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 August 2008 - Nr. 8


My Dog Teaches … How to Raise your IQ

Hunny by David McKagueIntelligence, we are told, is important.

Our children are tested and re-tested in the attempt to put a numerical score on this nebulous thing called IQ. The smart ones are supposed to get ahead, while the slow ones get left behind. Entry into higher education is dependent on having a certain amount of it. Success at work and in life is supposedly connected to it.

But what is intelligence? Intuitively, we all know that it has something to do with the ability to solve problems, but trying to define the term precisely befuddles even the greatest minds. Each one of us can recall our moments of brilliance with pride – and moments of sheer stupidity with considerable embarrassment (like the hours spent trying to fix the computer to get it to print, only to discover that the printer was not plugged in). Some of us are very capable in some areas and utter failures in others. So it seems that, although there may be such a thing as general intelligence, experience indicates that we tend to be selectively so.

While we may not always notice intelligence when it is there, we sure do know when it is absent. We can look at someone else’s solution to a problem and know that it is just plain dumb. In exasperation, we may ask ourselves why supposedly intelligent people insist on presenting "solutions" which are worse than the problems they are attempting to solve.

While it is a fact that many so-called solutions are put in place for selfish vested interests, that is a question of ethics, of honesty, of integrity and not one of intelligence.

But why do well-meaning, otherwise intelligent people make such bone-headed decisions as banning certain types of dogs with Breed Specific Legislation passed in various jurisdictions around the world, including here in Ontario? Common sense tells us that these cannot possibly work; experience demonstrates that, indeed, they do not.

The crux of the matter is that no one can make intelligent decisions based on insufficient or erroneous or false information. If data is missing or wrong, the solutions can hardly be expected to be correct. As they say in computer lingo: "garbage in – garbage out".

Any pollster will tell you that most people have opinions on just about anything when asked, even though they may have almost no actual knowledge of the subject at hand. Poll the general public today on "What is the most dangerous dog?" and no doubt "pit bulls" would come out at the top. Twenty years ago it would have been "Rottweillers"; before that, "German Sheppards". Because they tend to avoid that which they fear, those answering are unlikely to have any actual experience with the dogs in question and the poll really only portrays reporting trends. As Winston Churchill said, "There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion."

Examined more thoroughly, a more appropriate answer would be along the lines of:
  1. A dog trained to be vicious.
  2. A dog protecting his territory.
  3. A dog being provoked into retaliation.
  4. Any or all of the above.
This should give us pause to reflect on the fact that we have a tendency to take the easy way out whenever we can. Why examine things directly for ourselves when we can just as easily take someone else’s opinion? Why work hard to formulate our own ideas when all we have to do is decide yes/no, good/bad, true/false? These things we can do with little or no thought or data whatsoever.

If we want to rid ourselves of prejudice and false information, we need to cultivate the skill of being able to really and honestly look. For what is prejudice but poorly examined data? And we need to look in earnest from our own experience. Does it really make sense to us based on our own observations? Or are we just taking someone else’s opinion on trust? Given the fact that many so-called "experts" can give completely opposite conclusions from the same data, we would be better off not relying on them to do our thinking for us. Consult them by all means, but don’t take their conclusions on blind faith; after all, they may themselves be passing on erroneous information.

When we truly and actually do look for ourselves, we may be surprised at what we see. And we gain another important benefit – confidence in our data and conclusions. This then gives us the ability to use what we know to improve our own lives and the lives of others.

After all, intelligence without observation is impossible. Action without observation can be dangerous.

Our best weapons against false information and ignorance are a healthy scepticism, direct observation and a burning curiosity. With these and with a bit of work, we can become intelligent on any subject we wish.

"Instead of arguing with others, get them to look. The most flagrant lies can be punctured, the greatest pretenses can be exposed, the most intricate puzzles can be resolved and the most remarkable revelations can occur, simply by gently insisting that someone look." (From The Way to Happiness by L. Ron Hubbard.)


Previous "Petitorial" articles by David McKague:

Editor’s note: I would like to encourage dog lovers everywhere to start a PETITION to have this law thrown out or revised to such a form where justice prevails. SFR.

Email to David McKague
David McKague talks about the pit-bull or pit bulls, pets, dogs, the duress put upon the dog and the owners, especially through laws in Ontario, Canada, that affect and encroach on rights and freedoms of the individual, on human rights, reputation of individuals and owners. David stresses the importance of being responsible and understanding when dealing with pets.

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