Friday, March 09, 2007

That's a lot of burning pj's!

I believe strongly in the potential for every person to be considered smart. Call it the theory of multiple intelligences if you will, but inside all individuals is some degree of knowledge waiting to be applied in a person's life. A person is smart.

People, however, are generally stupid.

Moreover, the unintelligent actions of an individual can generally go unnoticed on a planet of around 6 billion. When stupidity multiplies however, the result is rarely swept under a rug resulting more often than not in rolled eyes and utterances along the lines of "How dumb can you get?" Case in point (from Reuters today):

Candidates for British universities have been caught red-handed copying their applications from the Internet after hundreds mentioned "burning a hole in pajamas at age eight" on their online entrance forms. The phrase, taken from a Web site which provides examples of personal statements used by successful candidates, describes an early encounter with a chemistry set.

Did the potential students think "Gee, I'm the only person who would ever think of copying this!" Or were their plots hatched more with the thought of, "The Internet! Admissions directors will never look there!"? Either way, there's something a little bit hilarious in that not a handful or even dozens but rather "hundreds" used the same story. I have to wonder if a few tried to alter the example claiming to burn their bed sheets or perhaps tried to look advance by citing the incidence at age 6 instead.

I remember all too well the agonizing pressure of writing a personal statement for college admissions and mine centered around slime, rubber chicken bones and other lessons from science camp that influenced my pursuit into studying biological sciences (yes, my veins of nerd-dom run deep). It never occurred to me to try - or even to want - to lie about my story. But at the same time this type of thing probably happens quite frequently and sadly, is only noticed when the perpetrators are caught.

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