The draft board conscripted me through Whitehall Street Induction Station, First Army, downtown NY. Real quick for the moment:
There were three exams: 1) physical 2) “intelligence” 3) moral.
For the first a guy in white sticks his finger up your ass. The second was a written test, 100 questions, one hour. The third was real simple: if you’d been convicted of murder, you were OK, if you’d ever been accused of lifting a girl’s skirt the army wanted nothing to do with you.
The intelligence test had four parts: English, Science, Math, Tools. I couldn’t imagine anyone not getting 25 out of 25 on the English part. I could easily imagine someone missing one of the 25 in science: all were common sense, common knowledge but one. Math: you had to know a little math, very little; but I did. There I know I had 25 plus 25 plus 25 = 75. Leaving the Tools.
The test paper was mimeographed. No one had changed the ink cartridge. The questions were illegible. Still, there’s more than enough redundancy built into a natural language that you’d have to be near sighted and a Martian not to get 74 out of the first 75. The tools were different: you had to know your tools, and recognize them despite the poor printing. Even I could guess that that was a screw driver and that a hammer, but I don’t know enough tools to say that that’s a torque wrench, and that a feeler guage … I guessed at eight of them and left the rest blank. I predicted something close to an 83 for my score: and 83 it was, exactly. Had the print been legible I might have fudged my way to a 98 or 99. Familiarity with tools would have made 100 easy, except for that one physics question: about pressure in relation to depth in a dam: that one required knowledge as well as intelligence.
I don’t care what the army thought my intelligence was: it’s none of their business. What I believe is all of our business is the question of what God is going to do with the Army at Judgment for administering an illegible test, then actually accepting and publishing their inept scoring based on it: like giving sight exams in the dark: concluding the guy is blind when all they had to do was open the shade.
Of course if I know more physiology and medicine I might have found the guy with his finger in your ass to be just as inept as the “intelligence” testers and the “morals” testers.
Don’t worry, humans won’t be polluting and defacing the earth much longer.
Oh, I’ll add: I heard about a Princeton grad who’d beaten the draft by failing the intelligence test. While taking the test, as honestly as I could, despite my anarchism, my pacifism, my contempt for the military and the draft board, I tried to imagine which questions he missed: to trick them. It struck me that you’d couldn’t miss too many or they’d know you were faking. With all my subtlty I imagined a performance calculated to pass: at failing. After basic I was assigned to Whitehall Street, so I learned the answers. I watched Puerto Ricans by the score fail the I test every day. They wrote their name, neatly, then sat for an hour, writing nothing else. Random answers would not do: random answers would on average score 25: and 25 was 15 better than passing. Indeed, the score to get once invited to officers’ candidacy school was a dozen points lower than the score I imagine the Princeton guy may have tried!
The stupidity, the ineptitude, is simply inconceivable to me.
PS: Cassius Clay failed the test, but was classified as an alternate. The army wouldn’t call him in an ordinary situation, but would in an emergency. Here are the scores for all that:
62 got you qualified for officers candidacy.
Below 10 they never wanted to see you again.
From 10 to 20, they’d call you before they yielded to the Russians.
20 to 62, you were fine: for being a draftee, or an enlisted man.
I straddle the numbers, not remembering whether it was 1 to 9 or 1 to 10; 10 to 19 or 11 to 20 …
Still, all this evidence of military hebetude, stupidity, ineptness, they’re nothing: compared to how stupid the society is for having alienated someone like me. Of course I’d defend my way of life: if free will were involved. The easy habit of compulsion is what I can’t swallow. Force me to serve, and I’ll serve, but like a slave. Reluctantly, with minimum cooperation.
In a free society I’d compete to lead. As is, I’ve striven to transform, to correct: to show alternate paths.