurement, those born with muscular dystrophy, those who are paraplegic and those who are what some might call mentally 'slow' would have as equal a chance as those registering above 150 with no such handicap in such an immature and fundamentally flawed testing of I.Q. as is currently in use.  For example, a paraplegic who climbed a high mountain such as one brave American recently did,¹  might score higher than a star of the NBA.  Likewise, someone who has difficulty adding numbers together because their brain does not function the same as most of us, might have an equal or at least, better chance of belonging to a highly discriminatory group such as the Mensa Society noted above, which does not currently take any physical or mental disability into consideration. Most of those who imagine themselves possessed of superior cranial capacity rarely pause to consider evidence of intelligence other than their own very narrow, flawed and prejudicial view of mental ability.  Thus, the already overburdened and much beleaguered average American taxpayer ends up subsidizing a 'non-profit' mental-segregationist club of intellectual klansmen while being denied membership due to a presumed status of mental inferiority.

        If Darwin and the modern scientific gods of Natural Selection hypothesis be right (which is somewhat doubtful, see The Myth of Modern Science and Of God and Monkey Business for more information), then the only true and correct way to measure intellectual achievement would be in terms of those best able to reproduce.  Thus, by any honest measurement of modern scientific intelligence theory (perhaps somewhat of an oxymoron, similar to "military intelligence"), illiterate field hands who have several children would score higher than those with I.Q. above 150 who only manage one or two offspring. Likewise, cockroaches, ants and many other insects are in all fairness by default of evolutionary science, much superior to dolphins, baboons and human cockroaches who self-select themselves as examples of more advanced mutations of the Darwinian random appearing, as the former produce exceedingly more offspring and many have been around considerably longer in terms of evolutionary time.  If we extend the modern Synthetic Theory Of Evolution (good choice of name, no doubt) ²  to include the usual misconception held by many that survival of the fittest means survival of the physically strongest, then we are forced into classifying members of jungle tribes, construction laborers and professional boxers as being superior in sagacious discernment to professional particle-beam accelerator operators, college professors and other such ne'er-do-well pretenders to the self-salvational throne of intellectual achievement.

        Another method of open-minded measurement might be to rate on a scale of one through ten, those best able to produce necessary goods and services for the survival of our civilization and species.  In the cruel light of this theory, successful farmers and those shrewd in business would tend to score high, college professors probably would not do very well and television evangelists, lawyers and professional politicians would not likely score at all.  Still another method of accurately measuring intelligence could be to rate individuals according to how they are best able to help other members of our species toward the positive good.  With this type of mental yardstick, humanitarians such as Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa would score very high, while it doesn't take much of a Solomon to conclude that certain members of the Mensa Society who help design advanced weaponry and the rest, who practice human segregation based on some absurd assumptive notion of dubious percipient superiority, would be weighed in the cranial balances and found wanting at the absolute bottom of the intellectual scale of cognizant achievement, which common horse sense dictates to be a fair, just, righteous, holy and entirely correct positioning for them in the first place.

        Saving the best for last, since most of us probably do whatever we do because we believe that the direction which we are currently pursuing will ultimately, if not immediately, allow us to attain a certain measure of happiness in our often difficult and mundane lives, perhaps it would be most accurate to rate intelligence based on those best able to entertain us and make us laugh. With such an ultimate concept of how to test mental superiority as this, certain comedians, songwriters and motion picture stars would place near the top end of the mental sharpness rule, while most of the rest of us, who take our selves and our intelligence far too seriously for our own and the rest of the planet's good, wouldn't stand a Mensa number-cruncher or other rat's chance in hell of scoring much above total imbecile. ³ *

...My lord, what a mornin',
   When the stars begin to fall"

Teach For America      Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic

DEDICATED TO:  American historians Will and Ariel Durant who, like the late Carl Sagan, imitated a little of the true intelligence of Jesus by practicing the value of educating the common people; i.e., if one wants to change the world toward the positive good, one must figure out how to reach the common masses, if for no other reason, because there happens to be a lot of us---there are few better examples of intelligence and perhaps, no greater lesson of history than this.


1. Twenty-year-old paraplegic Keegan Reilly, an Oregon State University student, recently conquered the summit of Mount Elbert in Aspen, Colorado.  In 1998, Tom Whittaker of Prescott, Arizona, who previously had lost a foot in an automobile accident, reached the summit of Mount Everest.  On may 25th, 2001, thirty-two-year-old Erik Weihenmayer became the first blind person to stand at the top of Everest, the world's highest mountain.  Although physical strength and agility is greatly beneficial to the ultimate reproductive survival of our species, nothing even remotely resembling this is measured when considering one's modern 'intelligent' quotient, nor are those with mental and/or physical disabilities given any type of fair evaluation, regardless of the obstacles they may have to overcome in comparison to the so-called 'normal' individual.  How honest is it to compare Helen Keller, Ray Charles, Marlee Matlin, and Stevie Wonder with the same rod as those who possess 100% of typical human sensory perception?  Are not these four very fine individuals examples of extremely high intelligence, even though they may not all score at genius level on the modern intellectual yardstick of vanity's supreme ignorance?

2. “The Synthetic Theory Of Evolution”, a term now mostly forgotten, was once used by researchers to describe a (somewhat mythical) general consensus of evolutionary theory culled from various and sundry scientific disciplines into a somewhat workable general synthesis of beliefs, ideas and explanations.  Since there was (and remains) some disagreement (and much contradiction regarding the actual observable evidence) regarding evolutionary theory specifics, the term was meant to delineate a synthesis of not entirely agreeable 'beliefs of the moment' when discussing or applying evolutionary theory in general. Not surprisingly, the more scientists have attempted to prove that the universe and all of its parts appeared by some random accidental process apart from a Designer, the more the actual evidence suggests that modern scientists are not nearly as advanced as they self-select themselves as being.  (See The Myth of Modern Science and Of God and Monkey Business for more information.)

3. Although in fair and accurate perspective, the validity of such a conclusion is extremely doubtful, some deem it true that one who is "smart" is one who, through accident of genetic chance and/or, by application of rote memory and redundant repetition, can recall a larger than average amount of facts and formulas stored away in the vast vault of their largely unused cranium.  On the other hand, one who is "wise" may have far less capacity for remembering information and otherwise scoring well on intelligence quotient tests but yet, is one who learns through experience to apply what ability they do have toward helping their fellow human beings.  Imbecile is thus defined as not being able to discern the difference between peripheral intelligence and true wisdom.

*FootNote: The author has endured considerable rather disparaging remarks regarding this article, not because most of those criticizing disagree with the overall premise that intelligence is rather an illusive thing to measure, but rather, because it seems to unnecessarily (in their opinion) 'rag' on and otherwise make sport of the Mensa Society.  To which such unlearned deprecation the author responds that segregation is segregation and as long as the Mensa Society continues to exclude people based on their (or any) superficial idea of 'intelligence', not only do they deserve to be roundly and soundly put in obvious juvenile elitist perspective, those who seek to uphold Human and Civil Rights should demand that the United States government revoke their non-profit status and fine them severely for violation of Constitutional law, basic Human and Civil Rights and human decency.  (See The Mensa Society International Spastic Aptitude Test, FootNote II for reasons why segregation of this kind is a very negative and backward step in the direction of elitism, fascism and human bondage---have we learned nothing from the lessons of human slavery and Auschwitz?)


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

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