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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