The Ecphorizer

The Mismeasure of Mensa 8
Lottie Fish-Bate

Issue #38 (October 1984)



Creativity vs. Intelligence: The Divine Imperative

The new-found texts have aroused ridiculous Immensist irrationalism. Quoting a notorious example, Wilhelm Sharkley, in his 2164 A.D. shocker, The IQ Myth, says:

[quoteright'/>Mensans deceive themselves in thinking they are smarter than other people. What IQ tests measure is really the guile to imitate thinking in order to fool oneself and others. Such "intelligence" can be learned by the chameleon type of personality, which adapts readily to the socially useful and honored convergent thinking. Parents and teachers consistently strive to induce logical thinking, which is not the natural way the brain works. The 20th century psychological testing was justified by the practical results obtained--namely, that future scholastic performance could be predicted. Thus, all that was proved was that IQ testing measures the same willingness for intellectual acculturation as was required to absorb academic schooling. IQ would prove something if it would predict success in life, not in school.

That is, Sharkley claims that IQ is just intellectual conformity. To the extent that he simply recognizes here that intelligence is environmentally determined in conjunction with brain wiring and linguistic match-up, and with good or evil will, fine. However, he actually leaps to the extreme of sneering at "intelligence" and defining as virtuous the very wickedness of mannish contrariness:

Convergent thinking has been socially imposed in the Mensan and earlier Machine Age, both deriving from Calvinism and the doctrine of the Elect. Divergent thinking, creativity, has always been anathema to parents and teachers. Yet the divergent thinkers have risen to the top social strata of all societies. Liam Hudson has shown that the higher-status schools in England appealed to the "born to rule" divergers. Divergence proves thinking ability because it emerges in spite of being suppressed by society. Divergers do not acculturate--they make the culture in the first place. Thus men have ruled every society in spite of having lower average "intelligence" than women because they have the authentic originality and daring of mind that proves itself in real life.

Sharkley accepts, of course, the John Birch texts as if proving a male-dominated society really existed. We cannot trust the books available there, particularly one focusing on the aristocracy of the last surviving monarchy on Earth. Even if such an unjust society ever did exist, it would have been the brute strength and malevolent will of the men that would have imposed their tyranny.

This divergent thinking Sharkley praises as validated by ascent to upper-class status--it actually is more associated with social misfits, alcoholics, homosexuals, libertines, artists, or various literary or social science "disciplines." This type of thinking (misthinking?) is fortunately rare. It does seem to be a significant aid to useful accomplishments in life, but only in conjunction with the real thinking ability measured by IQ tests. That so many upper-class children were divergers merely shows that they were descendants (at one or more generation's remove) of people who rose to the top by unifying both convergent and divergent thinking. That is, they combined strength of mind and strength of will, or, should I say, ill will. Even though intelligence itself is largely a matter of the beneficence and persistence of the will, yet there seem to be some rare people who can combine the good will to develop high IQ with the contrariety to use that intelligence in oddball, original ways. This paradoxical combination, creativity, cannot be passed by either environment or heredity, but splits up into its component parts of convergence and divergence.

Divergence cannot be consistent within itself; there are many forms of it. Otherwise, it would be by definition another form of convergence. The divergers do seem to have an orthodoxy of their own, nevertheless, a posture of liberalism. A true divergence would have to be open in an extreme form to rejecting mindless divergence and to respecting convergence.

Sharkley claims that creativity is strictly a right-brain function, and humor likewise:

The fundamental form of humor is the pun, arising from alternative meanings to the same or similar words. Divergent thinking explores these differing meanings and sounds. The higher forms of humor such as satire are especially right-brained, requiring an extended diversion from straight-line reality. Also required is the flexibility of mind to keep the paralleling allegory or witticism close enough to the reality being ridiculed.

Sharkley knowingly deceives here, as usual. It is quite obvious that punning is a left-brain function, the left brain being so much more verbal than is the right brain. Punning, comebacks, sarcasm, ridicule, posing, repartee, and improvisations in dialogue--all are so quick, controlled, and fluent that they must be left-brained. Humor is basically wordplay and sadism, the specialties of the left brain. Sharkley continues:

Genuine humor, which really means anything, and which is in touch with authentic human feelings and values, arises from lateral thinking. Convergent thinking is by definition unilinear and humorless. Producing and appreciating humor both depend upon conceiving parallel sounds, definitions, features of nature, and world views. The lower forms can be so simple that they look like quick-on-the-uptake convergent thinking, but they are just right-brained talents rendered routine and vicious (as in gossiping, cattiness, and effeminacy) by the left brain's imitative facility. Even the higher forms can be imitated by the left brain (as in feuilleton, byline journalism, and propaganda), but is always subservient to some conscious conceit or bias of the author. True satire or lesser comedy or farce presents life from a fresh perspective from the deep reworkings of the right brain.

Sharkley would dismiss almost all our standard humor as just trivial and imitative. Yet what he calls humor no one but Immensans even finds amusing, even when we can understand it. His ballyhooed satire is always boring, just an imperfect and less obvious form of allegory, parable, or fable. It is never as satisfying as clear symbolism with an obvious meaning or moral.

Sharkley "honors intelligence by finding divergence at the root of it:
The phenomenon of "reversion to the mean" demonstrates the constancy across generations of total cleverness. The meritocracy of high IQ of about 140 had children with IQs nearer 120. This lower average IQ may have been caused by a bigger diverger component to their total inherited cleverness. Lower IQ in the children could mean a higher potential because of greater balance. For IQ maniacs, let me hold out the prospect that the grandchildren might revert to the converger type of socially acceptable "intelligence."

More "black-is-white" reversal! Divergence has no honorable roots. Improper thinking is just a wrongly directed will caused by antisocial sexual and aggressive drives. The proof of this is that the great creative discoveries are well known to have occurred primarily when scientists were in their twenties. This is when the sexual and aggressive drives are strongest. Of course, the environmental interacton is the major force; creativity can be variously ruthlessness and rebellion against parental authority; a roundabout thrill-seeking founded in an incestuous impulse; or just self-confidence and narcissism derived from masturbation fantasies. Or so says Liam Hudson himself, Sharkley's source for his speculations.

Indeed, Hudson himself denied the standard doctrine of the 1960s, that creativity derived from divergence or from the two in conjunction. Thus we don't have to accede to Sharkley in acknowledging for divergence even a partial role in creativity. My own theory of creativity is that classic theory, that it is divinely inspired by God in the right brain. (creativity is by definition divine when the prophetically open person composes without an outline or a preconceived conclusion. Where the writer has no knowledge of where he is going or how to get there, only God can know what will result; hence, it is divinely inspired.) This inspiration once upon a time was available even to men, but they long ago lost touch with it. They lost this talent millennia ago. Not until the world became so overpopulated in the 20th century did men become virtually expendable.

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Lottie Fish-Bate




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