It’s been a long time since I had any kind of IQ testing done… more than 50 years in fact. But I used to have a certificate I was kind of proud of that certified the results of those tests and showed that I had an IQ of above 150. Eleven points above to be exact. In addition, I placed in the top 2.5% nationwide in the National Merit Scholarship Awards Competition in my senior year and was consistently working at +7 grade levels from 7th grade through high school. It was a normal thing in our family, at least on Mom’s side. She had graduated from high school at 15 after being allowed to skip two grade levels.
I’m telling you all that, not to be bragging or boosting my own credentials. For me, IQ is simply a measure of your capacity to learn, not intelligence. I had the capacity to BE smart but I wasn’t really smart. Any pride I might have had in being “smarter” than my contemporaries was whacked out of me damned quick by the fact that in the small town (think about the little town in Footloose) I grew up in brains were not exactly an attribute that would gain you any status among your peers. In fact, what it got you was ridicule… you’d be surprised at how many really nasty variations there are on the totally innocuous term “bookworm”… at best and a weekly beating or two by the jocks and bullies who were very proud of their ignorance and lack of any kind of intellectual curiosity at worst.
In order to try to “fit in” with a group of people who… had I actually been smart… I would have realized were not the best group to be trying to fit into, I had to act like them as closely as possible and in doing the chameleon thing to avoid calling attention to myself, I basically set myself up for failure, mainly a failure to realize the potential that all those figures and all that testing should have indicated. The fact that I’ve wound up where I am today shows that you can have a high IQ and still be… for all practical purposes… dumber than a box of rocks when it comes to something like peer approval not only at a young age but well into adulthood. I was still refusing to discuss politics with old friends as recently as a year ago because I knew where it would lead.
Today, I’m left with little more than a whole lot of time to wonder about the might have beens had my so called “intelligence” been accompanied by enough common sense to realize that in “going along to get along” back then, I was aiding and abetting the next big thing in corporate fascism because as it has turned out, those people… fifty years ago… were part of the embryonic state of what we today call the Tea Party or… in its shorter form… wingnuts.
Today, they are the old (and not so old) white people that can’t get with the program and realize that America is going to continue to evolve whether they like it or not. They’re the ones who rally in the park with their misspelled signs and bullshit rhetoric about “taking their country back”. They’re the ones sending all those spiteful chain emails and spamming Facebook with racist and fascist rhetoric that would have made Adolph Hitler blush. They’re the ones who are reveling in the fact that bigotry and jingoism are the new standards by which “patriotism” is measured by people like themselves.
The reason I even bring it up here is that I came across an article (thanks to
@LiberalJaxx on Twitter about a study by the Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind Poll that deals on a statistical basis with what I was trying (and failing miserably) to deal with on a practical one back in the day. It tells us little that most of us didn’t already know or at least suspect about the low information voters but it sure as hell brought back some memories for yours truly along with some insight on hindsight. Some excerpts (Any emphasis is mine):
The results of a 4 year study show that Americans who obtain their news from Fox News channel have an average IQ of 80, which represents a 20 point deficit when compared to the U.S. national average of 100. IQ, or intelligence quotient, is the international standard of assessing intelligence.
Researchers at The Intelligence Institute, a conservative non-profit group, tested 5,000 people using a series of tests that measure everything from cognitive aptitude to common sense and found that people who identified themselves as Fox News viewers and ‘conservative’ had, on average, significantly lower intelligent quotients. Fox Viewers represented 2,650 members of the test group.
The pollsters found that people were usually able to answer 1.8 out of 4 questions on foreign news, and 1.6 of 5 questions on domestic news, and that people who don’t watch any news were able to get 1.22 of the questions on domestic policy right.
So Fox viewers made up more than half of the test group and the study basically boils down to a Fox vs non-Fox viewers.
As the study explained, though, people who watched only Fox News fared worse:
The largest effect is that of Fox News: all else being equal, someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly — a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all. On the other hand, if they listened only to NPR, they would be expected to answer 1.51 questions correctly; viewers of Sunday morning talk shows fare similarly well. And people watching only “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” could answer about 1.42 questions correctly.
Lead researcher, P. Nichols, explains, “Less intelligent animals rely on instinct when confronted by something which they do not understand. This is an ancient survival reaction all animals, including humans, exhibit. It’s a very simple phenomenon, really; think about a dog being afraid of a vacuum cleaner. He doesn’t know what a vacuum is or if it may harm him, so he becomes agitated and barks at it. Less intelligent humans do the same thing. Concepts that are too complex for them to understand, may frighten or anger them.”
He continues, “Fox News’ content is presented at an elementary school level and plays directly into the fears of the less educated and less intelligent.”
The researchers said that an IQ of 80 is well above the score of 70, which is where psychiatrists diagnose mental retardation. P. Nichols says an IQ of 80 will not limit anyone’s ability to lead happy, fulfilling lives.
The study did not conclude if Fox News contributed to lowering IQ or if it attracts less intelligent humans.
So on a personal level, what it’s all boiled down to is me versus Fox News and all I have is this little unread blog page while they have hundreds of spin specialists, propagandists and dozens of on air hate peddlers and purveyors of ignorance with which to pummel their core audience even more senseless than they already are.
Not going for the obvious David/Goliath analogy here because in spite of a high capacity for learning… as indicated by my IQ score… I apparently didn’t really learn all that much and besides, there is no way I could ever get the same score at 70 that I got at 17 anyway… well let’s just say if smarts were slingshots my version of David would be totally unarmed.
It’s only the very fact that I refuse to take myself all that seriously… that I realize that in the cosmic view, unless you’re dicking with Social Security and Medicare, none of it is about me personally… and of course the fact that I no longer have to be afraid of offending old friends I no longer have anyway… that just makes the whole heaping derision on the ignorant thing more fun for me which explains why this little page… and my Twitter account… exist.