Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

Courtesy, Intelligence and Life Expectancy

Posted on | December 13, 2010 | No Comments

I’ll address in today’s entry two issues which I have already touched upon in the past, namely the importance of courtesy in the mass transit system and the relationship between intelligence/education and quality of life. Why come back to these topics now? Because scientific discoveries now allow for certain hypotheses which answer questions previously left hanging by these entries.

But first a short story to put things in context. Returning home on the bus tonight, I sat next to a young adult. The latter, a poor representative for his generation (as the majority of them are much more courteous) sat in a lanky fashion, legs wide open, which obviously left me little room. As I’m not one to tolerate this kind of attitude, I tried to talk to this young man, to no avail. He was seemingly in an exclusive relationship with his iPod. I waved my hand before his eyes: not a blink. I called again, somewhat louder, yet my mute companion remained motionless. I tried to forcibly push his limbs out of my legroom, but he stubbornly refused to move. As I don’t appreciate being made fun of, I snapped my fingers in front of his face a couple of times, and finally removed his earplug to firmly restate my request. Only then did this man move, without a sign of acknowledgement or apology.

I immediately made a link between this situation and an article published by Scientific American where a new hypothesis on the correlation between intelligence and life expectancy is brought forward. According to the article, resistance to oxidative stress is a contributing factor to both characteristics. Without any kind of scientific pretention, I dare state the lack of resistance to stress may have pushed this sorry buffoon to isolate himself in his own bubble and avoid all contact with the outside world, until I actually forced him to acknowledge it.

This may seem a bit superficial, but at least I got some satisfaction out of the thought that in the end, this poor fellow had a statistically lower life expectancy. It also answered a question I asked in Naturally Pessimistic, where I wondered if ignorant people would eventually outnumber smart ones. It seems though like intelligence bestows an advantage which acts as a counterweight to the vicious circle I described back then. This, in the end, allows us to hope for better days ahead!


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  • Photographie par Patrick Meunier

    Tous droits réservés, Patrick Meunier, 2010

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