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October 07, 1985 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-10-07

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4

OPINION
Page 4 Monday, October 7, 1985 The Michigan Daily

4

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

On lions and intelligence

Vol. XCVI, No. 23

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Star words

HIS WEEKEND'S conference*
on the proposed Strategic
Defense Initiative illuminated
some of the vital areas of debate
over the issue and provided a
common base of information for
members of the University com-
munity to draw upon in continuing
that debate.
The six speaker: panel was
balanced with three speaking
against the system and three in
favor.
Although the panelists were to
deal with five aspects of the system
ranging from its economic
ramifications to its effect on the
University, the crux of the
discussion focused on its
technological and strategic
feasibility.
James Ionson, the director of
SDI 's innovative technology
program, debated head to head
with Michio Kaku, a physics
professor from City College of New
York who is an outspoken opponent
of the SDI, over the current state of
Soviet and American technology.
Their total disagreement over fac-
tual matters demonstrated
the range of unanswered questions
in a way that was simultaneously
enlightening and disturbing.
It was clear from the conference
that there are still a great number
of questions to be resolved, and
Ionson stressed that the project
was still in the research stage.
Nevertheless, Rosy Nimroody,

an affiliate of the Council for
Economic Priorities, contended
that with the "pork-barrel" nature
of American politics, SDI will
become irretrievably entrenched
in Congress, with parts of the
project parcelled out to as many
Congressional districts as possible
within the next few years. She
argues that unless SDI is stopped
soon it will never be stopped.
Ideally the conference has in-
creased the momentum it gives to
the general debate around campus.
With a greater number of people in-
formed on the issue, and drawing
their information from the same
sources, discussion could become
more common and more informed.
Unfortunately, several Regents
and University Administration of-
ficials were noticably absent. The
message of that absence - inten-
ded or otherwise - is that the
Regents have spoken their piece on
the matter with last month's
resolution to encourage SDI
research and have no further in-
terest in the debate.
Nevertheless, the more members
of the University community
engaged in the discussion around
SDI, the more likely the Regents
and administration will be drawn
into the debate. A question of the
magnitude of SDI should be dealt
with by all of the University com-
munity, and discussions and con-
ferences are a good way to involve
large parts of that community.

By Robert D. Honigman
I was watching a National Geographic
special the other day on lions, and I was
deeply impressed by these magnificent
animals as they stalked antelope. Their
enormous physical strength, coordination,
and intense concentration puts human
athletes to shame.
Lions have probably existed for tens of
millions of years, yet I couldn't help won-
dering as I looked into the faces of these
creatures whether or not one of them was
more intelligent than the others and therefore
had a better chance of survival.
But after thinking it over for a while I
realized that if intelligence were a factor that
helped lions survive, then the lion population
would have evolved a greater and greater in-
telligence over the years - through the
process of natural selection - until at last
they would become eligible for athletic
scholarships. But of course, nothing of the
sort has happened, and the lions of today are
probably as smart or stupid as those of ten or
twenty million years ago.
Then it occurred to me that in fact, there
must be something in the lion's milieu that
penalizes intelligence. It must be as harmful
for a lion to be above average intelligence as
it is for one to be below average intelligence.
That thought startled me. We humans think
that intelligence is the most important key to
our suvival, indeed to our identity and destiny
So how could superior intelligence be a disad-
vantage to a lion?
I'm just guessing - but perhaps a lion's
world only has five or six decisions visible to
the lion's intellect. Thus, a more intelligent
lion who might see ten or twenty possible
decisions would be paralyzed by indecision.
Instead of pouncing, the more intelligent lion
would be thinking, "Should I attack this an-
telope or that one? Maybe I shouldn't be
eating antelopes." And of course, it would
starve.
Then I wondered whether among humans.
there might not be similar environmental fac-
tors which penalized human intelligence. Was
it possible that persons of average intelligen-
Honigman is an attorney is Sterling
Heights.

ce are better adopted for survival than those
of greater intelligence? This idea injures our
egos and insults our pride. But genetically,
scientists reassure us (as if we needed
reassurance), we are the same people now as
those who lived 40,000 years ago in caves.
Just recently, in the course of studying how
institutions like the modern university
operate I began to realize how being stupid
can be an advantage. For example, the more
intelligent student might think: "Should I
major in history or math? Maybe I should
take accounting." And of course this student
will starve.
On a deeper level all large scale institutions
try to obtain the maximum resources from
society at the minimum cost. In the process
they adopt certain half-truths as institutional
In the university, by a
process of natural selec-
tion, the more naive and
less reflective people
become deans, depar-
tment chairmen, and
vice-presidents.
dogma. -For example, most institutions
believe that: "Whatever is good for the in-
stitution is good for humanity." Therefore,
institutional growth and power become
legitimate goals no matter what the cost to
society. Another deeply enshrined belief is
that the institution's elite are the institution.
Therefore, of course, "Whatever is good for
institutional elite is good for humanity."
These institutional beliefs are true only
some of the time - certainly not as frequently
as institutional leaders believe. Therefore,
the first requirement of becoming an in-
stutional leader is a certain level of mental
torpor - a willing surrender of belief to in-
stitutional goals. In the university, by a
process of natural selection, the more naive
and less reflective people become deans,

department chairmen, and vice-presidents.
Large scale institutions reward loyalty to in-
stitutional goals much more than an ability to
think.
You can prove this to yourself by engaging
in simple arguments with administrators
The higher up the administrative scale you
go, the more you encounter the university's
version of Papal infallibility. In the lower
levels of the administration where people are
reasonably modest, you can sometimes get a
university official to admit that a particular
policy is harmful to students or is a mistake;
but as you go up the administrative scale, the
people running the show become more and
more reluctant to admit that anything may be
wrong, until you reach the very top where no
one is ever wrongo
More intelligent people are well aware that
issues are complex and human beings
fallible - so these doublers are ostracized
and kept out of positions of power and influen-
ce. The institution does not want thinkers.
Take for example, the issue of Pentagon
funded research. Most members of the
university community are like the average
lion. When they see a federal research,
figuratively speaking, they begin to drool and
crouch down, ready to spring. The morein
telligent members of the university, however,
engage in deep soul-searching and raise
moral issues - not the least of which is:
"How can you call it academic freedom when
the faculty always want to research just what
the federal government is willing to fund? Is
this free will, or are our faculty flunkies of the
federal government?"
One can well understand why people who
raise this type of question are kept out of
positions of power and influence, for like the
more intelligent lion, they are letting a mea
get away.
My thesis is, of course, that the less in-
telligent people rise to the top of human in-
stitutions because the institution is more in-
terested in its own growth and survival than
in issues of morality or social conscience.
That would explain why the Regents are the
final arbitors of all that is wise and good in the
institution, They haven't let an antelope go in
years. Ask yourself this question: if the
Regents were not given any legal powers but
were merely a consultive agency, who woul
go to consult with them?

Bush and MSA: representing who?

Sneaking in tongues

N A controversial speech
delivered late in September, the
Reagan , administration's
Education Secretary, William J.
Bennett, announced intentions to
deregulate standards of bilingual
education, adding fuel to a heated
national debate. His address,,
charged that Federal policies have
become "confused as to purpose
and overbearing as to means" and
should be dissolved in favor of local
districts' autonomy.
"After $17 billion of Federal
funding, we have no evidence that
the children whom we sought to
help...have benefited," Bennett
said. He says widely based resear-
ch is still inconclusive in
"establishing the superiority of in-
struction in a student's native
language. There was - and is - no
evidence of such superiority."
He claims that it is "foolish" to
believe that only Washington
knows best and concludes that, in
the absence of a documented
supreme method of bilingual
education, individual districts
should be allowed to determine
exactly how to go about teaching
students with language barriers.
The implications of the ad-
.ministration's stand are many and
complex. Hispanic American
organizations representing the.

largest language minority in the
nation, have spoken out against
Bennett - angry that his move
may be a smokescreen - an at-
tempt to cover the Ad-
ministration's shirking respon-
sibility to minorities in general and
more specifically< for bilingual
education. Many are concerned
that deregulation is an attempt to
"Americanize" immigrants by
abandoning their native language
and culture.
And these groups have legitimate
claims. Basic to Bennett's job is the
responsibility for the methods of
teaching used in this country.
Policy making is most effective
when done by those with the money
and power to access the most
recent research: it should not be
"foolish" to trust that Washington
knows best. Bennett's intention to
dissolve national regulations
weakens the entire educational
system by leaving individual
systems to their own resources in
making those decisions.
It is Washington's responsibility
to insure a minimum English
proficiency for high school
graduates without discouraging
native language and culture. Ben-
nett should not abdicate his respon-
sibility to interpret research and
establish workable national policy.

By David Katz
After reading about the non-
binding resolution passed by the
Michigan Student Assembly
regarding the visit of Vice-
President Bush, I must admit
that I was dismayed but not sur-
prised. It appears that the MSA
broadens its purpose with each
new action it takes.
Now it appears as if the MSA
has self-ordained itself as a
student government organization
whose purpose it is to decide
which speakers should be allowed
to speak on campus. This
decision, of course, will be made
with the best interests of the
students that the MSA represents
kept in mind.
If, however, the MSA (in its in-
finite wisdom) decides that it is
not in the students' best interests
to hear a speaker speak, then
they have also self-ordained
Katz is an LSA freshman.

themselves as the student gover-
nment organization whose goal it
is to be a guiding and dominant
force behind the opposition which
chooses to prevent the speaker
from appearing on campus or to
prevent the speaker from being
heard by using non-violent,
peaceful (and usually noisy)
demonstrations.
The reason that I am writing
this letter is not to harp on the
MSA (well it's not the only
reason).
I would also like to stress the
importance and significance of
Bush's visit. Most students on
campus are aware that Bush will
be here on Monday, but how
manyrstudents know why he's
coming? Based on the reaction of
the MSA one would think that the
Vice-President is coming to U of
M to promote the ad-
ministration's SDI policy or their
Central American policy. On the
contrary, he is coming here to
commemorate the 25th anniver-

sary of the founding of the Peace
Corps.
The point is that the ad-
ministration could have sent
some lowly government official
here as a token figure, but they
did not! They sent the second
highest ranking American public
official. There are some foreign
countries in the world that are
still waiting for the United States
to send someone with Bush's
status to their country in order to
receive either symbolic
recognition for something or just
for international publicity. Fur-
thermore, it's not as if the ad-
ministration doesn't have a good
reason for not sending Bush here.
U of M has never been known as
one of the bastions of Conser-
vatism in the Midwest. The
commemoration of the Peace
Corps' anniversary appears to be
more important to the Reagan
administration than the risks of
demonstrations and negative
publicity. One wonders where the

purpose of this event lies on the
priority list of the MSA.
Finally, it is true that Bush is in
favor of the Reagan ad-
ministration's Central American
and SDI policies, but that doesn't
mean that the commemoration of
the anniversary of the Peace
Corps should be used as a stage to
encourage debate or demon-
stration relating to these issues
because it would only result in
diverting attention away from
and greatly diminishing the im-
portance of the Peace Corps.
Maybe it would have been a bet-
ter idea for the MSA to have
directed their energy towards
publicizing the purpose of Bush's
visit and the importance of the
Peace Corps instead of acting ina
way that doesn't conform to their
role in student government and
advocating a decision which is
neithertin the best interest of nor
supported by the majority of the
student body.

LETTERS
Daily wrong on arrest interpretation

To the Daily:
The editorial entitled "Lens
Capped" (Daily, Sept. 27) is one
of the most asinine pieces of tripe
the Daily has printed in recent
memory. I have great difficulty
accepting the idea that the Daily
editorial board is willing to take
such gross indecencies with the
Constitution.
First, no one should be allowed
to violate the law, Daily staffer or
otherwise. If laws in this country
were applied arbitrarily, as this
Daily editorial suggests they
should be, the system of justice in
the U.S. would be worthless. A
reporter's primary duty is to
cover newsworthy events, not
make headlines. If the reporter,
(or in this case, photographer)
forsakes his primary duty, and
instead concentrates on making
headlines, he should be made to

the provisions of the Constitution,
the Daily has once again em-
barrassed itself in public. It is
clear that the Daily dispatched
Mr. Habib to the protest in the
hope of acquiring sensational
photographs. If these photos
weren't the hoped-for end, why
BLOOM COUNTY

couldn't Habib have settled for
photos which didn't require him
to break the law? It is clear that
Mr. Habib and the Daily have
made conscious choices to ignore
the law. It is also awfully
presumptuous of the Daily to
assume that its "credentials"

outweigh the validity of the law.
In the future, the Daily should
leave interpretation of the Con-
stitution to the Supreme Court.
They generally do a better job.
-Ellen McDermott
September 27
by Berke Breathed
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