“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not so sure about the Universe”- Albert Einstein
Einstein was not wrong when he described the greatest disease that afflicts mankind. We would like to clarify, that here we are talking about behaviour and actions, of those individuals, who do not suffer from any well defined medical cause of intellectual disability (or mental retardation, in simple terms). That being said, is Stupidity really a disease? According to some, it is.
James Watson, who is one of the co -discoverers of DNA and is a very respected molecular biologist, zoologist and geneticist – believes that stupidity is a disease that should be cured. According to James Watson, decreased intelligence is a genetic disease & this inherited disorder should be cured, with the right gene therapy. He also insisted that molecular biologist should devise screening test and make determined efforts to deal with the problem.
However, his sentiments are not shared by many other respectable scholars, who are in the same field. They believe it is not practical or ethical, to work on the goals that James Watson so seriously believes. Leaving further deliberations on the topic to the molecular biologist fraternity, let us take a view at the things that we already know – things that are in domain of every day science and logic.
The Intelligence Quotient is a measure of human intelligence, which is checked by many standardized tests. The term was first coined by psychologist William Stern in a 1912 book. People can be classified into different groups depending on their IQ level.
Different IQ level : Significance
IQ less than 20: Profound mental retardation
IQ between 20 to 35: Severe mental retardation
IQ between 35 to 50: Moderate mental retardation
IQ between 50 to 70: Mild mental retardation
IQ between 70 to 79: Borderline deficiency in Intelligence
IQ between 80 to 89: Dullness
IQ between 90 to 109: Normal intelligence
IQ between 110 to 119: Superior Intelligence
IQ between 120 to 140: Very superior intelligence
IQ over 140: Genius or near Genius
The merits of classifying people based on IQ levels, has always been controversial for multiple reasons. It is believed, that IQ does not take into account, many other factors like – motivation, emotion, social skills, grit, morality, responsibility, courage and perseverance. These factors are of tremendous importance for survival of individual as well as, the society as a whole. Besides raising the question of bias towards Eastern cultures, IQ testing has also come under the scanner regarding practical usefulness. Life’s accomplishments can’t be just predicted based on IQ levels, other factors previously mentioned – if present, can totally alter the scenario.
In the year 1968, award winning scientist-- George Land conducted a research on 1600 children, to judge their creativity. This test had earlier helped NASA to select scientist & engineers, depending on their innovative abilities. The success of the test, inspired George Land to use the same technique to study creativity among children, aged between 4 to 5 years. 98% of these children had intelligence in genius level. Another 5 years later, when these children were in school, similar tests demonstrated that only 30% had the genius level of intelligence and creativity. Similar test done 5 years later, when the children were in high school demonstrated that only 12% kid retained their intelligence. After that Dr land did his test on 280,000 adults. The results were shocking, only 2% of them scored at genius level.
The findings on George Land’s test, led to some startling revelations. It is now believed that in preschool children, the reason for incredible high level of intelligence is due to the fact, that in that age children had a very strong curiosity, creative inclinations and a mind full of wild imagination. But as these children grow up, the atmosphere in school & home forces them to obey commands without questioning and they are pressurised to confirm to the established norms of the society.
An adult scientist is a kid, who never grew up. Many social scientists believe that all kids are born scientists with intense curiosity & inquisitive bent of mind. These behaviours are obvious by many small habits they routinely engage in. They look at new things with wonder, pluck petals of flowers, beat utensils of kitchen with small rods, put things in their mouth and explore everything with a wonder of a passionate explorer. The parents almost always discourage these activities, with the intention of disciplining their children. While concerns about the safety of the children is quite well placed, but overcautious parent stifle the inquisitiveness of a child & unintentionally hampers his/her growth. The inability of parents to understand & failure to value, the inquisitive nature of their kids, to keep order in their household, gives rise to adults who lack the ability to make any independent choice or decisions – that challenges the social norms.
Our modern education is invariably linked to the industrial revolution, which happened more than 2 centuries ago. The target of education developed at that period was to create good workers, who would follow orders. In majority of the places, the education system still follows the pattern established centuries back. In that situation schooling forces these children to copy their teacher’s instruction, which they are forced to memorise – most of the time, even without understanding them. Inability to conform to the same levels as others, invites harsh disciplinary actions by those in authority. The result being the loss of inquisitiveness, which is replaced by blind conformity to standard norms.
The sign of intelligence in humans has a lot to do with the ability to have an open mind, that encourages creativity and allows the person to think beyond the limits and boundaries of the rest of the society. Very powerful imagination allows, these divergent thinkers to think outside the scope of other ordinary people. These selected intellectuals believe in achieving goals, what most people consider logically impossible.
Most of the people who conform to standard patterns & expected criteria, mock those individuals, who believe in going beyond the limits of societal norms. Strangely all the great inventions & discoveries have been achieved by people, whose imagination stretched much beyond, what was believed to be possible. All the modern facilities of the modern world like – the car, the phone, aircrafts, internet, 3D printing were devised by people, who dreamt an impossible dream.
Yale professor of psychology – Paul Bloom, believes that people are born with a sense of morality, which they unlearn later in life. His theory postulates that, at birth every individual is born with compassion, empathy and sense of fairness. At this stage, they also try to soothe the pain and suffering of others, by patting and stroking. They also had an innate instinct to reward kindness & punish cruelty. The result of the study proved that injustice, hatred, indifference & exploitation do not come naturally to human race, but are cultural conditioning as an individual grows up.
The human society has an overwhelming amount of corruption, greed, apathy, exploitation and injustice – qualities that are anathema to babies and young children. So how these attributes manifest in society? The answer is available, when we examine, how the modern societies work. Handful of corrupt businessmen, political families & unscrupulous bankers manipulate the system to maintain their grip on people. For these individuals and their cronies, a society of people with introspective nature & inquisitive behaviour are dangerous, as they can change the status quo maintained by the elitist forces. They always try to replace such tendencies by conformity, obedience, apathy and ignorance. As absence of these qualities (or liabilities, to be more precise), would give rise to a situation resembling French revolution (1789 AD) or Russian revolution of 1917 AD.
To prevent the above mentioned consequences, measures are taken by those in control to divide and distract the grown up populace. Steps to brainwash people & blindly follow authority is done by different forms of mass media. This is done by -- 1) Spreading fear and hatred through false news. 2)Encouraging conformity and crass consumerism through various advertisements. 3) Diverting attention from real issues by breeding envy and encouraging celebrity culture & materialistic pursuits. 4) Use politics to divide people on race, religion, caste & creed. 5) Create modern day slave by disproportionate division of the resources. Anything & everything that forces the ordinary populace to divert their mind from the real issues, is used by those in power to influence the bourgeois, who in turn influence the behaviours of the rest.
Every lock has been devised with a key to unlock it and similarly every problem has its solution, if one knows where to search for it. In the present context, one of the most important steps would be to teach people to take their education and well being in their own hands. As George Santayana, the American poet and novelist, had said – “A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.” The indoctrination of an individual starts from childhood & parents should not try to suppress the curiosity and adventure spirit. They should be encouraged to acquire knowledge and tolerate difference of opinion. Once they are in school, they should be told to search up the internet, for things that arises their interest. Curiosity should be taken as a good sign and encouraged instead of suppressing inquisitiveness, as a sign of dissent.
Once a person is in college & interacting with society, he/she should listen to opinions of free thinkers and peace activists & not self serving politicians. Social media can be put to good use, if a person follows motivational people – who genuinely want to help others & not celebrities, who would do anything for money. Supporting ethical businessmen & companies, who work not only for their profits but have a broader interest for improvement of the whole world can help in development of a free society. Acquiring knowledge oneself from different sources, instead of listening to political leaders, would help in growth of a free mindset & an intelligent society.
The path to improvement can start only when we avoid the wrong choices & begin to make the right ones. Instead of just existing and conforming, we can develop our full potential, if we start engaging in all the basic traits that we displayed in childhood like -- curiosity, lack of fear, adventurous spirit, playful nature and love for our friends. The creation of a new better world can only be accomplished, with the formation of a new mindset & a generation of intelligent people, who are not afraid to challenge the unknown & ask uncomfortable questions.