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!