When the average bear isn't smart enough

Have you ever seen that show Are you smarter than a fifth-grader? Its where college-educated grownups with degrees from Harvard or Yale or ACC go on this game show and have to answer questions that the typical fifth-grader (or younger) can answer. If the grown-up answers all the questions he/she wins a million bucks, or some ridiculous sum. They can promise a million bucks because they know theyre never going to have to give it away. The grownups invariably get stumped and have to call on the kids to help them out. Either that or they guess, and usually they guess wrong and have to admit that theyre not smarter than a fifth grader. The smart grown-ups quit while theyre ahead and at least go home with a little cash, thereby proving that while they may not be smarter than a fifth-grader, they are smart enough to leave with more than they came with. The dumb ones, or shall I say the dumb ones with big egos, insist on going farther than their brains will carry them and invariably end up losing and end up going home empty handed. It didnt take a TV show to convince me that Im not smarter than a fifth-grader. Im as smart as the average bear. But have you ever played a video game with a fifth-grader? Im thinking taking on fifth-graders in a game show in front of a live studio audience is a fools bet. Admittedly, the questions are about stuff that most of us dont generally use during the course of a day, stuff that most of us used to know but have forgotten. Because lets face it, the only time we were as smart as fifth-graders was when we were fifth-graders. After that, we cleared out all the fifth-grade stuff so we could make room for the sixth-grade stuff, and so on. Not content to leave well enough alone, scientists have found some competition for those fifth-graders. And they dont have college degrees. Scientists took a bunch of elementary school kids and taught them some basic tasks in a sequence, that if followed, would allow the kids to retrieve a piece of candy from a box. They found the kids performed fairly well and quickly mastered all the steps to get to the candy. Next, they took a bunch of chimpanzees and taught them the same basic tasks in the same sequence. Not only did the chimpanzees master the tasks, the chimps were able to discern which tasks were necessary and which werent and thereby bypass the unnecessary steps and get to the candy more quickly. What does all that mean? I dont know. But this much seems clear. Not only is your average fifth-grader smarter than you and me, but were probably not even smart enough to be a monkeys uncle.

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