Wednesday, January 17, 2007
“God, how brilliant was that?!”
Not very, most of the time. I watched a programme about University Challenge a couple of months ago. There were cuts from Bamber Gascoigne’s times to Jeremy Paxman’s. There was an amusing infill from the Young Ones and shots of the then student, Stephen Fry, gaunt and earnest. A central motif was that this was a programme that showcased intelligent people displaying their knowledge. Of course it is no such thing. It is merely a high-flown version of Mastermind or Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
What all these programmes require of their ‘contestants’ is the ability to remember. The brain is reduced to its simplest function, that of an MP3 player, and it switches back and forth to find the appropriate reference point to produce an answer. There is nothing remotely intelligent about it. Nothing has to be debated to evince an evidence based surmise. There is no stretching for an answer that lies beyond current thought. There is no appraisal of concepts in order to create an overview. No intriguing new perspectives on anything at all. Let’s try to use terms relating to our brain’s operations a little more rigorously. How about the following delineation:
1. Clever: – the capacity to recall facts and the relationships between them
2. Intelligent: – the capacity to utilise 1. to create further meanings and insights
3. Intellectual:- The capacity to utilise 1. and 2. to create hypotheses and theories that account for them and even connect with others in other fields
Now, what human examples might you give representing each of the three categories, sticking to a single profession, from fields such as politics, the arts, the sciences? Here’s a stab at comedy:
1. Ruby Wax, Jimmy Carr
2. Victoria Wood, Stephen Fry
3. Jennifer Saunders, Eddie Izzard
Hm… what do you think?