I always found IQ tests a bit underwhelming. In the movie Interstellar the main character Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, was informed that his son was not smart enough to go to college. In a quick retort, Cooper asked the teachers “what size pants do you wear?” The teachers respond, “sir, we do not see the relevancy in your question,” to which he replies, “It takes two numbers to measure your own ass, but only one to measure my kid’s future.”
I find this argument enlightening and at the same time alarming. The hilarity is found in the truth behind it. I know individuals with extremely high IQ’s that are practically handicapped culturally, emotionally, and interpersonally. The implications abound; common sense isn’t so common after all and intelligence is far more than mere analytic reasoning and logic.
Content, as they say, is a far cry from the application! Or perhaps more simply, knowledge is the brute data but wisdom the skill set, its the data applied.
The Broadening Of IQ Tests
I’ve started to see emotional IQ tests pop up in secular therapy. Moreover, I’ve read a myriad of essays on various modes of intelligence i.e. musical, spatial, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, and naturalist.
Yet, what about cultural?
The only way to combat the dreary sameness of ethnocentrism (which I refer to as “suburban sprawl of the soul”) is by investing respect for this form of intelligence.
It’s easy to sit in our lofty towers and view our advanced society as superior to other ones, however, it is extraordinary how little things have sincerely changed – in a manner of speaking, the bricks of Babel are still being laid.
What I see is technology and, consequently, secular ethnocentrism as radical paganism – which I’m merely defining as “the ability to manipulate the gods of the environment apart from superstition.”
Not much is different, we are merely greater in numbers and more refined in our technique.
Paganism is usually defined solely by its superstitious component. However, the desire by ancient paganism is the same i.e. to manipulate the forces of this world to do one’s bidding.
*I decided to use the term paganism out of convenience to it’s contradistinction to secular rationality. The term is fully loaded, I only define it as a belief system that is largely superstitious*
Further, only those who are technologically and scientifically advanced create a distinction between natural and supernatural.
The western world just separated the world into a mechanistic one and a spiritual one. One to manipulate the environment, the other to manipulate emotion – radical paganism.
This understanding helps dismiss arrogant ethnocentricity – because the difference is only in degree not in substance. Plus, I think it’s a neat observation. Anyway, I’m digressing.
Real happiness and value are found not in manipulating one’s environment, of course, that can help especially regarding medicine and the like, but emotional health is ultimately found in self-awareness and self-acceptance. Culture, therefore, becomes the necessary medium for this self-understanding. Which brings us back to this concept of a cultural IQ.
“Cultural Intelligence is the ability to cross the divides that exist between people and thrive in multiple cultures. This also extends to the divides that exist between sectors, organizations, generations and all people who are different from us. Fundamentally, Cultural Intelligence is about understanding our own culture, what it means to us, and the multiple sub-cultures we belong to. It is also being fully aware of what makes us who we are, and how our culture influences the way we work with other people.”
I truly believe that in this day and age one of the strongest factors contributing to the increase in stress and anxiety is the sheer amount of competing truth claims and the overwhelming quantity of belief systems and conflicting ideologies. Life, in the words of Albert Camus, seems genuinely absurd. He writes of the man caught in this absurdity, “He feels within him longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of the confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.”
In my opinion, if we are to overcome the absurd we must first separate ourselves from the correspondence theory of truth and instead adopt a theory of coherence. The former “states that the truth or falsity of a statement is determined only by how it relates to the world and whether it accurately describes that world.” Namely, we have our set of lenses and everything must correspond with our understanding of things or else!!
Yet, if we can incorporate a theory of coherence into our lives, which “regards truth as coherence within some specified set of propositions or beliefs,” we will be more apt to see meaning in experiential encounters with others and find uniformity in the mold in which humanity crafts said meaning.
In the end, we will find that all peoples from all corners of the globe are connected by strands from an intricate yet coherent web. The new frontier is, therefore, experiencing and understanding its reach. This journey is a cultural one and it appeals to the adventurous instinct of human nature. Happy travels 🙂
Begin your adventure today by checking your cultural quotient (CQ) This will give you a score of your current grasp of the global cultural web and your reach i.e. your cultural intelligence.
Timmy G (2019)