Monday, April 13, 2009

McBride-Rove: How to be Thick

Of course, McBride looks like Karl Rove - balding, overweight, piggy eyes, raw pork fat skin texture etc.. And, like Rove, he seems to be regarded as very intelligent. Over the years I've met quite a few people who look roughly like this and who are also regarded as 'formidably' - the preferred mot - intelligent. Since, until at least my thirties, I regarded an excessive interest in politics as a sure sign of stupidity, I was sceptical. Nevertheless, I listened carefully to these loquacious uglies. Sure enough, they were talking crap. Moreover, they were talking crap about extraordinarily trivial things - basically personality clashes, not politics at all in my view. Yet, if they spoke quickly and with a certain supercilious grandeur, all around fell silent and nodded admiringly. I have a tentative theory. Out of excessive regard for IQ tests, people have adopted a simple-minded value-free view of intelligence. So McBride or Rove could spend their lives in low trickery and be called intelligent. In fact, to anybody of any worth at all, such preoccupations are plainly very stupid, evidence of an inability to grasp life in its higher aspects. But, if the metric of IQ is accepted as decisive, then how intelligence is applied is irrelevant. Or, to put it another way, study the story of Marilyn vos Savant - an IQ of 228 deployed in writing a glorified agony column. Or, to put it one more way, Gordon Brown is routinely described as 'formidably intelligent'. Thick as two short planks I'd say.


  1. What is intelligence?
    Can there be real intelligence without it having a moral dimension?
    Is the devil intelligent?
    Has intelligence anything to do with love?
    Discuss, as they say.

  2. IQ tests, from Binet, Stern and Terman onwards, were always intimately bound up with eugenics. Why, when in the aftermath of Auschwitz that movement was harder to sell as the epitome of enlightenment, did we persist with the tests? I've always wondered.

  3. here we go again - it's the poor pigs I feel sorry for. they give us pork and we give them contempt. intelligence, it doesn't bother me nor I it. there's no point in doing a test if you can't get a perfect score.

  4. I disagree, I think Brownstuff is very intelligent. This man has orchestrated the sustaining of a body of lies for nearly two decades.

    To be that good at lying takes a very active and bright mind, alive to the possibilities of the lies being brought down.

    I caught a little bit of your Geordie mate Gray this morning (ill catch the rest of StW later) and Portillio said something like, "its obvious but only when it comes from another source"

    This is the situation with the British public, its obvious now that Browns lies about the end of history of financial cycles, but only when it is proved though the last 18 months of history.

    I dont believe he believed this, he is a partizan, power hungry technocrat full of hate and will conveniently take on board any lie that helps sustain his power base, as proved now with smeargate.

    A truly wretched individual. I actually feel sorry for decent people on the left it must be heartbreaking for them to see what is now is very obvious.

  5. Glad I am this morning at the outing of the megabonces, and your eloquent use of the olde English "thick as two short planks" although GB could also meet the criteria for the "if he had twice as many brains he would still be a half wit" description.

    Strange colour, intelligence, the more of it they have on paper the less likely they are to use it intelligently.

    One of the brightest people I ever knew was a retired coalminer, absolutely no formal education, self taught and able to discuss a broad range of non coalmining topics, from philosophy to fluid dynamics with the best of them.

    One of the stupidest people I ever knew had the dream ticket education, La Sagesse, Oxford then head hunted by Andersons, bum move there petal.

  6. When the word intelligence is used in relation to these kinds of people it usually means they possess low cunning. Moral intelligence or even a sense of civic responsiblity are alien to them.
    It seems more than ever that power is an end not a means to this generation of career politians, whether they're labour, tory or liberal.

  7. I find this an interesting debate. People who score high on IQ tests usually think they are excellent measures of intelligence. People who don't score as high as they'd like tend to think just the opposite.

    Bryan, I gotta say, FB keeps urging me to take their stupid IQ quiz. Can you beat Bryan? it asks me; then gives me your score. It's gotta be you, as the only FB friend I have named Bryan!

  8. Well as a dyslexic person IQ tests saved my life.

    Up to the age of 10 I could hardly write by own name and spent most of my school days wandering around the play ground hitting people, but then I had what would have been an very primitive test back in the mid 70s, I also had an IQ test at the same time,scoring 118.

    This was a massive confidence boost to know you are not as daft as others think you are, especially at 10 years old, and I managed to catch up and scrape though by O levels and join the RAF as an engineer.

    I think what we really mean by intelligence is self awareness. I am still not sure what Dyslexia is but I don't read novels I like factual type books, and language sometimes sounds very alien to me, and I cant do with people speaking to me with any background noise such as a TV or Radio.

    So instead of mugging the likes of Mr Appleyard I turn up on his blog have a go, all I believe thanks to an IQ test.

  9. Sean, love that counter-example to my earlier, generalist (and pretty serious) argument. I'm enriched, not for the first time, by what you've written here.

  10. Sigh, another day, more Broon, another storm in a lavatory. I'm out of this whole gig. I think a lot of the stuff about their alleged intelligence leaves out the most important thing anyway: power. That's what these folks are all about. Power attracts fantastically unattractive people who taste power and then think they are clever, nay divinely gifted. And power tempts the rest of us to think these shysters really are clever. When you see any of these characters, just imagine instead a bottle of weedkiller with a skull and crossbones on the front. That's what they are selling, weedkiller for the soul!

  11. Just finished listening to Gray and others on Start the Week. (Thanks again Sean.) Very helpful on why a lack of belief in progress is important now and the myth of Genesis 1-3. Found him pretty good on the environment even. Portillo and Ackroyd helped. Sometimes the Beeb ain't at all bad.

  12. Hmmm. I think you'd struggle to pull of a hall of mirrors like the G20 event in London with Obama, the Beeb and sundry other leaders fawning at your feet, Bryan. And to become PM after only being elected by a small number of voters in Fife is quite an achievement too.

    He's the archetypal smart person who went into politics instead of doing something worthwhile. That's why he's so bloody dangerous.

  13. Without the right character, intelligence is useless, or nearly so. Imagine a highly intelligent thinker who is also lazy, impatient, makes snap judgements, and is also neurotically arrogant, unable to admit he's wrong about anything - would he actually come up with any decent work?

    i did an IQ test when i was about 19 - mine is about 125, low end stuff indeed.

  14. Since, until at least my thirties, I regarded an excessive interest in politics as a sure sign of stupidity...

    So who or what made you change your mind in your forties?

  15. Great wits are sure to madness near allied,
    And thin partitions do their bounds divide.
    (John Dryden)
    The really scary thought is that Brown is probably highly intelligent and this is why he remains dangerous. I have occasionally thought that we are better off being led by people with closer to average intelligence - they are at some point going to be aware of their own limitations and are more likely to listen to good advice.
    The last highly intelligent PM we had was probably Edward Heath and that didn't work out too well. And I don't even want to get on to Enoch Powell.
    The safest place for highly intelligent people are universities. It's what they are for!

  16. Oh well, just did another IQ test and found i have 140, apparently. Must be all that pornography i've been looking at.

  17. Bryan D. - I have often, for that reason, wished the world to be run by dumb people who won't be so tempted to think "ooo, i've got this really great idea..." and then do something outrageously stupid, as clever people sometimes do.

    Regarding IQ tests, they test for a specific type of abstract problem-solving intelligence, and correlate reasonably well to exam results in school (IIRC), so that's why they're still kept around; they have their place, as long as you remember that it's just one kind of intelligence and don't assume that if someone can answer "what is the next number in this series?", it means they have anything sensible to say about politics or personal relationships &c.

  18. Prior to losing weight on your lower carb diet -- you could have correctly described yourself as being "balding, overweight, piggy eyes, raw pork fat skin texture etc." (Well, you're still balding.) Has losing weight had an impact on your intelligence or lack thereof? Has it had an impact on your manners or lack thereof? If witless, cheap-shot snarkiness and the need to make ad hominem attacks based on a person's physical appearance are a by-product of your diet -- perhaps you ought to do your readers a favor and make a run for the nearest scone basket.

  19. i'd have said Appleyard looked more like a rumpled and bemused elf pre-diet; now he looks vaguely immortal, though still bemused of course.

    Better bemused than beshitten, mind.

  20. As it happens, Mr. Rove was in my home town this night. He remains hard at work destroying his party. Sound familiar?