August 27, 2004

GRADES

Long-time readers will know that nothing gets my blood boiling like some snotty intellectual calling average Americans stupid. They frequently do it to our servicemembers, which really ticks me off. And they do it all the time to our President. Nothing makes me madder than the audacity of a statement like this:

Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I'm sure their SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead.

OK, well we all know President Bush's grades, since "Bush is dumb" is like sooo 2000. What are Kerry's grades, then? Can't Howell Raines find them and make a factual statement instead of resorting to bandwagon techniques?

I don't know what happens behind closed White House doors. I don't really care who's pulling most of the weight, be it Bush or Cheney or Rice. As a team, they're getting the job done. But, having absolutely no facts at my disposal, I'm not sure I want to poke at President Bush's IQ. What does IQ measure? Little picture games and mind puzzles and making connections and so on. I think President Bush might do quite well on a test of this nature.

Smarts isn't about memorizing and regurgitating, which is what the SAT and grades are about. Hell, I'm freaking awesome at that. I can play the school game like nobody's business, which is how you end up valedictorian and summa cum laude. But I'm slowly learning that playing school and playing life are completely different things.

Last night I had my second stats class. We learned variance and standard deviation, long formulas involving sigmas and x-bars and things that give most math-fearing people (the majority of the class) the heebie-jeebies. But I got the formulas right away. I figured out how to do the functions on the calculator right away. But then when I raised my hand and asked for how it applies to the real world, I could hear the panic in people's gasps. It's bad enough we have to plug in the frequency and take square roots, for chrissake, who cares what it all means! But I cared. I'm not taking stats just to finish a degree; I'm taking it because I want to know how it applies to the real world. And I could easily see how to plug in all the data, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out the relationship between the answer we got (18.2 cents) and the real problem (increase cigarette taxes in 27 states).

It's very humbling to realize you can't figure it out unless the teacher shows you how.

I've realized that I've an overabundance of capability, but no real ability to decipher relationships on my own. Give me formulas, give me numbers, and I'll give you all the answers, but ask me what it means and I'll stutter. And I get A's and had a relatively high SAT score. (I'm getting better at it through blogging, but I'm still stunned by the likes of Den Beste, Bunker, and CavX. I'll never get to that level.)

President Bush, and whoever else is working behind closed doors with him, can see the big picture. I don't care if he can plug the numbers into the calculator himself or if Cheney does it for him, as long as he continues to get 'er done. What indication do we have that Kerry sees the big picture? He obviously can't even make the mental relationship that voting for war and against funding makes you look like a jackass.

Look, I just don't like to call anyone stupid. I especially don't like it when Howell Raines -- who presumably thought Jayson Blair was pretty smart -- points his finger at the President. There's much more to smarts than grades in college; I'd say, to quote CavX, that

spending the last three years destroying terrorist training camps, breaking up terror cells in the US and abroad, uncovering a multinational nuclear proliferation ring, forcing belligerent North Korea to the bargaining table, cowing Libya into giving up its WMD programs and terrorist support, and winning two wars against terrorist-supporting Islamofascist dictatorships in the process

makes the President look pretty smart to me.

MORE TO GROK:

Instapundit says pretty much the same thing I said.

And Ann Althouse:

In any case, my questions about Kerry's intelligence do not arise solely from my inference that he had a poor academic record and low standardized test scores. My questions are also based on his exasperatingly convoluted and unclear manner of speaking. This has been excused as a propensity for "nuance" and "complexity," but could also be caused by a lack of mental capacity. It could also be willful evasion. I'd really like to know.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:10 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 Also, it makes for a rather more substantial war record than Kerry's 17 weeks in Vietnam.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at August 27, 2004 04:21 AM (kOqZ6)

2 Aw, shucks... Don't sell yourself short. I was curious how the Sadistics class was going. You make a really good point about relative intelligence. The Cadets I taught were all close to the top of their high school class rankings, many of them valedictorians. All were extremely bright. But some had trouble with analysis and critical thinking. All their school career prior to USAFA was based in a great deal of rote learning. It was a tough slog for some who got Cs and Ds for the first time in their lives. The most rewarding part of the job was seeing that light come on over their heads!

Posted by: Mike at August 27, 2004 07:42 AM (MqNKC)

3 I agree with Mike, I think you're selling yourself short. But you are right on the money about knowledge and application. To know facts, figures and such is very important. Yes. BUT in my mind, the application of that information, the ability to lead and make decisions based on that information is what is so key in execution. Our President is a great leader. He built a team of experts, those with the knowledge and expertise in certain areas, he manages the big picture based on their information. He makes decisions. That's what's so important. I am a huge supporter of education. Knowledge is power. BUT some of the best leaders I've known and/or worked for were more street smart than book smart. They knew to surround themselves with those that know and use that to get the job done. (Sorry to go off like this, but it's something that has been a thorn in my side since 2000. Guess I'm going to need to do a post on it eventually!)

Posted by: Tammi at August 27, 2004 08:15 AM (4Ls5e)

4 I haven't seen any evidence that Kerry is particularly intelligent. Using lots of big words strung together in complex sentences is not a sign of intelligence, but rather of a particular kind of family and educational background. And as Goethe said, "When ideas fail, words come in very handy."

Posted by: David Foster at August 27, 2004 10:20 AM (XUtCY)

5 If Dubya is dumb, he MY KIND of dumb. Dumb enough to get the job done without the total self-paralysis of Kerry's "nuanced" BS. Liberals think that trying to consider everything from every point of view is smart. While Kerry's standing there gazing at the sky and pondering, Bush is tying Kerry's shoelaces together, stealing his wallet and taping a "KICK ME" sign to his back. Besides, any man who can graduate from both Yale AND Harvard is plenty smart enough for me!

Posted by: CavalierX at August 27, 2004 10:23 AM (sA6XT)

6 My questions are also based on his exasperatingly convoluted and unclear manner of speaking. If that's the criterion we're using for judging IQ, then Bush would be about five points above a ficus plant. I mean, really. Why don't you just attack Kerry for being too beholden to big oil and Christian fundamentalists?

Posted by: apostropher at September 10, 2004 08:00 PM (XA/yX)

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