George Bush reputedly has an IQ of 120. This is not dim by any stretch of the imagination. In fact it is quite a bit higher than average. But people who met him were struck by his incurious nature. I believe his speechwriter David Frum once remarked something along those lines.
Personally, I cannot comment on the former president's intelligence or lack of since I have no knowledge other than that reported to me via the flawed and unreliable news media.
But it does make me think about something that has been niggling away at me for a long time: Some people have an insatiable, driving curiosity and some, though obviously intelligent, do not.
I was moved to put fingers to keyboard over this idea by a conversation I attempted to have with someone who was obviously bright, but seemed to have no spark about them at all. The conversation I attempted to have stemmed from some research that I found fascinating enough to delve deeper into. I had mistakenly believed, given the background of the person I was talking to that he might find it mildly interesting. So I volunteered what I thought might be seeds of an interesting discourse.
The article said that neanderthals tended to be ambush hunters as their spears were not designed for throwing but more for thrusting. It went on to further say that most adult neanderthal skeletons that had been found showed many trauma injuries such as broken and re-set bones.
When positing the reason for this, one orthopaedic expert said that the only analogue in the modern world for such a pattern of injury is a rodeo rider. Hence it is likely that the standard neanderthal approach to hunting was most likely to jump out of a bush, jab a stout spear into a buffalo or similar, and to hold on for dear life until it collapsed from blood loss or sheer disbelief.
Now, to me, the thought of our muscular hero holding grimly around the neck of an irate ungulate, his brow set in firm determination his eyes pointing in different directions as hooves and horns battered and gored his formidable form, is mildly humorous to say the least. I find this line of thinking interesting and in my imagination and my research, feel therefore compelled to learn a little bit more about the assumptions and facts upon which it all rests.
Not so my companion. He merely replied, when I concluded my hopeful two-paragraph monologue, with "uh.. yeah..." and commented about how gloomy the weather is today.
Conversely, I read an article about how the organism toxoplasmosis gondii may be responsible for road deaths in countries where it is prevalent, as its reproductive cycle is usually concluded in a cat, after incubation in a rat. Hence, the rat is compelled by its parasite to engage in risky behaviours.
Since humans catch it too and have, in this respect similar physiology to a rat, it would seem likely that humans also exhibit risky behaviour. This was borne out by the graph showing correlation of road deaths per capita with incidence of T. Gondii infection.
When I mentioned this to a lady acquaintance at a dance, it sparked a look of intense curiosity and a series of very interesting questions which precipitated an hour's discussion. Now, I know this nasty little creature is quite fascinating, making it's way, as it does to the brain of its host and secreting chemicals that interefere with dopamine production, but who would have thought it would spark an evening's conversation with an absolute stranger?
So, why the difference in response? Why do some people wish to know more about things whereas others are happy to think about no more than that which is immediately pertinent to their lives?
Of course we know most human attributes vary with a standard distribution, but does curiosity? Can you learn curiosity or is there a set of genes for it? Ever since my astonishing conversation in a Cypriot supermarket, I have been dogged by this question.
Well, since we are all here, writing and reading material that nobody forces us to, I think I can safely make the assumption that our population here comprises more than the average number of curious souls. And for that I give praise and remark again to myself that time spent tapping on here is absolutely not time wasted.
And now I am off to see what is in the fridge as it feels like tea time. I wonder how my bread turned out.