And, now a four-part exercise in idealism in a democracy...
Part I: It's sometime in 1999, and I'm a reporter here at The Trentonian. Low man on the totem pole, so I'm covering whatever the bosses tell me to cover. One of the things I had to cover was municipal government.
Now, as a new guy at the paper and new guy to the area, I knew nothing and no one. I had to make my own way. I made "friends' with some local politicians I covered, and so I would sometimes lean on them for information.
One day, I asked one of my politician friends a question. See, there was this other politician who seemed — to my untrained eye — rather dumb. Like, goat dumb. So I asked the friendly politician if this were so, if this other politician was indeed short of intellectual stature. The answer? Simple and to the point: "Yes.'
Let it be known both politicians are still active members of the political class. And I still think the other one is dumb as a goat.
Part II: If you want to play in the NFL, you need to take the Wonderlic. What's that? It's the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test. It measures how smart you are, how good you are at problem-solving, how good your brain works. Of course, it's not fail-safe, but the NFL uses it. So do hundreds, if not thousands, of other businesses when vetting potential employees. Questions start out easy, get harder. Basic math stuff, word association, "if Billy lives on the third floor and Jane lives on the fourth floor and Jim can't live on an even-numbered floor...' kind of stuff.
And if you want to be a long snapper or middle linebacker or quarterback in the National Football League, you're taking this test at the NFL's scouting combine.
To be clear: If you want to play football professionally, you're going to be forced to take an intelligence test.
Part III: I don't know Trenton councilwoman Kathy McBride. Never met the woman. Not going to guess her intellectual capabilities. I can only look at the facts presented, and the facts presented show she A) received a phone call; B) was told on the phone call about Blue Waffle Disease; C) told a Trentonian reporter about it and the reporter told her it was a hoax; D) she claimed it wasn't a hoax and then presented this information at a council meeting, saying, "It is a disease that's already claimed 85 lives and it is a case here in the City of Trenton. Blue Waffle Disease is supposed to be a virus that is 10 times greater at this point than the AIDS virus.'
If Councilwoman McBride had Googled "Blue Waffle Disease' — or Bing'd, or Yahoo'd, or for the love of all that's sane, Altavista'd — she would've known, within literally two seconds, she was being duped.
I mean, Blue Waffle Disease? Really?
We can all be fooled. I'm not judging. But I also can't help but wonder what McBride would score on the Wonderlic.
Part IV: We live in a democracy. We vote our leaders into office. But they're our leaders, not our overlords. We're pretty much their boss.
But when you get right down to it, what do we know about these people we elect, these people the various local, county, state, and national political machines put in front of us? Oh sure, we can read their biographies, and yeah, we might be able to see them engage in debate and speeches and all other manner of political posturing.
Through it all, though, we never really know how smart they are. And I don't know about you, but I'd prefer my politicians to be smart.
The NFL makes it's players take an intelligence test. CEOs make their employees take an intelligence test. Maybe it's high time we made our politicians take an intelligence test. You want to run for office, you take a Wonderlic test, and the results are made public.
How is this a bad idea? I mean, if some candidate takes the test and scores at goat-levels, is that someone you want leading you into the future?