I met two lovely otherwise intelligent American women on a train in Morocco who seemed to think that Iran was run by the Taliban
Not saying this necessarily happened, but one wonders whether the reality of the first attribute may have caused the imagination of the second.
Sorry can you elaborate? I did not quite understand what you meant here
Sorry, it was just a joke suggesting that the loveliness may have clouded your judgment to perceive intelligence. In any event, I do not claim to possess a universally accepted definition of intelligence (if there is one), but I met a lot of people who were not very informed, especially about parts of the world that are remote to them, but I thought were intelligent nonetheless (though Taliban ruling Iran is a bit rich).
I will go off topic here, but I think this has to be said just to remind ourselves what we may forget in the midst of distressing events or heated discussions. The Persian Empire (to which Iranians claim to be the heirs) was a superpower of its time (starting about 2,500 years ago) fighting the Greeks for supremacy over the then known world and while they eventually lost that fight to Alexander the Great, that land has been a center of culture and civilization for a very long time. I am sure there are many other examples, but if memory serves it was their famous 12th century poet Omar Khayyam, who was also an astronomer and mathematician, who was credited with being the first to solve a quadratic equation. The empires of present-day Iran and its peoples have made significant contributions to the world culture in many areas such as the law, literature, architecture, mathematics etc. etc. It is very sad to see the current situation of the country and the suffering of its people in recent history. Its current political predicament may have been the cause of a terrible aviation tragedy, but the consequences of that predicament go a lot wider and deeper than today's crash. I am staying away purposefully from discussing how much of that situation is their own doing and how much belongs to others and just commenting on the sadness of the situation. I hope the seemingly mild reaction from the WH today to a seemingly measured attack will be the beginning of a stop to the escalation of hostilities in a region that suffered more than its fair share of aggression and human suffering in recent decades and, maybe even the beginning of some sort of a process for the resolution of the underlying conflicts. I am not holding my breath for it, but I want to at least be able to hope.