Intelligent 3/11/22

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

This is nice.  The movie in my streaming service ended, and I am not really in the mood for another one.  In the silence, I’ve come to realize that I am in the midst of my first electrical storm of the season.  Listening to the thunder and the sound of rain hitting the windows is somehow very soothing, and extremely calming. 

As usual, it makes me think of electricity.  Many people believe that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity, but the reality is that the person who discovered it was the first person to see it.  Electricity has been known since humans have been around.  In fact, the first serious treatise on electricity came from Faraday, who was the first scientist to demonstrate that all forms of electricity (atmospheric, static, biological such as the electric eel, chemical such as battery, mechanical such as generators and so on) are essentially the same.  What Benjamin Franklin did was invent a kind of rope that was an electrical insulator, a critical component of the lightening rod which protected homes from catching fire because of lightening strikes. 

There is a movie which deals (humorously) with the concept of a sort of de-evolution of humans.  The idea is that without needing intelligence as a survival skill, the average intelligence of humans begins a decline.  Two average people from today find themselves in this future and are, in that time, the most intelligent humans alive.  At one point, one of them says to the other, “Do you suppose Einstein walked around thinking everybody is a bunch of dumb-asses?”  I doubt it.  Einstein worked for his intelligence, and no doubt realized that most people didn’t understand it, or at least didn’t want to understand it.  But his work was laboratory based, and separate from the general population, and so he probably didn’t think less of the people around him.

People have accused me of being intelligent.  I’m not.  Not really.  I’ve been studying and learning chemistry and science since at least 1970.  If you do anything for fifty years, you’d better seem to have at least some knowledge.  But there’s also a danger of knowing too much about something.  If you are particularly brilliant in one area, it can lead to the wrong perception that you are brilliant at everything.  I have more then one friend who falls into this category, brilliant in what they do, and assuming they are simply brilliant in everything else.  It does take a kind of intelligence to be exceptional in something, and a lot of hard work, but that hardly makes you brilliant. 

To my left is my brand-new high-end kind-of professional camera.  It arrived today.  It is a reminder to me that I know nothing of photography, so, seriously, how brilliant can I be?  It’s kind-of professional because it has a lot of built-in automatic settings that just does everything for you.  Choose the settings (or don’t, since it also has a fully automatic mode where you don’t even have to choose the settings) and click.  It’ll focus, modify the settings, and even raise the flash if one is necessary.  I can do that.  I’m looking forward to using the automatic mode to experiment with and learn about photo framing and composition.  It also has a fully manual mode, where you have to choose all of the settings (ISO, focal depth, shutter speed, and aperture) yourself, and even focus if you want that much control.  I am looking forward to playing with those settings to learn how to take the best picture I want emphasizing what I most want to show to the viewer.  But until I have far more knowledge than I do today, and excessively more experience, I won’t really be an expert in photography. 

It’s easy to be intimidated by people who seem intelligent.  I saw a recent quote from Ben Carson that seemed completely off the mark.  If you recall, he was a Trump appointee to the Urban Housing office, and is an actual brain surgeon, but so many things he has said over the years has struck me as completely tone-deaf and frankly ignorant.  He might be a brilliant brain surgeon, but he doesn’t seem particularly brilliant as a person to me.  I even made the comment on this news article, saying that some of the dumbest people that I know are doctors.  And it’s true.  Holding a doctorate (like I do) does not make you smart, it makes you stubborn, willing to go through the steps to complete the degree. 

As for me?  If I’m so intelligent, then why do simple things like electrical storms make me so happy?


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