The Startling Fear of Intelligence Makes No Cultural or Evolutionary Sense; A Discussion of Gross Vocabularies, Brilliant Grammar, and Adequate Punctuations

TheByteDaily’s tagline of “Gross Vocabulary, Brilliant Grammar, Adequate Punctuation; Hilarity Ensues” is one of the few promises that I genuinely try to keep. The promise of operating with a relatively large vocabulary in order to produce articles that are grammatically accurate, if not exuding a certain perfunctory absence of appropriate punctuation, is quite possibly the only one that I haven’t turned my back on. Words are, without a doubt, the second most important aspects of verbal communication, with tone and presence occupying the number one spot with a considerable amount of tension between the two. Generally speaking, tone and presence produce the same result, with the only variation being that tone requires one to use their words instead of their actions as presence does.

It’s due to this adamant belief in an immense vocabulary that I often draw criticism for appearing haughty or pretentious, despite the fact that using “Big words” is nothing more than an artistic frivolity that I permit myself to toy with. It’s really easy to understand that the size of a word doesn’t change the meaning of a work, and that the smallest words can have the greatest meanings if they’re applied properly. Likewise, using grand or majestic words, idioms, and phrases guarantees a greater, and broader, sense of definition, allowing a writer (or anyone who would consider using words) to say a lot with little – without needing to resort to needless explanations that lend themselves to repetition.

My promise to maintain a large vocabulary has effectively managed to attract and repel would be readers on every position of the spectrum; there are some critics who find me needlessly frivolous, others who don’t stay long enough to maintain a position, others who agree with my use of language, and some who stay despite their inability to understand why or to find a reason for their lack of departure. Despite the fact that the words I use are quite standard, and are by no means “Large” or “Overly intellectual,” I still manage to find critics that disagree with my word choices for being needlessly complicated and far too convoluted to be enjoyed. I mentioned earlier that tone and presence go hand-in-hand when it comes to communication, but I admit this is mostly only true for live conversation where both parties are capable of taking in their companions’ presence and appearance.

For conversations that exist without the ability to see the alternate orator, the only other measure for one’s meaning is their tone – the same applies for written conversations carried out without an actual voice to interpret. Therefore tone and vocabulary are the only two paradigms I have available at my disposal to convince an audience of the validity of my opinions and words. Which leads me to question the belief that weakening one’s words will further validate the statement being made, because a wider audience can be included in the conversation.

It’s a trope and a cliche’ to have a headstrong character cry out to the resident scientist, doctor, intellectual, professor, or academic “Speak English to me,” as an attempt to force the intellectual to “Dumb down” themselves so the so-called “Regular audiences” can understand what they’re trying to say. It’s a tactic often used for comedic effect because the program’s writers know that any regular audience is more than capable of understanding the “Convoluted and complicated” terms that the intellectual is using. Joey Tribbiani from the hit NBC sitcom Friends would often ask other characters to give him time to process relatively straightforward information that the others have already moved past. The program’s writers produced a character that many would consider “Dumb but loveable,” a veritable ditz or “Idiot Hero” for comedic effect. At times, Ross Geller, the program’s Ph. D and paleontologist, would drone on to comedic lengths to draw an exasperated reaction from not only Joey, but any of the show’s cast of six friends. The purpose of using Geller as an intellectual that uses “Big words” and Joey as the adorably dumb, but occasionally wise and fascinatingly mystical, funny man who only uses “Small words” is a comedic ploy that has its origin greatly rooted in the Nerd or Geek stereotypes that still manage to remain perpetuated.

I must mention that explanations for the audience often also exist within impossible realms with possibilities that don’t exist within the “Real word.” In such circumstances, dumbing something down isn’t done for comedic effect as much as it’s done to explain the unbelievable. I digress, however.

Despite the fact that intelligence is a powerful paradigm that leads to a better understanding of one’s self and those around them, it’s still somehow feared – especially in cultures that have cultivated intellectualism, art, science, technology, and some of the greatest minds known to humanity. Obviously using a single NBC sitcom to validate an argument is not enough proof – The Big Bang Theory plays on CBS, after all – neither is any sitcom of any kind for that matter. Comedy is one of humanity’s greatest treasures, and the beauty of a joke is that anyone can find themselves at the end of one, regardless of their intelligence, social status, physical appearance, monetary worth, net income, place of worship, place of work, home life, sexual orientation, or any other definition that requires social derivation.

The fact of the matter is that, in an age where intelligence plays one of its most important roles in history, the social norm appears to be that being smart – regardless of how much I disdain the simplistic virtue of the term – is not to one’s advantage, and is something that should be ridiculed and put down instead of encouraged and cultivated. It would be foolish to assume that I refer strictly to stereotypical definitions of the term “Smart,” since I refer to any form of intelligence when I use the term, whether this includes “Book” or “Street” smarts, spiritual intelligence, physical and metaphysical intelligence, philosophical intelligence, psychological intelligence, or even a working knowledge of the manufacturing process of a pencil.

As a society that extends far beyond community, city, and country, we’ve brought it upon ourselves to claim that certain kinds of knowledge is more important than others, that the pursuit of raw intellectualism is a needless and pointless feat, that there is no need to know things when the answer can easily be “Googled,” that retaining any form of trivia is both banal and trivial, and that, somehow, big words are equivalent to a big brain. The fear is one of the most rational ones that exist within the psychiatric spectrum, since not being able to think is both an evolutionary and culturally useless trait. Not being “Smart,” in any way, shape, or form, is dramatically dangerous to one’s self, and the propagation of a species, and it makes sense that one should fear being “Dumb” or not knowing things. However, it is far from rational or logical to claim that the solution to this fear is to render everyone equally dumb; It is irrational and illogical to believe that overcoming one’s fears is only possible by eliminating the singularity that initiated the fear.

One doesn’t overcome a fear of heights by destroying tall things, one doesn’t overcome an irrational fear of enclosed spaces by removing closets and cabinets, and I can’t possibly fathom how one would go about eliminating a fear of the outdoors based on these principles.

Fear is an evolutionary advantage that warns one about the prospect of imminent demise, and it makes sense to be scared of things that can kill you, but the path to overcoming fear does not exist by eliminating that which scares and confuses us. This strange fear of intelligence makes no cultural or evolutionary sense, apart from masking a sensational insecurity in the minds of those who are afraid, and I genuinely believe that this is the case. The fear of intelligence stems from the insecure feeling that there are those who are more intelligent than ourselves but instead of condemning these individuals, we should be striving to reach their heights – regardless of the difficulty associated with this task. I stand by my belief that taking the easy way out of things is fundamentally negligent towards the momentum of a task, but at least taking the easy way out of being smart is better than avoiding intelligence entirely.

Ultimately, my point remains as such – mocking intelligence, high IQ’s, and intellectual pursuits is the task for lazy screenwriters incapable of producing interesting ideas for their audiences to draw entertainment from. The simpleminded belief that intelligence should be scorned, or that knowing things is unnecessary, or even believing that there’s no need in striving for greater intellectual feats, is exactly that: it’s simpleminded.

Intelligence, the ability to know, analyze, quantify, and understand events, is the true human advantage, and fearing it is both negligent to the species, and to the wonders of the universe. Until such a time that intelligence is no longer feared, I’ll be using every “Big word” I can find to push the movement forward, regardless of the critics, their claims, and their supporters (few as they may be).

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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