I am not a fan of the TV quiz show Jeopardy, though it graces our TV set each evening. I am usually busy playing Canasta or Rummy 500 on the iPad, and these days waiting for the show to end so I an turn on a baseball game. By that time of day, I am usually in vegetative state.
However, there is a contestant on now who has won sixteen times, and is racking up an incredible pile of winnings. His name is James Holzhauer. He is a professional gambler and holds a degree in mathematics. He is currently well over $1 million in winnings.
This made me curious, as another former big winner, Brad Rutter, had a high school degree and did some TV quiz show hosting on his own. Another, Austin Rogers, is a bartender in New York City. Such agility is not always a product of higher education.
(When Jeopardy has a streaker on, its ratings soar. Automatically I want to say “Rigged!” But let’s play nice today. Let’s assume this is all on the up and up.)
What Holzhauer is demonstrating is a very impressive and agile memory. He also knows to go after $1,000 and $2,000 big clues first, stockpiling some winnings, and then when hitting the daily double, going for broke. That makes it seem easy, like saying that being a really great bowler is just rolling a lot of strikes. It is not easy. Only a very few can do it.
So I have to ask, is Holzhauer smart? Of course! But he is demonstrating an aspect of smartness I think of as “SAT-smart,” a very good memory combined with coolness under pressure. The very highest scorers on the SAT exam usually get into the very best colleges. From there, they often excel in life, earning good money and attaining prestige and respect. A bartender, a quiz show host, or a gambler exhibit none of this.
The American people, at least 95% of us and including those who score high on the SAT, are perhaps the most brainwashed people on the face of the earth and in the history of humanity. I say this with reservations, as one commenter argued that this label is best applied to the Swedes. We cannot know who is right, or if the dubious title goes to some Micronesian Island or Baltic state. Let’s just agree to agree that Americans are deeply brainwashed.
Part of the art of brainwashing is that the victims cannot know their state of mind. If we know we are brainwashed, we know how to get out of it. Any American walking the street will tell you what they know, that we are the best country in the world, the freest, and the wealthiest, and that our citizens are well-informed and that we elect our own leaders. None of that is true, but holding those beliefs close to the heart helps in the mind-addling process. Our systems of education and news are designed to enhance that mode of thought, putting almost all of us beyond reach of reason.
What has any of this to do with James Holzhauer, or the SAT? Very little probably. I am just wondering if having such a facile memory makes a person smart in the basic sense. Has Holzhauer figured out our system of brainwashing? Has he seen through the fake events of our time? As a resident of Las Vegas, did he instantly realize that the mass shooting down there on 10/1/17 was a hoax? In other words, though being so smart on a tactile scale, knowing so many facts and being able to quickly access them, is he also brainwashed, like 95% of the population?
My guess, and it is purely a guess, is yes.