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Friday Philosophy – If You are reading this You are probably Pretty Smart September 11, 2015

Posted by mwidlake in Friday Philosophy, humour, Knowledge.
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I bet I can predict a few things about you. And I mean You, the person reading this on my Blog right now.

At senior school (when you were aged between 11 and 16-ish) you were at the top of your classes. At least most of them. You were in the top few in your year for most science subjects and probably Maths too.

And you were not bad at any of your subjects once you had a choice over them, but there was at least one subject you were glad to get rid of as you were poor at it. But if you think back, I bet you were simply *almost average* at it, there were as many kids or more worse at it than you then there were better than you at it. You were just not as stand-out good as you were in other subjects. Come on, I’m right aren’t I? Even your poor subjects you were OK at compared to all the other kids.

You almost certainly went to college and, if you are under 35, you did to study a STEM subject – Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths. If you are 40-50 you did not study computing but you ended up working in it anyway. 35-40? You either studied computing, thought about it or took options in your course that had a major element of computer programming.

However, you were probably not quite the smartest kid in your year at school.

What makes me think this? Because I can mind-read(*)?

No, I think this simply due to the fact that you work in corporate IT or something very similar. You use your brain to solve issues or get tasks done. I think that the generally high level of intelligence is a more common trait in IT than the other thing I can probably predict about you – you don’t feel you are a people person, not really. Using myself as an example; I present at conferences, I have run training courses and I usually have something to say in a large group or discussion; I even partly run London Oracle Beers, a social Oracle user group. But I can’t make small-talk with people I don’t know and I am uncomfortable meeting new people.

We have to be intelligent to make a career in IT and most of us were probably drawn, at least in part, towards computers and software as we could work on it on our own and the computer did not have any feelings to dent or make any social demands on us. However, many (most) people are social nervous and so I think the more defining trait of people in IT is that they are intelligent – and intelligent in the way that IQ tests measure intelligence: A mixture of learnt patterns and various problem solving/logic/deduction skills. If you have had your IQ tested I am sure you are 120+. I would not be at all surprised if you score 130+. But you still have a little way to go to beat… my wife.

You probably were not the smartest kid in your year at school as the smartest kid either went into medicine/vet school, academia, law or crime – something more way-out-there.

So what point am I making? None really. It’s more just an observation. Though I do think you should occasionally take time to say a prayer of thanks to Pythagoras (or whoever you think is listening) and remind yourself how lucky you are. Most of your intelligence is inherited and the smaller (but not insignificant part) is due to schooling and your own efforts (note, I’m talking intelligence, not what you know – the two are different but aid each other). Your brains were given to your by your parents and grandparents, no matter how hard that can sometimes be to believe :-). I was on a PL/SQL course with Steven Feuerstein about 10 years ago and he took a minute or two to passionately state how lucky all of us on the course were to have our brains, to be making our living by thinking and not back-breaking toil or dull manual work. It was a sentiment I whole-heatedly agree with. I actually love spending time digging a ditch or chopping down trees but I would hate having to do it every day for a living.

Of course, intelligence of the IQ type is not everything and it does not make you a better person. I’m sure we have all known some very smart assholes and some wonderful people who can’t think themselves out of a damp paper bag. Some people have average IQ and yet have talents most of use would struggle with, like making a violin sound anything but bloody awful. I’ve known academics with an IQ somewhere Way Up There but who had about as much common sense as a pigeon. I have come across a few examples of intelligence bigotry in my time too. I know one guy in an academic institute who tried to insist that the highest grade you could achieve and the top of your salary band be dictated by your best academic qualification. No one without some sort of degree should get above level 5, No one with less than a 2(i) allowed in grade four and to get to grade 2 a PhD was needed. He was a very smart asshole. I’ve known a couple of people without a degree in this business of IT and both of the ones I’m thinking of right now are very, very good at what they do.

So be grateful for that brain of yours and just remember that most people are not as intelligent as you, so show patience in explaining and working with them. And if you are not patient, you could well be an intelligent asshole. You might need to learn to not be like that.

(*) Just as an aside, deducing things about groups of people and, in fact, traits most people have is not hard. It’s called cold reading. It’s what mediums, mind readers, psychics and other intelligent assholes use to hoodwink people. Part of it is things you can guess at given one piece of information or even none. I can deduce things about you because you work in IT. I know you feel you’ve never reached your potential and you have more to give as *almost everyone does*. No one wants to be seen to be selfish but we all know we are, at least at times. Even Mother Theresa thought so at times. The other aspect to it is reading body language and empathy, which is why I can’t make a living as a psychic. I just don’t get people….

Just thinking on this aside for a second, maybe mediums and psychics could get less abusive jobs as data analysts? Deducing things about people based on averages and correlation is Big Data Business right now.

(Update – thanks to the person who quietly contacted me to point out my spelling error/poor grammar with “patience” and “patient” – in my section in intelligent assholes too! He showed real patience with me)

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Comments»

1. oraclebase - September 11, 2015

I was waiting for you to tell me what colour underwear I was wearing… πŸ™‚

mwidlake - September 11, 2015

Trick question! Everyone knows you live your life Commando – except for at weekends when “lace” and “pink” are suitable adjectives.

(It’s dark blue really, isn’t it).

2. Millinery Sue - September 11, 2015

Find it worrying that ‘your wife’ breaks most of the assumptions…. A linguist and a people person, and I was really pleased to drop biology, not because I wasn’t good at it, as came top of the year in it, but it didn’t excite me as much as languages…..

You are most definitely right in me owing a vote of thanks to my parents and grandparents, and I know we joke about a certain 1/4 of my genes, but I guess that 1/4 instilled my passion for languages and sewing!

mwidlake - September 11, 2015

Err, do we want to talk about top few in the year for everything and *not quite” top of the year – in subjects you dropped? But like still significantly better than average? Besides, you stepped out of IT as you were just a bit too smart….like Top of the class. So all in all I think I did OK on the cold reading front even with you πŸ™‚

If anyone even mentions that you should be able to do better than “cold reading” when it comes to your spouse, I could be in a LOT of trouble – so please do not mention it…

3. Matthew Morris - September 12, 2015

Ha!!! I’m in my mid-40’s and I did too study computing.

OK… the rest of it is pretty close to the mark. πŸ™‚

mwidlake - September 12, 2015

LOL! If I was doing a pysch show I guess I would now be fumbling with some phrase like “Well, I knew one of you were here tonight, I just had to wait for you to show yourselves. I have a message for you from HAL9000…..” Or maybe a VAX9000 – though if you are my age you probably were on earlier VAXs and PDP11s at college.

Matthew Morris - September 12, 2015

Heck of a long time ago. I deleted the mental files associated with the hardware some time back to free up RAM. I will concede that I took a college course in FORTRAN.

4. Boneist - September 16, 2015

I’m not 40* and I didn’t study computing (I did do maths, though, but very little computer programming)!

*Ok so this won’t be true next week, but still… *{;-)

mwidlake - September 16, 2015

Cold reading does not work on truly special people

(See what I did there!)

Big Week for you next week then!

Boneist - September 19, 2015

lol! “I’m special!”


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