I first wrote about Maryam Mirzakhani when see became the first women to win a Fields Medal in mathematics. Sadly a few weeks ago she lost her battle with cancer aged 40 – the world needs more special minds not fewer but disease of any kind owes no one any favours. For those interested in a short biography of this remarkable women you can listen to short piece by the BBC here. What interested me about Mirzakhani was not necessarily the fact that she had won a Fields Medal but rather she had done this growing up in revolutionary Iran – country not know for its tolerance of women. What also intrigued me was that she choose to apply her intellect to the study of surfaces, most notably Riemann surfaces which are hellishly complex. Most of us have trouble conceiving of shapes that occupy more than two dimensions. Mirzakhani was able to conceive of shapes in multi dimensions – it takes a rarefied mind to be able to achieve such feats that the rest of us would consider to be akin to magic.
However, the point of this piece is not a late eulogy for someone who made an impression and left too so but rather a jarring point of contrast I noted the other day. LB’s little girl has been home sick this week with a stomach bug. And as all of us do when we are laid low by such things we drop into our own minimum energy state of collapsing in front of the idiot box and wait for it all to pass. As I wandered through the lounge room I took a quick glance at what she had found to watch and I can summarise the plot quite easily. Young women are judged on their looks, they need to be bitches (particularly to each other) and they should aspire to be stupid. It is this aspiration to be stupid that most concerned me. Granted we may be able to lay the blame at the feet of social media and many young women undoubtedly do exist in an echo chamber where idiocy is the end point of all existence. However, I am certain there are young women out there doing remarkable things that we never hear about. I only have the vaguest of ideas as to why idiots get all the air play and generate all the influence.
However, make no mistake idiocy is not in any way exclusively sex linked. Young men are universally stupid – I should know I used to be one and I was remarkably stupid. And the young have no monopoly on cretinism, all you need to do is look at our elected officials to realise that having the IQ of a trout is more common than you think.
But it is the message of aspiring to be a moron that I dont understand and I have no idea what can be done about it.