Secrets of Intelligence

I have a lot of intelligence.

As in, on stuff.  Intelligence in use in the phrases "military intelligence" and "business intelligence".  It's information.   But it is actual intelligence as well, and when you have it, many people will mistake you for "being intelligent".

Having is not being.

People who think, or suspect, that one is not intelligent will doubt or claim not to have understood the intelligence.  And they have a point... a lot of "snake oil salesmen" were behind the phrase "snake oil salesmen"... society has a lot of experience with people who obfuscate or dazzle with rhetoric, or fake statistics, phony studies, in order to garner a following.  Often it's for profit, but some people do it for other "currency", like moral approval or fame, or simply to hide something, dodge shame.

What my secret has been is a very diverse set of experiences.  I called it - in a failed Luce Scholar interview - "stomping my foot in every puddle, getting wet with knowledge".  The Interviewer said my interview and answers were impressive, and I obviously HAD taken advantage of every experience from lead-in-a-musical to semester-at-UN to friends-with-local-townies, but with a just-below-3.0-grade-average, he suspected Luce Fellowship could not see past the number.  It's similar to what my banks and investors tell me about my company.

There is "intelligence" and there is "actionable intelligence".  Sometimes being able to implement it means convincing other people to back you on a dark horse bet. After all, it's the unknown "dark horse" that makes the intelligence valuable.  If I knew even more certainly than anyone else that a candidate HAD, indeed, won an undisputed election, no one cares whether the candidate won by 95% of the vote or 95.1466792%.

So, it's dialectic, the contrary hypothesis, that gives your information its value.  If a major news story breaks that puts the election results in question, now your extreme expertise has value. You answer the question, and the conspiracy advocate probably falls on their face, and everyone admits the election was never in question.  Now your information or "intelligence" is devalued again, but perhaps you have a reputation for having good intelligence.

This theory-of-knowledge blogging revolves around the fact that Basel Action Network's goose is cooked.  Everyone knows.  The fact that a few photo-journalists are still copying BAN's master plan of poverty-porn photos, poster children, with ludicrous "factoids", just embarrasses the high priest of ewaste further.  He has tried to move his organization away from the "80% dumping" faux pas, to focus on gluts of recycled glass cullet (which he helped create).  And enough people are paying for the "Stewardship Certification" machine that he may have succeeded in creating a self-funded NGO.

So it's not about saving Joe Benson, it's about tagging the practice of false accusation.  And that has to be done with intelligence.

What I have learned about "intelligence" is from diversity of knowledge, dialectic method.  A great grandfather and grandmother who lived with the Hopi and Navajo, started a newspaper, and became state majority leader. A crippled subsistence farmer grandfather who literally built his own homes and was an extraordinary artist and contractor. And parents who exposed me to world lit, and travel, and argument, at an early age.  And the fact that they kept moving us from school to school, from MO to MA to IN to CA to AR, forcing me to make new friends, kept me always outside my comfort zone.  Mom threw Plato's Apology on my bed when I was smoking pot, and it blew my mind.

I don't believe people are born with "intelligence".  I think that exposing people to variety of experiences and viewpoints plows the field of the mind, allowing new species of seeds to grow.  Sometimes people are lucky, gathering intelligence on a topic that turns out to be widely misunderstood, and  so distinguish themselves in the right place at the right time.  Others learn all about something that few others learn to care about, the history of light bulbs, or results of 1800s Scottish elections.

The trick now is to find the derivatives of the knowledge, to learn the lesson behind the great "E-waste Hoax" of 2002-2012, the decade of arresting geeks of color, impugning emerging market tech sectors, pissing on the campfire of development, all the time calling ourselves saviors and stewards.  It's the psychological underpinnings of recognizing intelligence and distinguishing it from snake oil salesmen, who will appear at either end of the political spectrum.  Dissecting the Basel Action Greenpeace NGO PureEarth #charitableindustrialcomplex isn't pleasant, but we can learn about a bad decade of activism, infuse it with the antibodies of exposure to other views, genders, languages and nationalities, and build a better activist platform.  I still am an idealist, I still want to save the world, or go down with the pride that some future generation, had they been born in this period, would wish they had shown the intelligence, the way I hope I'd have been like Mark Twain in the 1800s... and not like Senator Eugene McCarthy of the 1950s.

Here's a start.  It's cool to surround yourself with people you are proud of who are a lot like you.  You can really appreciate your father, think he's excellent, and an excellent teacher from your town may have a lot in common with him.  And your fine uncle shows a lot of the same great attributes.  All well and good, don't reject your own culture, steep yourself in the values you've learned.  Then, go and find people who have done the same thing but in a totally different circumstance.  I knew the values of the rural, but was fascinated by friends from the city.  And friends from Europe.  And Asia, and Africa, and South America.  The more the truth you've learned survives in every culture and circumstance, the more tested your belief system, and the more certain you will be of the intelligence you have gathered.

Then, be very very careful about that.  Things change.  Keep the delete key, the pencil eraser, the white out, on the desk.

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