‘How dare you hurl such slander at the mental capacity of my analytical reasoning organ!’
I’ve said before on this blog that we humans are not entirely rational beings. And I don’t think there are many people out there that would disagree with that statement. As a consequence, there are many things about our lives that we consider to be entirely logical, but in fact, are not. What is weighing on my mind today is that there are certain traits in people that we value above others. Sometimes, this makes sense. For example, your height has a much greater impact on your life than the colour of your hair. But, other times, it makes no sense at all, and we place the value of certain traits above others purely because society says so.
Now, I could go on some rant about double standards in this little club we call humanity, or risk inciting the social media mob by rambling on about some misinterpreted, mild political opinion. However, if you are like me, you’ve heard it all before. What I shall endeavour to acomplish today, is not some deep explanation of the condition of the human psyche, but to ask a question:
‘If I say that you lack intelligence, why is that more insulting than me saying that you are short?’
Perhaps you disagree with that premise entirely. Possibly, you are deeply offended by someone pointing out that you are vertically challenged, and couldn’t care less if someone called you thick. In that case, this post is probably not going to make any sense at all. And everything I say can be answered by simply saying ‘That’s just personal preference you absolute moron!’
Observing the title of this post, it may seem rather prevocative. But I am trying to highlight what I think is an interesting point, at least in a roundabout way. The obvious answer to the above question might be that we don’t get to choose our height, or it’s on display for the world to see and there’s no point denying it. But, the question would ring the same if I replaced ‘you are short’ with ‘you are not charismatic’ or some other trait. For some reason, calling someone unwise seems to be a hard hitting insult.
However, in much the same way that we don’t get to choose our height or hair colour, we don’t get to choose our intelligence either. Sure, we can educate ourselves and gain knowledge, but that doesn’t change our intelligence. We live in a universe that is governed by statistics, which inevitably means that any trait we can assign to humans is distributed in some way. In other words, some people are intelligent, some people are less so. It is simply a fact of life.
Of course, calling somebody unintelligent can be framed to be an insult, just as calling someone short can, that isn’t what I’m saying. The point that I am making is that if someone says ‘I am more intelligent than you’, even if it is true, backed up and has no malicious intent, that statement is taken as much more of an insult than the statement ‘I am taller than you’, and the person saying it may come across as arrogant.
For some reason, intelligence is put on a pedestal as an important trait, even though it is not something we get to choose. My argument is that there is no logic behind this at all. You may say that intelligence is linked to higher success in careers, but so are plenty of other traits (including height, funnily enough). But intelligence seems to get a free ticket.
So, to conclude, if I was to change the title of this post from ‘Some People Are Stupid’, to ‘Some People Are Shy’, it instantly becomes less offensive. On the other hand, maybe this is all in my head. If so, feel free to call me stupid until your heart’s content.
As always, and until next time, I thank you for the read.