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 🙂 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: toonpool.com