Skip

The unfortunate burden of genius
December 9, 2008 4:36 PM   Subscribe

Medical studies have indicated that high intelligence is often synonymous with the likelihood of alcoholism and suicidal tendencies. Animal studies have suggested that being smarter can actually be bad for animals...and it's not always an advantage for humans either. There should be a point here, but I'm a little fuzzy on what it is.
posted by deusdiabolus (85 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
*drinks, breeds, kills self*

Ta-Da!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:39 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's been great for me.
posted by Faze at 4:41 PM on December 9, 2008


Vonnegut's take on this theme.
posted by Auden at 4:41 PM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Maybe Kurt Vonnegut was right.
posted by tkchrist at 4:42 PM on December 9, 2008


Auden!
posted by tkchrist at 4:42 PM on December 9, 2008


I'd say great minds think alike, but I don't want to curse you both to alcoholism and untimely deaths.
posted by tkolar at 4:45 PM on December 9, 2008


Bonobos.

Bonobos got the perfect mix of Intelligence and whatever that other thing is.

Next time, I'm coming back as a Bonobo.

Support Great Ape Rights! The bonobo you keep free in 30 years might just be me.
posted by mikelieman at 4:45 PM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


maybe kurt vonnegut was drunk...

texas wine! fruit of the vine!
posted by artof.mulata at 4:46 PM on December 9, 2008


By the way, the development of a high level of intelligence in humans lead directly to the invention of the combustion engine as well as nuclear weapons.

Remember, it's only a successful mutation if the offspring survives.
posted by tkolar at 4:49 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is hardly news to your average MeFite already suffering this "affliction."
posted by caddis at 4:49 PM on December 9, 2008


By the way, the development of a high level of intelligence in humans lead directly to the invention of the combustion engine as well as nuclear weapons.

...and drink. Don't forget about drink.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:51 PM on December 9, 2008


also, "Of the 3,895 men and 4,148 women who reported drinking alcohol as adults, those with higher average scores on childhood mental ability tests were also more likely to have indications of alcohol problems in adulthood."

i want to know where in the rap sheet it said that this is a problem.

the problem with this folderole (sic) is that most schematics don't want to account for what every thinking human has always known:

IT SUCKS HERE. IT'S A WASTELAND AND A GARBAGE PIT. MOST PEOPLE ARE COWARDS AND THE BARS IN NORTH AMERICA CLOSE TOO EARLY.

which is to say that they close at all.

posted by artof.mulata at 4:53 PM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I drink to solve crossword puzzles.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:55 PM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think it's quite nice that I'm willing to dumb myself down for the rest of you. *hic*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:55 PM on December 9, 2008


I suspect we weren't that far along the intellectual pathway when we discovered that some of the fruit we couldn't eat fresh got damn tasty after awhile. I think there are less bright animals that enjoy getting their ethanol buzz on.

Yeah ok I see what you mean. This is why I drink with nerds, by the way. They're the only ones who like to talk about this stuff halfway into the third beer.
posted by Tehanu at 4:57 PM on December 9, 2008


Drinking beer makes me smrt.
posted by Vindaloo at 5:04 PM on December 9, 2008


In related news, drinking also makes the rest of us think we're frickin' geniuses, which causes those around us to consider committing suicide.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:04 PM on December 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


The more you know, the more it weirds you out.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:06 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hmm... interesting. Is it because their intelligence and depth of understanding of the world around them drives them to drink and feel like killing themselves? I can believe that. Because that's what I do.
posted by flipyourwig at 5:07 PM on December 9, 2008


Number 6 on the "Signs of Maturity":

Welcome work. “Appreciation of work is a hallmark of mature people.... Immature people are constantly fighting certain aspects of their work. They resent routine reports, or meetings, or correspondence. They allow these annoyances to grate on their nerves continually. Satisfaction in doing a good job is blocked out by the dust speck in the eye of resentment over trivia.”

Pffffft. I beg to differ. I resent routine reports and dumbass meetings because they are stupid. Not because I'm immature, thenk yew.
posted by jokeefe at 5:08 PM on December 9, 2008 [9 favorites]


It's official. Beanoverthinking is bad for you. But I just can't stop. The beans, they must be pondered.
posted by Tehanu at 5:09 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


In other news, intelligent sperm are always trying to get ahead.
posted by woodway at 5:10 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


So is this guy trying to claim that dumb people are more likely to back up their hard drives?
posted by aspo at 5:10 PM on December 9, 2008


ARE YOU TOO STUPID FOR THE TIMECUBE? Meh, you're probably better off that way.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 5:11 PM on December 9, 2008


This thread disappoints me.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:13 PM on December 9, 2008


Still beats being stupid...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:21 PM on December 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


I suspect we weren't that far along the intellectual pathway when we discovered that some of the fruit we couldn't eat fresh got damn tasty after awhile. I think there are less bright animals that enjoy getting their ethanol buzz on.


Indeed, some of these animals are genius level.
[film details]
posted by mandal at 5:21 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pffffft. I beg to differ. I resent routine reports and dumbass meetings because they are stupid. Not because I'm immature, thenk yew.

If you learn to accept even stupid things, you will enjoy several benefits. You'll find it easier to derive what value you can from the stupid thing (and it's often more than none). You'll be happier, because you won't be caught up in negative feelings toward the stupid things--people around you will appreciate your good attitude. Plus, your suggestions to change the stupid thing will be more likely to be listened to, because you'll have a good grasp of how the stupid thing came about and its importance (if any) to other people.

If you can fix something, just fix it. If you can avoid something, just avoid it. If you can't, it really is immature to resent it, if it's as petty as a report or a meeting.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:23 PM on December 9, 2008 [10 favorites]


The general trend of just about everything is a kind of homeostasis. Intelligence seeks to escape that trend without really considering the dissonance that extricating will cause beforehand.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:26 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I never drink. Or smoke. And I only rarely rock 'n' roll. Whether that is a confirmation or a refutation of the theory I modestly leave to the judgment of history.
posted by DU at 5:29 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


high intelligence is often synonymous with the likelihood of alcoholism

I can't wait to tell the guys at the bar. in iambic pentameter. or a shot glass through the window, I haven't decided.
posted by jonmc at 5:29 PM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


R Lolcats geenieus? ...or dew pePul com up wid dem, sobeR?
posted by woodway at 5:34 PM on December 9, 2008


Ignorance is bliss. For those who know too much, the only way to attain that bliss that only the ignorant enjoy is to get all slosho or fried. Which reminds me, it's time for my 8:35.
posted by not_on_display at 5:34 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I drink today
I will feel even smarter
Thank you Internet
posted by Brak at 5:35 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Measures of intelligence are flawed if they don't inversely correlate with self-destructive behaviours.
posted by srboisvert at 5:38 PM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


You only need to get smart enough and sober enough to invent a cure for alcoholism and you're golden. (too lazy to link to previous story on a anti-alcoholism drug)
posted by GuyZero at 5:40 PM on December 9, 2008


@Auden and tkchrist

Not to derail, but man, I love Kurt Vonnegut. When I was a kid, his books were the first I'd read that made me feel less isolated, less alone. There was someone out there that thought and felt just like I did, and for a lonely kid, it was a revelation. I wish I could have met him just to thank him. It's a lesser world now that he's gone.
posted by belvidere at 5:43 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm already smart; drinking makes me handsome, too. So, basically, drinking makes me superhuman.
posted by oddman at 5:43 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


My alcoholism stems not from my genius, but from my being alone. So very alone.
But, to be fair, the being alone stems from being a smartass.
posted by piratebowling at 5:43 PM on December 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


drinking makes me handsome, too.

you've got it backwards, drinking makes the flooze at the end of the bar look pretty...but I guess it all works out the same.
posted by jonmc at 5:47 PM on December 9, 2008


I didn't say it was my drinking that made me handsome, did I?
posted by oddman at 5:55 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Apparently, great minds drink alike.
posted by googly at 6:12 PM on December 9, 2008


Being conscious is a bitch. Having a conscience is a bitch.

Whiskey-coke, please.
posted by bardic at 6:22 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


High intelligence has led me to MetaFilter, but the depression and alcohol use kind of cancels that out. I remember seeing on TV stories of the most intelligent people in the world, as far as their performance on standardized IQ tests, and none of them is doing anything that would impress anyone. Nor am I, for that matter.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:26 PM on December 9, 2008


then I am the smartest person in the world.
posted by The Whelk at 6:50 PM on December 9, 2008


I've heard an awful lot of people complain about how hard it is to be smart, but I don't think I've ever once heard someone complain about how hard it is to be stupid. Probably because ignoring things is easy, and while there's something to be said for raw cognitive abilities, I think a hell of a lot more of what constitutes most folks' vision of "smart" is volitional. Yeah, it's a bitch to ponder the world's problems all the time. Have another drink and talk about something else, you're bumming out the morons.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 7:04 PM on December 9, 2008


I'm drinking myself to death right now you dumb fucks.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:09 PM on December 9, 2008


Think, drink, stand on the brink.

...and that's about as clever as I'll get until I go home and have a beer.
posted by robotot at 7:10 PM on December 9, 2008


Being conscious is a bitch. Having a conscience is a bitch.

His was a great sin, who first invented consciousness. Let us lose it for a few hours.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:13 PM on December 9, 2008


Nor am I, for that matter.

Yes, but you have chosen/created the best user name so far on the site. ;)
posted by caddis at 7:20 PM on December 9, 2008


Previously.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:25 PM on December 9, 2008


haha! work is the curse of the drinking classes - no, thinking classes. wait, that doesn't work. drink is the curse of the thinking classes! shit, lost connection to the original. gonna have to nut this out further - huh, what? yeah, another for sure, and make it a double; i've got something important to figure out...
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:40 PM on December 9, 2008


Okay so three days ago over in the green I read: "It's a good thing to remember that smart people can ALWAYS logically support the way they're feeling emotionally, pretty much. It's one of the things that can really stand in the way of feeling better." I think yeah, but I wonder.

Today in the blue: "Smart people are drunks", for a reason. I think yeah, and I wonder again.

Is this a product of modern society? Are we suppose to be happy? Do these things effect natural selection in any way?
posted by -t at 7:45 PM on December 9, 2008


Hmmm. So it is possible to beanplate yourself to death.

I wonder if you can distill alcohol from a plate of beans...
posted by tehloki at 7:52 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Are we supposed to be happy?"

What makes you think the universe likes us even remotely enough to make it so that our happiness is part of the grand design?
posted by oddman at 7:56 PM on December 9, 2008


Yeowww... I may be a suicidal drunk, but I've got better sperm.

...and that's what gets the ladies.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:04 PM on December 9, 2008


I wonder if you can distill alcohol from a plate of beans...

Introducing our latest cocktail: the Frijolito!
posted by jonmc at 8:05 PM on December 9, 2008


Turtles all the way down writes "I remember seeing on TV stories of the most intelligent people in the world, as far as their performance on standardized IQ tests, and none of them is doing anything that would impress anyone."

Hey if the smartest person you know wants to spend his life making sand candles you've got to at least give them the benift of the doubt that it is the best use of their time.
posted by Mitheral at 8:23 PM on December 9, 2008


but I don't think I've ever once heard someone complain about how hard it is to be stupid.

It's hardly something one would want to broadcast in so many words.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:43 PM on December 9, 2008


I'm already smart; drinking makes me handsome, too. So, basically, drinking makes me superhuman.

Not to mention you can do a mean cha-cha-cha.
posted by netbros at 8:50 PM on December 9, 2008


It's hardly something one would want to broadcast in so many words.

idunno, feigning stupidity is a great way of getting out of work you don't feel like doing.

for example, if you're too hung over or something.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:03 PM on December 9, 2008


i'd like to think that recognizing one's own innate stupidity is a mark of genius. and i love rabelais. that guy taught us that the finest aspirations of the truly gifted are chorused in the beer hall.

cogito ergo drunk. shoju anyone? i just got back from korea and those motherfuckers put a heavy spin (and rotation) on drinking as an art form. and we all know that artists are the smartest people in a society. right?
posted by artof.mulata at 9:43 PM on December 9, 2008


i'd also like to point out to anyone perusing this thread in the future to notice the time stamps on our commentary. you will notice that as it gets closer to beer o'clock that said comments are dieing off.

unlike these other pub-spoiling fools though i am still here on the blue as i drink at home and i drink alone.

this thread really is pathetic and completely beautiful.
posted by artof.mulata at 9:47 PM on December 9, 2008


If you learn to accept even stupid things, you will enjoy several benefits.

You're hired. Now get your sunny ass out of my office.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:02 PM on December 9, 2008


You know, Lennon once said, "Genius is pain," but I don't think anyone felt all that sorry for him.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:08 PM on December 9, 2008


You'll be happier, because you won't be caught up in negative feelings toward the stupid things--people around you will appreciate your good attitude.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:23 PM on December 9 [3 favorites +] [!]


I shudder to remember -- but I do remember -- telling my little red-headed ex-wife, after her asking didn't she make me happy, that "I knew too much to be happy."

It's all Sam Clemons fault.

If he as Twain hadn't written with such accurate bitterness (some have said pessimism, and/or cynicism, but I think they're full of shit, and haven't yet lost anything maybe) at the end of his life, after having lost through death the people most important to him, who he loved so deeply and loved so dearly, and if I hadn't read what he'd written, it's possible -- not likely, but possible -- that I would not have been such a dumb fuck.

Though it seems now, based upon this new information, it seems now that I wasn't a dumb fuck after all, as I was drinking as much as all these other intelligent people. I guess it was a case of appearances -- objects in mirror are closer, etc and etc -- leading to what was clearly an unfounded assumption.

As much as I was drinking when we were married, it was as nothing compared to what happened after she wisely exited the scene. I guess it was yet another demonstration of my intelligence, though I don't recall anyone telling me much about my intelligence at that time; probably they were awed by me, and like that. And I'd guess it was awe -- it did seem to me that they stood back, considerably, they watched me with what must have been wonder.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:01 PM on December 9, 2008


uhhh... Clemens. See? Knowledge is a misery.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:00 AM on December 10, 2008


And I'd guess it was awe -- it did seem to me that they stood back, considerably, they watched me with what must have been wonder.

Most likely. I find that after a bottle or two of whiskey, most people simply can't follow what I'm saying.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:09 AM on December 10, 2008


> *drinks, breeds, kills self*

...the Aristocrats!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:27 AM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


eponysterical!
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:48 AM on December 10, 2008


UbuRoivas: eponysterical!

You don'y knwo me, buddy, I 'sh gub uponystirkul for nob[BAAAAARF]
posted by not_on_display at 4:55 AM on December 10, 2008


Hmm then my husband must be a friggen genius. He didn't notice that the pilot light on the stove was out and the entire house smelled like gas when I came home from work.

Next I'll see him cure cancer.
posted by dasheekeejones at 6:39 AM on December 10, 2008


Does this study take into account the fact that stupid people who drink might not be smart/well-off enough to keep themselves out of jail?
posted by Eideteker at 7:03 AM on December 10, 2008


solipsophistocracy : but I don't think I've ever once heard someone complain about how hard it is to be stupid.

I have. I've seen people get teary-eyed and really upset when they are going through some kind of technical training, and they just. don't. get. it. It's obviously very frustrating for them, because they can see people all around them doing it, and clearly it's a problem that can be solved, it's just not something that their toolkit is equipped with.

The last time this happened, it was with a young girl who simply couldn't understand basic computer troubleshooting, she just couldn't grasp basic differences between things like an operating system and a web page. She actually wanted to leave the class because 'she was just too dumb to get it.' I pointed out that there was a lot more to intelligence that being able to fix someone's PC and I demonstrated this to her by reminding her that while she might not find it odd that some people like her were trilingual (she spoke English, Spanish, and Italian), some of us struggle with just a single language because our minds weren't as good as hers at things like that.

In general, I get your point, and it has been demonstrated that incompetent people often grossly overestimate their abilities, where people who are good at what they do are frequently doubting their skills, but there are certainly people out there who recognize that they don't get something and are deeply troubled by it.

Fortunately, that's why we have alcohol; or as it's also known; fighty-stumble-throw-a-chair-at-the-bar-laughing-lets-be-friends juice.
posted by quin at 8:13 AM on December 10, 2008


[From the suicide article:] "...Ashcroft wonders whether people with very high IQs might tend to have lower emotional intelligence — ie, inferior “people skills”.

Was anyone else a bit thrown off by the notion that a lower emotional intelligence would correlate with the propensity for suicide? It would seem to me more intuitive to predict the opposite--that a less emotional, more analytical person would be less susceptible to the inter-personal catalog of traumas (heartbreak, divorce, etc.) often cited in (Western, anyway) suicide cases. I would imagine that being less aware, less emotionally absorbed with relationships and other people could make life happier (--for you, anyway-- not likely those around you.) Perhaps I'm wrongly associating "emotional intelligence" with "emotion."
posted by applemeat at 10:55 AM on December 10, 2008


I'm a genius (39 MCAT) and a depressed drunk (peed myself this weekend, thank you very much) and I'll tell you what the problem is. I don't care about The Hills or your fucking VH1 and I am surrounded by people where that is all they do. I can do the whole small talk thing, becasue I'm smart enough to generate conversation on basically anything, but in my mind I'm unbelievably bored. The alcohol came in when I realized it didn't really matter what anybody said when you were blacked the fuck out, it was all entertaining (to a point). The depression came in when I got out of college and learned that all my edumacation didn't mean shit, it just meant more work for me making up for the mistakes of stupid people. the point which deus is fuzzy on? Ignorance is bliss.
posted by wayofthedodo at 10:55 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is not remotely surprising to myself. For whatever reason, my brain seems to go through periods of being sharper than other periods. I've had periods of lucidity that were extreme to a point of being very painful. It is difficult to have patience with people, when I can complete most of their sentences before they can say them. Even with my partner, who is quite sharp, I can take his initial idea and run ahead with it before he gets out the next sentence. We sometimes end up in arguments because he doesn't understand I already accepted his initial premise, and have jumped miles ahead (he thinks I'm dismissing him, when I'm actually quite excited by his idea).

For me, it is extremely weird, because I really don't think I grew up that way. There was an incident, when I was 18, where my mind just suddenly went super analytical (for want of a better description). I was very much aware that things were different. Almost like I'd been stoned for years (which wasn't the case), and suddenly had turned unstoned.

What followed were some years of struggling to deal with being way ahead of everything. College was difficult, except when I took summer sessions, where courses were done at double the normal pace. I made up for some of the irritation by tutoring and otherwise helping classmates.

Alcohol itself was only briefly a problem for me. For various reasons, I knew enough about alcoholism that I just stopped drinking for awhile. But I'm of an age that drink wasn't the drug of choice, and the other stuff was much more kind.

You know how frustrating it is, trying to help someone with something on their computer, only they are doing the typing, and they're slow? At my 'best', most of life is like that, in dealing with other people. Perhaps if I'd grown up like this, and been taught patience, things would have gone better. As it is, I was all too happy to retire much too early, just to be relieved of the horrible anxiety produced by trying to deal with the politics of handling people that just can't grasp ideas and run with them at a pace I find tolerable.

Now I live almost totally stress free, and I'm over 50, and I worry about alzheimers. I resist doing things that get my brain wound up, which I know is not really healthy. Yet it seems safer than getting back to being an insufferable know-it-all with a total lack of patience. I remember too well how I was in my early 20s, when someone I held in great respect explained to me how her initial impression of me was "Christ, what an asshole."
posted by Goofyy at 11:18 AM on December 10, 2008


wayofthedodo: I'm a genius (39 MCAT) and a depressed drunk...and I'll tell you what the problem is. I don't care about The Hills or your fucking VH1 and I am surrounded by people where that is all they do.

Well, wayofthedodo, I'm no genius, but I think that you should go somewhere where you are no longer surrounded by those people.
posted by applemeat at 11:21 AM on December 10, 2008


applemeat: i appreciate the advice. but using the phrase "i'm no genius" to preface it is really condescending.
posted by wayofthedodo at 12:11 PM on December 10, 2008


As was your reference to your MCAT score and "our" fucking VH1.
posted by applemeat at 12:25 PM on December 10, 2008


There should be a point here, but I'm a little fuzzy on what it is.

Your're a smart person. I'm sure once you sober up it will come to you.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:50 PM on December 10, 2008


Ah i see. so your point wasn't really to help, it was to insult me for trying to express my point of view. thanks.
posted by wayofthedodo at 2:57 PM on December 10, 2008


You're a smart person. I'm sure once you sober up it will come to you.

Bite your tongue, man! The alcohol makes everything more agreeable.
posted by deusdiabolus at 3:28 PM on December 10, 2008


Not for an angry drunk.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:42 PM on December 10, 2008


Obligatory "Flowers for Algernon" comment.
posted by ikahime at 7:26 AM on December 11, 2008


« Older Fingerstyle guitar to put a smile on your face   |   Yeah, it's been awhile. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post