Surely there are jobs out there where people are strictly hired to study – studies.
It certainly must be steady work, because it seems studies of all kinds are being created and devoured as quickly as Twinkies these days. The difference is, in the case of too many studies, it’s the brain that gets soft and fat – creating a cognitive crème-filling in the head.
You name it, there are a multitude of studies for it: education, medicine, science, culture, hypnosis and religion – not to mention studies about moles, both the kind on your back and in the yard.
And coming soon, a dermatological study of mole prevention on moles.
So did Virginia Tech really need to do yet another study? After careful study, they concluded the answer was “yes.”
The study basically proved what everyone already suspected: When you put a bunch of smart people into a room together, they come out dumber.
Volunteers with average IQ’s of 126 were put in problem-solving groups. The first problem was who would sit where. That settled, they went to work.
Before long, a pecking order emerged. (“Pecking order” is a term that comes from the chicken world (average IQ: 4) – and has to do with their hierarchy. Those lowest in the poultry pecking order are among the first to arrive at KFC.)
In the Virginia Tech study, the lower IQ folks showed a high response in the part of the brain that deals with fear – in other words, the IRS portion of the brain. The higher performers tended to drop down to the lower level – just the way Macy’s shoppers drop down to the bargain basement.
The end result? A greater collective dumbness than if just one smart person had done the problem solving alone.
This phenomenon seems abundant in everyday life. Anyone who ever went to a bachelor, office, frat or tailgate party has witnessed first-hand what sometimes happens when otherwise intelligent humans congregate.
Of course, knuckleheaded-ness is even better guaranteed when alcohol is added to the recipe. My own studies have shown that IQ points diminish in direct correlation to adult beverages consumed. It is known as the Tequila to Brain ratio.
In recent news events, exhibit A in this notion of lessened group thinking is the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia. Eleven agents – collectively – came up with a alcohol-fueled boondoggle that perhaps no single agent would have thought of alone. A federal investigation is under way since training with hookers and hooch is not usually part of an agent’s job description.
Simultaneously, yet another branch of government, the G.S.A. (General Services Administration) is finding itself in V.D.D. (Very Deep Doo-doo) over an $800,000 gathering in Las Vegas. The “conference” included taxpayer monies spent on a clown show and a mindreader. (The mindreader said later he could see the brouhaha coming.)
However, in its defense, the G.S.A. did not hire any mimes.
So while, the concept of team – combined intelligences and talents – is certainly essential to efforts like baseball, theatre, relay races and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir – it’s no sure thing that group brainwork matches up all that well with individual genius.
It’s possible that if he worked within a group, rather than by himself, Shakespeare might never have turned out Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear and Othello. That is, unless the members of his group were Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear and Othello.
Then, they’d all be off to Vegas for a two-week engagement at the Mirage.