Skip to comments.Wesley Clark and the curse of intelligence: Vox Day explains why smart men do dumb things
Posted on 01/19/2004 10:52:54 PM PST by JohnHuang2
Wesley Clark and the curse of intelligence
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Mike Martz, the head coach of the St. Louis Rams, is widely considered to be one of the smartest men in the National Football League. He is the architect of The Greatest Show on Turf an explosive offense that set numerous records for offensive production and the word "genius" frequently appears in the same sentence with his name.
His team, however, has again fallen short of its Super Bowl expectations, mostly because the brilliant coach made a boneheaded decision that shocked even beer-befuddled couch potatoes across the country, only the latest in a series of inexplicably bad decisions that have cost the Rams dearly over the last three years.
John Madden, on the other hand, is hardly known for his acumen. His butcheries of the English language are legendary "few yards are better than none yards" but he has the diamond-encrusted ring that has so far eluded Mike Martz. And few would argue that Madden's Raiders had more talent than Martz's Rams. So, how is this possible?
The truth is intelligence is not synonymous with success. A certain amount can be very helpful, to be sure, but beyond a certain point, the ability to see diverse possibilities starts to become a hindrance. It is much easier to weigh the odds of three or four options than it is to balance 10 or 12, and it takes less time, too. As data gathering and processing capability increases, the ability to focus and ignore unwanted information becomes increasingly important. Otherwise, there is a tendency to become either paralyzed with doubt or divorced from reality as one gets lost in elaborate probability models.
George Bush is cut from the John Madden mold. He is not a stupid man his estimated 125 IQ puts him well above the norm but he is by no means brilliant. Like JFK, who is known to have had an IQ of 119, he has an ability to focus on the actual situation at hand, even if he does not have a gift for beautifully articulating it.
Smart politicians such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Richard Nixon, whose IQs come in at 137, 140 and 143, respectively, have for the most part been failures at the highest level. Their ability to incorporate information also gives them a strong tendency to micromanage, which is a disastrous characteristic for any executive. Note that Jimmy Carter, an unsuccessful president by any standard, was the most intelligent president of the modern era.
There is another danger, too, for the intelligent presidential candidate. To the average man, one of the great mysteries of life is how brilliant academics can be so reliably stupid. This is because there appears to be a strong correlation between one's level of intelligence and the importance one places on the abstract as opposed to quotidian reality. Thus, a brilliant Marxian economist can dismiss a century of total socialist failure with a wave of the hand, because none of the historical real-world applications precisely matches the theoretical vision in his head.
Both leading Democratic candidates appear to be highly intelligent men. Howard Dean is a doctor; Wesley Clark is a Rhodes Scholar. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that both men are more wedded to their abstract internal visions of the world than how it actually operates according to objective reality. This is how Gen. Clark can make bizarre statements about a European right of first refusal on American national security and Howard Dean can believe that raising taxes is good for the economy despite two millennia of evidence to the contrary.
Neither man makes any sense to the logical observer, but that is unimportant. It makes sense in some ideal place in their heads, and for such men, that is all that matters.
Based on the two men's comments over the last few months, I am quite sure that Wesley Clark is the most intelligent of the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination. He has said almost nothing capable of withstanding even the most cursory analysis, and his globalist view of the world appears to have more in common with Star Trek than with what history suggests is a Hobbesian free-for-all of ambitious, power-hungry men wrestling for wealth and influence. More than most, Gen. Clark appears to suffer from the curse of intelligence. America would do well to avoid him.
It is indeed.
This article is nonsense; General Norman Schwarzkopf has an I.Q. greater than 170. He certainly didn't have any problems analyzing and dealing with multiple scenarios.
As for Clinton only having an IQ of 137. He wasn't my cup of tea but I always thought he was far smarter than that. I'm told he could recite verbatim long passages from policy documents he'd read years before.
Well, since you asked... *cough*. I've gotten scores indicating around 170-ish. It's hard to pin down precisely because "regular" IQ tests aren't designed to accurately measure that far up and thus even with all questions answered correctly the results "cap out" lower than that. I've taken a few that were designed to cover a higher range, and gotten scores varying from 166 to 175.
And at times I can relate to the problem mentioned in the article about tending to get distracted by "too many options" (either of action, or possibilities). If you can come up with too many "what ifs" it can bog you down trying to take them all into consideration. But it's hardly inevitable, and it's just as possible to see when you're becoming too analytical and "not go there", if you take a moment to monitor your own "performance" and focus on the job requirements.
Like anything, though, some handle it better than others. Jimmy Carter, especially, was a big failure at "cutting to the chase". I forget who it was, but one of Carter's advisors once said that "some people have trouble seeing the forest for the trees -- Jimmy gets sidetracked by the leaves."
But the bright side is that the same active mind that got you into a mire of "what ifs" can also sometimes get you out quickly with an "aha!" solution that might short-circuit the potential problems.
Another common problem with a high IQ (or advanced education) is that it's easier to get overconfident and convince yourself you're capable of more than you really are. First, a high IQ helps in certain ways, but can also be no advantage in other aspects of life. Presuming that it does has gotten a lot of people in trouble (just like those who similarly mistake their money, good looks, or fame for some sort of natural all-encompassing superiority -- Hollywood, anyone?)
It's also too easy to mistake competence in one field for competence in other fields. Too many scientists, doctors, lawyers, etc. can fall prey to con-men and hucksters of various sorts (including ideological ones like Marx and his followers) by thinking that expertise in, say, brain surgery prevents them from being idiots in other fields. A related issue is the number of successful people who become amateur pilots of their own small planes, and then proceed to get themselves killed by overestimating their ability to fly competently as easily as they succeeded at some other endeavor for which they were better suited or prepared. JFK Jr's fatal plane crash seems a good example of this. To quote from a Clint Eastwood movie, "a man's got to know his limitations".
Having a high IQ and having a near-photographic memory are not the same thing, and one is often found without the other. In extreme cases there are the absent-minded geniuses on one end, and the idiot-savants on the other.
As for Clinton, here's a fascinating article I first read when it came out in 1998, and have found it to be very illuminating in the years since: Can the President Think? .
It's a *long* read, but well worth it. At the risk of condensing it too far, it makes the case that Clinton has a superb (almost photographic) memory and a natural ability to charm people by sensing what they want to hear (and an emotional need to do so), but that he suffers from almost no ability to analyze information himself. He's just good at covering it and *looking* like his mind is going 100mph.
Well, sometimes. But then so are being dumb as a stump and common sense.
Yes, and science and technology advances this past decade have proven this to be the case. To store data in the brain it first has to go through short term memory. Short term memory sorts through data and decides what is to be sent into the long term memory bank.
I don't believe this has been established.
Those of genius level have low short term memory
What is your source for this statement? I have personally found that "those of genius level" have the same (wide) range of short term memory ability as the average population.
and therefore the data goes straight into the long term memory bank without the ability to rationalize and sort what needs to go there.
Long-term memory storage doesn't seem to be the kind of "conscious" tucking away of information you appear to be implying here.
This is also why they have excellent memory capability.
Again, not all do -- many high-IQ people have pretty poor memory abilities. They're great at analysis, but not so good at recall.
It's not the blessing most would think.
This I'll agree with.
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