It impresses me how it seems to be a truism that whenever a person or an organization or a time period or a national group or whatever, is really good at some facet of life, there is always a downside, and vice versa.
Albert Einstein was clearly a brilliant man and I understand that he was not very good at dressing in a neat and stylish way. I am sure there were many other areas where he was a bit of a disaster.
One of his quotes was "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
If you were born in year 1900 you likely had advantages and disadvantages vs someone born in year 2000 - both individuals were provided with a life to lead and both get to write a different and unique historic account.
I do feel that if you see yourself as one student in a school filled with many past, present, and future students and you appreciate that you hold some cards in a grand game but that you don't hold all the cards; then you can make good use of your playing time. Everyone can contribute and no one can monopolize the show! There is no need for inferiority nor superiority complexes. And we all kick something important into the end result!
My parents died at relatively young ages and my father’s oldest brother outlived my father by 15 years despite being 8 years older. My uncle’s two children had died early, a son 24 years prior to his father’s death, and a daughter, 6 years prior to her father’s death. But the daughter has been largely sidelined and estranged for at least 15 years prior to dying. Further, my father had been in very poor health and in a highly mentally degraded state for years prior to his death so in effect I had been without parents and my uncle and aunt had been without children for 20+ years prior to my uncle’s death.
As a result, my sister and I were almost replacement children for my uncle and his wife and they were almost replacement parents. We had a great deal of interaction and I likely knew my uncle and aunt better than I had known my own parents. I was in relatively close contact with my aunt for longer than I had been in contact with my own mother.
I inherited a batch of books from my uncle and this little library was stored in a seacan on our acreage along with a lot of other “stuff” such as tends to load up in the world of some of us.
My uncle was a connection to much earlier times as he had been born in the Northwest Territories, the same year Saskatchewan became a province of Canada. In 1905, Saskatchewan was formed out of a portion of the NWT and suddenly Uncle B was a citizen of Saskatchewan. He had lived through the First WW and the depression and WW2 and had seen the huge social and technical changes that occurred up to 1994, the year of his death. He was well read and had been involved in education and civic and provincial and federal politics and property mgt and economics. He was a great learning source.
My Uncle was born at or near this spot on the Canadian prairie in 1905. The homestead buildings are long gone. What was the Northwest Territories became Saskatchewan during his first year of life.
Another view of my Grandfather's first foothold in Canada. All that remains today are some depressions in the earth where the homestead buildings once stood and a bit of junk, similar to that seen at thousands of old homestead locations.
The old homestead location is surrounded by crop but hours of mechanized stone picking has made that situation practical. Some badger holes reveal the nature of the underlying earth structure. Gramps managed to locate on top of a gravel pile. Perhaps of value today, but not good in 1905 with horse drawn equipment. Weather and land that was difficult to farm forced Gramps to move north to the site where my Father was born.
I was well aware that he had been impacted by a book called “The Marks of an Educated Man”. I had never seen the book but I had heard him mention it in positive terms numerous times. One day in 2013 I was rummaging around in the “stuff” in one of my seacans and stumbled on the “book”. It was laying out in the open. I suspect another family member had been rummaging earlier and happened to extract the book and then left it in the open. I thought that it would be an interesting adventure to read the book and compare its contents with what I knew about my uncle, who at that point had been dead for almost 20 years. His notes and highlights added to the content of the original book.
The author was a man named Albert Edward Wiggam. It appears that my uncle purchased the book for $1.25 at the Saskatoon Hudson’s Bay store. The copyright dates shown in his copy went from 1925 to 1930.
I found the book fascinating to read due to the link to my uncle’s personality as well as due to being able to evaluate the ideas expressed against 80 to 90 years of elapsed time since Wiggam put his ideas to paper. He lived and wrote in the glory days of the Roaring 20s.
I did a Goggle search on Wiggam and didn’t find too much information but one thing he seemed to be remembered for was his views on eugenics. He felt that eugenics was a noble field, as is evidenced by the page photos taken from my uncle’s book. A man named Francis Galton, a half-cousin to Charles Darwin, apparently spearheaded the eugenics movement based on Darwin’s “theories” and officially came up with the name in 1883, a year after Darwin’s death. The concept was very popular up until the time that Adolph Hitler got enthusiastic and gave the thinking such a bad name that eugenics thinking wilted and dropped off the radar.
Wiggam was sold on the view that an elite group of humans should do the thinking and not let the stupid masses get in the way of progress. An exciting concept for those in the select circle! Not so popular for those who were labelled as being in the way of “progress”!
The bit of Wiggam’s writing that I found on the internet was placed there, I am sure, to illustrate his views that are now seen as being very sick.
1351. could not obey God's will, because they had no way of finding out what it was. But science has at last given to men a true technic of righteousness. And this new dispensation is just as divine as the old. It is filled with warnings of wrath, both present and to come, for the biological ungodly as well as alluring promises to them who do His biological will. These warnings should, first, make you tremble. They should, second, make you pray. They should, third, fill you with the militant faith of a new evangel. [section symbol] 2 The first warning that biology gives to statesmanship is that the advanced races of mankind are going backward; that they are biologically plunging downward; that civilization as you administer it is self-destructive; that civilization always destroys the man that builds it; that your vast efforts to improve man's lot, instead of improving man, are hastening the hour of his destruction; that the brain of man is not growing; that man as a breed of organic beings is not advancing; that microbe diseases are, in all probability, lessening, but man's incapacity to resist them is apparently increasing; that the physiologic and structural diseases of man's body and mind - "heart disease," Bright's disease, diabetes, cancer, degenerative diseases of the arteries, liver and central organs, the functional neuroses - neurasthenia, hysteria, epilepsy and insanity are increasing; that weaklings, wastrels, paupers, hoboes and imbeciles are increasing; that leadership and genius, great men and first class work men are decreasing. Lest you Excellency may think I merely wish to alarm you, let me urge to glance at the chart of your own national biology. The army mental tests have shown that there are, roughly, forty-five million people in this country who haven't any sense. By "sense," here, I mean the grade of intelligence that can either build a civilization or, after one is launched, 2 [end]
The material printed above was the internet segment that I located when I did a search on Albert Wiggam. Notice the page from his "Educated Man" book that advises readers to become involved in the noble eugenics movement.
On Page 199 and Page 200 of his book, Wiggam advances his view that mankind is dependent on the brilliance of a small number of highly intelligent individuals for its advancement. He feels that mankind's back is to the wall and its survival is hanging in the balance. He sees Eugenics as a noble cause that has a hope of saving mankind from its seeming march to oblivion!
I knew a farmer (let’s label him Farmer B) who had certain tendencies toward strong opinions and one opinion was that badgers were an example of “an animal with no purpose for existing” – all they did was make holes that were a pain and a hazard. He destroyed every badger he could connect with. I am not sure if he would have supported the eugenics movement but I see some similarity of thought! Black and white / quick draw and shoot – no need to puzzle over details or complexities! Farmer B was also a great guy in many ways even if he was not a friend of badgers!
Another bit of Wiggam material I located with Goggle was a 1925 Reader’s Digest condensation giving ten characteristics of a truly educated man – basically a condensation of the $1.25 book that is sitting on my desk and shown in the picture on this page. His ten points and his book have a lot of material that I think is brilliant.
Ten Marks of an Educated Man
By Albert Edward Wiggam
The Reader's Digest magazine.
FIRST: He keeps his mind open on every question until the evidence is all in. He continually asks himself the following three questions, which I call the A B C of all education:
(A) Do I really want to know the truth; or do I merely want to prove that my preconceived notions are right?
(B) Am I willing to lay aside my convictions, the historical traditions, and customs of my social class, in the presence of a new fact, long enough to find out if this new fact ought to change my point of view?
(C) Have I ever, without prejudice, set notions, and dogmas, even for a moment surrendered my mind completely to the examination of the reasons for my most cherished opinions?
It is a great day in a man's life when he makes this surrender to truth. He has entered into a new kind of life. He suddenly finds himself in possession of a strange new power--the power to handle and control facts, the power to discover new facts for himself. He finds for the first time that his knowledge has become power--power to move -men and things. His feet are at last on the highway toward the four great objects of life and education: namely, poise, power, peace, and freedom.
It is easy to see how practical this all is. For this miracle happened to Columbus, and he discovered America; to Galileo, and he discovered the telescope; to Henry Ford, and he made a practical automobile; to Wilbur Wright, and he invented the airplane; to Edison, and he illuminated the physical world; to Jesus, and he lighted the spiritual universe.
You can easily test these marks of education upon your neighbors. Study the people you meet, and you will soon see that the whole world is divided into just these two types -- open-minded and tight-minded people. Open-minded people you can educate; tight-minded you can't. This first point is preliminary to all education.
2ND: He always listens to the man who knows. I recently heard a business man ask a psychologist what was the first thing he would do if he came into his plant. "Why," said the psychologist, "my first job would be to find out what you know and what you have tried; because it is only by combining what you know with what I know that we can get better employees. . . . This is an attitude that will reap big rewards.
3RD: He never laughs at new ideas. A famous actor once invited some friends to a dinner party. He explained to them that he had invited a young man who was sort of cracked about an invention he had, and warned them to pay no attention if the young man tried to interest them in his company. The young man was Alexander Graham Bell, and the invention was the telephone. . . . Humanity has always laughed at its saviors and stoned its prophets.
4TH: He cross-examines his daydreams. Jesus, the greatest educator that ever lived, said: "Which of you, intending to build a tower, sit-teth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" ... A friend of mine adopted this plan: When an idea demanding action s'ruck him, he would subject it to a merciless cross-examination. If it got through, he called the idea a good one. This man was formerly called a "dreamer." But by this simple process, he became a really great executive.
5TH: He knows his strong point and plays it. Nothing succeeds like success; but that is chiefly because a man has found his strong point, and learned how to play it. Every man should study himself; and, perhaps, go to some trained psychologist to have himself tested for his strong and his weak points. The discovery of your real power may mean all the difference between a life of ease and achievement, living on the income of your strong points; or a life of struggle and handicap, trying to make your weak points pay.
6TH: He knows the value of good habits and how to form them. Ralph Parlette says that he has delivered his famous lecture, "Are You Shaking Up or Shaking Down?" so many times that he now simply sets his mouth going, goes off and leaves It. In just the same way, every man ought to have his whole body trained so that his mind could set it going In the morning and then go off and leave it. A man should train his nervous system to habits of prompt decision, habits of health, habits of play, habits of study, and the like. And these, all combined, will by and by give him that greatest of all habits, the habit of success.
7TH: He knows when not to think, and when to call in the expert to think for him. "It is not surgery that kills people," Dr. William Mayo said recently; "It is delayed surgery." It is usually not hard times that wreck businesses, but the failure to call expert advice soon enough. A great banker said to me, In speaking of business failures, "Oh, If they would only tell us their troubles sooner!"
8TH: You can't sell him magic. An appalling number of people believe In "luck," charms, signs, special days, Black Fridays, and numerous other relics of the Dark Ages. The world is under the guidance of a God of law and order who can be trusted, Instead Of a lot of hoodoos that cannot. And the educated man trusts these laws and lives by them.
9TH: He lives the forward-looking, outward-looking life. I met an old classmate who was still living in the dead world of yesterday. His college days had been the one time in his life when he had felt important and successful. And he was still living upon those petty triumphs. He had given up the future for the past. . . . The world is divided Into what psychologists call the "introverts" and "extroverts." The inward-looking introverts lose health, efficiency, happiness, go insane; while the outward-looking extroverts achieve, build, construct, organize, have what Theodore Roosevelt--our greatest extrovert--called, "a perfectly corking time"; and, as a result, they harness the energies of the world. . . . A man cannot be called educated who has neglected to live. No people ever did this so gloriously as the Greeks. We Americans, In our mad rush for wealth, speed, comfort, are in danger of missing this fine art of living. If we do, notwithstanding our inventions, we will go down in history as an uneducated nation.
10TH: He cultivates a love for the beautiful. I feel sorry for the man who has never gone without his dinner to buy a book of poems, a ticket to a concert, a little statuette or picture, or a pretty rug or chair for his home, or even a pretty hat for his wife. I feel sorry for him if he has no luxurious friendships, no luxurious appreciations of the stars, the flowers, the hills, and, what to me is one of the finest things in life, tolerant, gentle, and beautiful manners. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog, storm, misfortune, hardship--if we but meet them with courage--bring out colors and harmonies in nature, and bring us human insights and friendships that sunshine and good fortune never could have revealed. Beauty in its widest sense is inseparable from religion. They are both the very essence, the sum of all education--the only thing that gives life meaning and makes it worth-while for men and women to make education the chief business of their lives.
Ten Marks of an Educated Man
By Albert Edward Wiggam
Condensed from The American Magazine (July 1925)
The text above is the second item that my Google search of Albert Wiggam turned up. I think that his 1920 vantage point had certain advantages as well as some clear disadvantages compared to the viewpoint we have in 2014.
And I feel that I have just fired off several illustrations of what I see as an unusual reality.
In the situation we find ourselves in, in the game of Life, it seems that every person has some cards from the deck, but no one has all the cards from the deck. The good and the bad cards also seem to be remarkably well distributed. The dealer has shuffled well and stacked hands seem very rare.
Perhaps there may be health or injury issues that really sideline a personality, but I feel it is safe to say that my card game analogy is generally remarkably accurate.
Wiggam, clearly, felt that for society to get ahead, there were a small number of personalities that held all or almost all of the game cards and it was these super stars that needed to lead the masses to success. The eugenics movement took a similar approach. Wiggam, like Galton, was a great admirer of Charles Darwin and Wiggam regarded Darwin’s work as pure science and seemed to marvel that anyone would ridicule Darwin’s logic.
I find it interesting how Wiggam nails people who seem to be locked in a mindset such that information that conflicts with their established views is water off a duck.
He is unimpressed with the frozen thinking of many religionists. And I don't see how any reasonable person can disagree and not see an abundance of bozo circuit evidence!
Then he flips to praising the "wisdom" of Charles Darwin with his roulette wheel "theory" of how complex, interelated systems came about without a creative personality being involved.
What a testimony to the structure of the human mind!
In other sections of his book Wiggam illustrates a moral viewpoint that is radically conservative vs views that are common today. He praises Christ for being a moral genius. He talks a bit like a fundamentalist preacher from year 2014.
Evolutionary** thinking was somewhat new during Wiggam's time and it hadn't impacted religion greatly. Wiggam was still living in a world that, for better or worse, was still married to a lot of Biblical concepts that had been built into society by a variety of religious organizations and perhaps by the general populace having a degree of Biblical familiarity and respect.
Why he didn't detect that his brain was riding on two rails that were suddenly moving apart, I am not sure! But today, evolution** is seen as fact and the Bible is increasingly equated with crackpots and fables, with some justification. And the Bible hasn't changed!
The Scientific Method that Wiggam felt would save mankind has not proven to be very effective at solving the conflicts between the tight-minders and the open-minders - at least not in the last 100 years.
Notice the ideas expressed in the reproduced pages from Wiggam’s book. He appreciated the failings of religious thinkers and religious organizations but then he leaps onto the evolution** wagon thinking. To Wiggam, it is an illustration of pure science and logic. What a stereotypical behaviour pattern. Genius combined with idiocy, all in one breath!
If the following personalities were dissected, I would argue that each one could be held up as having admirable traits and opinions and understandings and at the same time each one could be nailed for being a borderline idiot in other ways. Turn up the power dial for any one personality and likely a lot of excitement, of some sort, will result!
Albert Edward Wiggam
George M and everyone else
I feel my examples illustrate the card game analogy.
Here is a staged card game that is meant to illustrate the concept that in the Game of Life, players always have some cards but never all the cards. Perhaps the cards on the table are symbolic as well. There are some cards that no one holds at any given time during the game. Even the onlookers may be symbolic. They can stand around and watch but at some point they are going to have to "play the game" as well!
Even a comparison of your own mind when you were 18 compared to when you are 60 will show up pluses and minuses at each age. You likely had positive traits at 18 that you had lost by the time you were 60 but in other ways, age and experience will yield very real benefits.
If I met you and we got to know each other, I predict that it is a certainty that you will be better than I am in many ways and vice versa and the same could be said for any two personalities. If I met someone who lived in 1514 I am quite sure that he would have traits and understandings that I would have to admire and vice versa.
My father suffered from Parkinson’s disease and the medications he took had a rather drastic impact on his mind. During one of his hospital stays, as he was gradually going downhill, I was visiting. His mind was wandering and one of the oddities was his seeming to pick items out of the air with his fingers. We had both read an article, a while before, about killer bee colonies moving north in the USA. I asked him what he was picking out of the air and he replied “Spider bees”. I am pretty sure there was a connection to the killer bee article. Then, at one point, he seemed to pull together and for a time he seemed almost normal and his gestures and actions were those of his normal past. I was leaving and as I moved away from his bed he startled and sharply told me to lookout. “What’s wrong”, I asked. “Spider bees” was the reply. I see a déjà vu connection of that incident with some of Albert Wiggam’s flip flops! Sane one moment - bonkers the next!
My sister and I knew a family who had become hooked on a pyramid marketing program. We each knew of other similar situations and were chatting about the unusual phenomenon. She related how she had been talking to a friend about the most recently impacted couple and the friend stated “Yesterday they were pleasant and sane people and then, suddenly, they became complete idiots!”
I feel that life is full of small incidents that dramatically illustrate larger principles and create a mental image that is clear and easy to appreciate. My two little stories are examples. We all have had experiences where we marvel at the wisdom of an individual and then, a facet of their life or their thinking pops up that makes our head spin. It seems that the human experience involves a blend of the genius and the idiot! Strengths so often seem to be locked to weaknesses.
So – what about it? Why is it that way? What is going on?
Charles Darwin and Francis Galton were basing their thinking on a flight of fantasy that common sense tells anyone is, well, a flight of fantasy! I suspect they were reacting to a lot of sick “religious” fantasy that had been unloaded on them. Albert Wiggam repeated the viewpoint. I think that a lot of smoke and mirror tricks were being utilized by all parties.
I enjoy CBC radio greatly and it brings any listener into contact with a broad range of intelligent, experienced, and interesting personalities. A very common introduction is to point out that Joe X is an evolutionary** such and such, be it an anthropologist or a biologist or a sociologist – whatever. Often the expert then launches into an “explanation” of how a certain situation evolved**. Perhaps it is an explanation of the formation of certain human attitudes or customs or perhaps it is an attempt to explain certain animal behaviour or physical structure. Often there is great discussion or presentation of some really interesting facts and observations. But how can anyone go into an analysis that is going to have solid value when the entire underlying base is so badly faulted?
The evolutionary** blunder means that the “experts” are bending their minds on “how” when the “how” is simply a case of brilliant design work utilizing a highly reliable collection of construction materials and physical laws that are also the result of brilliant design work. There was no evolution** but there was plenty of system thinking and wildly creative programmed adaptation techniques. Often too, there are strong hints of a large sense of humour and plenty of “in your face” analogies and Trojan horse structures!
The “how” things work is really interesting and understanding of functional mechanisms can be extremely useful, but a factor that is usually ignored or regarded as a non-question is “why”. I think that to be an effective student, asking “why” is rather vital! It is really helpful for an employee to appreciate “why” his boss, who we will assume has a proven track record, is making certain moves. So it is with the Ultimate Boss. The “how” is usually a following detail – the “why” is where the real appreciation and broad understanding lies. The Ultimate Boss can also be seen as the Ultimate School Principal who wants educated, team players, who are also capable of self direction and personal fulfilment.
Another simple but valuable story; There have been many reruns of the Victor Hugo / Jean Valjean story. I have a video production where the last scene shows the marriage of Cosette and Marius Pontmercy in a little country church. Just as the ceremony is ending off, Marius’s grandfather or uncle (I am not quite clear which) M. Gillenormand comes into the church with the obvious purpose of giving his support to the marriage. I believe that earlier Gillenormand had distanced himself from Marius and had resisted the marriage as well. As the couple leaves in a carriage, Valjean, Cosette’s foster father, appreciatively says to Gillenormand, “Thank you for coming!” Gillenormand simply says “I have been a fool.” Valjean returns, in an appreciative and matter-of-fact voice, “We are all fools, most of our lives. It is unavoidable!” And that is the end of the movie apart from music and visuals. Whoever engineered that movie scene had a fantastic grasp of reality. He was able to focus the preceding content of the movie into a penetrating laser beam. He was able to capsulate a huge reality of the human experience in an instant - in a very few words!
I think evidence supports the view that human life has been set up such that there is no room for any human to play God. We are all students and we all have massive potential for personal humility and for genuine appreciation of others! No one has all the cards – and no individual has very many cards. And no individual has no cards. And in order for the game to work, we all have to play the game. And the better you understand the rules, the more productive and the more fun the game will be. Feeling like a loser isn’t realistic. Thinking that you are God is even worse. We are all students, in the soup together! We actually have no choice but to play, be it poorly or well! We may be enthusiastic or slack but we have no choice but to “play the game”! If you are alive you are “in the game”! Even if you are dead, your history still impacts the game.
Albert Wiggam didn’t have all the cards, but he was sniffing down the right path, I think. We do all want to have the Marks of an Educated Man and my theory is that we are all enrolled in a remarkable institution that is effectively moving us towards that goal!
Why do I bring up the “Nobody seems to hold all the cards” topic? How does the topic relate to “The Big School”? Because I think that that is the reality and it is a feature of the system we live in and, like everything else, it is planned. And being in touch with reality is really useful and helps avoid slamming into bridge abutments!
Next: Karachi – Master Illusionist! How do you convince the residents of Red Deer, Alberta that they are actually living in Edmonton?
When a person stumbles on certain views that clearly have merit, often the saying "he knows enough to be dangerous" becomes a reality. History is full of such individuals who typically have good and bad characteristics and views, capture the imagination of the masses, gain a lot of power, and start playing a god role.
Suddenly their personality is amplified and in many cases their positive aspects give them the power and momentum to allow their negative aspects to create chaos and large scale destruction.
Humans truly are like sheep - perhaps another example of a Trojan Horse design job - and once a bandwagon movement gets rolling, facts and grass roots realities often are forgotten, and "group think" takes over. The lemmings charge (another Trojan Horse) and only after many have drowned, do the survivors come to their senses.
The monkeys have tried to climb the tree to reach the moon but the initial rapid progress can only go on for a limited time before the upper branches start to collapse from the load!
Politics, religion, economics, nationalism, agriculture, health science - any area of human effort and interaction - illustrate the reality of the Great Card Game. You are going to have to play the game and you are going to learn from the experience! No one has all the cards and when someone, other than God, claims that they do, trouble is ahead. Beware.
Like the boy in the "Good Intentions" song, if you or anyone else tries to play God, "your best isn't good enough". No man holds all the cards!
The more clearly you understand what is going on, the less likely you are to get swept up in the flowing sheep herd or the lemming charge! And trying to climb a tree to the moon is hard work and ultimately very disappointing!
We are students in school along with everyone else. We are learning. We are not yet graduates. The complex process is still underway. Focus on learning, not on playing the part of a graduate. There are no graduates just yet. If someone claims to be a graduate, just like someone playing God, look out. The School dishes out discipline that in the short run often seems pretty brutal and there is an advantage in avoiding getting into trouble!
But the Principal wants every individual to fall in love with LIFE and to learn how to live it successfully. And I think there is a lot of evidence that He is very brilliant and altruistic at achieving His goal. And that should be very encouraging for everyone! It is always good to feel that you are "playing to win"!