Herrnstein and Murray ignore evidence that highly intelligent people act in idiotic ways. A person can be both intelligent and stupid. Corporate executives, for example, know that high IQ people with doctorates are usually dysfunctional in organizations. Not only do people with Ph.D.’s and Ed.D.’s generally lack common sense, they often stir up problems where none existed.
Groups of highly intelligent people often act stupidly
One hundred years ago Gustave LeBon stated in his book The Crowd , “In the collective mind the intellectual aptitudes of individuals…are weakened. …The decisions made by an assembly of men of distinction…are not sensibly superior to the decisions that would be adopted by a gathering of imbeciles.” In other words, a large group of highly intelligent people generally functions like a huge mentally retarded animal.
Many intelligent whites are cognitively disadvantaged
The white “good” boys and girls, when faced with real life difficulties after high-school, were easy prey for the cults. They accepted refuge from life’s turmoils in a situation familiar to them. They were accustomed to sitting in rows of uncomfortable chairs for many hours without going to the bathroom or allowed to have a drink of water until given permission, accustomed to listening to an authority tell them what to think. The young white cognitive elite gave up their minds and their lives for familiar surroundings.
When I led rap groups for Vietnam veterans I learned that foot soldiers with a few months combat experience were wary of going on patrol with new arrivals. My group co-facilitator, a black veteran, said it was dangerous to go on patrol with the “blue-eyed, fair haired mama’s boys fresh from the states.” He said “we couldn’t stop them from shaving, putting on after shave lotion, and using deodorant. The enemy could smell them 200 yards away and sneak up on the patrol. The ones who wouldn’t stop shaving and deodorizing ended up dead or wounded.”
Organizational downsizing has been emotionally devastating to the tens of thousands of white, male, middle-level managers losing their jobs. In my work with groups of people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, the white male managers feel losing their positions the hardest. The majority flounder. They feel helpless and hopeless in this, the land of opportunity.
Most white, male, middle managers got their positions largely because they were white males with a diploma. They developed identities based on their job titles, power over people, and income. When stripped of these they turn into emotional mush. Their above average IQ scores are of little use without real life coping skills. Minorities and people experienced at handling extreme difficulties cope and thrive during downsizing much more effectively than the white “cognitive elite.”
What do Native Americans say about a white run custodial state?
Is their recommendation realistic? The best information for predicting human conduct is found in past actions. Would Native Americans urge blacks to accept and cooperate with Herrnstein and Murray’s prescription for a “custodial state” administered by the mostly white cognitive elite? Interview some Indians to find out.
The social prescription advocated by Herrnstein and Murray is a typical example of the ineffective way that white executives attempt to handle problems involving large groups of people. The executive sees a problem, comes up with a solution, and then tries to sell the solution to the people who have to make it work. The people affected are not interviewed, asked for suggestions, or given influence over outcomes.
Synergism, not elitism, is what works
Adapting to change is the essence of intelligent behavior . The endorsement by 52 eminent psychologists of the case stated by Herrnstein and Murray not withstanding, elitism is a sign of emotional retardation.
Whites who are both cognitively advantaged and synergistic will view other ethnic groups as partners in a team made up of people with diverse talents and capabilities. Whites will do what they do best in a way that increases opportunities for others to use competencies the whites are less proficient in.
A false prophecy
Intelligence tests were created to predict who would not benefit from more schooling but the tests favored the ethnic group that developed the tests and ran the schools. The Bell Curve purports to document black deficiencies in intelligence, but it is actually a documentation of limitations in the test developers, in the tests, in their uses, and in the test interpreters.
Our black brothers and sisters deserve an apology. They should be interviewed about the future they envision. They should be asked what role they recommend for the white minority in the century ahead.
To arrange for a talk or workshop on resiliency for your organization or conference email Al Siebert . Or, call 503/289-3295
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