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Maddad
2005-Oct-26, 10:09 PM
We’re all smart people, so every one of us can Google up a good definition, but how do you personally make the judgment that one person is smart and the next one is not? Since we all come to this conclusion without resorting to a dictionary, what criteria do you use? I am not looking for a post wherein you provide a link and say, “Read this page and they’ll explain what you want to know.” How do you decide every day of your life?

WaxRubiks
2005-Oct-26, 10:31 PM
creativity is the sign of intelligence.

TheBlackCat
2005-Oct-26, 11:26 PM
The ability to solve difficult problems in an efficient and original manner.

SolusLupus
2005-Oct-27, 12:16 AM
According Frog, I'm smart.

According to Black Cat, I'm a dumbbutt.

Bathcat
2005-Oct-27, 01:24 AM
Yeah, I know a man who has trouble with simple things like logging onto his email, but who also happens to have an exceptional grasp of mechanical processes.

Other people may not have the greatest ability to solve an abstract problem, but boy oh boy are they smart at getting people to work happily together.

In my opinion, "intelligence" is not a single quality and is not well measured by an "intelligence test".

All people are not equal, but all people have some area in which they are particularly "intelligent".

This isn't just a sloppy "feel-good" statement, it's an absolutely pragmatic judgement that comes from working closely with a team of a dozen or so people for quite a long time.

I remember reading something in Barry Lopez's book Arctic Dreams about an Inuit man who seemed, when Lopez met him in the village, to be unintelligent. He seemed dull. But away from the village, in the bush, the same man became extraordinarily sensitive to his surroundings, an alert and clever hunter. In the right environment he became intelligent.

Or maybe more accurately, in the wrong environment he did not seem intelligent.

SolusLupus
2005-Oct-27, 01:44 AM
Well, it depends on what you mean there. If the Inuit man didn't know much about urban life, then he was ignorant on Urban Life. This meant he didn't have knowledge. On the other hand, he was knowledgable in a wilderness setting. In the GURPS game setting, the IQ is no different, just the skills. (I know I shouldn't use a game as an example, but it's helped me think out these things. IQ means something different in GURPS than in RL, btw)

This is something that peevs me off, personally: KNOWLEDGE does not mean INTELLIGENCE. Though intelligence can help you gain knowledge. Nonetheless, it's possible to be perceptive but dim-witted. It's also possible to be unknowledgable but wise, or quick-witted.

Intelligence is something that's hard to fully define.

The reason why I get peeved at this is because people assume that because someone happens to know stuff (or pretends to know stuff), he happens to be "smart". It also peevs me off that some people seem to think that the bigger words someone uses (thus, the more knowledge of vocabulary), the more smart he must be.

Ilya
2005-Oct-27, 02:33 AM
It also peevs me off that some people seem to think that the bigger words someone uses (thus, the more knowledge of vocabulary), the more smart he must be.
I would say that person A thinks that person B is smart because he uses bigger words than person A does, that is a good indication that person B is in fact smarter than A. Smart enough to fool him, that is.

TheBlackCat
2005-Oct-27, 03:20 AM
Yeah, I know a man who has trouble with simple things like logging onto his email, but who also happens to have an exceptional grasp of mechanical processes.

Other people may not have the greatest ability to solve an abstract problem, but boy oh boy are they smart at getting people to work happily together.

In my opinion, "intelligence" is not a single quality and is not well measured by an "intelligence test".

All people are not equal, but all people have some area in which they are particularly "intelligent".

This isn't just a sloppy "feel-good" statement, it's an absolutely pragmatic judgement that comes from working closely with a team of a dozen or so people for quite a long time.

I remember reading something in Barry Lopez's book Arctic Dreams about an Inuit man who seemed, when Lopez met him in the village, to be unintelligent. He seemed dull. But away from the village, in the bush, the same man became extraordinarily sensitive to his surroundings, an alert and clever hunter. In the right environment he became intelligent.

Or maybe more accurately, in the wrong environment he did not seem intelligent.

It may just be me, but these all seem to fall under my definition. They all involve solving difficult problems in an efficient and original manner. All that is different is the nature of the problem. Different people are more adept at solving different types of problems. The inuit is adept at solving the problem of figuring out what is going on in the natural environment around him. Other people are adept at solving social problems. Others are adept at solving mathematical problems. Still others are adept at solving artistic or dramatic problems. The common feature is that they are all solving problems.

SolusLupus
2005-Oct-27, 05:06 AM
What about an "idiot savante", then? (I apologize for the rather crude term, but it's the only one I know).

An "idiot savante (sp?)" is very dull in almost all areas but a single one, and then far surpasses everyone else in a single subject. According to you, Black Cat, that Idiot Savante would be a genius, no matter what, because he's able to solve problems almost no one else can in that area.

Unless you mean solve problems in generic areas. In which case, the man that's a whiz at math but stinks at athletics, experiments in science, or programming, isn't very intelligent, since he only is good at one thing.

I think that saying "being good at solving problems" is far too narrow a judgement.

Enzp
2005-Oct-27, 07:52 AM
No, the savant can only solve one problem. Like what day of the week a date falls on, or cube roots of large numbers. You may give him an endless stream of them, but they aer all the same problem.

I wrote this in another thread here a while back, but I have a personal view of intelligence, but I refer to it as "snart" since I reserve "intelligence" for one aspect. It is a three sided thing. Being smart comprises intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom.

Intelligence is the native brain power to make novel associations and relationships, and to solve problems. Creativity is part of that, I suppose.

Knowledge is the accumulation of information in an accessible form inside.

Wisdom is the ability to put the other two together in useful form, and the ability to make good decisions.

One or two of those is not enough to make you smart. Imbeciles can know a lot of things. And folks with really facile minds can be total ignoramuses or fools. A person can have wisdom but lack the will, interest, or ability to accumulate the knowledge needed.

There is more to it, intelligence or even smartness does not guarantee success. Not financial success, but success as a human being. Genius level intelligence coupled to a lack of motivation or emotional maturity will in general not do as well as someone with lesser abilities but the tenacity and focus to make the efforts needed at the task at hand.

So if by intelligence you mean what I call smart, then there it is.

Ken G
2005-Oct-27, 12:25 PM
I agree with the practicality of this three-pronged view. I would say that it can actually be expanded, and something important added. Intelligence involves a complex interplay with all these other concepts, which is somehow related to self-awareness, although no one knows how. I think Star Trek has this right-- to have real intelligence, you will always find self-awareness creeping in. But rather than seek a definition of intelligence, I'll try a linguistic approach, and list a bunch of words that interrelate with the concept of intelligence:
wisdom
knowledge
insight
intuition
creativity
common sense
wit
acumen
And I'll stop there, though we could all go on and on. The fact that all these words have different definitions indicates that we all see differences between them, yet they all overlap in some ways. They interrelate in a very complex way that you could try and lump together and call "smartness" or "intelligence", but the key bit is the self-referential character. I would favor the use of a simple specific definition of intelligence, like Enzp's or theBlackCat's, and reserve a different term for this over-arching concept, perhaps "self-awareness" or "sentience". Like a person lifting herself up by her bootstraps, sentience appears at the same time as all these other things, it does not arise *as a result* of them, it interacts with them. The self-referential aspects can go into sentience, and each of the pieces can have a specific and clear definition. So it's OK if the word "intelligence" does not try to incorporate that complex interplay, it's too hard to define that interplay anyway and so we can use an already poorly understood term for that-- sentience.

WaxRubiks
2005-Oct-27, 12:53 PM
If you are just talking about "intelligence" then I would say that it doesn't have to be practical or even come to the right conclusions. It is how you handle ideas and information if it is creative then the person is intelligent. They might be wrong or insane but they are still intelligent.

edit-I mean by creative, that something is created not some rubbish that a woowoo comes up with because they can't understand something.

Ilya
2005-Oct-27, 06:44 PM
No, the savant can only solve one problem. Like what day of the week a date falls on, or cube roots of large numbers. You may give him an endless stream of them, but they aer all the same problem.
Sounds like a disagreement on definitions. If someone who can ONLY take cube roots is an idiot savant, then what do you call people who can do all sorts of complex calculations with very large numbers in their head? And such people, while rare, are actually more common than those that fall under YOUR definition.

Taks
2005-Oct-27, 07:19 PM
No, the savant can only solve one problem. Like what day of the week a date falls on, or cube roots of large numbers. You may give him an endless stream of them, but they aer all the same problem.that's not true at all. kim peek, the so-called "rain man" not only has eidetic (photographic) memory, he can perform many mathematical calculations in his head without the aid of a calculator and even identify days of the week a date falls on. certainly savants tend to specialize with a type of genius (mathematics, art, music, etc.), but they are in no way limited to one specific "calculation."

taks

WaxRubiks
2005-Oct-27, 07:23 PM
I read, a couple of years back, that with the aid of a very powerful magnet you could switch off part of your brain( I think that it was on the left side) and make yourself an autistic savant, temporarily.

I think that genius is a little more than just doing the complex calculations that a computer could do.

Taks
2005-Oct-27, 07:45 PM
the term "genius" is rather subjective. in the context of IQ, it is ability to learn. but even there you have the issue of desire, which greatly affects individual abilities. i.e. i have no desire to learn golf, and i suck as a result. i do, however, have a great desire to shoot pool, and i'm rather competent with a stick. the same goes for math abilities or sales abilities, etc.

taks

Gillianren
2005-Oct-27, 08:19 PM
I also agree with the three-prong intelligence system. And even within that, there are many different kinds of intelligence--the math brain, the science brain, the lit brain--that overlap in most people.

I also think, however, that this is a good place to thank you all once again for not isolating the intelligent. When I am frustrated by a world that thinks I'm showing off when I share information (I'm not; I just think other people ought to be as interested by it as I am), I can come here and not be left out. I can come here, and sharing information immediately becomes a good thing. (See the righteous glee of To Seeking To Seek!) Not only that, not only am I not "Shares Useless Knowledge With Cashiers," as I've now been dubbed (well, it's better than "Gimpy"), but there are people here who are smart in ways that I am not. I can actually learn more here!

I think a vital part of intelligence, or at least of high intelligence, is the desire to learn. So many of you here know so many things that I don't, and I feel so educated and uplifted, even when the information comes in bizarre ATM threads wherein the OP has never even read a physics text. (Not that I have.) There is a little private pantheon I have of great minds on this board, which I will not share for fear of leaving someone out--actually, it's a not-so-little pantheon--and I am constantly honoured whenever someone tells me (always in PM; I'm not Jay) that I, too, am held in high regard here.

Thank you, all of you, for being smart by whatever definition we're using today.

The Mangler
2005-Oct-27, 08:26 PM
To me, intelligence is the practical application of knowledge. However limited or advanced a person's knowledge might be. For example, I know people that 'know' just about everything, but they can't actually do it. But on the other hand, some people can do a lot of things, but they can't tell you how they accomplished it.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Oct-27, 08:27 PM
We’re all smart people, so every one of us can Google up a good definition, but how do you personally make the judgment that one person is smart and the next one is not?What would be the point of such judgement?

SolusLupus
2005-Oct-27, 08:32 PM
What would be the point of such judgement?

If you mean judging whether someone is smart or not, there's a lot of reasons to judge. One of the primary ones is to know which one to trust the important intelligent work to, or deciding which position they're most adequate at.

Which is why I suggest that defining it can't be simple, because if someone is adequate at one thing, does not mean he's adequate in another. Thus, simple skills do not come into effect (though a knowledge base to work from is VERY much needed for almost all positions; try engineering without basic geometry!)

Disinfo Agent
2005-Oct-27, 09:10 PM
You say that defining intelligence is not simple. I argue that it doesn't matter, because unless we're talking about a well defined context, or type of problem, or profession, defining intelligence is pointless.

If you do a job interview for an engineer, you're not looking for the same skills as if you do a job interview for an accountant. What you actually look for in practice are a fairly specific set of skills. I don't think you need to be on the lookout for some hazy general intelligence, to make a good decision.

JHotz
2005-Oct-28, 02:52 AM
Usualy people want to do one of two things when they use the term intelligence assign a boolean value or compare more than one intelligences.

Both involve consciousness. Problems can be solved without consciousness but this would not constitute intelligence. What is consciousness? That is the real question

Consciousness is self-awareness. What sort of self-awareness though? Awareness of ones physical self? I do not think so. Awareness of ones awareness. The awareness of your own thought processes.

This suggests a possible method of comparing intelligences. How finely and deeply can you analyze you own thought process?

Maddad
2005-Oct-28, 03:29 AM
A distillation of responses so far:

Fromazhi:
Sense of humor
Wide knowledge base
Active eyes without losing track of conversation

Dan
Fast information processing
Logically related conclusions
Frequency of this performance
Asking questions

sloracer
Realizing the distance they still need for improvement


From the Bad Astronomy Forum
Frog march
Creativity

TheBlackCat
Efficient and original problem solving

Bathcat
Sensitivity to surroundings (similar to From's active eyes)

Ilya
Vocabulary has larger words

Enzp
Novel associations and relationships

Gillianren
A desire to learn

JHotz
The depth and degree you analyze you own thought process

________________________________
A personal benchmark I use is the frequency of posting on-topic.

I like a lot of these responses. From's active eyes spoke directly to my original question of how you personally make the judgment. Dan's logical conclusions is an excellent indicator. BlackCat's problem solving, Ilya's vocabulary, and Gillianren'a desire are all excellent.

One response in particular stood out for being different. JHotzit identified a way to judge how intelligent you, yourself, were by the depth of your own thinking processes.

________________________________
Thank you for your contributions.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Oct-28, 10:27 AM
Usualy people want to do one of two things when they use the term intelligence assign a boolean value or compare more than one intelligences.

Both involve consciousness. Problems can be solved without consciousness but this would not constitute intelligence. What is consciousness? That is the real question

Consciousness is self-awareness. What sort of self-awareness though? Awareness of ones physical self? I do not think so. Awareness of ones awareness. The awareness of your own thought processes.

This suggests a possible method of comparing intelligences. How finely and deeply can you analyze you own thought process?That would make Woody Allen the most intelligent man on Earth, I think. ;)

N C More
2005-Oct-28, 12:53 PM
One way I use is to see what a person does with their free time. Do they read/what do they read? What activities do they engage in? Often, what a person chooses to do on their "down time" can be a reflection of their intelligence, IMO.

SolusLupus
2005-Oct-28, 01:25 PM
So, because I chose to game a lot instead of read books, I wouldn't be intelligent, NC More? I spent most of my youth playing games and watching TV. I only recently started to read and come to BA. According to you, I wouldn't be at all intelligent for most of my life.

I'm HIGHLY insulted.

And the main reason why is because what the majority of people do is based upon their experiences and environment. If I found games fun and had more access to games than other things, then I'd develop more of an interest towards gaming. Alternatively, if I grew up in a rural area, I'd be less interested in scholarly pursuits, from lack of scholarly access. However, would that automatically make me unintelligent? Every person in the country is unintelligent?

What you choose to do in your free time is a symptom, NOT a deciding factor

N C More
2005-Oct-28, 08:07 PM
So, because I chose to game a lot instead of read books, I wouldn't be intelligent, NC More? I spent most of my youth playing games and watching TV. I only recently started to read and come to BA. According to you, I wouldn't be at all intelligent for most of my life.

I'm HIGHLY insulted.

Wow, touchy aren't we? Well, my 17 year old son is a gamer too. He has Playstation, Game Cube, Game Boy, X-Box and probably more I'm not even aware of! And guess what? He's pretty darn intelligent. However, he does still read, and you just said that you've started to read recently...Why is that? Could it be that you are...*gasp!* an intelligent person who is interested in various subjects?

BTW, I was simply adding to the list one more way that people can gauge intelligence, and I see nothing wrong with my idea. Please, don't be so defensive, this was not an attempt to put anyone down.

JHotz
2005-Oct-29, 01:46 AM
Has everyone heard of Howard Gardner’s seven intelligences? http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm

Linguistic
Logical-mathematical
Musical
Bodily-kinesthetic
Spatial
Interpersonal
Intrapersonal

I explored his ideas very intensively a few years back. I look at is the typical organizational structure of the human brain as shaped by human culture.

Consider the implications of communication with only sign language. What about a culture with no eyesight? Perhaps an environment where the regular exact interpretation of complex mathematics was necessary.

John_Charles_Webb
2005-Oct-30, 01:53 AM
We?re all smart people, so every one of us can Google up a good definition, but how do you personally make the judgment that one person is smart and the next one is not? Since we all come to this conclusion without resorting to a dictionary, what criteria do you use? I am not looking for a post wherein you provide a link and say, ?Read this page and they?ll explain what you want to know.? How do you decide every day of your life?


"Intelligence" is the ability to recognize intelligence. :-)

SolusLupus
2005-Oct-31, 04:19 PM
The reason I'm so upset is because I get irritated when people try to assume a single easy method to judge intelligence. It's what causes people to shrug off other people as being "dumb" because they make certain choices that aren't scholarly, or don't read all the time, or don't watch the Discovery Channel.

I have a friend that's very intelligent, but he actually doesn't look it. He looks like a big guy, and when he says he works in Construction, you wouldn't doubt it. His job involves working construction, and his free time is spent watching Comedy Central and spending time with his family. The only real "sign of intelligence" in his activities involves struggling to read fantasy novels, but I've seen some rather... unwise people doing the same. (I say struggling because he has dyslexia, but hates relying on special glasses). After all, I've seen people that you might call unintelligent that watch Comedy Central, or read fantasy novels.

I don't like it when people try to streamline what "intelligence" is. It's what causes charlatans to use big words, because that means they're automatically smart. Or people to pretend to be smart by doing "smart" things in their free time, even if they aren't really learning a darn thing.

aurora
2005-Oct-31, 06:37 PM
To SETI, intelligence is probably the ability to do interstellar communication.

To me, intelligence is many of the things already posted in this thread, and can be observed in not only humans.

Gillianren
2005-Oct-31, 06:57 PM
What special glasses for dyslexia? I've never heard of that.

SolusLupus
2005-Oct-31, 07:01 PM
Gillian: Look here: http://dyslexiacentre.talkware.co.uk/blog/_archives/2005/7/4/994586.html

This is one example of it. I honestly don't know what kind of dyslexia he has, nor do I know what the glasses he uses are like, I'm just pointing out special glasses to help dyslexics do exist.

Gillianren
2005-Nov-01, 08:08 AM
Well, you learn something new every day, don't you?

My younger sister is so severely dyslexic that she got her textbooks on audio from the Braille Institute. My boyfriend's not that bad, but he does primarily listen to books instead of reading them. (The unabridged audio book is your friend, but way too expensive.) Apparently, my dad was dyslexic, and so's my Uncle Sean on the other side of the family. My ren faire boss is dyslexic. And yet, somehow, I'd never heard of that. How does that work? (And why am I making more typing errors than usual in this post?)

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-01, 11:56 AM
My friend has a lot of contacts. Maybe that's a factor.