• Welcome to the Speedsolving.com, home of the web's largest puzzle community!
    You are currently viewing our forum as a guest which gives you limited access to join discussions and access our other features.

    Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community of 30,000+ people from around the world today!

    If you are already a member, simply login to hide this message and begin participating in the community!

What is "Intelligence"?

cmhardw

Premium Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
4,105
Likes
126
Location
Atlanta, Georgia
WCA
2003HARD01
Thread starter #1
Hi everyone,

We seem to have this debate all the time in other threads, and I too am interested in it. So let's stop cluttering up other threads, and discuss it here and here only.

I am fascinated with the idea of "smart" or "intelligent" and for two reasons. I find it funny when people see me speedsolve a cube and say "you are a genius." I always tell them how wrong they are, and how they simply haven't seen the countless hours of practicing I've done leading up to the point where they asked me to do a speedsolve.

I also am the assistant manager at an after school math tutoring center, and have been in a tutor capacity with the same center before that as well, total time tutoring there is now almost 2 years. I have seen many instances where the parents say "My child is not that smart, compared to the really smart people." Or "My child just doesn't get math, no matter how hard we try." Most of the time with positive reenforcement, and connecting with the child in a fun way and being friendly is enough to break down their fear of math, and then after showing them trained techniques to approach problems they show significant improvement.

Students in this category people usually classify as "dumb" or "not smart" or "not intelligent" when in fact they have only a lack of trained techniques to approach the language and system that is mathematics. Often, when the child does show improvement, again from gaining a repertoire of trained techniques, the parents reclassify them as "my child is smart now!"

I also see students who refuse to show their full potential. They may pretend that they don't understand a problem, just to waste time so they don't have to do any work. Students like this are also classified as "dumb" or "not smart" by their schools and report cards when in reality they simply don't care about the subject, and lack a motivation to practice.

I have worked also with students who have a "learning disability" as diagnosed by a doctor. I actually enjoy working with these students, and I find they are great people and have really fun and interesting personalities. However they are also classified as "dumb" or "not smart" by their schools and sometimes to a lesser extent by their own parents.

I have found, again this is only my own personal experience, that of all the students I have worked with who have learning disabilities they simply learn at a slower rate than what can be considered "average", whatever "average" means in this context. However, with positive reenforcement and connecting with the student and being friendly they still learn the same concepts as other students, just not at a comparable rate.

In short I don't believe in an idea of a fixed intelligence, or really in the idea of "intelligence" at all. Let me explain. The idea that you get some amount of "smarts" and that's it, if you want more you're screwed, seems ludicrous to me. From working in my field I've come to believe that people have roughly the same capacity to retain information, as far as trained techniques to solve problems, to memorize facts, etc. However, people learn at different rates. Also people have different motivations, which is a factor as well.

So really I think someone who people typically classify as smart, is really just someone with strong motivation to learn the subject matter in question, and also an ability to learn at a relatively quick pace.

Someone people would usually classify as "dumb" or "not intelligent" could often be either:

1) Someone who learns at an "average" pace, but has simply not learned any techniques or memorized facts related to the subject matter in the first place.
2) Someone who learns at an average rate but lacks motivation to apply themselves to learn the subject matter at hand, thus resulting in a lack of training for the technique. This comes across as an aparrent lack of knowledge.
3) Someone who learns at a slightly slower rate than what can be considered "average" and this is classified as "not intelligent" when in fact they probably have the same capacity for knowledge, it would only take them an "above average" amount of practice to gain this knowledge.

Again I realize this post is long, but I find this topic fascinating.

Any more thoughts?
Chris
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 22, 2008
Messages
31
Likes
0
#2
I agree with you, it is an interesting topic. I think I would define intelligence as the ability to aquire new skills, and understand and familiarize one's self with new concepts.

I'm currently an AS Level student, and over the years, I've seen people like you describe, those who are intelligent, but choose not to work, those who aren't that intelligent but try very hard, and those who are very intelligent - apply it, and suceed greatly.

Personally I'd describe myself as intelligent, but I have concentration difficulties which make learning difficult for me, generally, when I'm interested in something (playing guitar for example) I fully concentrate, and progress at reasonably fast rates (although, even with things I'm interested in I can't concentrate fully).

I think intelligence is innate in that you can't learn to be intelligent, but through hard work, any academic principles can be learned and harnessed.
 

Dene

Premium Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2007
Messages
6,909
Likes
55
WCA
2009BEAR01
YouTube
masterNZ
#3
I'm going to avoid any Psychology stuff that we got onto in the Krazy K thread, and just stick to my own opinion here. I personally am of the opinion that people are born with different potentials. You mention, Mr Hardwick, that you think it isn't so much intelligence, but ability to learn, that defines how "smart" a person is. [I may have interpreted this wrong.] I am of the opinion that this is a factor in defining how intelligent a person is. If you are a better learner, and faster learner, then this means you are "naturally smarter" than others. Oh boy, I hear people screaming at this already.

I would put myself under the "smarter" category. I'll use myself as an example as such. You say that as a tutor, a big leap is made when you can remove a "fear of maths" and teach people techniques to do whatever. But I myself always found that I never needed to be taught any "techniques" (for mathematics, let's clarify that), but I was able to teach myself everything. All the "tricks" that I know in maths are ones that I found myself through trial and error, and manipulating numbers by myself. I know another guy who was showing me some of his own "techniques" one time in high school. This person is himself a hell of a lot "smarter" than I am (in my own opinion) and had worked out some interesting "techniques" that I never thought of, by himself when he was younger.

On another point, I should say that, although I excell in mathematical ability, I lack in English (for example). I mean, I have good grammar, and I've always been a good speller, but these are the more "mathematical" ends of English (if that makes sense?). When it comes to sentence structure (noun+verb+subject) or whatever sort of stupid stuff like that (I say this because I can't do it :D ) I just never figured out for myself. I always lacked in English ability because I didn't know how to write properly, and I couldn't figure it out for myself, and was never taught. So in this sense, I'm not as "smart" in English.

Then you have to be careful where you define what requires intelligence (whether taught, or natural), and just an ability. By this I am thinking of art. I cannot draw, it's as simple as that. I have never been able to, and I'd be prepared to argue that drawing is a skill that cannot be taught, and is something you either have or don't. I would argue the same with vocal ability. I am also a terrible singer, and I'd be prepared to argue that I could never be taught to sing. What do other people think about this?
 
Last edited:

Mike Hughey

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
9,502
Likes
1,459
Location
Indianapolis
WCA
2007HUGH01
YouTube
MikeHughey1
#4
I once thought drawing was a skill that cannot be taught, and I was one of those who could not draw. I was terrible. Then in my early 30's I tried a bit of some of these "easy drawing method" books, and found that it was really quite easy to become at least adequate at drawing, despite my perceived non-talent. I just needed someone to break it down into a "mathematical" method, and all of a sudden it wasn't so hard.

I still can't draw very well, but I am now convinced I could become fairly good if I had any inclination. I'm sure I would never be a famous artist, but I would at least do good amateur work if I tried.

Don't underestimate the power of a good teaching method that matches well to a particular person.

Singing might be slightly different. You might just have defective vocal cords, brain control over the vocal cords, poor hearing, etc. If that's the case, then there might be genuine physical limitations that prevent you from singing. But being a piano teacher myself, I've also become convinced that with the proper method, people without such physical limitations can be taught to be at least semi-competent at playing music, and even at singing. I won't pretend that anyone can become a famous opera singer, but basic competence (being able to "carry a tune") should be possible.
 

Dene

Premium Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2007
Messages
6,909
Likes
55
WCA
2009BEAR01
YouTube
masterNZ
#5
I defintely don't have any brain defects or hearing problems that would prevent me from getting anywhere at singing. I still don't think I could ever sing well though. As for drawing, I've tried breaking it down, but it still doesn't work. I'm still open to someone teaching me how to draw!
 
Joined
Feb 22, 2008
Messages
31
Likes
0
#6
I know a guy who's fantastic at drawing, he can do manga/anime style as well as regular detailed drawing, and he can translate that to the computer as well.

Whenever someone says to him "wow you're so good, I suck I could never be that good" he always gets annoyed and replies with the fact that it's just practice. He says he's been drawing since he was a little kid, and he sucked then, but got better and better.

Although, in a vid someone recently posted of Daniel Tammet (memory genius), it featured a guy who could draw very acurate and vivd drawings since he was very young, he was mentally disabled, and could not talk.
 
Joined
May 1, 2007
Messages
251
Likes
1
#7
I defintely don't have any brain defects or hearing problems that would prevent me from getting anywhere at singing. I still don't think I could ever sing well though. As for drawing, I've tried breaking it down, but it still doesn't work. I'm still open to someone teaching me how to draw!
i used to think just like you, you know

drawing on the right side of your brain
or something like that
read that book

if you don't wanna, the simplest thing i can say then, is draw things as you see, not as your mind sees them (i.e. ignore the symbols you learned that are supposed to represent objects)
it was one of the first pieces of advice in the book. it's a very basic and important one, and actually had an instant effect on my drawing ability! :p
it is possible to learn to draw. dont let anyone tell you otherwise (this includes yourself)
 

cmhardw

Premium Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
4,105
Likes
126
Location
Atlanta, Georgia
WCA
2003HARD01
Thread starter #8
Then you have to be careful where you define what requires intelligence (whether taught, or natural), and just an ability. By this I am thinking of art. I cannot draw, it's as simple as that. I have never been able to, and I'd be prepared to argue that drawing is a skill that cannot be taught, and is something you either have or don't.
I disagree, I also think of myself as someone with poor drawing ability, however I can draw a perfect 2 dimensional representation of a dodecahedron inside an icosahedron. I simply use a technique that works for me, mainly projecting the points of those figures (in 3-space rectangular coordinates) onto a viewing plane that I have defined with a defined unit vector for an x and y axis in that viewing plane. I then simply plot the x and y coordinates on graph paper and I have this perfect drawing.

I know what you mean, but I would still argue that you have the capacity for knowledge in the artistic field, but you choose not to train yourself to develop this ability.

By the way I do not now claim myself to be an artist. I also choose not to develop whatever capacity I have for art, except for in the area of using vector projections to create shapes that I myself find interesting.

I would also argue that you choose not to practice your vocal ability. I agree that some people learn much more quickly, and that to achieve a high level of skill in this field might take you an "above average" amount of practice, whatever that means. But I still would argue that you are capable, you simply choose not to develop this talent in the first place.

Chris
 
Last edited:

pjk

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
6,148
Likes
379
WCA
2007KELL02
YouTube
pjkcards
#9
Chris,
I couldn't agree with your post more. Sadly, your observation is something that 99% of the population doesn't see.

-Pat
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2007
Messages
541
Likes
1
WCA
2007OEYM01
#11
Everybody has own Intelligency , People born with differences intelligency with one and echother, Intelligence born with you and never be changed except their brain damage by accident.There are 3 catagory about Intelligency , Low ( they called Mental Disabled ), Middle , High ( Superior ).People with Superior it doesn't mean Smart because Smart people is people who Succed with their own Goal in their live ,People with Middle Intelligence can be Smart if they working for their goals, for example most Speedcuber's are smart , but not every Speedcubers with Superior Intelligence .There are also Superior people do notyhing in their live because they doen't want to do something , or they can't grow up with their Intelligence because of Their conditions ( situation of house or familly ).
They are Smart people from Middle Catagory because they working hard for something in and for their lives so they can be succesfull .

Greetz,

Crazycubemom
 
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Messages
837
Likes
13
YouTube
badmephisto
#12
This is a topic that interests me greatly as well. Chris I often have very similar reaction to people calling me genius. anyway, I do believe that there is some genetic backbone to intelligence without doubt. I attend university and I have a very good friend of mine who I hang out with all the time. This guy absorbs all kinds of knowledge almost instantaneously and has the ability to retain it for incredible amount of time. He doesn't take notes in class and often does better than me. I do just as well as he does (in fact my marks are somehow higher), but I am quite certain that I have to work much harder for it than he does. But that's ok.

Anyway my point is that different people definitely have different speeds at which they learn things, and it is not really something that can be taught.

Now I'm often described by my friends as very smart and everything, but that's just because they don't work as hard as I do. They don't read math in their spare time, they don't study as much as I do, they don't come home and do programming, but instead they watch TV. They shake their heads when I rent out books on (for example) complex valued neural networks and have trouble understanding that It is not for some class, that I just read it for fun.

My point is that I would place the ability to self-motivate yourself and to do what you are interested in as the greatest and most important thing that leads to "being smart". If you are interested in what you do and you actually go out there and do it, you will practice a lot and get a lot better. Maybe you are not gifted with as much of brainpower as the next guy, but I would argue that you are smarter than him if you just suck it up, use what you have and not get lazy.
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2007
Messages
263
Likes
0
#13
My point is that I would place the ability to self-motivate yourself and to do what you are interested in as the greatest and most important thing that leads to "being smart". If you are interested in what you do and you actually go out there and do it, you will practice a lot and get a lot better. Maybe you are not gifted with as much of brainpower as the next guy, but I would argue that you are smarter than him if you just suck it up, use what you have and not get lazy.
Badmephisto, you just described exactly what I was thinking, and I could not have said it any better than you just did. So ditto that. :)

I will add that (in my opinion) intelligence is much like a talent. We all have different talents and abilities - some for math, some for music, some have the ability to come up with a joke quickly. Intelligence is nothing more than a talent for learning; the ability to quickly and easily synthesize information. We are all capable of learning - only for some of us it comes easier than others. But easier doesn't necessarily mean better. We get what we work for. And talent alone can only take you so far - effort will take you a whole lot further.

By the way, Badmephisto, I recently saw your videos on youtube. I would definitely say you have a talent for communicating, and that you put a lot of effort into making videos that were informative, concise, and readily understood. I wonder if you are considering a career in education - you would be a great teacher.
 

Dene

Premium Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2007
Messages
6,909
Likes
55
WCA
2009BEAR01
YouTube
masterNZ
#14
I would argue against that Mr. Hardwick. I sing to almost everything I listen to. I love to sing to myself, I mean, you can't really hear yourself properly so it doesn't matter how bad you sound, but I definitely cannot sing, no matter how much I "practise".
I think for now I will stick with my own theory that intelligence can only be described as subject-specific, but then one point that arises, is those people who excel in many subjects, with a lack of effort (as described by badmephisto). These people surely, not only have a greater capacity for learning, but a very quick reaction to their environments. Perhaps it could be argued that such a quality is also a part of "intelligence".
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2007
Messages
263
Likes
0
#15
I don't think you can measure "intelligence" by someone's success or failure, because you would have to factor in the amount of effort applied to achieve that success. At any rate, it doesn't really matter - the end result (which is a combination of effort and talent) is all that really counts.

Furthermore, people who are highly talented (or intelligent) in one area, tend to be less so in others. One of my sons is considered highly intelligent. He easily excelled in school and readily understood (even at a very young age) concepts that I struggled with. But at the same token, he's the only person I know who could fall *UP* the stairs. There are a lot of "common sense" things that he just doesn't get.

My other son, who is considered of normal or average intelligence, is much more grounded. School wasn't as easy for him as it was for his brother, but my younger son has an uncanny ability to read people. Generally, his instincts are more on target than his brother's.

Both of my sons are wonderful and amazing, and I adore them. They each have their own special abilities, and I value them both for who *they* are. I'm fortunate that they are very close, and it's nice to see that they each use their individual strengths to help the other.
 
Joined
Mar 18, 2006
Messages
783
Likes
0
WCA
2007CHAN07
YouTube
Einstakonan
#16
Ok so I'm just a little guy compare to you guys, but I guess environment has to do something with intelligence as well. Well, may be not exactly intelligence, but the way that the person develops their potential.

Imagine a 21st century baby, put into the time machine, and then sent back into the stone ages. That baby will only be as "intelligent" or advance as the people that are in that era. He's not going to invent a computer, or write books on Math, just because he was born in 21st century. Strip away our technology, and we're all the same, whether it is the past, present, or future.

The environment that the baby/child is exposed to is crucial, since those periods are the times where kids get their brain "programmed", isn't it?

There are probably stories of how some kid shows a lot of interests since young. Such as a child who likes to do drawing, or singing, compare to other activities. But if the baby was "interrupted", say in the adult takes away those pencils and crayons and paper for drawing, and ask/force the baby to do something else, then...the baby will cry or something (but then will lose interest after they stop letting the baby draw?).

Some abilities are considered "smarter" than other abilities. Some people are more into the arts--singing, acting, drawing, dancing, playing music, making jokes, writing stories--while others are more scientific--doing math, writing programs, learning formulas/concepts. Then there's people that can play games very well (what kind of intelligence is that? I assume games can help with hand eye coordination (motor skills), developing certain part of the brain, etc). People often think of "geek" as the more scientific intelligence, probably because they are more abstract, compare to drawing that can be appreciated, jokes that can be laughed, dancing that can be awed, singing that can be listened to, stories we can read.

One can have a debate on which intelligence is more important. I mean, as if drama or movies can ever solve the world's problems, right? It's those unsung scientist who spend hours to figure out the solution, discovering new knowledge, changing the way we live? But is arguable that the arts have inspired the science--movies that create inspirational concepts that was eventually explored by science and made into a reality.

On the other hand, if everyone really reach their full potential and have occupations like lawyers, businessman, scientist, movie stars, etc, who's going to be the one working in the factory, or the one cleaning up the garbage, the one building those buildings ? Is it fair to say that people that are in those occupations have lesser intelligence? I've heard of a story that a bodyguard had an IQ of 190 something, and when asked why he was a bodyguard, he said because he likes it. Or perhaps that's what they want to do? Perhaps they were in a bad circumstance in the childhood, their family too poor to afford to get an education?

The world is already growing so fast because more and more people are able to reach their potential and do their part to contribute, rather than just a few "elites" that discovers everything in the past. More people searching = more chances it will be found.

Ok I think I was just blabbering random things xD
 
Last edited:

Dene

Premium Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2007
Messages
6,909
Likes
55
WCA
2009BEAR01
YouTube
masterNZ
#17
Ok, I'm going to have to burst your uneducated bubble just a bit (sorry!).

Imagine a 21st century baby, put into the time machine, and then sent back into the stone ages. That baby will only be as "intelligent" or advance as the people that are in that era. He's not going to invent a computer, or write books on Math, just because he was born in 21st century. Strip away our technology, and we're all the same, whether it is the past, present, or future.
Ok, I'm going to quickly define "stone age" as going back to before homo sapiens existed, in which case this is so very wrong. I will be lenient, in this case, and just assume we are talking about earlier homo sapiens, in which case you are still wrong. It is theorised (with no great evidence) that going back even 50,000 years, humans back then did not have the brain capacity that we currently do. A baby put into an earlier era, would certainly not live up to the potential that they would if brought up in our time, but the baby would far exceed the capabilities of those 50,000 years ago. One thing you have to remember is that evolution is still working even today. People are being born more intelligent.

The environment that the baby/child is exposed to is crucial, since those periods are the times where kids get their brain "programmed", isn't it?
Right, but as above, we do seem to be smarter now than we were back then.

There are probably stories of how some kid shows a lot of interests since young. Such as a child who likes to do drawing, or singing, compare to other activities. But if the baby was "interrupted", say in the adult takes away those pencils and crayons and paper for drawing, and ask/force the baby to do something else, then...the baby will cry or something (but then will lose interest after they stop letting the baby draw?).
I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make here, but what you have described is to do with temperament, in the qualities of distractibility/persistence. This is not restricted just to babies, and is a quality that stays throughout your whole life. What you have described is a persistent child, who will not easily get distracted from their task (whatever they're doing) and if you try to stop them they will make their point heard (lol). I personally wish I was more persistent, but nevermind...

But is arguable that the arts have inspired the science--movies that create inspirational concepts that was eventually explored by science and made into a reality.
I strongly disagree with this. I challenge anyone to find any "inspirational" art that is not based on the work of great philosophers of the intellectual revolution. Script writers and artists and whatever just steal their ideas, and portray them in a more "creative" way. Of course, the ideas seem new, but that is because, as you described, the philosophers are the "unsung" geniuses... I'm fairly certain no science is based on the idea of an inspirational movie.

I don't really have evidence to back up some of what I've said, but I haven't made up any of it, I will have learnt it at some stage during my education.

So yea, I won't bother saying anything about whatever else you said, they didn't seem particularly relevant to my point. Any objections, I'm open to hear!
 
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Messages
837
Likes
13
YouTube
badmephisto
#19
Harris, it seems like you are talking about types of intelligence, which is one direction you can go in, but actually i like much more the definition that someone already hinted at in this topic:

Intelligence, in short, has to do directly with information processing. It is the ability to make most out of the information you are given. That includes understanding all connections that new knowledge has to your previously acquired knowledge, the ability to identify the particularly important bits of information (since we must discard most of what we perceive, otherwise we have no place for storing all that information in our (finite) brains", and most importantly, effective application of your knowledge, or the ability to LEARN.

unless we agree on the definition we can't really discuss it's implications :)
This is why I like math & logic so much. Everything has a precise definition, and everyone knows what they are talking about. Whenever I talk with some of my friends who are in philosophy, if we get deep into debate, we often find that we just disagree on the terms we used past 30 minutes. Although I must say it makes for a perfect escape route :), if the other guy is much better debater than you, just pick the last word of his last sentence, and ask him to DEFINE it :) You can go on like this forever.
 
Top