This article discusses correlations between reading and intelligence.
|Are We Smart Because We Read? Do We Read Because We’re Smart? Or None Of The Above?
Reading magazines probably don’t make us smart, but what about textbooks and articles?
The other day as I was watching television, the commercial for the Global News came on: “Global National. News understood”. The purpose of a slogan is to be creative and sound clever; this was no exception. This slogan implies that the reporters will explain the news in a way that everyone will understand. But basically, they’re just telling the viewers that all the thinking and analyzing will be done for them. Yes, that’s exactly what we need: a growing population of people who don’t feel the need to think.
You can probably tell by now that I’m quite condescending but so are a lot of people. Almost everybody thinks that they’re smarter than many people. As humans, we are condescending by nature. Condescension is just an exaggerated and “negative” version of self-esteem/confidence which we’re all encouraged to have. If we weren’t condescending, we would think everyone else is better than us which leads to low self-esteem/confidence and inferior complexes. In other words, we would be a race of depressing people.
We’re all entitled to our opinions but we can’t all be smarter than each other. So which ones of us are the smarter ones? There is so much to cover in this topic but I’m only going to focus on one particular aspect of it: the way some people automatically think they’re smart because they read. Since I’m focusing on just this, amongst an array of variables, some readers probably already think they’re smarter than me. Either way, we can all agree that: to be smart, one needs to think. A common thing that makes people stop thinking is a conclusion.
People often try to come up with conclusions about everything. It’s fine when the correlations are undoubtedly clear but few things are that simple. When conclusions exist, many people read them and believe them. That’s all these people do: intake information without ever having to process them. They don’t need to do any further thinking because it was already done for them.
From my observations, an emotionally stirring topic, like rape, really shows how people (don’t) think. Many people get so stirred up just thinking about it that they start to lose their sense of rationality. I never say “I support rape” or “rape is good” yet there will be plenty of people who read my arguments and hate me because “I try to justify rape” – often quoting parts of my text and taking it out of context to reinforce their hate. I have had to explicitly state that “I do not support rape” but words don’t seem to mean anything to them anymore. When this happens, it is quite difficult to tell whether they’re thinking with their brains, or with their ass- I mean emotions.
Rape may be a serious topic, but that doesn’t dictate us to take every aspect of it in complete seriousness, shunning any idea that remotely sounds like a joke, even if it makes more sense than their “data”. Come on, how does thinking about - violent rapists calmly deciding not to rape in freezing weather because it would be inconvenient for their genitals - be not funny? Does that thought solve anything? Maybe not, but neglecting its factual presence just because it is “out of place” doesn’t make a person any more informed, educated, or smarter.
Whenever there’s a discussion about the causes of rape, roughly half the people would think that it is entirely a product of desire for power and control and the other half would believe that the root of rape is sexual desires. There is no definite way to prove that it is one over the other for various reasons (mostly because you can’t experiment with control groups where one group is legally allowed to rape or anything of such nature), so I too cannot objectively say which is dominant but I do have my opinions.
First off, most textbooks and “professionals” out there will say that rape is caused by the desire for power and control over another person. It is understandable that you may consider control as the cause, since rapists do completely physically dominate their victims, but that alone isn’t sufficient proof. How can you so easily conclude a crime that - by definition - involves sex, is driven by power more than sexual desires?
There are many people out there, like me, who have desires to show an authority figure in their lives that they too can have power and control. Teachers, older siblings, and parents are all potential victims of this. Would I rape any of them? No. Would most people rape these figures in their lives? No. Have there been people who’ve raped them? Yes, but those people have screws loose in their head so you can’t judge humanity based on those nut jobs. I have a dad who can sometimes be irrational, ignorant, and stubborn so I can’t live life obeying his every demand. I may ignore, argue with, or rebel against him, but never rape.
Another argument that people, whom I disagree with, use is that many rapists already have an active sex life therefore they’re not raping for the sex. This may make sense at first but it actually goes against their point. Giving a fat kid half a donut doesn’t satisfy him, it only makes him want more donuts. The difference is: you can buy donuts but you can’t buy sex – well, not with pocket change at least.
Does questioning the pre-existing ideas of textbooks and “professional” make me smart? Not quite, but blindly believing these same ideas is further from being smart. It was quite a shock that even after presenting these hypothetical – but probable – scenarios, there are still people who completely disagree with me simply because a textbook or a “professional” says otherwise. To be specific, one person told me I made no sense and that rape is already proven to be entirely based on control. Like anyone else would, I asked him where he might have gotten that information. He replied “Psych 101” as if he’d won the argument and proved himself correct. All he proved is that he’s an obedient little puppy.
So am I saying that if you disagree with me, you’re not smart? No. Whether you agree with my view on rape or not is of almost no importance. This isn’t about rape and its causes. This is about why people believe what they believe in. The example with the textbook lover isn’t exclusive to this topic; many people think they’re smarter than others just because they read more, think they know things just because they’ve read it somewhere, and think people who don’t read as much textbooks and articles are intellectually inferior. Does reading really make us smarter? Well, former U.S. president Bush had bragged about reading twenty books a year so I guess people who read have to be smart (and literate).
In the end, all I’m trying to say is that the next time you read something, don’t stop thinking as soon as you understand what the author is saying – however reliable his information may (seem to) be. After all…
You can: obey someone telling you to listen to him.
You can: not obey someone telling you to listen to him.
You can: obey someone telling you not to listen to him.
But you cannot: not obey someone telling you not to listen to him.
(To clarify: When a person says “listen to me”, you can either obey, or disobey him. When a person says “Don’t listen to me”, you can obey him, but you can’t disobey him because by disobeying him, you would be obeying him.)
I can come up with two applications for that: You can confuse someone with it but they’ll probably just not think about it and label you as crazy for saying such a random statement (Believe you me). The more practical application is that as a piece of writing, I’m telling you not to blindly believe the conclusions of the things you read, even if it is from a textbook or newspaper article. And you can’t disobey me.