Why We No Smart?

I think we can salvage the red one.
Sometimes I just sit and stare at the empty space where words are supposed to go and wonder what the heck I can say. After all, some of the stuff I find on the internet needs little or no preamble. There’s only so many ways to work the word “idiot” into a sentence before you start boring people. But then, just when I’m about to bust open a bottle of bourbon and wallow in despair, something comes along and allows me to tie it all together. Because of that I’m going to do something a little different today. I’m going to tell you a little something about the last story now so you can have some context for everything else.

You and I and every other living human being are the true pinnacle of human intelligence.

Just keep that in mind as we move on.

College entrance exams, once the bane of students, are now – for all intents and purposes – Twitter friendly.

U.S. colleges are adding unusual questions to their applications, including the University of Maryland asking to share “my favorite thing about last Tuesday.”

The question, which the university asks applicants to answer in 25 words or less, is part of a recent trend of schools asking short answer questions on subjects atypical for a college application, such as New York’s Columbia University asking applicants to describe “the best movie of all time” with brevity, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.

“Imagine you have to wear a costume for a year of your life. What would you pick and why?” asks Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

“What is your favorite ride at the amusement park? How does this reflect your approach to life?” Emory University in Atlanta asks applicants.

Katherine Cohen, a college consultant and founder of IvyWise.com, said the questions are designed to help college officials become acquainted with applicants in ways that might not have been possible with typical application essays.

“You really get a totally different feel for who that person is, especially with the short takes. It allows colleges to learn things they may not get from a transcript and a resume,” she said. “That’s why they’re fun.”

Fun? Shouldn’t there be stuff about – oh, I don’t know – grades and activities and stuff like that? Who the heck really cares about last Tuesday? I know I don’t. Heck, I’d bet half of you can’t remember anything about last Tuesday. Tuesday’s the crappiest day of the week.

You and I and every other living human being are the true pinnacle of human intelligence.

Just reminding you. This next shining example attacked a fast food clerk with … I kind of like this … bags of fast food.

Florida authorities said a man accused of hitting a McDonald’s employee in the head with a bag of food was found passed out in his driveway.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said Todd Rogers, 30, went through a McDonald’s drive-through in Holiday with his girlfriend, who was driving, shortly after midnight Sunday and returned a few minutes later when they found they were missing a drink, the St. Petersburg Times reported Tuesday.

Rogers, who deputies said was extremely intoxicated, screamed obscenities at a 22-year-old woman working at the McDonald’s and poked her, causing her to step back, investigators said. Rogers then allegedly threw a bag of food at the woman, striking her in the head. He threw a second bag of food when the woman closed the window, the arrest report states.

Deputies said they found Rogers sleeping in a Buick in his driveway. He was arrested on a charge of simple battery.

“I hit her in the … head with a bag of food, so what?” Rogers allegedly told deputies.

“I deserve to go to jail,” the report quotes him as saying. “I don’t care.”

Yeah, not a single mental issue on his end whatsoever.

I can just hear the girlfriend’s parents; “Oh, honey, what a catch. You must be so proud right now.”

You and I and every other living human being are the true pinnacle of human intelligence.

As this next story proves. Obviously it, too, comes from Florida.

A Florida school board suspended for 10 days without pay a teacher who hosed down a pre-kindergarten student who soiled his clothes.

Stephanie Wilson, 52, a teacher at Dunedin Elementary who has been teaching for 30 years, received the suspension from the Pinellas County School Board after she hosed down the student at the side of the building Oct. 28 when he soiled his diaper and pants while playing outside, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported Friday.

The punishment, which will cost Wilson $3,010, was recommended by Superintendent John Stewart.

Clearly 30 years of teaching did not prepare her for the whole concept of diapers. I can see how that slipped through the cracks when all she deals with are two year olds. They’re normally completely potty trained and registered to vote.

At least in Florida,

So why do I keep saying that you and I and every other living human being are the true pinnacle of human intelligence? Because, sadly, it may be true.

So say some smart people.

A new research paper argues that there are limits to our mental evolution and that humans are not likely to ever develop a “supermind.”

Studies of human evolution show that as natural selection, nutrition, and medical technology have improved, so has the upward trajectory of the human body. But Thomas Hill and Ralph Hertwig write in Current Directions in Psychological Science that our bodies may have their own self-imposed evolutionary ceilings.

“A lot of people are interested in drugs that can enhance cognition in various ways,” Hill and Hertwig write. “But it seems natural to ask, why aren’t we smarter already?”

According to Hill and Hertwig, humans have grown in height over time but because of the limited ability of the heart to pump blood to the brain, it would not be feasible for people to suddenly become eight feet tall. Likewise, sudden growths in brain capacity are most likely limited by our own evolutionary caps:

A baby’s brain size is thought to be limited by, among other things, the size of the mother’s pelvis; bigger brains could mean more deaths in childbirth, and the pelvis can’t change substantially without changing the way we stand and walk.

Hill and Hertwig also argue that supposed cognitive-enhancing drugs like Ritalin and amphetamines may temporarily improve focus, but usually only work on people with “lower baseline abilities,” and those who don’t suffer from conditions like Attention Deficit Disorder actually perform at lower levels under their influence.

“If you have a specific task that requires more memory or more speed or more accuracy or whatever, then you could potentially take an enhancer that increases your capacity for that task,” the two write. “But it would be wrong to think that this is going to improve your abilities all across the board.”

And then there are the psychological and emotional issues associated with higher intelligence. Hill and Hertwig point to conditions like post traumatic stress disorder, a condition brought on when someone literally cannot forget a past trauma. They also point to the case of the Ashkenazi Jews, who possess IQ’s significantly higher than the general population of Europe but also disproportionately suffer from Tay-Sachs disease.

“Memory is a double-edged sword,” Hills says. “If something bad happens, you want to be able to forget it, to move on.”

That’s all well and good, I guess, but why do we only use about ten percent – or obviously less – of the brains we have? Answer that question and maybe I’ll pay attention.

If I remember.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OArZ9N0Ptg8&w=500&h=319]

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!

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