MAD is one of my favourite magazines from childhood. I remember one caricature from the magazine. A very thin guy is lying on the ground. Another guy is shooting him with a revolver. A passerby stops and asks the shooter, “What are you doing?” He replies, “This guy is under weight, so I am pumping lead in him to help him gain weight!” Such caricatures came under category “Smart or funny answers to dumb questions” or some such thing. In our life we come across such people. If you are lucky you don’t meet many such people!
What is smart or dumb? How does a human being become smart or dumb? His family, education, DNA, environment what is it? What attributes finally get converted to a smart or dumb person? It is rather difficult to decide. I think it starts from childhood but later on the human being acquires & improves many abilities through experience. But this only appears theoretical, real life things are different.
As usual I take the reference of my grand-daughter Rhea. She is all of 3 ½ years old, the way she asks questions, adapts to things, understands explanations it will be real surprise if she ever asks a dumb question. She watches videos while having her food. One day the video was taking time to load. To deceive her we used to tell her previously that now internet Baba is angry that is why we can’t see the video. I told her the same story. She pointed her finger to the electrical switch for the Modem and told me “Aba put that switch on/off, then internet Baba will not be angry.” Now I am sure she has heard this discussion when we talk amongst ourselves when the Net is slow or not behaving! I am not able to understand how she could correlate this discussion with the problem on hand! Do I find this clarity in grown-ups? In fact I observe that some of the grown-ups can’t correlate things in their own subject. They are graduates and reasonably well educated. Is it because when there is a minor deviation, they cannot think out of the box? Or have they acquired this trait to think dumb!
We live on the 7th floor and while going down in the elevator, I pressed zero! Rhea asked me why I pressed zero. I said because we want to go there. She then asked me how does the elevator know it has reached zero? Well, well that definitely was a smart question for her age. I had shared a couple of photos, news item and a small write up in our group about the achievement by a friend. I got a message from another friend, Pramod could you explain what these photos are? He had read everything and it was all self-explanatory, so why did he ask this question? I have no explanation. I again sent him the explanation.
Recently I was told a story by my niece who is a gynecologists. There was a couple, husband was IIT trained, wife Post Graduate in nutrition science. They had difficulty in conceiving and were taking my niece’s treatment. Finally the wife became pregnant. They came to see my niece in the fifth month of pregnancy. It was winter time and weather was very cold. The husband asked my niece, “Doctor, can my wife use a blanket now?” She was surprised. She said it was very cold so you must use the blanket and why has your wife been not using one. Believe me, he said the dumbest possible thing, you may say that Pramod is cooking up some story for the heck of it. They said now that fetus has crossed fifth month it will be ok to use it. My niece still did not understand. The husband said if my wife had used blanket before the fetus would have been smothered, that is why they decided not to use blanket even though it was very cold! Had this statement come from a villager ….
Now read the next one. They asked my niece, “Can the lady now eat Jambhul or Indian Black Berry?” It’s a lovey and healthy fruit and pregnant ladies many a times have the urge to eat the same during pregnancy. Again our doctor was flummoxed. She said of course you can eat but why were you not eating? The answer was “Oh the baby’s skin could have become dark!”
I know that these two stories can also be told under the heading “Believe it or not”. But how does this educated couple ask such questions? It comes down to definition of “educated”. These two had gone to their respective education institute to get their degrees but were definitely NOT “educated”. The information they asked was not rocket science and you did not have to be doctor to understand these things. If the blanket could suffocate the fetus then the lady’s clothing also must have suffocated the baby! Did they avoid blackish colored soft drinks like colas or kala khatta during this period?
I asked my niece if this couple was exceptionally dumb. She said, “No kaka, they were a reasonable representation of our society irrespective of education levels”. I can understand people getting confused with highly technical or analytical issues. So now I am back to the question what makes people smart or dumb? I am watching my grand-daughter asking very smart questions at her age and I see the so called ‘educated’ asking dumb questions. Honestly I am dumb founded! Are you?