I'm Too Smart To Understand Human Beings

By Sean Carroll | July 5, 2011 9:28 am

Jen McCreight blogs about giving a talk at a meeting of Mensa, the “international high-IQ society.” Worth reading in its own right, but I was struck by one anecdote in particular: the color-coded stickers that indicated huggability.

  • Green = Hug me!
  • Yellow = Ask me first
  • Red = Don’t touch me

You read this correctly. A group of self-selected high-IQ people feels the need to have stickers on their name tags to let strangers know whether it’s okay to come up and hug them. As Jen put it: “I originally didn’t put any stickers on because I had no idea what they meant, but after being hugged out of nowhere by a complete stranger, my badge quickly looked like this:”

I don’t think the stickers are a bad idea; if they help people figure out appropriate ways to behave, it’s all good. But I can’t help but think that there are many other groups of people who would manage to negotiate this particular social minefield without the help of any stickers at all. There are many different ways to be “intelligent.”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humanity
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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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