Well, it really depends on what "born equal" means. If the meaning is taken to be "all men are born equal in dignity and rights" then it is yes. If the meaning is taken to be "all men are born with equal intellectual abilities" then the answer is a hard no. Some are offended by this, but let me pose some questions. Are we born equally tall? Physically strong? Beautiful? No of course, right? These are much less contentious. So why is intelligence so touchy? I think the answer is because in our society, intelligence is highly correlated with success.
The idea that some cannot achieve a high level of success almost regardless of how hard they try is denied by many. Yet studies show that this is very true. I'm not going to use footnotes since Wikipedia has already done that for us. Back on topic, studies show that IQ is the best predictor of future performance. Now this doesn't mean that IQ is a good indicator of future success, it just means it beats all the others. So before the smart ones start wearing a grin, remember that there is no substitute for hard work. Or is there?
Contrary to what most others may believe, I think there is a very good substitute for hard work, and I think that is high IQ (work is still needed, just not hard work). High IQ babies look at a novel object and get bored with a few glances, while average babies will be intrigued for much longer. Years later, the high IQ babies become schoolchildren and are bored with their lessons, their teachers, and probably their classmates as well. They'll think "d'oh, Mrs. Campbell is teaching that again for the 14th time" and begin daydreaming, doodling -- whatever relieves them of their boredom. If kept in such a stultifying environment, these minds will not attain their true potential. They will still do better on average than their peers but the point is that they do not reach their potential.
We want to nuture our bright minds, since it is known that a well-educated people fare better economically and hence we invest in education. So what's the best way to invest though? I think having a good gifted education program is essential to investing this money properly. Now, the main point coming from people that oppose gifted education is that it segregates the children, and violates the widely accepted clause of "all men are born equal." After all, why should these gifted children receive more resources (like better teachers) and therefore more investment money? This is where we go back to the question posed at the beginning of this post. Simply, we are not created equal when it comes to intelligence!
Here's a hastily thought-up analogy:
Basketball is what determines success and thus basketball teams, that of nations.
We want to invest in out nation's basketball team.
We want teach our children basketball, for a great team in the future.
Now, do we
- spend equal resources on short children as very tall children? Illogical isn't it? The tall kids will be bored; they may start lifting the ball above their heads and grinning at the stunted kids frantically jumping. They tall ones will not develop their skills.
- spend more resources on our very tall children? Logical isn't it? You know that the future all-stars will be tall. No, not all the tall kids will be excellent players, but the best players will be tall. In analogy with IQ, height isn't a great indicator of future basketball performance, but it is nevertheless the best indicator. Thus it is statistically wise to specially nuture our very tall children.
Time to sleep. Cha!