Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fishbowl Smart (or not): Smart vs. smart

Borepatch has some thoughts regarding Smart vs. smart and Intelligent vs. intelligent based on a conversation over at Aratae's place.  I made a comment on Borepatch's post but didn't really want to take it political since it's his blog and all.  It seems that a lot of my comments juxtapose nicely with Aratae's blogpost regarding perspective being an important component of actual intelligence (over and above a simple IQ test).  I wrote the following at Borepatch's blog (and yes I know quoting yourself is just bad taste but it is a jumping off point for this post):

So take this a bit further, if you will. You have a bunch of kids who are told they are Smart and are in the exclusive schools and have the grades and the Mensa memberships, which 'proves' they are Smart.

However, they are fishbowl Smart. By that I mean that they are familiar with everything in that fishbowl--they are fed but don't know from where the food comes. They have shiny objects to play with and other fish who are usually just like them or are of similar temperament in order to share that particular fishbowl so their experience is limited to what's in that fishbowl.

The thing they are lacking is perspective. Kellie Pickler, in order to write those songs, has perspective. Lissa, because she's informed and from her comments, empathetic, has perspective. Many bloggers have perspective because they seek to break out of their fishbowl and visit with other fish.

In order to be truly smart, one has to question and to know what questions to ask and to know how to bring all of those things together--that takes perspective, which you cannot gain by being content in your fishbowl. It just makes you a Smart fish in a small bowl.
 I'd like to take this even further now and it's something I've blogged about before.  The eliterati in Washington D.C. right now are fishbowl Smart.  They only know their bowl and the other fish in that bowl, almost to the point of incestuousness.  We are now going to have a Supreme Court that is comprised of people from two 'elite' schools.  Most of the Congressional leadership and the executive branch are comprised of people who also attended those same two schools or had early life experiences that somehow moved them into that eliterati fishbowl--interning in Washington DC, Chicago political machine, etc.

What they lack is perspective--the ability to look beyond their fishbowl and see that there are other ways, other thoughts, that are as valid as those perpetuated in their tiny world.  That's one reason why they are trying to expand the influence of the federal government--a goldfish will grow as big as the bowl that they are in--they are trying to make a bigger bowl.  But just like a fish--anything outside of the bowl is alien and is in the realm of a 'Here Be Dragons"--it cannot be understood and is therefore evil and must either be assimiliated or destroyed. 

Part of true intelligence is knowing that you do not know everything (read Lissa's post linked above).  If you cannot acknowledge that world beyond the fishbowl, then you cannot be thought of to be truly smart.


Borepatch said...

You packed that one full of smart. This is the true tragedy of the University - it's declined so far that it can no longer perform the function it was intended for.

"Education reveals to the wise, and conceals from the foolish, their lack of understanding."

The fishbowl is full of fools.

Midwest Chick said...

The fish have taken over the University as well. I see it everyday. When self-esteem wins out over facts; when ego wins over intelligence; then the battle is being lost.

Thanks for the nice words, BTW! :-)