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Q. The people who believe in Intelligent Design appear to think of intelligence as a good thing. A very good thing indeed. A godly thing, the defining attribute of the Creator no less. Yet we hear that President Bush launched the Iraq War because of “bad intelligence” he received from the CIA or some of those mischievous spooks.
So while intelligence can be a good thing, with the Almighty as its very embodiment, it can apparently also be a bad thing, bringing about murderous debacles in waste places like Babylon.
So what’s your opinion? Is intelligence good, bad, or indifferent? Also, what is it exactly?
A. I once heard intelligence defined as something that IQ tests test, and there’s not much more to say about it. You can measure it, but only in the sense that the offensiveness of somebody like Tom Delay can be measured, or the obnoxiousness of people talking at high volume on cell phones in otherwise quiet cafes with good ambience or during the meditation music at church. I don’t know what intelligence is, but as Justice Holmes said about pornography, or maybe it was Justice Frankfurter, or one of those weenies, I know it when I see it. I know pukey art when I see it too. I know when a restaurant is trying to pass off old cut-up wing-tip shoe pieces as “beef tips.” I know what the word “homely” means as applied to British royalty. I know when my grandchildren are up to no good, as when they’re plotting to ambush me with the Taser again. I generally know when Professor Arnold is bluffing with a poor Up and Down the River poker hand, and I always know when his Uncle Joe is, but I don’t know whether that intuitive understanding is a matter of intelligence at work or just ESP or telepathy or some such foolishness as that. Maybe this is the “genius” I’ve heard so much about. Maybe it’s Satanic. Or maybe just “vibes.”
Albert Einstein thinking up the theories of relativity was an example of intelligence at work. President Bush saying “And Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” is an example of something other than intelligence at work. “Military intelligence” was the first known oxymoron, and “artificial intelligence” has something to do with the robots taking over. Pigs are supposed to be more intelligent than dogs, in which case Arkansas should be able to beat Georgia, and there are some highly intelligent conservative Republicans, though they tend to be the coldest-hearted bastards around, and usually scrawny for some reason.
Intelligent Design is just a clever notion that intelligence thought up to flatter itself, if you ask me, but I should admit that profound questions such as these concerning the nature of intelligence aren’t really within this particular column’s purview. There’s a good new TV show called “My Name Is Earl,” and while Earl is a redneck imbecile his show each week addresses the difficult and elusive topic of karma, and that’s also much too deep a topic for this column’s consideration. Karma has a cousin named Dharma and only the higher-minded columnists such as those at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette should address either of them.
This column confines itself to topics that are very shallow, like any or all of Gov. Mike Huckabee’s books, or pointless but vaguely amusing, like dog-racing, or a harmless and not very reliable variety of hebdomadal jerking off, such as reminiscing with phony nostalgia over TV theme songs from the 1950s, including “Who is the tall dark stranger there? Maverick is his name. Riding the trail to who knows where, luck is his companion, gambling is his game.”
If you have deep questions demanding deep answers you are barking up the wrong tree coming here. You might try Bill O’Reilly, if he weren’t such a dick. Or the Walter Scott Personality Parade, except that “Walter Scott” is just a pseudonym for another real son-of-a-bitch. Maybe a better suggestion is that you should post them to Bro. Billy Graham’s column. Bro. Billy has never been stumped in all his years of column writing. He can tell you where everybody from Aristotle to Karl Popper went wrong. Remarkably, with every single reader’s inquiry he’s ever received and printed, the correct answer has turned out to have to do with an insufficiency of doxological fervor. A whole lot more of Jesus and a lot less rock-and-roll. Bro. Billy knows almost as much as Paul Harvey does about life’s weightier topics, and the people who If it is a question about getting out stains, I recommend Heloise.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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