One of the problems with smart people is they can be idea hamsters. Like little hyper-active rodents with too much wheel and not enough time, they compulsivley whip up one misbegotten notion after another. Notions that contain about the same level of inate common sense as a hamster confronted with a cotter pin in the lock of his cage.
Less than two weeks ago I came across an article by Richard Dawkins in the Guardian touting the hot new group description, "the brights." The Guardian gave a web address for this dubious new group, but wasn't bright enough to post the URL without spaces. Hence it was useless.
A brief correspondence with Dawkins assured me that the item was fixed. It was, in a small way, not too bright and Dawkins is a very bright man. But not bright enough to detect the smarm in the whole notion. Still, seeing that it was safely ensconced in Britain, that loves this sort of blather, I let it slide since it posed no clear and present danger to the United States.
But there's no keeping a stupid idea down in this confused age, and this morning, Whomp, there it was in the dreaded and dreadful New York Times. Yes, a full-on Times OP-ED blatheration entitled.... wait for it... "The Bright Stuff." (God, can we just please lose the punning headlines in the Times? Please? )
In this article by one Daniel C. Dennett ( Identified as "a professor of philosophy at Tufts University,"...and author of the wetly named, "Freedom Evolves.'') is a virtual fornication festival of the terminally unclued. It begins (with my interjections):
The time has come for us brights to come out of the closet.
No the time is at hand for you to shut up and stay in the closet to rewrite "Freedom Evolves" until it can be printed on a bumper strip.
What is a bright? A bright is a person with a naturalist as opposed to a supernaturalist world view. We brights don't believe in ghosts or elves or the Easter Bunny - or God.
Not very bright if you hope to hold elective office, but once you've got tenure you can run your mouth at any level of RPM and in any direction you wish.
We disagree about many things, and hold a variety of views about morality, politics and the meaning of life, but we share a disbelief in black magic - and life after death.
Okay, advanced Goth dating for you is out.
The term "bright" is a recent coinage by two brights in Sacramento, Calif., who thought our social group - which has a history stretching back to the Enlightenment, if not before - could stand an image-buffing and that a fresh name might help.
"Back to the Enlightenment, if not before... What a noble lineage! And to think, they're still here. Bring me the ducking stool, the stocks, and a sharpened pike for these wise guys. And as for the image-buff and the fresh name, well, who among us could not use a detailing and a rebranding?
Don't confuse the noun with the adjective: "I'm a bright" is not a boast but a proud avowal of an inquisitive world view.
Say it loud, "I'm bright and I'm proud!" Not at all that superstitious sort who woud confuse a noun with an adjective.
You may well be a bright.
The moment that the author, Dennett, seeks to get you down in the hole that he's in. 'Come, let us revel together in our shared superiority. Hand me the Unabridged Oxford Dictonary and the tub of Vaseline, you little minx.
If not, you certainly deal with brights daily.
Translation: "We're smarm, no harm, get used to it."
That's because we are all around you: we're doctors, nurses, police officers, schoolteachers, crossing guards and men and women serving in the military. We are your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters.
I think at this point that the entire Rainbow coalition should sue to prevent this wholesale theft of their schtick.
Our colleges and universities teem with brights.
Our colleges and universities teem with the homeless, the useless, the hard-core unemployed, and schizophrenics on early release too, that doesn't mean they are places that at the top of our vacation list. Otherwise, the students wouldn't run screaming from the campus for Spring break.
Among scientists, we are a commanding majority.
Ah, the hidden lust to command. Isn't a shame that all the people who really know how to run the country and, dare I say it, the world, are stuck in labs and lecture halls?
Wanting to preserve and transmit a great culture, we even teach Sunday school and Hebrew classes.
Translation: "We transmit what we do not believe." Yup, that's a plan for world domination right there.
Many of the nation's clergy members are closet brights, I suspect.
The last few years have established that many of the nation's clergy are in the closet for many things, but inate intelligence was left out until today. However, if there's one thing the clergy of this nation needs it is more hypocrisy.
We are, in fact, the moral backbone of the nation: brights take their civic duties seriously precisely because they don't trust God to save humanity from its follies.
Sigh. What is one to do with such manifest detritus? Dennett goes on ad nauseum about his little club of closet Mensa addicts, but he never, for one iota of a scintilla of a jot, acknowledges what most really smart people know, i.e. deep down we are all stupid.
We're too stupid to get the world right after thousands of years. We're too stupid to follow the major religious instruction of the ages: Love each other as yourself. We're too stupid to quit driving SUVs, we're too stupid to earn enough money to buy an SUV. We are all of us just plain stupid, stupid, stupid.
At best, we're the "smart" monkey. And how smart can a monkey be, really?
Smart people know that. They also know enough, if they are also decent people, that running around proclaiming you are bright for some half-baked notion that you aren't getting your props as a group is just plain dumb. If you've got it, you don't flaunt it.
And as for the "brights" being "...the moral backbone of the nation: brights take their civic duties seriously precisely because they don't trust God to save humanity from its follies" ....
Jesus wept.Posted by Vanderleun at July 14, 2003 3:56 PM | TrackBack