January 1, 2009

A Terrible Waste

I am not a flower power peacenik. I am sickened by Gandhi's advocacy of mass suicide to Jews after Hitler's Auschwitz: "The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs." I don't believe in sacrificing my life and the lives of others to satisfy the irrational motives of some terrorist thug. I understand perfectly well that a bullet costs just a few pennies, and it's either his life or mine. I do believe that "an eye for an eye saves the other eye" has a point.

Having said that, I do wish that there's no war. I dream, as John Lennon did, of a world that is not divided into pigeon holes by gender, language, ethnicity, nationality, and above all, religion and blind faith in irrational and inhuman ideas advanced by men dead and gone eons ago. Therefore, when I read Ewen Callaway's report in the New Scientist that intelligent soldiers were most likely to die in battle, I was dismayed:

Being dumb has its benefits. Scottish soldiers who survived the second world war were less intelligent than men who gave their lives defeating the Third Reich, a new study of British government records concludes.

The 491 Scots who died and had taken IQ tests at age 11 achieved an average IQ score of 100.8. Several thousand survivors who had taken the same test - which was administered to all Scottish children born in 1921 – averaged 97.4.

The unprecedented demands of the second world war – fought more with brains than with brawn compared with previous wars - might account for the skew, says Ian Deary, a psychologist at the University of Edinburgh, who led the study. Dozens of other studies have shown that smart people normally live longer than their less intelligent peers.

Does this counter-intuitive result apply to the modern day terrorism, too? Perhaps, not. Really, how high could be the IQs of the suicide bombers who blow themselves up to meet with the 72 eternal virgins waiting for them? The bin Ladens, the al-Zawahiris and the Sheikh Mohammeds — the behind the scene puppet masters — must be the smart ones who hide and survive, right?

If the results were indeed reversed for the terrorists, it should stack the odds in the war on terror against the good guys. In the recent Mumbai terror attack, Officers Ashok Kamte, Hemant Kharkare, and Vijay Salaskar, and Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, and quite possibly 180 other bright minds, not counting the hundreds of injured who might have lost the capacity to get the most from their minds, all in exchange for nine pawns with vacuous heads — how long should such exchanges be accepted, and at what cost?

"A mind", as the United Negro College Fund logo admonishes, "is a terrible thing to waste". From New York to Tel Aviv to Mumbai to Bali, what a terrible waste!

  1. To some extent all religious people can be claimed to have a problem with IQ, since there are so many things they take on blind faith. As with their other characteristics, religious fanatics' behaviour seems to lend itself to a schizophrenic paradigm, with one part of their life seeing them as intelligent people and the other seeing them as being utterly deluded with subnormal IQs

  2. I am hoping that Gandhi didn't really mean what he said about the Jews committing mass suicide.

    I think he got caught in a question he didn't know how to answer and didn't answer it well.

    Gandhi was portraying himself as a pacifist and so he couldn't say what he probably thought (fight the Nazis with everything you have).

    After studying Gandhi I have come to conclude that Gandhi really wasn't a pacifist but saw that in the specific situation India was in nonviolent actions were the best way to get the necessary political results.

    That oft quoted statement "An eye for an eye makes the world blind" doesn't mean what most people think it does. It was a statement specific to the situation India was in with the UK.

    As long as the Indians sought revenge as legitimate as the revenge might be as it would have been due to British Aggression, still the world will just see violence while being blind to the cause of the violence.

    Non-violent actions made the greatest strength of the British its greatest weakness. It's greatest strength of course was it's military, but every time it used its military and didn't get a violent response from the Indians then it was quite clear who the aggressors were. The military then couldn't be used without harming the UK in the eyes of the World.

    And although the actions might have been "nonviolent" they did hit the UK where it hurt the most. And lacking any military response it had nothing to counter the damage being done.

    Gandhi was one of the most brilliant politicians in history who know how to use the device of "cult of personality" like few have.

    But in actually he wasn't a pacifist. After all he really encouraged Indians to fight on behalf of the UK in World War I hoping that if Indians would gain the respect of the English by showing how well they fought they would grant Indians full rights as citizens of the crown. When that didn't work he realized the only answer was Indian Independence.

  3. I wonder why Gandhi didn't offer the same piece of advice [laying down and welcoming the mob to kill your ass] to India's Muslims whenever there were Hindu - Muslim riots?
    Maybe because he was a mega hypocrite, hmmm!

  4. Asutosh:
    Aye, Aye, Sir!

    Please see my response to axis mundi below.

    axis mundi:
    So true! Gandhi never offered the same piece of advice to India's Muslims, but he commented on the massacre of Hindus in Punjab after the partition: "[Hindus] should not be afraid of death. After all, the killers will be none other than our Muslim brothers"!


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