I am so HAPPY from yesterday. I got some appreciation from my superiors at work since I solved a ‘difficult’ problem which lot of people were struggling to solve from a long time. Then I started wondering what took them so long, when it was such an easy problem (at least it seemed so) and I hardly took a day to solve it. Then came the eternally unanswered question to my mind: What exactly is Intelligence? Is Intelligence the one thing that enables some people to think efficiently and in a better manner than others? Is intelligence the one that makes some people more brilliant than others?

Wiki’s definition: Intelligence is an umbrella term used to describe a property of the mind that encompasses many related abilities, such as the capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.

We are sure that Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Thomas Alva Edison etc were definitely intelligent because they were able to think `out of the box`.


And recently, I happened to read a book on Genes which said that even if somebody gets good marks in say, 10th standard because they studied hard, it does not, in any manner, guarantee that he/she will excel later on in life. Because it seems when we are young, the environment is the most important entity but as we grow older, the genes take over. A person who has been a topper in 10th might fail in his degree exam later on. Interesting right? I never knew this and I know lot of instances where this has happened.

I found this definition somewhere: The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge. But, there is a subtle difference between Knowledge and Intelligence (according to me).

  • Knowledge is more about reproducing what you already know. If you were given training on say, Windows and you can use it very well, then you are just using your knowledge. It does not mean you are intelligent.
  • Some people can grasp things easily when taught. Some people take more time to even understand something. For example, our parents, their grasping power has reduced with age. They take longer time to learn something than my 5-year old cousin. She can reproduce the exact mouse movements that I do, but my mom cannot.
  • What I call intelligence, is doing beyond these two points. You have learnt Windows and you just take couple of hours to figure out how to use MAC OS on your own, without anybody’s help. And this is what I do not see lot of people doing.

I saw this happening in college too. If the textbook gives you an example to solve a problem of type A, not many people can extend and apply this same idea to solve another problem B , which is very similar to A, but little different. Some people cannot solve such problems and then end up copying the answers from others.

The problem that I solved was very simple. There was a textbook which had similar example on it. If you directly apply that example, you cannot solve the problem in hand. But all I did was tweak it a bit and behold, I got the answer. Though it did take me some time to figure out the complete solution, I got the basic idea from the book. And I wondered why my colleague could not solve it from a month or so. He had, in fact, declared it to be an unsolvable problem. And for the same reason, my superior declared me to be more ‘capable’ than my colleague.

There was a girl, who had topped the entire university in her 11th standard, but when given a problem in her graduate school, she could not solve it. Later on, she had to copy it from me. I, sometimes, feel people blindly learn stuff, without thinking about the logic behind it or the reason behind doing something. E.g: Why did the author add that number with 10? why not add 15 or 20? Why only 10?

I had a teacher who had taught me this – “Question everything. Never accept something blindly”. And I do that all the time. My mom teases me saying I am like a detective. I try to reason everything and try to find answers for everything in life πŸ™‚ I never agree to anything blindly that others say. But I do not declare that they are wrong. Instead, I do some background research on that topic. Why did this person say that xyz means this? And I get convinced only when I find a reasonably convincing answer to it.

But we have no answer to these questions – “Who is Intelligent?”, “What exactly do we mean by intelligence?”, “What qualities make a person intelligent or dumb?”.

Cartoon courtesy:Β

32 thoughts on “Pseudo-Intelligence

Add yours

  1. You are right, it is hard to assess intelligence. Sometimes simple ‘alertness’ is called intelligence. Sometimes ‘knowledge’ is called intelligence. One phrase that should not be applied to people is ‘un-intelligent’


  2. Yup I agree with your assessment. Glad you were able to manage effectively.

    But different people’s brain develops in different spheres right? Your colleagues should have been able to solve the problem true.. but sometimes people are stuck in the wrong place. Or maybe they would be adept at solving some other crisis. Hard to put a finger.


  3. You know…in my office… if I know the solution… I simply keep it to myself until my boss gives me money for it…:P

    no xtra work…:D

    ok I am evil…


  4. Wow! That was something solving something so easily n quickly which others couldn’t. But happens right, I don’t know why.. maybe it is levels of intelligence in people… I’ve always found it difficult to grasp the easier things in life while the difficult ones have always been a breezer for me! :)))

    Now I’m confused is brilliance different from intelligence πŸ˜›


  5. I disagree mildly on a point… knowledge and intelligence : What you are talking about is crudely Information, not Knowledge (we used to have a hell of debates over this)…
    Knowledge is absolutely the ability to apply the information you have. It is something like available and unavailable energy. Your intelligence helps you to convert something into knowledge. While Information is that you can answer in your exam paper, vomiting we called it, just by mugging up but is of no use to you, as you donot know how, where to use and apply it. Your idea is perfectly right but I think instead of the term Knowledge, you should use Information.

    And as to what is intelligence? A combination of imagination, knowledge, as you said “thinking out of the box”, wider outlook, a thirst to learn, acceptance of the fact that you can be wrong. It’s roughly what I believe.

    By the way, how do I get it to snow in my blog?? πŸ˜›
    I am dumb so I’m asking you! πŸ˜› πŸ˜€


    1. Actually you are right girl. Because my colleague is more knowledgeable (or maybe has more information) in this area compared to me but he failed to apply this information or process this information in the right direction (probably). Yeah mugging up and reproducing it on the paper is not even Knowledge. Because they dont even know how to apply that information. Agree with you.

      You are dumb? :O that was a good joke πŸ˜› The snow is something wordpress has incorporated on all its blogs. I dint do anything for it to appear πŸ™‚


    2. I guess I can’t leave without further confusing the already muddled concepts…

      Guria is basically right, knowledge is processed and verified information , it’s a subset. The effects of intelligence depend upon knowledge; but the raw ingredient, that’s intellect, is quite independent. It’s mostly genetic and slightly the result of sharpening in the first 17 years of life (after that the brain completely stops making new connections). It is indeed the ability to reason, extrapolate, think laterally and so on…

      The brain, as you would know, is just a very powerful pattern matching engine… Intelligence is actually the amount of complex transformations you can apply to a pattern to match it to another one, imagination is the part where you assemble primitives and form new patterns, that – is a different quality, but has some positive correlation with intelligence.

      Oh, and one last piece of agreement; when you are intelligent, the solution is obvious to you, just don’t try to comprehend how it is not obvious to others… Because however intelligent you are – you just cannot comprehend stupidity! πŸ˜›


  6. I say that I agree with you on whatever you have said here,about knowledge and intelligence and being able to apply your knowledge is intelligence-however Life has to answer me one thing-why was I made the dumb one when it came to maths?:) But yea,teaching my mum fb is a NIGHTMARE.


    1. Girlie, you are not dumb just because of that. You are probably sharper in other stuff. I would call myself dumb in subjects like Economics and Accountancy, because I found them so hard to understand πŸ™‚ I guess everyone will be good in some or the other area πŸ™‚
      Yeah teaching mom is a nightmare for me as well πŸ˜€ hehe


  7. First of all congrats AK…. πŸ™‚ as you say both knowledge and intelligence are 2 different things and i am more of the former…
    But both of them can be improved with hard work, i guess…
    In this internet world intelligence is more important than knowledge…


  8. hey Voldy girl, i m the answer to your question…yes, I am intelligent πŸ˜›

    jokes apart, nice post here…n Guria’s comment confused me totally…sach bol rahi hu…thn i read she is dumb, so i was fine πŸ˜€

    ab to aap problem solving masterni ban gaye…kya baat hai…promotion around the corner now for u – I pray πŸ™‚


    1. Hey padfoot πŸ˜› thanks yaar.
      Guria’s comment left me confused too. And she calls herself dumb after leaving an intelligent comment. How is that possible?!
      Promotion nahi yaar. Vaat lagi hai 😦 they now think I can solve any problem in this world and are burdening me with everyone’s work and people happily go on vacations here thinking someone will work on their stuff 😦


  9. Whoa you are brainy. I totally agree with you when you said that thinking out of the box constitutes a part of intelligence. Loved reading ur post.

    PS. Why isn’t it snowing in my blog?? πŸ˜›


    1. Hey arvee, you need to go to appearance, and then check “add snow to my blog”. Then only it will snow. It will be there only till Jan 4th though 😦 Thanks Arvee πŸ™‚ glad to see your comments again πŸ˜€


  10. i agree with you!! esp toppers are like book worms, they know all the words in the book but they don’t the meaning behind the words in it! i can say .. ppl who are good in theory are bad in viva.. thats what i noticed in my class..


  11. Intelligence in my opinion is an abstract term defined by linguists for something they could neither understand nor comprehend.

    Since the definition itself is not clear, it is difficult to measure and understand intelligence.

    P.S: For a rather interesting take on measuring intelligence, it would be instructive for the readers to go through Malcolm Gladwell’s book on Outliers.


    1. Hey thanks so much for visiting my blog πŸ™‚ you are actually right. I guess nobody knows the meaning of the word “Intelligence”. πŸ™‚ Oh thanks for the book. I will go through it


  12. I completely agree with one point you said – that tenth standard and graduate thing. Though I didn’t fail, I got the exact pass mark in quite a few subjects in college, after being fourth in my school in tenth std!

    But regards intelligence, I am not sure if a person possesses intelligence, he/she can excel in all the fields. Some are good at creative things, while others are good at mathematical, while others are good at managerial things… Once you start doing what you like, intelligence somehow comes to you! Its all about getting involved.

    Destination Infinity


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