Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Noblesse oblige?

Dear J.,

You may find this interesting. It turns out that (the famous science fiction writer) Jerry Pournelle has an IQ of 180. He says,

"I don't mean this as braggadocio. I had no hand in being born with an IQ of 180; that was God's will, or the blind workings of chance, as you choose; but it certainly was not to my credit. I am responsible for what I did with those talents. On the record, not as much as might be predicted. I did not conquer the world, nor win a Nobel Prize. I did have some effect on the Cold War, and I will take some of the credit for that key victory of Western Civilization; and I like to think that some of my writings have been valuable to a great many readers."

An interesting statement from an interesting person. It caused me, for the the first time in a long time, to wonder what my IQ is, since I've always thought of Mr. Pournelle as an intelligent and insightful person but not incomprehensibly so, what I would call "the bright side of normal" in my ideal world. It's hard to express why I'm thinking about this--when I the above paragraph my twin reactions were "That's interesting" and a rush of relief, as if to say, "Pournelle's smarter than I am and he hasn't done all that much with his gifts either."[1] Or maybe it's the opposite, "Maybe I'm making more of a difference than I think." I dunno. My relative impotence in this world is one of my little insecurities.

Of course, everybody's impotent. Said Moses, "Now I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." I must ruefully agree as to my own nothingness. I hate being a kid.


[1] I'm not denigrating Pournelle. My assessment is that he's correct about the influence of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy on the outcome of the Cold War, and Chaos Manor is a uniquely valuable resource.

"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

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