Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wanted: Intelligent Individual

What makes a person intelligent? I've been mulling this question over lately trying to figure out what standard is out there. If there is a standard, who decides what it is? Are intelligent people just people who are ahead of the curve? Do their brains develop at an earlier age? Do they accomplish more in life? Does street smarts have anything to do with it? What about grades? What about job occupation? Are those all factored into some mathematical equation that tells us whether or not something is intelligent? Or maybe we're all a brain. We're just so bent on comparing ourselves to one another that we don't see the "intelligence" that is inside each person.

Is intelligent going to become one of those throwaway words...you know those words. The ones we use in every day speech. We use them so often that the sigificance of the word becomes lost over time. It's quite similar to when we say we LOVE something or that another thing is AMAZING or AWESOME! After awhile, everything is amazing and awesome. After awhile, I love everything so when I say I love you, does it mean anything?

Now, I can't write a symphony, but I can play the piano and flute. I didn't get a 4.0 in school, but I graduated from college. I work on computers and teach people about technology, but I can't code well. Does that still make me intelligent? Does my occupation automatically bump me up on some list you're calculating in your head? Or did I go down because I didn't have a 4.0? Would you still consider me accomplished? Why? Because I have a steady job? Am I accomplished because I graduated? Because there are times where I don't feel like I'm an accomplished individual.

So many people list "intelligent" as an attractive quality in a member of the opposite sex. Is that kind of intelligence only in the eye of the beholder? If we for ourselves determine what makes a person intelligent and nothing else, why do we still compare ourselves to each other and at times feel inferior when we can't do something as well as the other?

Does having a career in the technology and science side of things automatically elevate me above a career in another field? It must be because society is willing to pay more, therefore those people are smarter. But society pays athletes and actors/actresses millions of dollars annually...does that mean they're more intelligent than the rest of us? I doubt it. Based on the fact that their lives at times are more messed up than the average person you know in your school or work place. We'd almost call them dumb at times for the things they do on camera. On the other hand...who doesn't do something dumb on or off camera?

There must be many kinds/versions of intelligence out there in the world today. Because none of us are alike. Therefore, it seems to me that there can't really be a standard...a bar that people need to pass in order to be labelled properly. Someone with a phsycial disability may have the brightest mind you've never heard speak. Is that person any less intelligent because they can't say their name much less write it? Would we dare call someone stupid because their social skills aren't up to our own level?

Intelligence is derived from a Latin word that means to understand. Maybe this means we've been using the wrong word in our labelling. Maybe we should all use the word smart but that just means a person is capable of adapting to their own environment. So really...what word do we use to define what we're looking for in a member of the opposite sex? What word should we use to describe our friends or family members?

At the end of the day, I suppose this all means that inside each person there's a brain. Inside each of us we have the ability to understand and comprehend as well as adapt to our environment. We're all intelligent and smart. We're all capable of different talents...none of which make us any better or less than the person sitting next to us. It's how we use our talents...for good or for bad. And don't get me started who what's good and what's bad...who defines what's right and wrong. That's a post or pondering for another night.


Lee Ryan said...

I've been reading your blog for months, but I still look for the "comment" link at the bottom of the post. I guess that rules out any intelligence for me.

I think there are lots of flavors of intelligence, much like there are lots of flavors of beauty and all of them are perceived and assigned values according to the subjective whims of others. One person may see a chess grand master as brilliant; another may see him as useless compared to a plumber who can perfectly braze any piping, but can also re-wire the compressor for your freezer if need be. One person sees the Victoria's Secret model as being gorgeous (ok...that was me) while another sees a newborn infant an incomparably more beautiful. (even when their head is still pointy, with splotchy skin and covered with fluid from birth)

The good news: for every person, there is another person - somewhere - who sees them as beautiful and intelligent.

The bad news: nobody is perceived that way by everybody.

Of course, I think you are smart and beautiful, but I'm biased; nobody would believe me.

kiki5253 said...

So should there or shouldn't there be a standard? A scale...a Bell Curve...to show where the average beauties or brains are?

I suppose the IQ test was designed to figure out who among us were geniuses but it's no longer used to determine intelligence in schools these days. In fact, the last time I took an IQ test it was out of sheer curiousity and for fun. It wasn't meant to be some sort of sign that "yes! Someone or something things I'm smart!"

You're biased....I'm biased...pretty sure my parents are extremely biased. I guess that means there is no right or wrong here or middle ground. On the other hand, there are a lot of studies that show different groups of people do have standards when it comes to intelligence. So how do these groups or societies come up with these standards?

As for not knowing where the comment link is...I still haven't figured out where everything is on my blog, so I guess that says something about my intelligence too. :( #fail.

Lee Ryan said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say there isn't/shouldn't be a standard, I'm just saying that - speaking at least for myself - I'm not smart enough or objective enough to reliably measure most people against it.

I don't think I'm alone in that though. I think a lot of people spend a good amount of their time figuring out why so-and-so is not as smart as they are; they usually come up with an answer that satisfies their need for security.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Of course there are plenty of "standards" and "measures" and "indicators" and those are probably effective - at least in detecting the "flavor" of intelligence that they're looking for. But as I said before, there are lots of flavors and people value each of them differently.

Don't ask me if there is a right or wrong - I'm just as convinced of my own brilliance as anyone. :-)

(of course, that's how I know you're brilliant! ;-P )

kiki5253 said...

Well of course I AM BRILLIANT! It's not just you who knows this, but my parents, my family and of course my own self. I tell myself that I'm smarter than everyone else because well...it's true. ;-) I'm totally kidding.

I do at times think I'm smarter than others and then there are other days where I feel like an idiot. Flavors? Maybe. Maybe I'm just not as brilliant at something as someone else and the standard I've built is of the things I can and can't do. Not necessarily what someone else has told me.

There should be standards I suppose...I'm just wondering if tests are really that helpful because often, we're just prepared to take a test and nothing else. I guess that's the argument for why standardized tests are not the best.