Sunday, May 11, 2008

Insults for the common good.

I insulted someone today.

'What?' I hear you cry. 'You, Romulus? Never!'

It was for her own good. It was like this...

Browsing among the gadgetry in a local supermarket, I stepped back and collided with a trolley, which had magically appeared directly behind me. The only other person in the aisle was a woman who had parked the trolley a foot behind me while she wandered along the shelves. She glared at me for having the temerity to shove her trolley out of my way. It was quite a glare, one that would make a hamster proud, so I responded with one of my own.

Her face contorted, with sloth-like speed, into an expression I can only describe as 'startled sheep'. I kept my voice low and measured, so as not to tax her intellect.

"Tell me," I said, "are you a professional idiot or is it just a hobby? If it's a hobby, you really should consider turning pro."

"Huh?" was her considered response. I could imagine neurons nudging each other into wakefulness within her brain. Eventually she formed a sentence. "What did you say?"

"Can't you remember? It was only a few seconds ago. Cast your mind back and see if you can find it." I held out little hope.

I marvelled at the Neanderthal appearance she achieved while thinking. It was most impressive but I feared she might blow a gasket, so I put her out of her misery.

"I was just saying, you have a natural talent that you should consider nuturing. I honestly believe you could reach Olympic standards."

Have you ever seen a face trying to smile and frown at the same time? It's hard to describe but well worth seeing. Anyway, since there was no prospect of conversation, I left her to her thoughts. I wonder if she'll wake up in the middle of the night, a week or so from now, and shout, "Hey! He called me an idiot!"

These people are real. It's too easy to forget, insulated in the world of academia where almost everyone you talk to has a doctorate in something, that the average IQ is 100. It's not a coincidence, IQ tests are set up so that 100 reflects an average score. If you hobnob with academics, you're unlikely to be speaking to anyone below 120 - and that includes technical staff. Heck, the porters and cleaners are smarter than average in that environment.

Half of the population have IQ's below 100. Consider that for a moment. Entry to Mensa requires (I think) a minimum 140, and they say that represents the top 2%. Assuming a normal distribution, the bottom 2% are below 60, which leaves 48% of the population between 60 and 100.

These people can vote. They can also be manipulated and bamboozled with ease. Heck, I've known several academics you can reduce to a gibbering heap with conversation as your only weapon.

Politicians know this too. They know that whatever sleaze and scandal they're caught at now, by election day it'll be forgotten. It's forgotten by the time the next edition of the paper hits the shelves.

Politicians know how easy it is to deflect most people's attention, which is why we're treated to reams of garbage about 'celebrities' who have never actually done a damn thing in their lives. Someone coined the phrase 'famous for being famous', can't recall who said it but there are many in that category. Headline fodder.

I saw an issue of 'the Sun', a popular tabloid paper, during the alleged fuel crisis (it came to naught, just another deflection). War in Iraq and Afghanistan, stabbings proliferating in the streets, an imminent shortage of petrol, forthcoming local elections, which took the front page?

None of them. The front page story concerned a comedian who had slightly miffed a footballer with a thoughtless comment at a private function. Seriously. That was front page news.

No wonder most people's heads have nothing in them. Read their minds? Not a problem, it's composed of one-syllable words in large print. Telepathy can never be proved with these people as subjects because they have no thoughts to transfer. They believe what they're told, but you can tell them the opposite tomorrow and they'll believe that instead. Their minds have been erased by soap operas and bland news. Nothing is retained. They complain that prices have gone up, but ask what the price was yesterday and they can't remember. Their brains have shut down.

If insulting them gets those brains to work again, even for a short while, it's worth it.

It's a lot of fun, too.


Southern Writer said...

Oh, how I wish you had been with me yesterday! I was coming home, driving through my neighborhood. Now normally, I have a bit of a lead foot, but in my hood, I tend to go the speed limit, which is pretty low, because there are always kids playing, people walking, and pets running around. So I was driving along when ahead, a car pulled out crosswise in the street, blocking all traffic. I stopped and waited. Let me repeat that: I stopped and waited. While I waited, the car veered a little to the left, backed up, went right, backed up, and sat there, while they had a conversation with someone in another car. A middle-aged woman stood on the sidewalk, apparently waiting for someone in the car to do something. After a minute or two, I began to lose patience, and honked. Just a little. Just a "beep." The lady on the sidewalk yelled at me, "You need to slow down!"


Romulus Crowe said...

Slowing down from zero would indeed be a neat trick, and one that would get you the Nobel prize in physics if you managed it.

There's more and more of this nowadays, people tend to think of themselves as the centres of their universes. They can do what they like when they like, leave whatever they want wherever they want, and the rest of us can just put up with it. I won't.

I blame MP3 players and mobile phones and handheld games consoles. Nobody ever interacts with reality any more. I wonder what they actually see and hear?

Southern Writer said...

I just read this and it seemed to fit, so here:

Now I'm going ot be late for work! Ack!

Catana said...

I know this post is ancient, but I'm destroying a good part of my day looking backwards through your blog. The post is remarkable for one thing: it's the first time I've ever come across somebody who actually realizes the implications of half the population being below average in IQ. Ever since I thought it through, it's been a great comfort that I no longer have to spend my time wondering why so many people are so stupid. It's a lot like the purloined letter -- out there in plain sight.

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