Skip to comments.(Vanity) Sarah and the Snobs, or, The True Measure of Intelligence
Posted on 06/06/2011 10:03:59 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
The latest brouhaha concerning Sarah Palin (overshadowed "briefly" by Wienergate) concerned some impromptu remarks she made regarding the famed ride of Paul Revere. The left started crowing immediately that "these remarks prove she's addled, because everyone knows the famous line 'one if by land, two if by sea'." After the dust had settled, and disinterested authorities had time to digest it, it turns out that the gist of what she had been saying was correct: Paul Revere really *did* warn the Redcoats, that is, tell them that they had lost tactical surprise. It is true that her remarks were somewhat disorganized; but on the other hand, this has always been Sarah's way of speaking: presenting snippets of thought, using the disparate elements to give an impressionistic depiction of a larger picture. For the press, and for Sarah Palin's detractors, this is prima facie evidence of mental deficiency, even aside from the facts -- or, sometimes, even overriding the facts.
Here are some representative comments on Palin's intelligence, with sources:
Get ready for the GOP's next frontal assault on what's left of the American voters' collective intelligence, the Palin/Bachmann ticket for 2012. -- Richard Latimer, Columbia Law School graduate, writing in Cape Cod Today. (Incidentally, Dick, youspelled her name as both "Bachman" and "Bachmann" in the same article, and said that she was from Maryland. Way to go, Einstein.)
I would call her lucky in her comments -- Boston University history professor Brendan McConville, quoted in The Boston Herald. Even though Palin happened to be correct, McConville said he also is not convinced that Palins remarks reflect scholarship.
But this trashing of Sarah Palin's intellect, similar in style to a long-standing Democrat technique (Reagan as an "amiable dunce" and Dan Quayle's being handed a cheat sheet with a deliberately erroneous version of the word "potatoe"), has been honed to a fine point against Sarah, and is used in all cases, even when Sarah is correct. Examples of this include the attempted set-up of Palin as a patsy in the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by a leftist already reported to the Sheriff's office (the same Sheriff's office, by the way, whose swat team gunned down a US marine in his own home in a no knock raid, mere feet away from his now-widow and orphane child); the trashing of Sarah as an anti-Semite when she defended herself using the word "blood libel" -- even though Harvard University Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz defended her usage; and the infamous Tina Fey hit piece "I can see Russia from my house": even though Palin's actual remarks correctly referred to Big Diomede Island and Little Diomede Island.
It's rough being Sarah: even when she's right, she's wrong. And it seems to be because of who she is (or isn't). More on that in a later piece.
What is very interesting at the moment, is the idea that Sarah is an idiot, regardless of the facts: because of, well, because of her essential bent or orientation, or worldview. Charles Krauthammer (who has a reputation as a conservative, even though he is a former speechwriter for Walter Mondale), summed it up well a few days ago when he said:
"The problem with her, I think, is that she is not schooled. I don't mean she didn't go to the right schools. I mean when you get into policy, beyond instincts -- I like her political instincts, I like her political overall view of the world -- but when it comes to policy, she had two-and-a-half years to school herself and she hasn't and that's a problem. ... It's not only the lack of schooling; it's the lack of effort to school herself and the lack of insight to see that she needs it."
It's a worthwhile exercise to unravel this statement a bit; and then to broaden the scope.
First the line, I don't mean she didn't go to the right schools. This itself seems like something between a Freudian slip, and a hint of noblesse oblige; Krauthammer is reassuring his listeners that he is too a tolerant person, it's just that Palin doesn't even meet his gracious and generous standards. There is a great scene in Dorothy L. Sayers' novel Gaudy Night, in which Harriet Vane is attempting to write a letter to Lord Peter Wimsey on behalf of his nephew Gerald, who has been in a car accident and cannot write for himself:
"As he can't write much himself, he asks me to send you the enclosed and to say he thanks you very much and is sorry. He appreciates your confidence and will do exactly as you ask him, as soon as he is well enough."
She hoped there was nothing there that could offend. She had started to write "honorably do as you ask," and then erased the first word: to mention honor was to suggest its opposite.
And so it is with Krauthammer. He very much wants to point out the obvious, that Palin did not attend a "decent school," but catches himself in time. But the deeper problem, according to Krauthammer, is that she lacks a certain fundamental seriousness, a lack of intellectual curiosity, a defect in even being able to recognize one's own lack of depth.
(For the nonce, this is absolute nonsense: Palin started as a housewife and small businesswoman with her husband, and climbed the ranks of local politics to the point she was able to knock off an incumbent governor and then face down the corporate lawyers at Exxon Mobil, one of the largest and richest companies that ever existed. If she were too shallow to recognize and ameliorate her own deficiencies, she'd have been crushed. Much as she was written off after the Charles Gibson ambush, where he lied to her about her own words, or after losing the VP role, or after the lawsuits hounding her while governor of Alaska--for which she was found guilty on all counts in advance--or, after her resignation from Alaska's Governorship, or after her book Going Rogue bombed, or after her book tour failed, or after her Cable TV show Sarah Palin's Alaska failed, or after she was linked to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, or after her career even as a commentator was washed up after a unilateral embargo on news stories about her for a month or so, or after her bankruptcy caused by all the lawsuits in Alaska apparently allowed her to buy a house in prestigious North Scottsdale for cash...)
One only has to look at the typical PDS screed to get the flavor of it. (This example is from the comments section at The Boston Herald's article above):
Saying she is right is like parsing predictions from a clairvoyant to find parts that make sense. There is no way she had that depth of knowledge or that she meant to relay that nuanced an analysis. -- poster "TPO"
By contrast, look at the fawning treatment meted out to Barack Obama by David Brooks:
But anyone whos observed him closely can see that Obama is a new kind of politician. As Klein once observed, hes that rarest of creatures: a megahyped phenomenon that lives up to the hype.
It may not be personally convenient for him, but the times will never again so completely require the gifts that he possesses. Whether youre liberal or conservative, you should hope Barack Obama runs for president.
Bear in mind that this was written in November 2006, long before anyone had heard of Barack Obama (except, according to the style of your tinfoil hat, George Soros, William Ayers, and some ex-Soviet generals).
Brooks was later quoted in Allahpundit for his views:
"Moreover, after the Bush years, Brooks seems relieved to have an intellectual in the White House again. I divide people into people who talk like us and who dont talk like us, he explains."
So the gist of it, from the intellectual elite's point of view, is that Barack "talks like us" but Sarah Palin doesn't.
This would also explain why (say) George W. Bush, despite a Yale degree, and a Harvard MBA, was roundly trashed by the intellectuals: he is not deliberative, nor mellifluous.
In other words, Harvard and Yale may all be very well, but in the final analysis, they are (as the mathematicians say) "necessary, but not sufficient."
And it was this that gave me the key to unlock the whole phenomenon. The liberals unconsciously give the game away, if they but knew it: but even their slips do not explain the whole situation.
For a liberal, everything revolves around intelligence, and secondly about motives. Attendance at the "right" schools (Ivy League, U of Chicago, Stanford, Berkeley, a few others) is a proxy for intelligence: and as a first order approximation, since those schools are selective in undergraduate admissions, it's not too bad of a proxy, if you have no other information about a person. (Of course, the courses one takes make a difference as well: studying feminist deconstruction of Shakespeare at Harvard is still not as compelling as the biostatistics of survival analysis at Minnesota. But by that point, it's too much work to examine the details, so people tend to go with Harvard just to save time.)
Also, the psychologists tell us, there is more to life than a culturally limited, Eurocentric, heterosexual Caucasian homophobic IQ test to tell a person's intelligence. There are in fact different spheres of "giftedness" -- as Picasso was a genius in his art, as Baryshnikov had fluidity and body awareness, as Barack Obama can read from a teleprompter like nobody else who ever lived. And so, intelligence should be considered not just as a number, an intelligence QUOTIENT, but as something more. That is, considering a number of different areas of human endeavor or skill or talent, one could combine a person's scores along each of the disparate, orthogonal axes to come up with a vector, measuring the total "quantity" of giftedness with regard to each area of life. Lo and behold! Intelligence is a vector-valued quantity!
(That is, when one is a liberal, wishing to discredit the formal achievements of a conservative. When one is trying to shut out a conservative entirely, for lack of achievements, intelligence is once again relegated to its accustomed place as a scalar, the IQ score, with attendance and grades at the "right" school all the information one needs to assign someone an absolute rank.)
That, at least for now, is how the liberals appear to see things in their own hearts.
But you know, there's one other thing which gets involved, which liberals never seem to make allowances for. And that is, what is the person doing with their gifts, skills, and talents? Leni Reifenstahl was surely using artistic gifts when she made Triumph of the Will. ("Holy crap! You racist! You're DEFENDING NAZIS!")
No. The problem is in the meaning of the word "using". There is a values neutral sense, which connotes "utilizing" -- but there is another sense, which means, "knowingly exerting effort towards a desired end" -- that is, Riefenstahl was not just trying to make a Damn Good DocumentaryTM, she was trying to make a documentary extolling the Nazis. And in doing such, she was not using, but rather badly MISusing, her talents.
And this is where the extension to intelligence comes in. IQ is a scalar, it is a useful measure for some things, but it is not complete. A vector-valued intelligence (magnitude and direction) is more complete. But in order to best describe how intelligence exists, and is used in the real world, one must look not only at the size and direction of the vector, but the orientation of the vector in relation to the rest the world. And a convenient mathematical representation of this, the extension of the concept (scalar = magnitude only, vector = magnitude + a direction) is a tensor: a scalar with TWO significant directions.
To treat it mathematically remember the Riemann sum from Calculus, used to help describe the definite integral. One draws a function, and then draws a number of vertical lines, from the function down to the x-axis, making a series of tiny, infinitesimally thin rectangles. The integral is formed by adding up the area under each rectangle.
For a tensor, imagine a garden variety vector, but instead of it being placed so that it begins at the origin, imagine dividing all of space into a series of infinitesimal boxes, one at each point in space, just as the integral divided a function into tiny rectangles. A tensor, then, is a vector, where the size and direction of the vector are what they always have been, but the thing that makes it a tensor, is a knowledge and description of which face of the box the vector originates from!
The analogy to intelligence is this: IQ is just a number, the 'length' of the vector; the vector shows how talented the person is across the different areas of life; the little box for the tensor describes the goals, aims, and aspirations the person has when they are exerting their intelligence.
And thus, we come full circle. It is true that David Brooks divides the world into "Talks like us" and "Doesn't talk like us"; it is true that Krauthammer bemoans Palin's lack of curiosity about the wide world. How much of this can be described by the inchoate recognition, that the ends to which Sarah Palin is applying her talents ("A Servant's Heart"; the restoration of America) is very different than the goals and ends on which her critics (and opponents, such as Pharaoh Obaama, The Compassionate, The Merciful) have set their sights?
What the rest of us see of them:
Make your goal the same as Sarah's. (She has wisdom which is preferable to mere intellect.)
Her goal is restoration: make this land once again the land of the free, the home of the brave, without dependent classes, without self-anointed elites. No dependent classes, not because they have been enslaved or destroyed, but because they have GROWN into independence; no self-anointed elites, but those who (like Sarah) have a Servant's Heart, who see government as a steward of liberty, and not a gravy train for the enrichment of oneself and one's circle at the expense of the governed.
A land without Leviathan; and a land serving as a bulwark of God's Freedom, from which Freedom can flow and stream out to the rest of a dark world.
Regarding the Left and its intelligence, David Brooks famously fell for Barack Obama's perfectly creased pantsO the nuanced grasp of policy.
As noted, Krauthammer the patronizing rejector also rejected Ronald Reagon for Fritz Mondaleas the band played on.
Michael Beschloss waxed rapturous over Obama's I.Q. off the chartsnow the economy is off the rails.
America selected Clinton the Rhodes Scholar only to be handed the biggest tax increase, an unprecedented episode of treason in Chinagate, and the degradation of defining deviancy down.
Now as Obanomics enters what may be a death spiral yet another economic advisor heads for the exit, as Gates begs, No mas, and the secular regimes of the Middle East are subverted by the Obamanized Muslim Brotherhood.
Behold the epic slayer of babies, the reincarnation of Karl Marx, radical Islam's greatest booster, American exceptionalism's relentless destroyer bent on re-election and the final outrage.
Yet from the shrieking fairies and carping harpies we hear only the cocktail party bigotry of the effete faculty of academe.
Gated communities and chauffeured poofs to the contrary notwithstanding, give us a leader who knows what's right with America and goes about restoring it.
Well said! Reminds me of a recent Facebook conversation...eh, scan59?
“It is true that her remarks were somewhat disorganized; but on the other hand, this has always been Sarah’s way of speaking: presenting snippets of thought, using the disparate elements to give an impressionistic depiction of a larger picture.”
I like the idea of further developing the Just Sarah Being Sarah theory. I was a little surprised at how Palin didn’t make any sense there with the Revere story, but I’m pleased to hear that not making any sense is something that she just does a lot and it’s not something to worry about.
If the “educated” people had known that Revere had told the British that resistance was waiting after he had been captured and interrogated, the inarticulate answer of Palin would have been ignored. But to now admit that Governor Sarah Palin was right on a central question is also to admit that the vast number of people who jumped on this were ignorant, and being hoist with your own petard is not a desired outcome. That is why you see the spinning and the moving of the goalposts.
If the pundits are so sure that Gov. Palin will not run, cannot be nominated, and cannot win, why do they obsess about her? If those on the Left and some on the Right are so sure that she is stupid and ill-informed, why the continuing search for “gotcha” moments? They seem to be trying to reassure themselves that what they want to believe is correct but subconsciously are worried that she may be very different from the portrait her political enemies have painted.
I say Sarah is great because Sarah is good.
Thanks very much for sound research and a wonderful essay/column that beats the sheets out of the paid pundits.
Right on, Phil Dragoo!
Not at all. It is quite reflective of your Freeper handle We do understand how someone so preoccupatied with your own feelings of inadequacy can sometimes cause one to be overwhelmed with facts, but you sure never let that stop you, do you? So at this point, we see who you are and consider the source.
How does it feel to be the dancing monkey on every Sarah Palin thead?
The way in which your piece is written is sure to appeal to my high-IQ-but-willfully-ignorant sisters. I look forward to reading your next article!
My cousin attributes his incredible tomato crop this year to his having fertilized with chicken poo.
Just sayin’ ...
However, if you consider whether the person is a legacy admission, or the relative of a contributor or Democrat political figure, or a favored "minority," then you'll want to see the person's SAT scores before you even deduce he can read and write.
Outstanding essay-post, dear brother in Christ! Thank you!
Listen, anybody who quotes Sayers is a-okay in my book. Great article!
“To treat it mathematically remember the Riemann sum from Calculus, used to help describe the definite integral. One draws a function, and then draws a number of vertical lines, from the function down to the x-axis, making a series of tiny, infinitesimally thin rectangles. The integral is formed by adding up the area under each rectangle.
For a tensor, imagine a garden variety vector, but instead of it being placed so that it begins at the origin, imagine dividing all of space into a series of infinitesimal boxes, one at each point in space, just as the integral divided a function into tiny rectangles. A tensor, then, is a vector, where the size and direction of the vector are what they always have been, but the thing that makes it a tensor, is a knowledge and description of which face of the box the vector originates from!”
grey_whiskers! Please. Remember? I never knew. Or tried not to know because it never gelled in MY brain. Thanks for explaining it, though, because I certainly can grok the gist of it. This is an excellent post. I am so grateful for the explanation about WHY Sarah is not only intelligent, but she also uses what she’s been blessed with to expand individual freedom instead of subjugating imagined inferiors.
You’ve earned every one of those grey whiskers. Grey. Thanks for spelling it correctly, too.
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