Genius or Troll: Educated Ignorance

My last two posts have drawn the ire of a supposed Mensan.

After my first post, he labeled me a “conspiracy nut” and after the second post he called me arrogant over my evaluation of the situation in Ukraine. He is “offended” because he is (supposedly) a Mensan and my post made reference to people who were educated but ignorant. I wasn’t referring to him, but…

So what, exactly, is a member of Mensa? It is someone who has passed a test that shows they have an IQ at or above the 98th percentile on one of (+/-) 200 or so standardized intelligence tests, and the score depends on the test you take.

If you want to see an example test from the Mensa organization, there is one here. The questions are spatially oriented, and Engineers tend to do exceptionally well on such tests. I got 1 wrong, for a score of 97%, so I am not in the upper 2% I guess. For more on spatial IQ testing and intelligence testing, look to the works of psychologist Alan S. Kaufman and others.

The biggest issue with these tests is that they tend to be very focused in what they test, and they tend not to account for culture, cognitive style, nor creative thinking. For example, one question I ran across on a Mensa acceptable test was “what does a cat and dog have in common?

You get 2 points for “they are both animals,” 1 point for “they both have tails,” but no points for “they are both household pets.” Interesting.

There are Mensa acceptable tests today that test in the areas of analytic reasoning, emotional intelligence, general knowledge of the world, logic IQ, mental speed, verbal-linguistic, spatial, and good old “classic” IQ testing. However, none of these are really multidimensional in testing intelligence.

Don’t get me wrong – anyone who can pass one of these tests with a high score is intelligent in the style of the areas tested. But that does not guarantee they have common sense, the ability to interact with others, nor the ability to objectively weigh opposing views.

As Winston Churchill said: True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.

So back to my new friend…

We can infer some things from his Twitter feed, mostly that he is Canadian, he has disdain for Americans and Russians, and is outspoken on Arab politics which he claims no real experience or knowledge in. He often makes offensive comments to others, then takes offense to what they reply.

By all appearances, he fits the definition of “Troll” – someone that has no real interest in learning about the topic at hand, but simply wants to cause disagreement.

In fairness to him, on Ukraine, he fits the definition of “educated ignorant” which so many exhibit these days. It is not that people are unintelligent, but they choose to be verbal and argue with people without really taking time to understand the “big picture” (or essence) of the issue they sometimes get so verbal about. Thus, you have highly educated people taking stands on issues they are not knowledgeable about.

As I have said in my prior posts, think. Use your head and understand both sides before you take a stand. Draw your conclusions somewhere in the middle.

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