TED Conversations

Jake Maddox

Field Service Engineer,


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Do you find it difficult to engage in intellectual conversations with people in general?

It happens to me all the time. My wife encourages me to have dinner with her friend and her friend's husband. "It's the opportunity to socialize and meet new interesting people!", she proclaims. And yet the same boring conversations unfold. The guy rambles on about how many yards this guy ran, and how many interceptions this guy threw, and did you see how many spiders that guy ate on Fear Factor, etc, etc. I ask something like, "Hey, did you see that they possibly discovered the Higgs Boson at the LHC?" And the guy looks at me like I'm from Mars, "The LH what?". Then my wife makes a comment like I'm a nerd then everyone laughs. I'm far from a social misfit or hobbit, I just prefer to discuss things that stimulate me intellectually. I hope I don't offend anyone for saying so, but most of the time I feel like I'm surrounded by people that are intellectually challenged, to put it kindly. And maybe that's just it, if you consider that the average intellectual quotient is around 100. They're easily entertained and amuzed to watch television shows cataloging the "real world" of college kids living in a house together, arguing over who got the most trashed the night before at the club.


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    Aug 30 2012: I'd like to say something here. I'm not saying I'm better than anyone. I'm a sensitive guy myself. I better have my box of Kleenex if I watch the movie E.T. :-) My question simply asked, "Do you find it difficult to engage in intellectual conversation?" Many have understood my point indeed. Others have called me arrogant for saying such a thing and that I needed to step off my high horse and learn some respect and humility.

    Dare we ask any questions out of fear to be ridiculed and chastised for implying concepts and ideas that do not fit the social collective norm? They may have not liked when I said that most people around me seemed to be "intellectually challenged". It's an observation I made about the intellectual regression of America, that's all, and I think a lot would agree with me. I never said I didn't like them for it, nor did I imply it. How should I say it? Is it really a matter of proper phrasing or rather, "How dare he imply he is smarter than some other people! Who does he think he is? The arrogance! Preposterous!" I'm not saying that anyone on this post has gotten that upset, but it tends to be true more oftern that not. People who become defensive and emotional over a comment that insinuates that some may be smarter than others have underlying psychological issues stemming from insecurities. They often try to camouflage their anger and contempt by masking it in polite verbal etiquette, but the true emotion always bleeds through.

    The fact remains that indeed some people are able to grasp complex concepts, and others cannot. Some people are stimulated by knowledge and perpetual learning, others are not. Some people use logic, reason, and understanding to learn from mistakes in order to advance themselves mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually, others do not. How would you define these two groups? Which is the norm and which is the exception? Those who are the exception will have felt at some point in their life that they were "different".
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      Aug 31 2012: I don't hear anyone here denying that there are differences among people. What I hear people saying, or suggesting, are two other ideas. One is that differences need not seriously limit conversation about interesting issues if the parties seek interesting common ground.

      Second, I hear a question as to whether some people may have an exaggerated view of these differences and whether that perception itself might interfere with communications.

      That's what I am hearing here from some of the responses. I have not read them all.

      And I don't think either of these thoughts suggests insecurity on the part of those putting the ideas forward.

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