If you want a good summary of how W.E.I.R.D. Science thinks about intelligence, you can’t go wrong with watching Jordan Peterson’s video on the topic.
Just to be clear, I personally like Jordan. He’s taught me a lot. So, what’s coming next is not an affront to Jordan Peterson. It’s not even a critique of W.E.I.R.D. Science because they’re not responsive to critiques from the outside. They rely heavily on intuitions of authority about who has what PhD and who is qualified to say what. By their standards, no one is qualified to say what I am about to say. That was the exact problem Katie O’Brien and I faced when we wrote The Straight-A Conspiracy. Literally, no human was qualified to say what we were saying and nor could they be. We combined seven different fields of neuroscience and psychology. If we were going to get PhDs and publication records, we would need seven of each. All to then break down the science so we could write the book we already wrote. Was the issue our actions? Or was that the culture of W.E.I.R.D. Science has picked up cultural biases that make it impossible to solve the problems of humanity? And that’s where Jordan Peterson’s comment about intelligence being what helps you move forward in the world is very interesting. W.E.I.R.D. Science isn’t very intelligent because it doesn’t help humanity move forward. It overcomplicates with jargon. It atomizes into different fields. It talks about interdisciplinary work but it also reinvents the wheel without even realizing it.
Take, for example, the way the Romans defined intelligence. The word itself is made of two parts “inter” (between) and “legere” (to choose). Intelligence is the ability to choose between two things. It’s the wisdom to know the difference.
In a Biblical context, this was the ability to know the difference between wheat and chaff and sheep from goats. Or the difference between shit and shinola (shoe polish).
Think about if Navin P. Johnson (Steve Martin in The Jerk) went out into the world not knowing the difference between shit and shinola. Would he be able to make the kind of choices that would help him move forward in life? Nope. He’d be throwing shinola down the toilet bowl and rubbing shit on his shoes. He’d be dumb. Until someone taught him the wisdom to know the difference between shit and shinola.
In practice, The Straight-A Conspiracy taught students how to know shit from shinola in many of those categories. And now, you can learn those same things here at MixedMentalArts.co.
How should you feeeeeeeeeel about your mistakes? Should you feeeeeeeel stupid? Nope. Shame around mistakes makes you bury them when you should learn from them through fix-it-focused practice. Should you be afraid of math? Nope. Fear is the emotion that makes you stop thinking which is why it’s the WORST reaction to have to math. But aren’t some people geniuses? Nope. That’s a genius myth. This clarity allows you to make better decisions. And better decisions lead to a better life. That’s what intelligence is.
But what is a decision? Well, the Romans had that figured out too. Decision from decidere (to cut off). You’re cutting off the option where you waste your time feeling bad about your mistakes. You’re just going to do fix-it-focused practice and fix them. You cut off the option where math is a thing to be afraid of. You’re just going to get stuck in. And you’re not going to waste your time doubting your intelligence. You’re just going to get stuck into making whatever progress you can. To make a decision, you need clarity. And that’s what W.E.I.R.D. Science doesn’t provide. That’s what Mixed Mental Arts is here to provide more and more of. We want to raise humanity’s I.Q. faster than ever. You can help us.
Choose wisely, friend. After all, that’s all intelligence is. 🙂
Love to all humanity – Toto