Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Adam and Jeremy Say: Let's talk about it

Jeremy Says: i was stumped by a recent question for one of Jax's Ed Psych assignments and this relates back to what we learned in COMS Theory. "Why are people with speech impediments considered less intelligent?"
so, we all know that it is in fact true. even I will wrongly stereotype someone as maybe not as smart just because they cant communicate well. but why do we relate that to lack of intelligence? im not sure why I do it, but I know it happens.

one of my thoughts was simply an association thing. typically people that are less intelligent are also not good at communicating. my other thought was that is simply shows how important being a good communicator is to our social stigmas. it's so important, in fact, that we will categorize someone as "stupid" just because they can't communicate well...even though they could be a genius.

I remember my first thoughts on this matter back when I worked my first two weeks at the camp in SC right after moving from lynchburg. the first two weeks were "disabled/special needs" camp for adults. it was two of the hardest weeks of my life, but I also loved it. anyway, I remember thinking that these people may not really be as stupid as we think, they just have communication problems. but maybe that's the point....if they cant learn how to be a good or even decent communicator its a strong indication they are mentally disabled? It might not prove they are mentally disabled, but its one of the symptoms or something?

that reminds me of a recent episode of this american life I was watching...this dude is totally paralyzed, can not talk, eat, breath or do anything on his own, but he learned how to spell out words using this special computer that interprets his eye movements. and if you were read the stuff that he spells out, you would think he was a normal guy. he even goes so far as to getting a girlfriend and having sex with her. certainly she had to do all the work, but apparently he was pretty good at it. not really the point, but he almost proves his intelligence by being a good communicator by spelling out what he wants to say.

so it appears there will always be an exception to the rule, but maybe the rule still implies that people who are decent communicators are also have normal mental capacities, and vice versa?

Adam Says: I have several thoughts here… First, Speech is not our strongest form of communication. Speech can only communicate if the receiver and speaker share a meaning of certain words. So if in the 80’s some young person said, “that is bad” and some old person heard it the old person would think that whatever they were talking about was not a good thing, but the young person really meant that whatever they were talking about was really good/cool. That is the reason we have the phrase, “you would have to see it to understand.” Because our words fail to describe so frequently what we understand that until you both have seen the object you are talking about you will never truly understand each other just by talking about it.

Next I do think it is a social thing. We are trained to believe that people who speak well are intelligent… so much so that people actually get tricked by smooth talkers.

Also, scientifically people who are intelligent have a larger lexicon and use more of it. We can see anecdotal evidence of this in our Grandparents feelings about cursing as a stupid mans communication.

Oddly enough Kiwi’s work with Children with Autism has shed light on this issue for both she and me. While, we do not totally understand autism we do know that it can create effects in the minds of those dealing with it that verge on genius. People with Autism can have photographic memories… Kiwi has students who can run whole movies back through their minds.

The thing that is funny though is intelligence turns out to be more relative than anything. People regularly talk about the difference between street smarts and book smarts, but the truth is intelligence is measured by subjectively so if you can quote Niche and know the entire periodic table from memory, but don’t remember how to tie your shoes… we think you ain’t too smart.

I wonder if Moses had a speech impediment. We know that he told God he could not speak in front of the Pharaoh so Aaron had to be the spokesman. Could it be that he stuttered?

Jeremy Says: Moses could have stuttered and been dumb. we dont ever really have insight to his intellect do we, but he did drop everything and let God use him how he wanted. that doesnt really require intelligence, but what ended up happening in his life inspired so much spiritual belief that it would seem he was a smart guy. "God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise..."

one thing i was thinking is that we dont have enough patience to get to know someone before we judge whether they are smart or dumb. for example, our first impression of someone who doesn't talk well will be negative. but what if we give them just a few more minutes and maybe our impression will change. like that guy on this ameircan life. if we gave him thirty minutes, he could prove to us how smart he really was. so should we offer everyone more time before building an impression of them? you would think that since we grew up in the eighties and use word like phat or sick or raw to describe something cool, we would be less quick to finalize our thoughts on someones speech until we know them better.

i like to say things like "y'all" and "y'anto"(do you want to?), "i reckon", and the ghetto "crunk" or "cra nay nay" and my new favorite curse phrase "dad jim it". probably because when i first heard them they sounded funny, and maybe i think im funny when i say those things. i think i might also like to break the mold a little bit, so if i say that to someone who has a good impression of me, they might think "well maybe people who talk with ridiculous words aren't always as dumb as they sound?".

ha! wishful thinking, but im willing to take one for the team. if anything, it sounds funny, and since im a funny guy....

Adam says: That is the odd thing about life right? We don’t spend enough time getting to know people so we end up just assuming who they are. I was reading about G. K Chesterton today… if you don’t know then you must look it up… and it was talking about his philosophy on charity and giving, and part of that philosophy is that he gave money to every beggar he came across, which obviously got my attention, but on top of that he said that the charitable thing to do is to speak with someone and try to understand them, and so when he gave money to beggars he would try to talk to them. As a person who has both given money to beggars and tried to talk with them I can’t imagine going around trying to speak with every poor person I gave a quarter to. It seems impossible, and yet I get the strange sensation that this is what Jesus calls us to do… off the point I know, but still relevant.

To your point of your speech; I do something similar except I do mine out of vanity or pride or something, but whenever I go out to restaurants and such I start to drawl out my words like a true southerner… Why? You may ask. Because one; I feel like it ingratiates me to the working class Richmonder (what kind of snob am I) and two; because it is kind of like a character that lets me speak for freely and easily because in the end I can be painfully shy around people and I am always finding new ways to make myself speak up and get in the mix… usually I do this by being loud and funny-ish… well probably just loud and awkward… good grief I am rambling like an emo kid a Dickenson reading.

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