Wednesday 23 February 2000

Snowy road

Pic of the day: The road ahead.

More apes

Yesterday, after reading an old book, I wrote about how it makes no sense to discriminate against groups of people based on the minor differences in average intelligence. I am convinced that there are indeed genetic differences in intelligence. I am equally convinced that these differences have nothing to do with skin color, at all. I could explain this in painstaking detail, but I can't imagine how that would interest my readers, who are already well aware of these things. But basically, the idea that intelligence follows from skin color is on the same level of science as the fear that Australians may fall off the planet and down into the great void.

Cultural differences are quite another matter. According to research comments posted in Scientific American as well as The Economist, there are great difference in how various cultures approach education. While we all have some measure of brain, not all of us use it equally intensely. All the larger cultures of the far east Asia for instance put much weight on education, and it is common for parents and other elder family members to actively encourage the children's study. Classic western (European / American) cultures are much more lenient in this. A Norwegian study showed that an overwhelming majority of Norwegian parents believe their children to be above average in their class... Similar results are obtained among North Americans of European descent, which indicates that this overly optimistic attitude is an ingrained part of European culture. At the same time, it was discovered that Euro-American children spent about the same time on homework in a week that Asian-American children spent in a day. Heh.


I know for certain that I did not spend much time on homework when I was a child, though I was sometimes "forced" to do some by my parents. I did written homework, more or less, but not reading. On the bright side, I had typically read the school books before. Sometimes before I even started school, as my oldest brother was ca 6 years older than I. I would sneak read his school books out of curiosity, but I studiously avoided reading my own homework. Heh. Things are so much more fun when you are not supposed to do them!

Whether as a result of nature or nurture (most probably both), I found myself starting school with a solid foundation of reading books for my pleasure and curiosity. I had sort of looked forward to going to school to learn more, but within days school was transformed into the nightmare that it would remain for the next 8 years of so. I found myself surrounded by witless brutes, or so it seemed to me. They had little interest in knowledge, but more in simple physical contests such as sports or outright fighting. I was appalled, and let no opportunity go to waste to show it, I'm afraid. The reaction was predictable. From this grew the enmity between me and mankind that was to last for years, and a distrust that still lurks in the shadows of my soul.


I have sometimes wondered what would have become of me if my body had been as strong as my mind. Most probably I would have followed the path of my brothers, who were not only as bright as I, but also strong and sporty and handsome. I guess I would have been a more normal person, more secure of myself, more trustful towards others, and with a greater social network. But (if my brothers are any indication) a matter of degree, not a radical difference. Certainly they are more normal than I am, but then again they have to be. They are married. :)

Anyway, despite some resounding differences (particularly in the early childhood), the Tarzan myth had some appeal to me, that was lost in the comic book version but very noticeable in the original novel. (A novel I had not read until now, though I had seen it in excerpt.) The image of the boy Tarzan surrounded by great apes, who would see in him only a pale ape inferior to themselves, without realizing his potential. That's pretty much how I felt, at the time. The popularity of the book indicates that I may not have been nearly as unique as I felt, however ... For all I know, some of my classmates may have harbored the same feelings! Of course, only I was right... :)

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago

Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

I welcome e-mail:
Back to my home page.