All Humans Aren't Created Equal

>> Friday, July 31, 2009

Yesterday, I mentioned that instinct, judgment and decision-making abilities were not equal among all people. Oh, sure, even the least capable minds among us can out analyze and outthink a computer, just by not stumbling over his or her own feet, picking up a straw from the floor, picking out your mother from a crowd when she's turned away.

But a baby knowing when it's her mommy picking her up (and not someone else) isn't the same thing as having a clear instinct or being able to pick the right path with a dearth of data or finding the logical path when confronted with a bevy of conflicting information.

And it's not even as simple as saying, "This person can do it and this person can't." Some people can be brilliant on certain topics or in certain venues and morons in something else. I'll be providing an example on Sunday when I talk about my beloved (and now sadly deceased) uncle who passed away this past Monday. Someone brilliant with, say, interior design, might be helpless in a life-threatening crisis. Someone able to do complex and mind-bending quantum physics might never be able to balance her checkbook. Someone with a gift for financial finagling might get hopelessly lost in their own neighborhood.

The key is, of course, to put people in those venues where they can make the most of their strengths (and that's, of course, a specialty in and of itself), finding the right people for the job, but also, honing those very skills they have and shoring up weaknesses.

The original article I cited was all about experience and how some people had a better "instinct" than others. I think that's true for many of these specialties. I personally think that's always been one of NASA's strengths, finding exceptional people to venture into space. I've met more than my fair share of them. They are hard working, sharp and innovative people, just the kind of people best suited to wander into the dangerous unknown.

But just as most of us have our mental niches, our talents that make something out of nothing, we almost all (if not all) have our blindnesses, our Achilles' heels, our subjects where our brains remain in neutral. If we're smart, we look for those weaknesses and do our best to compensate for them.

Unfortunately, for many apparently, looking at themselves critically is beyond them.


  • Roy

    Yup! I agree totally. This is the same thing I say to the New Age, Oprah-addicted "you can do anything you want if you just BELIEVE you can!" crowd. I addressed this recently on Gather, in fact; an article called A Realistic View of "Talent". Our strengths and weaknesses define our parameters; that's the beauty of human diversity. It's always good to see other people think this way as well.

  • Stephanie B

    I'll check it out, Roy.

    Talent is a useful thing. It may not be enough, actually, and skill may also need to be developed, but a skill in an area you are already talented in leads to Michaelangelo and Strativarius. Pursuing skills when you are without talent gets you frustration and unending mediocrity, forgotten in the next generation.

  • The Mother

    This is one of my major beefs about our society. Our "equality" bent has gone so far overboard that we are wasting resources on stupid crap (like wheelchair ramps up into areas that aren't navigable by wheelchairs, anyway, just because the ADA says you have to).

    Public education needs to get a grip on this--dumbing down everyone so that the whole class makes it through is appalling. Even in districts that have "gifted" education, it's not enough to help the best and the brightest get as much out of it as they can.

    Perhaps we should go back to the days when the least apt students were steered into vocational schools. Use the resources we have, to the best of our ability.

  • Bob Johnson

    We are not created all the same, like you said we all have our special talents, that's what is good and bad in life, we have to find our strengths and know our limitations and appreciate the good and bad in others, everyone is beautiful in their own way.

  • American Idiot

    Self awareness seems to be lacky in a majority of people. I have been analyzing myself for years, and even when I come to realize weaknesses in myself, others try to tell me it's not true. (and I know its out of habit of trying to tell someone positive about themselves, even if it isn't true.)

    It's sad, really. I think if people took a harder look at themselves they would probably themselves happier in the long run.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Relax Max

    So... you think EVERYONE has faults and shortcomings?

  • Relax Max


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