Reminder to self: Half the population has a two-digit IQ

This isn’t even about politics. It’s just about remembering that people have slow processors, sometimes willfully so.

An IQ of 100 is supposed to be average. That means that not quite half the population will be below average, and not quite half the population will be above average. Those below average will actually have two-digit IQs, which sounds like an insult. But honestly, there will be very little difference between someone with a 95 IQ and someone with a 105 IQ.

So, what exactly is this IQ measuring? That’s a good question. In significant part, it measures book learning. It also measures analytical abilities. A bit of common sense helps, too.

Additionally, as blacks began complaining in the 1970s, it may also measure familiarity with mainstream culture. I’ll never forget watching an episode of Good Times when the intellectually precious child explained that an IQ question revolving around the pairing of the words “cup” and “saucer” would be meaningless to a child raised in the ghetto. That was an accurate critique.

I think of IQ as the ability to grapple with life’s problems. That’s different from emotional intelligence or physical skills. It means that, whether you’re faced with a classroom or a housecleaning emergency, your brain can deal with the issue…both in terms of power and speed.

But it’s not that simple, either. Your ability to process data and reach conclusions may vary according to sub-abilities. I can grapple magnificently with word issues but fall back in horror regarding math problems. Likewise, I’m adept at organizing physical space because I see objects in terms. However, unlike my daughter, who has that same organizational skillset, I have no aesthetic sense at all.

In a way, as I’ve written the above paragraphs, I’ve backed myself into the same situation Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart found himself when called upon to define pornography: When it comes to intelligence, we know it when we see it. And lately, when it comes to sub-normal intelligence, we’re seeing a lot of it.

When we witness idiots rioting on the street about Hamas, only to learn that they didn’t even know about the October 7 massacre, we know we’re witnessing a lack of intelligence quotient. Conversely, when we witness Ted Cruz’s mastery of facts and quick-wittedness — and this is true whether or not you like him — we recognize a very high intelligence. Watch Kamala and Joe…low intelligence. Watch Vivek or Tucker…high intelligence.

But it’s not just brain power. It’s also the willingness to use that brain. Our educational system has taught too many people that emotions are more important than reason or logic. This is especially true for young white women, who have abandoned the ditzy blonde stereotype of the 1950s (“ooh, I’m so charmingly, ditzily feminine”) in favor of something infinitely worse: “Oooh, I’m so angrily, victimly irrational.” No matter the brain wattage these women naturally possess, they’re stupid.

And then there are the people who have burned their brains out on a combination of drugs and unearned arrogance, which is actually what got me angry enough to write this ramble. I can’t give away the details, but I just got off the phone with someone who is either genuinely stupid or deeply malevolent and is using a front of stupidity to hide that malevolence. This person is the frontline of care for someone dear to me, and this person’s natural or deliberate obtuseness puts at risk the person about whom I care. GRRRRRR.

Since I can’t yell at this person, all I can do is (a) vent here and (b) remind myself that, when it comes to intelligence, (i) we know it when we see it, (ii) on average half of Americans will have less of it, and (iii) some people will lower that average through brain-destroying drugs or deliberately ill will.

So, again, GRRRRRR.

Image by Julos.