What makes some people smarter ?

Reply Sun 21 Dec, 2003 07:59 pm
Dunno about potential, at least in comparison to others. I've seen people struggle mightily to stay afloat in elementary college courses, for instance, and, while I admire the pluck, it seems like some people will never be able to learn certain things. They might be able to learn the right answers, but they won't come to know why they're right. And, of course, everybody's got areas in their lives where this is the case...
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Reply Sun 21 Dec, 2003 11:14 pm
Hit yourself on the head: "Ow, that smarts!"
Now hit yourself on the brain: no pain at all.

See? The brain itself has no pain receptors, therefore it never smarts.
So always hit yourself on the head when you can't think quite well enough,
or when you want to think better than you should,
or when thinking just isn't what you thought it might be,
or if you just like the idea of doing something intelligent someday but not just yet,
or something like that.

PS -- Coffee (and other assorted substances) temporarily raise the IQ by 5-10 points. That may not sound like a lot, until you drink 20 cups!
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Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2003 01:35 am
Roberta wrote:
Phoenix, Motivation may make us inclined to learn more, but can we be motivated to increase our intelligence?

I think motivation might just be the most important factor. For instance; I typically score much higher on IQ tests than my sister does. This should mean I'm smarter than she is, right? No way. From the time we were kids she always had her nose in a book and truly enjoyed school to the point of earning two masters degrees and still takes classes to this day. In contrast, I never read a book for the pleasure of it until I was an adult. I hated school and consequently learned only what was required to graduate. For the last ten years I've relished learning and find it a pity that I didn't just learn more of the basics when I was told to. Bottom line: My sister's motivation has resulted in an insatiable appetite for knowledge and barring some form of head trauma I will never catch up. She will remain much smarter than I, despite a supposed disadvantage in terms of potential.

jespah wrote:

Oh and another thing - with intelligence, it's often use it or lose it. Education, sadly, ends at age 18 or 21 or 25 for many people. Why not continue it? It doesn't have to be something wholly unpleasant in order to be intellectually stimulating. If foreign languages don't interest you, learn about art. If that doesn't interest you, read advanced material about science. There are thousands of areas of study out there. The pity isn't in trying and failing; the pity is in failing to pursue any of them.
I couldn't agree with this assessment any more. Even during times when work requires 100% of my attention for extended periods of time, when I resume studying I seem to have a recuperation period where I don't retain facts as easily. The more I learn, the easier it becomes. Pity the side effect is that the more I learn, the less I seem to know. Confused
ebrown_p wrote:
My impression from the research is that after a certain level (i.e. adolescence) people can not learn these skills. Once you are an adult, you either have these skills, or you don't -- and it is unlikely you will ever have themÂ…
...I am uncomfortable with the ideas that people can not get "smarter". As an educator I like to think that anyone can improve with practice. But the reasearch seems to say that this doesn't happen.
I may just be an example of good news for you teacher! I never wanted to learn anything as a kid and now live to soak up knowledge (mostly that I'll never need or use). If I picked up any learning skills as a child it would have been quite by accident. At about 25 years of age a metamorphosis occurred; I suddenly enjoyed learning (or at least trying to). Contrary to popular opinion, the older this dog gets, the easier it becomes. I believe the more information you attempt to decipher, the more adept your brain becomes at solving problems. I really don't see how age is a factor. I'm privileged to know quite a few really smart people and the one attribute they all seem to share is; they don't just have a lock on a single subject of interest (I'll bet you are in this category). They all seem to have a great deal of knowledge on a wide range of topics. I can only assume this is because their minds have become so adept at retaining knowledge that it's become an effortless process. Consequently; I have to assume that until the brain starts to deteriorate, the mind can continue to develop into an ever more capable instrument (at least I hope so because those quantum physics links that you, Adrian and Thomas steered me towards are killing me! :wink: )

One final thought: I have a nephew that is startlingly gifted. He speaks several languages, reads faster than anyone I know and retains practically every word he reads. I attribute this partly to genetics of course but also to the type of home schooling he receives. Each morning my sister asks him; what would you like to learn about today? If he ducks subjects too long she gives him multiple choice options. If ducks one particular subject she asks him when he'd like to study it and gives him options. For this reason, he is always studying something he has chosen to study and the results are staggering. This kid may one day stop the motor of the world. I'm going to go make some coffee! Very Happy
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Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2003 02:35 am
Even "just" non optimal maternal care from birth seems to be able to inhibit intelligence - we are truly social creatures - as well a biological ones.

Abuse or frank neglect? Oy veh! What it does to the brain!

(Boida - is that Mikey?)
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Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2003 06:58 am
Pity the side effect is that the more I learn, the less I seem to know

Occom Bill- They call that WISDOM- I know a lot more than I did when I was younger, but the more I learn, the more I realize how much that I DON'T know.

This reminds me of the old joke about the 21 year old who was talking about his father. He said that when he was 17, he thought that his father was not very smart, but was amazed at how much his father had learned in the last four years! Laughing

I was kicked out of college after my first year. My priorities were all out of whack, and I was not really learning much (academically, that is :wink: ). I returned to college in my thirties, and received both my bachelor's and master's degree.

What totally amazed me, was that school was so much easier for me in my 30's than in my teens. (I entered college at barely 17). There were facts and concepts that I had picked up along the way in life, that I didn't realize that I knew. Where the younger people had to look certain things up, I had the information at my fingertips.

I dove into subjects that I had heretofore avoided. I WANTED to learn. I had the motivation. And that made all the difference.
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Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2003 07:36 am
I think that eBrown was on the right track by suggesting that we need to define intelligence. Knowledge and intelligence are not the same thing. Granted, a person needs a degree of intelligence in order to gain and retain knowledge. But I'm sure that there are a great many people who are very intelligent and who have never had much education.

My concept of intelligence is the ability to understand. The more you are capable of understanding, the more intelligent you are. Then you have to throw in environmental factors, nurturing factors, and emotional factors as well as personal quirks, idiosyncracies, and strangenesses.

Let's use me as an example. I've very smart and very idiosyncratic. My college grades were testimony to my interests, not my intelligence. If I was interested in something, I did very well. I was highly motivated. If I wasn't interested in something, I didn't pay much attention or spend much time studying that subject. One semester I got three A's, a C, and a D. Lack of intelligence? Nope. Just not interested.

Yes, Deb, the new avatar is Mikey the Monster cat.
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