Grit Blogs > Mental Morsels With Dr. Cearley

Who Says You Can't Be Smart and Country?

Jamie Cearley, PhDCountry_SmartStupid

“To generalize is to be an idiot.” – William Blake

I am growing weary of people generalizing the intelligence of people because they live urban or rural lives.

I have both a PhD and a PHD. For those who don’t understand the acronyms the first is Doctorate of Philosophy. Mine happens to be in the area of biochemistry and molecular genetics. The second is Post Hole Digger, a crude tool with which to dig narrow straight holes. Most think the first requires brains and the second brawn. Truth is, they each require both. Together they have served me well. In fact they complement each other. My degree would be unfinished without brawn. Without brains, my land would look like a mine field from the misguided holes dug.  

In some folks' eyes a PhD in biochemistry and molecular genetics makes me over the top intelligent by default. I have had people say things like, “Well I don’t even know how to talk to you,” when they find out I have this degree. These people don’t know me well. If they did they would know I am an idiot because they have seen some of the things I have done here on the farm.  I once proclaimed my electric fence tester to be the greatest tool ever made. While demonstrating the tool's usefulness to my mother, I held the ground rod firm in one hand. Yes, I can be electrifyingly stupid. I took the opportunity to say, “Have I mentioned lately I have a PhD?” She replied, “Yes you have, but it is difficult to imagine at times like these.” Indeed it is.

My gramps never graduated high school. He could run circles around me in the areas of agriculture, mechanics, and woodworking. Sure I understood a great deal more than him about what made a soy bean a soy bean. I could tell you the most intricate details of its life cycle. Diagram the bean's development from seed to plant. I could give a thesis on how GMO’s are made resistant to herbicides. I could then follow that up with a exposition on the good, bad, and ugly repercussions of doing such.

Gramps didn't know any of this. He knew how to grow countless acres of the suckers; I knew nothing in this regard. 

I can’t make a solid argument for one set of knowledge being more important than the other.

The bottom line is, idiots surround us, and at some point we all will be one ourselves. If for no other reason than none of us know it all. My father warned me of this when I was joining the workforce for the first time. He said, “You will find that for every person who knows what they are doing, there are nine dingledorfs.” What he could have added was, “Most of them are in charge.”

I have had the privilege of experiencing first hand both rural America as well as the ivory palaces of the intelligentsia. I have found both to contain a fair portion of intelligence and foolishness.

There is a world of difference between education and training. Education is not memorizing or scoring high on a test. Education is the process by which an individual learns to think, reason, and thereby problem solve.

“Education is no substitute for intelligence.” -Frank Herbert

We should get worried when people start to think they are so smart, while others are ignorant. When people begin to divide into groups based on what they perceive as intelligence scary stuff happens. This is how the creation of an elite class occurs. This is also how tyrants come to power. This is the motivation of some who seek to control entire groups of people.

Be careful when you catch a whiff of your own brilliance. It just might turn you into a monster if inhaled.

If after reading this you are thinking, "Well I know some stupid people for sure," read this to find out if they are stupid for real. It might surprise you to know who the real stupid is.

As a side note, did you know the process of digging itself can produce quite a life lesson?  

Like what you just read? Visit Simple living. Rich life.


2/16/2016 4:03:53 PM

Dave, Your dad sounds a great deal like my gramps. He also had many words of wisdom that have stuck with me through the years as your dad did. I fear so many of us get extensive training but precious little education these days. I could not agree with your comments more. Your thoughts on success are spot on. I am glad to hear you have close PhD friends. :) Where I worked I was always proud when folks in other departments would say things like, "You have to meet our R&D, they aren't like that, they are super cool and totally normal." haha. I loved using my talents to work with those people and experiencing those relationships was priceless. I have a funny feeling you are both smart and rich in more ways than one can tell.

2/14/2016 9:31:17 AM

Jamie, my Dad graduated the eighth grade only because his mother was a school teacher and made him. He never like school and didn't see the point learning all those things that didn't do any thing for farming. He was the smartest guy I've known in my life. He just knew things that didn't come from books. He became a truck mechanic without any trade school and had a successful business for almost 30 years. He knew how to manage money and buy and sell things investment qualities. The only down side was that I wasn't smart enough to watch and learn. I had to learn about money, buying, and selling the hard way. At one time I wanted to be a farmer. Dad always had a farm but it wasn't the sustaining income for the family. It was more of a hobby. Again, his wisdom came out when he made the statement of "To be a good farmer, you have buy retail, sell wholesale, and make a profit." It was one of those times when profound things are said but in the eyes of the person that said it, they don't remember it. So it was with him. That's stuck with me for 60 years. ***** I have known those that are very book smart but can't put the knowledge to use. Some of the most successful business men I know don't have college education. I believe those that have common sense, wisdom, and a priority to help others will be successful people in life. The world's view of success is gauged by money but the real success is how people view a person. I try to put to use the God given talents and gifts to help those around me. I'm not rich; I'm not really smart; but I hope I am wise in relationships. ***** Yeah, too much, huh. Have a great day filled with intelligence and wisdom. ***** P.S. I have a couple friends with PhDs that are the best people ever. I suspect you could be one as well.