Skip to comments.(Vanity) Sarah and the Snobs, or, The True Measure of Intelligence
Posted on 06/06/2011 10:03:59 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
The latest brouhaha concerning Sarah Palin (overshadowed "briefly" by Wienergate) concerned some impromptu remarks she made regarding the famed ride of Paul Revere. The left started crowing immediately that "these remarks prove she's addled, because everyone knows the famous line 'one if by land, two if by sea'." After the dust had settled, and disinterested authorities had time to digest it, it turns out that the gist of what she had been saying was correct: Paul Revere really *did* warn the Redcoats, that is, tell them that they had lost tactical surprise. It is true that her remarks were somewhat disorganized; but on the other hand, this has always been Sarah's way of speaking: presenting snippets of thought, using the disparate elements to give an impressionistic depiction of a larger picture. For the press, and for Sarah Palin's detractors, this is prima facie evidence of mental deficiency, even aside from the facts -- or, sometimes, even overriding the facts.
Here are some representative comments on Palin's intelligence, with sources:
Get ready for the GOP's next frontal assault on what's left of the American voters' collective intelligence, the Palin/Bachmann ticket for 2012. -- Richard Latimer, Columbia Law School graduate, writing in Cape Cod Today. (Incidentally, Dick, youspelled her name as both "Bachman" and "Bachmann" in the same article, and said that she was from Maryland. Way to go, Einstein.)
I would call her lucky in her comments -- Boston University history professor Brendan McConville, quoted in The Boston Herald. Even though Palin happened to be correct, McConville said he also is not convinced that Palins remarks reflect scholarship.
But this trashing of Sarah Palin's intellect, similar in style to a long-standing Democrat technique (Reagan as an "amiable dunce" and Dan Quayle's being handed a cheat sheet with a deliberately erroneous version of the word "potatoe"), has been honed to a fine point against Sarah, and is used in all cases, even when Sarah is correct. Examples of this include the attempted set-up of Palin as a patsy in the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by a leftist already reported to the Sheriff's office (the same Sheriff's office, by the way, whose swat team gunned down a US marine in his own home in a no knock raid, mere feet away from his now-widow and orphane child); the trashing of Sarah as an anti-Semite when she defended herself using the word "blood libel" -- even though Harvard University Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz defended her usage; and the infamous Tina Fey hit piece "I can see Russia from my house": even though Palin's actual remarks correctly referred to Big Diomede Island and Little Diomede Island.
It's rough being Sarah: even when she's right, she's wrong. And it seems to be because of who she is (or isn't). More on that in a later piece.
What is very interesting at the moment, is the idea that Sarah is an idiot, regardless of the facts: because of, well, because of her essential bent or orientation, or worldview. Charles Krauthammer (who has a reputation as a conservative, even though he is a former speechwriter for Walter Mondale), summed it up well a few days ago when he said:
"The problem with her, I think, is that she is not schooled. I don't mean she didn't go to the right schools. I mean when you get into policy, beyond instincts -- I like her political instincts, I like her political overall view of the world -- but when it comes to policy, she had two-and-a-half years to school herself and she hasn't and that's a problem. ... It's not only the lack of schooling; it's the lack of effort to school herself and the lack of insight to see that she needs it."
It's a worthwhile exercise to unravel this statement a bit; and then to broaden the scope.
First the line, I don't mean she didn't go to the right schools. This itself seems like something between a Freudian slip, and a hint of noblesse oblige; Krauthammer is reassuring his listeners that he is too a tolerant person, it's just that Palin doesn't even meet his gracious and generous standards. There is a great scene in Dorothy L. Sayers' novel Gaudy Night, in which Harriet Vane is attempting to write a letter to Lord Peter Wimsey on behalf of his nephew Gerald, who has been in a car accident and cannot write for himself:
"As he can't write much himself, he asks me to send you the enclosed and to say he thanks you very much and is sorry. He appreciates your confidence and will do exactly as you ask him, as soon as he is well enough."
She hoped there was nothing there that could offend. She had started to write "honorably do as you ask," and then erased the first word: to mention honor was to suggest its opposite.
And so it is with Krauthammer. He very much wants to point out the obvious, that Palin did not attend a "decent school," but catches himself in time. But the deeper problem, according to Krauthammer, is that she lacks a certain fundamental seriousness, a lack of intellectual curiosity, a defect in even being able to recognize one's own lack of depth.
(For the nonce, this is absolute nonsense: Palin started as a housewife and small businesswoman with her husband, and climbed the ranks of local politics to the point she was able to knock off an incumbent governor and then face down the corporate lawyers at Exxon Mobil, one of the largest and richest companies that ever existed. If she were too shallow to recognize and ameliorate her own deficiencies, she'd have been crushed. Much as she was written off after the Charles Gibson ambush, where he lied to her about her own words, or after losing the VP role, or after the lawsuits hounding her while governor of Alaska--for which she was found guilty on all counts in advance--or, after her resignation from Alaska's Governorship, or after her book Going Rogue bombed, or after her book tour failed, or after her Cable TV show Sarah Palin's Alaska failed, or after she was linked to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, or after her career even as a commentator was washed up after a unilateral embargo on news stories about her for a month or so, or after her bankruptcy caused by all the lawsuits in Alaska apparently allowed her to buy a house in prestigious North Scottsdale for cash...)
One only has to look at the typical PDS screed to get the flavor of it. (This example is from the comments section at The Boston Herald's article above):
Saying she is right is like parsing predictions from a clairvoyant to find parts that make sense. There is no way she had that depth of knowledge or that she meant to relay that nuanced an analysis. -- poster "TPO"
By contrast, look at the fawning treatment meted out to Barack Obama by David Brooks:
But anyone whos observed him closely can see that Obama is a new kind of politician. As Klein once observed, hes that rarest of creatures: a megahyped phenomenon that lives up to the hype.
It may not be personally convenient for him, but the times will never again so completely require the gifts that he possesses. Whether youre liberal or conservative, you should hope Barack Obama runs for president.
Bear in mind that this was written in November 2006, long before anyone had heard of Barack Obama (except, according to the style of your tinfoil hat, George Soros, William Ayers, and some ex-Soviet generals).
Brooks was later quoted in Allahpundit for his views:
"Moreover, after the Bush years, Brooks seems relieved to have an intellectual in the White House again. I divide people into people who talk like us and who dont talk like us, he explains."
So the gist of it, from the intellectual elite's point of view, is that Barack "talks like us" but Sarah Palin doesn't.
This would also explain why (say) George W. Bush, despite a Yale degree, and a Harvard MBA, was roundly trashed by the intellectuals: he is not deliberative, nor mellifluous.
In other words, Harvard and Yale may all be very well, but in the final analysis, they are (as the mathematicians say) "necessary, but not sufficient."
And it was this that gave me the key to unlock the whole phenomenon. The liberals unconsciously give the game away, if they but knew it: but even their slips do not explain the whole situation.
For a liberal, everything revolves around intelligence, and secondly about motives. Attendance at the "right" schools (Ivy League, U of Chicago, Stanford, Berkeley, a few others) is a proxy for intelligence: and as a first order approximation, since those schools are selective in undergraduate admissions, it's not too bad of a proxy, if you have no other information about a person. (Of course, the courses one takes make a difference as well: studying feminist deconstruction of Shakespeare at Harvard is still not as compelling as the biostatistics of survival analysis at Minnesota. But by that point, it's too much work to examine the details, so people tend to go with Harvard just to save time.)
Also, the psychologists tell us, there is more to life than a culturally limited, Eurocentric, heterosexual Caucasian homophobic IQ test to tell a person's intelligence. There are in fact different spheres of "giftedness" -- as Picasso was a genius in his art, as Baryshnikov had fluidity and body awareness, as Barack Obama can read from a teleprompter like nobody else who ever lived. And so, intelligence should be considered not just as a number, an intelligence QUOTIENT, but as something more. That is, considering a number of different areas of human endeavor or skill or talent, one could combine a person's scores along each of the disparate, orthogonal axes to come up with a vector, measuring the total "quantity" of giftedness with regard to each area of life. Lo and behold! Intelligence is a vector-valued quantity!
(That is, when one is a liberal, wishing to discredit the formal achievements of a conservative. When one is trying to shut out a conservative entirely, for lack of achievements, intelligence is once again relegated to its accustomed place as a scalar, the IQ score, with attendance and grades at the "right" school all the information one needs to assign someone an absolute rank.)
That, at least for now, is how the liberals appear to see things in their own hearts.
But you know, there's one other thing which gets involved, which liberals never seem to make allowances for. And that is, what is the person doing with their gifts, skills, and talents? Leni Reifenstahl was surely using artistic gifts when she made Triumph of the Will. ("Holy crap! You racist! You're DEFENDING NAZIS!")
No. The problem is in the meaning of the word "using". There is a values neutral sense, which connotes "utilizing" -- but there is another sense, which means, "knowingly exerting effort towards a desired end" -- that is, Riefenstahl was not just trying to make a Damn Good DocumentaryTM, she was trying to make a documentary extolling the Nazis. And in doing such, she was not using, but rather badly MISusing, her talents.
And this is where the extension to intelligence comes in. IQ is a scalar, it is a useful measure for some things, but it is not complete. A vector-valued intelligence (magnitude and direction) is more complete. But in order to best describe how intelligence exists, and is used in the real world, one must look not only at the size and direction of the vector, but the orientation of the vector in relation to the rest the world. And a convenient mathematical representation of this, the extension of the concept (scalar = magnitude only, vector = magnitude + a direction) is a tensor: a scalar with TWO significant directions.
To treat it mathematically remember the Riemann sum from Calculus, used to help describe the definite integral. One draws a function, and then draws a number of vertical lines, from the function down to the x-axis, making a series of tiny, infinitesimally thin rectangles. The integral is formed by adding up the area under each rectangle.
For a tensor, imagine a garden variety vector, but instead of it being placed so that it begins at the origin, imagine dividing all of space into a series of infinitesimal boxes, one at each point in space, just as the integral divided a function into tiny rectangles. A tensor, then, is a vector, where the size and direction of the vector are what they always have been, but the thing that makes it a tensor, is a knowledge and description of which face of the box the vector originates from!
The analogy to intelligence is this: IQ is just a number, the 'length' of the vector; the vector shows how talented the person is across the different areas of life; the little box for the tensor describes the goals, aims, and aspirations the person has when they are exerting their intelligence.
And thus, we come full circle. It is true that David Brooks divides the world into "Talks like us" and "Doesn't talk like us"; it is true that Krauthammer bemoans Palin's lack of curiosity about the wide world. How much of this can be described by the inchoate recognition, that the ends to which Sarah Palin is applying her talents ("A Servant's Heart"; the restoration of America) is very different than the goals and ends on which her critics (and opponents, such as Pharaoh Obaama, The Compassionate, The Merciful) have set their sights?
(That's some smart sh!t !)
Wow — that is one tough row to hoe. But worth the trip.
But after all is said and done if I suggest Gov. Palin may not run, does that make me a bad person?
(hint: yes it does)
>>Erudite bird droppings *PING*.<<
On second reading, you scored on offence and defense and went for 2 on each side and made it.
PDS exists and is a great and huge/slow target for all of us.
But my question hangs out there, nonetheless.
Does ~prediction = derision?
>>Depends how you say it, why, and how often, eh?<<
Dude! Why are you up so late and cracking wise?
(one could ask the first part of that Q to me, I suppose).
I always look forward to your pings — a great combination of analysis and freaking nuttitude!
It is defined by the intentions of the speaker, and interpreted / assigned by onlookers, depending on the timing, context, tone, and the rest.
It's not enough to point out flaws -- if one overdoes that, one is either a PDS sufferer, a jerk, or a pedant.
One must show the flaws are
a) of sufficient magnitude
b) of sufficient relevance (i.e. to the campaign or her gaining a mandate once elected) c) of sufficient reliability (you're not just reading your own dislikes onto her, enough other people who will do something about it, feel the same way you do, and feel strongly enough to act on it.
From what I've seen of you, you are a genuine conservative, but a little worried that the swarm of negative press is too much of a hill to climb.
I disagree, simply because she is getting all this free press and drawing crowds, without even having declared.
People are aching for genuine leadership: and true conservatives know Palin was on a leash for the duration of the McCain campaign.
Her openly calling Obama and Pelosi liars the other day (in addition to her flipping off the press in effect, by not giving them a schedule and perks) are just the kind of red meat the conservatives want.
The economy sucks. Obama's base was never that committed, they were mainly mouth breathing Daily Show watchers who wanted to get sex with loose liberal girls, or reassure themselves that they were too "all that" and intelligent to boot (despite relying on a second-rate comic on a cable channel for their understanding of world events).
Now that they're all back to living with Mom and Dad (oh the horror! They have a college degree, it's not FAIR), they feel betrayed not energized.
Obama's base is not turning out, and the wishy washy middle still remembers that under Bush they had cars and jobs and their homes. BUSH didn't take those things away.
Obaama's trying to thread the Cloward-Piven needle by bankrupting the country to make people dependent on him, fomenting unrest and revolution (particularly among Holder's PeopleTM), and then settling in as Thug-in-Chief.
It won't work. And if he tries to suspend elections, it will get VERY ugly, VERY quickly.
But ugliest of all for the liberals.
Revolution is a young man's game -- and Ayers et al are OLD: and the rest of the crew like their posh lifestyles too much to give up any perks for revolution.
Confess! You spent the last four hours preparing this missive didn’tya! ... BTW, nice work, old dude. [We old dudes can say thet don’tchaknow.]
About an hour and a half, maybe two hours tops.
But thanks for the compliment, fellow old dude.
These are indeed insteresting times ... please, keep opining on them for us.
Wow — I am not even sure my question deserves the level of analysis you provided.
I just am predicting Gov. Palin won’t run. Like all things in life it is 50/50 — she will or she won’t.
please allow me to add my compliments also.
Truly an impressive, well-researched, thought-provoking piece.
(and maybe i will need to be fitted for that tinfoil hat. i was shocked when i read this:
“It may not be personally convenient for him, but the times will never again so completely require the gifts that he possesses. Whether youre liberal or conservative, you should hope Barack Obama runs for president.
Bear in mind that this was written in November 2006, long before anyone had heard of Barack Obama”
- - -
...in 2006, he was even more unqualified. yet Brooks wrote that back then?!? ...i have to question his motives.
again, thank you for posting this fine article Sir !
Nothing towards you personally but in general: I dont give a rip about what some leftist or RINO hack says in the media about Palin or conservatives in general, they will always denigrate them nobody what! Even if Palin was to save their lives from danger, I’m sure some will complain about something she did wrong in going about saving them. There are some conservatives who sit around hoping and praying that some elitist media pundit or reporter would recognize or approve their candidate or politicain as though it’s like winning a medal or something.
I’m just sick of hearing about ‘them’ and what ‘they’ say, I’m not burying my head in the sand on anything but it’s time to talk about what we say
Look, these snivel nasal drippers know as much about who is qualified to lead this nation as the next man walking past you down the street, they are very ignorant men and women who only can function on tv or radio as long ad they have a list of preset talking points for the day up and running and without it, they are babbling fools, it’s the truth!
The people of the country will decide, not the media elites and one more thing to this - these people are not gods and they are not all powerful -yes they influence a lot of Americans and they help a teleprompter get elected but that had more to do with many in the name of conservatism abandoning conservatism for years. Let true conservatism be a direct and bold contrast to Obama and you will see a grassroots movement of conservatives come out in droves because Obama will be exposed to the hilt for all to see!
The link I just gave you is from five years ago: I came across it just now when I Googled for this piece that I just wrote.
your post #8, is almost as good as your original article. a lot there to think about also. and i certainly agree with this:
“Obaama’s trying to thread the Cloward-Piven needle by bankrupting the country to make people dependent on him, fomenting unrest and revolution (particularly among Holder’s PeopleTM), and then settling in as Thug-in-Chief.
It won’t work. And if he tries to suspend elections, it will get VERY ugly, VERY quickly.”
= = =
...but even if it won’t work, in that scenario, we will still end up with major chaos, and a bankrupt economy.
...this must be prevented at all costs.
but i noticed Carville is already predicting such “unrest”.
i fear very much for the future of my young child...
Brooks, as smart as he may be, likely has no clue what tensors and vectors are. These are the foundation stones of modern technology, indeed of civilization as we know it, and an engineering student at the most third-rate cow college in the land has more grasp of them than anyone who writes for the New York Times.
Great stuff. Question for the assembled: Is it moral for me to work for Palin with the ultimate goal being that I/we can lord it over the smarmy elitists after an enormously successful Palin Presidency? Her success may be a self-fulfilling prophecy; I know that I for one would work hard in my little corner of the world to be a productive little worker bee and boost her economic numbers. It’s hard to root for Dear Leader in any respect at this point.
He's got no clue, PERIOD.
Let me quote a little more from his November 2006 piece "Run, Obama, Run":
He should run first for the good of his party. It would demoralize the Democrats to go through a long primary season with the most exciting figure in the party looming off in the distance like some unapproachable dream. The next Democratic nominee should either be Barack Obama or should have the stature that would come from defeating Barack Obama.
Second, he should run because of his age. Obamas inexperience is his most obvious shortcoming. Over the next four years, the world could face a genocidal civil war in Iraq, a wave of nuclear proliferation, more Islamic extremism and a demagogues revolt against globalization. Do we really want a forty-something in the White House?
And yet in his new book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama makes a strong counterargument. He notes that its time to move beyond the political style of the baby boom generation. This is a style, he said in an interview late Tuesday, that is highly moralistic and personal, dividing people between who is good and who is bad.
Obama himself has a mentality formed by globalization, not the S.D.S. With his multiethnic family and his globe-spanning childhood, there is a little piece of everything in Obama. He is perpetually engaged in an internal discussion between different pieces of his hybrid self Kenya with Harvard, Kansas with the South Side of Chicago and he takes that conversation outward into the world.
Read the whole thing -- the link is from DU, but you can find it elsewhere.
Brooks is so wrong in EVERYTHING he said about Obama, that either this WAS a deliberate Soros/KGB plot to put a Communist mole in the Oval Office, or Brooks is literally demonically inspired.
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