Brain Meet 

Part I: The cons vs. libs mental games

Put on your thinking caps, boys and girls, and tell me which of the following words does not belong in a grouping with the other three:

• fatuitous

• perspicacious

• conservative

• anserine

Oh dear, I could sense sphincters clenching from one end of Boise Weekly's range to the other. I apologize. I should have told you up front that this is not a test. Not at all. The question I put to you is merely a sample of what you might see at an event I am trying to put together and would like to bring to Boise. I call it "The Left/Right Erudition Competition." Either that, or "The Last Man Thinking." Possibly, "The Red State/Blue State Smarts-Off." I also like "Cranial Mania," and "Spatial Olympics" has a nice—but vaguely familiar—ring.

As you can see, I haven't settled on a name yet. But you get the idea. It has become clear to me that the only way liberals and conservatives will ever know for sure which are the smart ones and which are the stupid ones is to mount some sort of undeniable demonstration—a very public display of brain brawn, brain speed and brain agility. For far too long, opposite sides of the political volleyball court have haphazardly lobbed insults at one another—morons, idiots, loons, fools, dummies, dunces, dullards, dimwits, halfwits, nincompoops, ninnyhammers, lamebrains, featherbrains, boneheads, knuckleheads, chuckleheads, sapheads and Simple Simons—with no practical basis for telling which side is describing the other accurately and which side simply can't think of anything else to say. And especially now, when our nation is in crisis, it's more important than ever to differentiate the boobs from the brainiacs. After all, if we have no qualifiable way to distinguish who are the clods and who are the clever, how will we ever know who to listen to and who not to invite to the next moveon. org house party?

And please, don't try to tell me that intelligence doesn't count. Intelligence is the only thing we have going for us, really. It's what separates us—some of us, at any rate—from all those dumb brutes that rely on either instinct or Reagan-era ideology for survival. And in the end, who are you going to trust to untangle our enormous problems? Smart, creative, free-thinking people? Or the people who, this very moment, are trying to imagine how Sean Hannity would answer the question?

One thing is certain: We no longer have the luxury of declaring which side is smarter based solely on which side we are on. It's time to get serious about it. We desperately need to draw a line in the cerebral sands and distinguish the mindful from the muddled, the learned from the lumpish. What we need to know, beyond any further doubt, is where on the intelligence scale fall the conservatives and where fall the liberals. It is already well-established that the more education one has, the more likely he or she is to be liberal. It is well-established that the states with the highest percentages of advanced degree holders are precisely those states that reliably vote Democrat. It is well-established that the more highly regarded a university or college is, the more chock full of liberals it is apt to be.

But education and intelligence aren't necessarily the same thing. If you don't believe me, just ask anyone who couldn't get into college because of that 1.3 GPA he left high school with. So yes, it is possible that the self-taught sprinkler installer who spends his free time on the Internet leaving comments—all in capital letters, of course—with Huffington Post and the DailyKos on how "fagot libtards" should "all get f**ked and dy!!!!!" is way smarter than ... say ... Paul Krugman. But we can no longer guess. We must settle it, for once and for all.

And how better to bring attention to such a decisive and transitional moment than a Super Bowl for the sagacious? A World Series of wit and wisdom? A March Madness for mental athletes? It would be easier, I suppose, to simply average out the established IQs of a large sampling of random liberal and conservative citizens, but if either side is as below par as I suspect one of them indeed is, they will neither understand nor accept the implications. In fact, they will very likely call the results an unfair and unbalanced conspiracy perpetrated by the "MSM" (Main-Stream Mensa).

No, what we need is hype and hoopla. Some corporate sponsorship and an opening ceremony on the Grove. We need Mayor Dave Bieter to welcome the participants to our fair city and Dee Sarton to remind us, over and over, how wonderful it is that Boise was chosen to host such an event. We need medal presentations for the winners and we need to send the losers home with their tails between their legs.

And once we know, once the contest has been called, we must stop looking to the losers for any advice, counsel or opinion whatsoever. Now listen, I am not saying we have to ignore them entirely. Certainly, if you need to know where to go to buy nightcrawlers, which car is favored in the Daytona 500, or how global warming must be a hoax because it snowed last night, these are exactly the people we would turn to for answers.

But on weighty and complex matters such as how to mend the economy, what is America's future role on the world stage, or how best to become energy independent, what benefit could we possibly gain by hearing the bottom percentile out any more than we already have? Repeating a wrong answer ad infinitum does not, nor will it ever, make it a right answer.

So this, ultimately, is the purpose of the Cranial Mania Games—the Sapiency Slapdown ... whatever—to determine the political road our nation must take, based on the demonstrable intelligence of those souls already walking down that road. Unfortunately, it has taken me so long to explain the mission of this endeavor, I haven't space left to describe any of the organizational details.

Therefore, I am making this a two-part column. Next week, I will discuss what sort of individual and team competitions you might expect to see at the games, how the competitors for each side might be chosen, and what a tremendous boost this could be for the local economy to have this event brought to our community.

And to Mayor Bieter, a reminder: The city should be breaking ground for the Sudoku pavilion as soon possible.

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