Intellectual Brilliance

This story is all about what a genius I am.

According to a 2005 article at, back in the late 1800’s, a guy named Francis Galton came up with the idea of being able to quantify intelligence.  In the very early 1900’s, another sciency guy in France, named Alfred Binet, came up with the first intelligence test.  I think the idea was to test children who weren’t doing well in primary school.  The test included: naming parts of the body, comparing lengths and weights, counting coins, assessing which of several faces is “prettier,” naming objects in a picture, the number of digits a person can recall after being shown a long list, word definitions and filling in the missing words in sentences.

From the get go, especially when considering the section on “assessing which face is prettier,” it appears that intelligence tests were subjective.

In my high school psychology class, we were given an I.Q. test.  I scored as “highly intelligent.” Then we were given an I.Q. test that was skewed towards grade school children who were being raised in the southern United States.  According to the results of that test, I was a moron.

The entire point of that exercise was to show how subjective testing could be.  Still, I have always scored high on I.Q. tests I’ve taken.  Even at my advanced age, when I go to those little Facebook tests, I score “above 135,” which is the highest they score.  Of course, how bright can I be if I’m stupid enough to click on those link-bait sites?!

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My kids are smart.  But only half of the genes in their pool were from me.  So I can’t use that as indicative of me having any brains.

There are other factors to be considered in any standard testing.  Besides the possibility of bias—as demonstrated with the I.Q. test for Southern children—there’s also questions as to whether the subject was rested, had eaten properly; meaning, was the subject at her best?  So I think intelligence must also be measured by examining other dynamics, such as how we conduct ourselves in daily life.  Do we make good decisions or not so much?  When faced with them, can we solve rudimentary problems/challenges?

Let me give you an example of my brilliance; demonstrated by elements other than standard testing..

When I was a senior in high school, I drove two of my sisters and me to school each day.  One sunny Monday morning, I walked to the car in the driveway and noticed that the hood was slightly ajar.  I was immediately suspicious.  We’d recently had a few minor altercations with some “tough” kids.  And those kids had some friends in our neighborhood.

My first thoughts were that they had somehow monkeyed with our car.  I plopped my books into the front seat and then went back to the front and ever-so-gently lifted the hood.  My eyes immediately fell upon some green liquid on top of the radiator.  I instantly realized that some of the local ne’er-do-wells had squeezed a bottle of dish soap into my radiator.  I didn’t know much—nor do I still know a lot—about cars, but if they’d dumped a bottle (or more!) of dish soap into my radiator, then, logically, they must know that it would begin to create a mountain of suds as I drove.  I instantaneously envisioned myself driving down the street and pulling into the parking lot at school with a huge trail of suds coming from under my hood.

Not so fast, suckersYou’ve got to get up pretty early

I made my sisters wait a few minutes while I quickly got the garden hose and stuck it into the radiator.  I flipped open the valve at the bottom and, with the engine running to be sure I got all of the soap from the engine block, I flushed the soap onto the driveway and into the gutter.  Couldn’t have taken me more than five minutes.  Valve closed.  Radiator filled with water.  Cap tightened.  Hose off and re-coiled.

I didn’t explain myself to my sisters.  They were dumb girls.  Then, wearing a smug expression, I drove us to school.  The radio blared the Top 40 tunes of the day but I had tuned them out and haughtily drove along, doing my best to suppress a self-aggrandizing chuckle.

As I got out of my car at school, I surveyed the parking lot, trying to see which of these hooligans was watching for me so I would know the perpetrators.  After all, the car sat, openly, in the driveway each night.  In those days there was no inside-the-car-hood-release so I wanted to be aware of who might be coming back for another attempt at humiliating me.  But I saw no one of suspicion.

In second period, English Literature, my mind was wandering away from Chaucer and back to the events of the morning.  I was proud of myself but also relieved that I was able to avert a mortifying morning.  As I said, I didn’t know much about cars.  Basically, all I could do was put gas in the tank.  Well, I could add coolant as I’d done just the day before—



My brain made a sound like a bumble bee was lodged in each ear…

Just the day before, my father had stopped on the way home from the golf course and purchased a few gallons of engine coolant.  Upon arrival home, he told me they were in the trunk and I was to drain the engine of water and replace it with new coolant.

And I had.

I drained the radiator, added the coolant and then more water to top off the system.  The small amount of green liquid near the radiator cap that I’d seen that morning was probably coolant that I’d spilled instead of dishwashing soap from some prankster.  And the partially latched hood was undoubtedly from me, as well.

And I’d done it less than 24 hours earlier!

While my teacher talked of a tale somewhere in Canterbury, I stared straight ahead and my mind went, Vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

I scored 139 on the last I.Q. test I took in college.  But when I consider whether or not I’m smart, this is the event that comes to my mind.

In more than 45 years, I’ve not mentioned this incident to a single person…

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