At present the URL sorabji.com, just the top page, redirects to a random story or image at wsbj.com/sorabji. I love random links, though it’s become hard to find good quality ones with links to the open internet. There’s just too much garbage out there now, URLs change a lot, etc. So I have to make my own.
The therapist seems to think I should take an IQ test. I think she is interested in knowing for her own curiosity what my IQ is. She has repeatedly asks if I am “one of those super smart people?” I don’t think my IQ would be as high as she thinks.
I have always been skeptical of the value of an IQ test. I grew up thinking that all it these tests really measure was your ability to take a test. Her response was that that would been have fair enough to say of certain tests from my generation, which were criticized for basing too much of a test-taker’s success on school knowledge. The newer tests supposedly address that complaint, focusing on shapes and concepts, not facts.
But what would my high IQ get me? A job? I think it would get me laughed out of a lot of job screenings.
If my IQ is high then it should be no surprise. My mother’s was off the charts. She was in the top 1% of the 1%, pretty much acing the MENSA test and blowing through another test for something called the Society for Philosophical Inquiry. She had me believe the Society had an admission process that made getting into MENSA look like you’d gotten into Kindergarten. She may have exaggerated, but I tend to take her on her word, meaning that whether it was altogether true or not she honestly believed what she was saying.
To add to my belief in her sincerity on this matter was her progressive disdain for that organization. The “Society” published articles by its members in a newsletter, which I think was published quarterly. mother described the content of these articles as shockingly banal. “These people think they are something,” she would say. One particular story really piqued her. I never read it but she described it as a lengthy, dramatically built up account of something that was made to sound like a rupturous, gestapo-like intrusion of government into the life of this private citizen.
Did they raid this person’s house looking for the Nixon tapes? Were there black helicopters and rabid bomb-sniffing dogs? No. There were not.
It was an IRS tax audit. For weeks Mother could not stop heaping scorn on this story. “A freakin’ tax audit. Is that all?” She said they made it sound like the KGB was backing the intruders up via walkie-talkie when in fact not only was the visit from the IRS relatively routine but the details made it sound virtually innocuous. The author owed no money or suffered any unexpected financial hardship. It was just a routine audit on a randomly chosen citizen.
Mother would say “In our next issue a Society member recounts the horrors of JURY DUTY in a blistering 50,000 diatribe.” In predicting the denouement of this hypothetical story my mother predicted the prospective juror would be dismissed upon arrival at the courthouse.
To keep it fair and real, I never read this stuff, so I don’t have an opinion. My mother never contributed a word to the Society’s journal, though I don’t know why that should be a standard for her to meet before commenting on it herself. I don’t know if she ever even considered doing that, but for as well as she could write I know that publishing was something she never did.
I’ll tell you what, though. As candid as Mother was with me about this stuff she made a big deal of making sure I did not tell anyone else about her membership in the Society. She said it makes some people feel bad to know about these things. I think she was specifically referring to a neighbor, who had recently taken the MENSA test and failed to get in.
That gets back to my question of what, exactly, a high IQ would get me? If I take my mother’s word for it I think it would cause stigma more than anything else. For much of contemporary functional life I think intelligence is vastly over-rated, as is creativity. On most day-to-day contexts, from working at a food counter to conversing with friends I find that creative thinking is an annoying, bothersome pain in the ass. That is because so much creative thinking isn’t bad but what euphemistically could be described as “necessary”. Bad ideas have to be entertained, vetted, and wrung dry before settling on the good ones. To invoke Thomas Edison’s genius ratio I think it’s true for creative thinking: 1% inspiration gets all the respect while the 99% perspiration is dismissed as an irritant.