Hello from Hogan Holler: Measuring Intelligence


I read a quote recently by poet/novelist Charles Bukowski that has stayed with me. Anytime I can remember something I’ve read for more than 24 hours, I certainly want to give it further consideration.

Here’s the quote: “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the ignorant ones are full of confidence.”

If I’m interpreting Bukowski correctly, he’s saying that intelligent people are always searching for answers, challenging the status quo, demanding proof, and seldom accepting anything at face value. Obviously, this kind of thinking is going to produce a noggin full of doubts about a host of things.

On the other hand, the ignorant follow blindly, never question authority, readily accept the politics, religion, and prejudices of their parents, and are full of confidence that they’re always right. That old “ignorance is bliss” thing.

By this definition, I’m one of Bukowski’s intelligent ones. I’ve always been a doubting Thomas. Show me the proof. Why is this the best way? This can’t be right. Let’s do it some other way. Loads of doubts here.

But really, how do you measure intelligence?

My brother Roy (who lives in McMinn County, and hopefully won’t read this) called me recently, and in a voice of near-desperation, asked me how to cook a well-done hamburger. Seems Roy’s wife is always unhappy with him because he can’t get the burgers done enough. Now, pause and think about that.

Just leave them on the grill a little longer, stupid! Naw, I didn’t say that. But I was tempted.

Brother Roy is an accomplished engineer. He’s worked all over the world, usually in a supervisory capacity. But he can’t figure that one out. The same brother who won tons of academic awards. The brains of the family. Tee hee, can’t cook a well-done hamburger.

But Roy can design a bridge or a building for you. He’s the guy you want around to put together the grill to cook that burger on.

I, on the other hand, experience an extremely elevated heart rate anytime something has to be assembled, which is just about everything we buy these days. In fact, the last grill I purchased required assembly. My daughter Gina was visiting so she helped, but around the Hogan House, my wife Margo is the “handyman.” (Don’t tell her but that’s one of the reasons I married her.)

Albert Einstein defined intelligence thusly: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Here again, I pass another intelligence test. My life has taken many twists and turns, personally and professionally, and I’ve always adapted and been able to change.

A bit of interesting Einstein trivia: I’ve read that of all his accomplishments, he was most proud of his ability to entertain children by wiggling his ears. But I digress.

The most commonly used method of measuring intelligence is the Intelligent Quotient (IQ) test. To my knowledge, I’ve never taken an IQ test. Afraid to. I suspect I would fall in the lower end of the average range.

I once took the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) when I was seeking entrance into college. I scored high enough to get in! Barely. (In my defense, I’d been out of high school for almost a decade.)

I believe we’re too quick to judge each other’s intelligence, too quick to call someone stupid when we disagree with them. Intelligence can be measured in many ways. So let’s be more tolerant, understanding, and accepting of each other. And more content with who we are.

I know, beyond any doubt, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But I can grill you a well-done burger.

And I can wiggle my ears too.

After 57 years in the radio industry, Dave Hogan is enjoying his retirement in North Carolina. He’d love for you to say ‘howdy’ to him via email: davealtonhogan@gmail.com.


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