From what my dad can remember, people in this society take tests I guess to determine their job/place in life. The main character fails the test and it is believed that he will end up on another planet in an asylum. As it turns out, those who fail are considered to be intellectuals who are actually running society.
Does this plot sound familiar to anyone?
"You are what you do. A man is defined by his actions, not his memory." - Kuato in Total Recall
The narrative is about a man who can't seem to learn anything in a world where skill sets are 'learned' through the use of electronic tapes that people memorize.
The main character can't learn via the tape system and winds up being shipped to a hospital for the feeble minded.
When he gets there he learns that the people in the hospital are running the world because they are the only people capable of independent thought and innovation. Everyone else just gets their 'education' stuffed into their heads and can't learn anything new.
I think Asimov ment it as a critique of facts based education systems overshadowing creative thought in students.
You can see this in his Foundation series, but other works as well.
I would go so far as to say that even though every centrally planned government that ever existed was a failure only showed him that the people in charge didn't have enough intelligence, or didn't have enough technology.
As I matured, I preferred his nonfiction. And only that where he couldn't get political.
Seems to me this story, as you described it, fits that pattern.
The ugly side of Asimov was that he believed that the "intelligent" people should make all the decisions for the little people, and that he, naturally, was one of the ones who belonged in charge.
I agree, it was a reflection of his personality. My mother spent 33 years in book publishing and her path crossed with him once when she worked on a book for a man who was his friend.
"Stuck up" and "full of himself" were two of the rather colorful descriptions she had for her interaction with him.
[This message edited by MinorBee at 10:18 PM, April 15th (Tuesday)]
Yea, I don't agree with all of his beliefs or mannerisms, but I love his stories.