Emotional Intelligence

Those who know me will universally agree behind my back that I might know a bit, but in terms of emotionally intelligent behaviour, I come a long way down the food chain. I am wondering therefore how such intelligence can be acquired. James Watson’s unfortunate but widely publicised remarks about blackfellas being dumber than whitey, caused predictable outrage.

From the New York Times, October 19th.

“There is wide agreement among researchers on intelligence that genetic inheritance influences mental acuity, but there is also wide agreement that life experiences, even in the womb, exert a powerful influence on brain structure. Further, there is wide disagreement about what intelligence consists of and how — or even if — it can be measured in the abstract.

For example, in “The Mismeasure of Man,” Stephen Jay Gould, the evolutionary biologist, dismissed “the I.Q. industry” as little more than an effort by men of European descent to maintain their prominence in the world.”

Oh. So that’s all right then – a comforting thought, as long as you’re white.

Does it matter, I wonder, that we get so bent out of shape if we discover somebody is cleverer than us? I have come across a number of my students over the years who, I have to admit, are just brighter than me. Perhaps we’re hard-wired to compete in whatever arena we find ourselves, whether it be gladiatorial combat or speed in mental arithmetic. H’m. Doing well in pissing contests is an evolutionary imperative, I suppose.

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Lunchtime Rediscovered

So, the austerities, goodwill, kindness of heart and suicidal driving so characteristic of Ramadan finished today. The Shawwal moon was sighted in Makkah, Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab Gulf states on Thursday and EidulFitr will be celebrated on Friday.
Interestingly, scholars argue about first sightings elsewhere in the world, in Saudi they like to think that the cradle of Islam is the final arbiter on such weighty matters, unlike this:

some contend that…..we should follow Saudi Arabia. From the Shari’ah point of view, there is no evidence for this in the Qur’an and Sunnah. There is only the emotional argument put up by some that: Since Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam or it is where the Blessed Prophet image lived therefore it should be recognized as the prime decision maker in such important matters.Not a convert, then.
So, what to do if the sighting happens first somewhere else in the world? This was an image taken last year in North America, where ironically, cloud cover blurs the imams’ judgements, and everyone is looking for the smudge seen at almost twelve o’clock in the picture. However, Oman did not report the sighting last night and Eid there will be celebrated on Saturday. Paradise postponed, it seems. They get an extra day of fasting thus let joy be unconfined. It’s as if Christmas Day were put off for a bit and everybody watched the Queen on Boxing Day instead. Today, the malls were crowded, everyone smoking ostentatiously and eating muffins in Starbuck’s. If caught during the Holy Month doing sinful stuff like eating an apple in public, arrest may follow, and sometimes does. One spends the rest of the fast behind bars, presumably following the rules and not eating anything, especially apples, until after sunset. Eid Mubarak!