It’s no-brainer to notice: every “survey” that makes the rounds on the internet makes evident (proof-laden) how smart all of us are. Not “in spite of our vices”, but thanks to them.
For an uncanny reason (we will take a stab to shed some light to it later) every vice, every problematic behavior is a potential shred of proof of our genius for some of the “researchers”.
Let’s have a look at some of them – you’ve seen loads more, for sure:
Those who stay up late at night are likely to be more intelligent.
Those who swear more are likely to be smarter than those who refrain from cussing.
Alcohol-drinkers are smarter than the mind-numbing teetotalers.
Those who live their lives alone, without a partner, are more intelligent/sensitive/strong (it depends) than those who have family and friends.
Those who believe in god (or something else supernatural like the hollow earth) are happier than rationalists.
The meat-eaters are healthier than vegetarians (and immune to death when they climb the Everest).
Those who can’t make ends meet are more responsible and sensitive (yet again) than the ramrods.
Obese people are smilier than those of normal weight (and/or the athletic ones)
Quadragenarians enjoy sex more than vicenarians.
The elderly are altogether happier (even though they don’t have sex) than the younger ones.
Those who eat chocolate are smarter than those who don’t.
Sad people are more intelligent than the happier ones.
Those who don’t set great store by their appearance are more thoughtful than superficial vain people.
Children that bum around are smarter than those who get their homework done before they play.
Children who are bored stiff in school are more creative (of course) than those who are interested in it.
We see it every day on the internet. One survey is from the so-and-so University, the other from the thingy one. It looks like as if all of them aim to exonerate us.
“Don’t feel bad for being alone and broken, swearing like a trooper, drinking like a fish and eating like a horse, never mind that you can’t watch football because of your paunch or that your children won’t come within an inch of a book. All these things are signs of your intelligence and genius”.
This is not a global conspiracy to lull us into sleep, to hold us in check or stupefy us.
No, this is a phenomenon whose roots go well back in time and it can be explained freudically or with the help of Karaghiozis.
Let’s begin with the latter.
The puppeteers were improvising. There was a basis, a story that an end should be put to it, but every one of them developed it in their own way.
Through this process, new funny stuff would emerge. If it went down a treat with the audience, the puppeteer would store it in his memory banks. Success was measured by the laughter of the people. Since he had made them laugh, and therefore feel good, he would repeat it at the next show.
The same goes if he made them cry (because shadow theatre was also dramatic in the beginning); he would make a mental note of the line he just said.
What mattered was to move the spectators, fill them with emotions and lead them to catharsis (every definition of art includes invariably the original one of Aristotle).
Be it crying or laughter, the spectator was feeling good. You seek for it and then you keep it: the exhilaration of your soul.
The funny line that made audience laugh was reproduced by the puppeteer in every subsequent show. The joke would be quoted by the people, the apprentices (who would become puppeteers later) and his rivals.
Thus, the puppeteer would choose carefully the jokes he would say: depending on the impact they would have on the people.
The “surveys” we read are in the same vein. The researchers are puppeteers, too.
If someone comes to the conclusion (and publishes it) that those who live their life alone is because they are immensely selfish people, insensitive, grumpy and perhaps emotionally unintelligent, they will see their survey going down the drain. Ten years of labour went up in smoke without any profit.
If someone writes that obesity is a sign of weakness and that an obese person is unhappier than a normal weighted one, then the “euphoria police” that banish every unpleasant thought will come down on them.
Therefore, the researchers roll with the punches and adapt themselves to the preferences of their readers (or their bosses) and bury every conclusion that will displease them (both sides).
For this reason, all the “scientific surveys” we read are more like articles from writers, deprived of any objectivity. The scientists give to the audience what they want to hear.
Or the best-case scenario is that only the surveys that glorify our vices will become viral.
Most notably when these vices are quoted by a Miss Universe candidate in the question and answer portion.
– What is your biggest vice? the judge asks.
The candidate answers:
“I am a perfectionist”
“I trust people way too much”
“I am very sensitive”
“I never lie”
“I like food” (but I always bring it up)
“I am terrible at math” (“so am I” chuckles the judge)
“I give myself to others”
“I still hold out some hope for a better society”
Let us put Freud into the picture who was not a scientist (meaning the pseudoscience of psychoanalysis), but he was a famous thinker, no two ways about it.
Freud grasped that our dreams are…ancillary. Our subconscious “wants” to be pleased.
When we dream that our father, who has mistreated us our entire life, is dead and we weep, it is because our deeper self wants to prove how good and compassionate we are since we feel sorry for the bastard.
We don’t cry for the others to see our tears, we cry to satisfy our own self.
Τhe impulsive (and unconscious) part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to the instincts (the id) does not have any decencies, it shouts: “Kill him, the fucking asshole!” and proceeds to do so in the dream. But The Ego (or I) which is somewhere in between the id (or it) and the Superego (or above I), between the serpent and society, facilitates the waking patricide by having the perpetrator in tears.
Man is an animal. And all animals primarily seek what gives them pleasure.
But man also is gifted (or cursed) with a super developed brain, the bestowal of conscience. Sometimes what gives us pleasure is not exactly in unison with what we have been conditioned to believe that should please us. At this point internal conflicts take place which result in neuroses, phobias and stress.
The contemporary viral researchers solved this problem with the method of the puppeteer: they sell us what pleases us even if it is actually detrimental to us.
Therefore, every one of us can spot a “survey” which justifies our current behavior, be it social/sexual/political/anything, and we do not have to take any steps or make any sacrifice in order to improve it.
This becomes more obvious in Facebook’s tests. There, without any question asked or any detail provided, a pleasant result about the personality of the person who took the test is generated just like that and out of the blue.
Give it some thought, what if you took the test and the answer was that you are selfish and a jerk, the animal that represents you is a worm and the amount of food you eat is more than enough to feed twenty children from the third world and save them from famine.
Then, probably, you wouldn’t share the “test” and the results that come with it, so the algorithms of Facebook would bury it along with the newly-revealed truth and no one would see it ever again.
Because in reality (and anyone who can come to terms with it), no one wants to hear bad news. Especially when the news has to do with them. All the others might as well be selfish, racists, sexists, self-seekers, dogmatic, boring or weird.
But I, I bear the lion as a symbol which is majestic and independent, a leader.
Let’s wrap up this text on an optimistic note.
Those who read this, those who read articles from this very blog are undoubtedly people with a very high IQ and very sensitive, too. Just because they are well aware of their vices, they are able to comprehend these words.
Which is Sanejoker’s biggest vice? He knows which they are (and also refers to himself in the third person).
Which is yours?
PS: Never, ever forget that you are wonderful people.