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Author Topic: Intelligence and Quickness
Lisa
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I invented a game. Two games, actually, and I want to market them. And they're strategy games, so I figured that getting the Mensa MindGames stamp would help sell them. And because non-members aren't guaranteed a place at this shindig, I decided to take the Mensa test.

This was a few weeks ago. The guy proctoring the test said some things that got me thinking, and a conversation last night with my sister made me think of it again.

He seemed to be defining intelligence as quickness. Getting things faster. And all of the tests were timed, so clearly Mensa seems to think this as well.

But I'm not so sure. If two people are both intelligent enough to figure out the answer to a question, does it make one of them more intelligent if he can reach that answer in a shorter time? Both of them have it over someone who can't reach the answer at all, right?

My father and I have bantered almost all my life. Certainly since I was a teenager. And it often (not quite as much as it used to) flies past my Mom and my brother and sisters. But they're all really smart. It's only the speed thing.

This is one of the reasons I've always mocked Mensa and people who join it (and why I defensively explain that I only took their test because I want to sell games); because the whole idea of measuring intelligence seems kind of unworkable. Too much depends on definitions that don't really have so much in the way of underpinnings.

So... how do you define intelligence? Is it speed? Is it creativity even if the speed is lacking? Is it something that can be defined in any meaningful way?

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brojack17
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whut ar u talkin bout?
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aspectre
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"how do you define intelligence?"

Being smart enough to recognise that Mensa is composed of the none-to-bright.

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BlackBlade
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Well I can see how speed would be a result of solving something in the most effective manner.

But for example if two people are working out a maze I don't think speed necessarily dictates intelligence as there is certainly an element of chance in a maze and one of the people was just luckier to have chosen left rather then right in one instance.

However I do think in a game of speed chess, intelligence definitely enhances speed.

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
"how do you define intelligence?"

Being smart enough to recognise that Mensa is composed of the none-to-bright.

I can diss Mensa myself, thanks. I've had years of both practice and examples.
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ReikoDemosthenes
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I tend to think intelligence is a compilation of one's ability to see an answer, solution, conclusion for a given scenerio and the knowledge that a person has. I tend to think that in the long run, speed is less important. It is useful, to be sure, and in certain situations necessary, but I do not see it as one of the requisites for intelligence.

(As a side note, I have a prof who says he once joined a group in the UK called Densa.)

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Lisa
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Intelligence may enhance speed, but is speed an indicator of intelligence?
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Lisa
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Densa.
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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
Intelligence may enhance speed, but is speed an indicator of intelligence?

I think it depends on the question.

I think of that situation like this:

I took a music theory class freshman year. Part of it was figuring out key signatures, writing scales, you know, stuff like that. Our quizzes and our midterm were timed per page, so you'd have maybe a minute and a half to go through eight whatever the questions were.

I got just over a fifty on the midterm.

Not because I didn't know the theory but because I suck at rote memorization. I KNOW all of those things. I just have to work them out in my own way. So I only got about half the problems done per page, but the ones I finished were all perfect.

Am I stupid at theory? No. I'm stupid at memorizing stupid stuff that, were I actually playing in X key signature, I'd figure out naturally and very quickly through sight-reading.

So depending on the subject, quickness COULD be an indicator of skill. Or it could be an indicator of something else. I remember hearing that a lot of parents think their child has learned to read when in fact he/she has just memorized a book that has been read to him/her many times.

-pH

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Nighthawk
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For example, I have to think intelligence is related to programming in that, given sufficient time, any given programming task can be accomplished through code by even the most novice of programmers. Granted, your program might take a year to write and a decade to run, or it might do the exact same thing in seconds, but the end result is the same. In that sense, I consider intelligence more like efficiency.

Also, I consider retention a big part of intelligence, and that's something that the Mensa tests lack. People who are truly intelligent are bastions of useless information, which makes them better at trivia contests for instance.

Yes, I admit I *was* a Mensa member until I stopped paying. Apparently I turned stupid that day.

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aspectre
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"The one thing that all expertise theorists agree on is that it takes enormous effort to build these [expert] structures in the mind. Simon coined a psychological law...which states that it takes approximately a decade of heavy labor to master any field."
Having previously taken the time to make the effort to gain expertise, ie rapid pattern recognition, enhances speed.

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The Pixiest
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The sole criteria for being intelligent is the ability to get and laugh at my bad jokes.
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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
Intelligence may enhance speed, but is speed an indicator of intelligence?

No. Intelligenge is a comparative measure of the skills certain people have in certain areas. Speed is a measure of how quickly you can do a problem, not how thoroughly you understand it.
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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Intelligence may enhance speed, but is speed an indicator of intelligence?
As pH said, I think it can be but isn't necessarily. It depends on what you're talking about learning.

Certainly speed is an advantage. If you can count to ten in 5 seconds and it takes me a week, I think it's safe to say you're smarter when it comes to counting than I am.

Anecdote time: One of my closest friends from college and I had all our upper-division electrical engineering classes together (two+ years worth). We co-TA'd a few labs, and he was the vice-president of IEEE (I was el presidente).

I was constantly amazed at his retention. The new semester would start and, come review time, he still had all the concepts and formulas at his fingertips. As clear as if we'd just covered them. I, on the other hand, started each semester in a haze, with almost no solid recollection of the things we'd learned previously. Other than a semi-solid conceptual knowledge of them.

On the other hand: he was constantly amazed at the speed with which I comprehended new stuff, as well as reacquainted myself with old stuff. By the time the teacher was through explaining the basic concept I was halfway through the homework problems. I could skip weeks of class and catch up with a few example problems and an hour with the text.

That's the way I am with everything. If you ask me if I know calculus, I'll probably say 'no'. But if you bring me your book, I'll read it and figure out the solution. I just relearn it as I need it (this is just an example of what I do with people I tutor -- I use this method for everything, though).

The analogy we came up with was that he had a bigger hard drive, but I had a faster processor.

Is one of those characteristics better than the other? No idea. There have certainly been times where I've wished my retention was better. But I wouldn't want to sacrifice any comprehension for that (nor can I afford to -- I'm getting dumber by the day!). There are people who have both in spades (several regulars here, for instance).

But I figure everyone has their own talents, and their own burdens, so it all works out in the end.

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Icarus
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Good topic.

By pretty much all measures except speed, I am very intelligent. But I know I am not very quick. The thing is, I can fake it pretty well. For instance, I can do calculations with rather large numbers in my head in far less time than most people, but really, I am not doing the straightforward calculations more quickly than other people are. If I were to do the calculations in a straightforward manner, they would take me longer. Instead, I have come to have a large number of learned shortcuts, things like using the distributive property to multiply faster, or repeated halving or doubling to divide or multiply by powers of two, or halving and multiplying by ten to multiply by five. So I seem extremely quick when what I am is efficient.

But I can tell the difference conversationally, where other people are just so much more quick-witted than I am.

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pH
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Note: I CAN memorize a lot of things if they are put to really annoying song.

I still remember when we had to memorize grammar definitions word-for-word in fourth grade...and I memorized them all to the Gilligan's Island theme.

o/' The predicate of a seeeentence tells what the subject does or is....a verb is a word that tells about action or state of being... o/'

-pH

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Zeugma
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Wow, that Scientific American article was an awesome read.

quote:
Instead of perpetually pondering the question, "Why can't Johnny read?" perhaps educators should ask, "Why should there be anything in the world he can't learn to do?"
Indeed!
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Bob_Scopatz
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Lisa,

I highly recommend reading The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould -- if you haven't already. You are hitting on some of the same things he does, but he's got a lot of info on the historical perspectives and the great push to "measure intelligence" in the first place.

It's a fascinating read.

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Euripides
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If you thought Mensa was exclusive, check out Giga. They will only take you if you score within the top 0.0000001% percentile.

Too bad they still can't design webpages.

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Euripides
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Good luck marketing those games by the way Lisa.
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Synesthesia
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Kabuki mentioned Harvard-Gardner (That's what H-G 9 means, someone who'd score high on all 9 levels of intelligence) which includes kenetic intelligence, verbal, mathmatical, ect.
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Nighthawk
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quote:
Originally posted by Euripides:
If you thought Mensa was exclusive, check out Giga. They will only take you if you score within the top 0.0000001% percentile.

Too bad they still can't design webpages.

Good lord, does that page suck. Why would I want to be with them when I can be stupid, yet aesthetically pleasing?
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JLM
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My MIL has a great story about Mensa.

She happened to be staying in a hotel where there was a Mensa convention going on. While chatting with the receptionist, the receptionist made some derisive comment about the Mensa members' lack of intelligence since they couldn't figure out the door key cards. Sure enough, as my MIL went to her room she saw a Mensa couple arguing frustratedly outside their room attempting several times, unsuccesfully, to get into their room.

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Euripides
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Nighthawk:

Yeah, and apart from the ugliness, the layout breaks.

Check out the source code; he uses CSS to centre stuff, but then goes on to do a tabled layout and piles on heaps of '& nbsp;'s to indent the paragraphs.

This is his website. He can draw too. Amazing.

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Bob_Scopatz
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I want to spray paint graffiti on their website.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Nighthawk:
Also, I consider retention a big part of intelligence, and that's something that the Mensa tests lack. People who are truly intelligent are bastions of useless information, which makes them better at trivia contests for instance.

They tested retention. Short term, at least. First they gave us a 12 minute test. Actually, first, the proctor talked at us for a while, and then we did a 12 minute test. Then he talked a lot more, and then read us a one page thing about drama in ancient Greece. Lots of details.

Then we started the bigger test. Seven sections, each one timed. The seventh was double the size of the others, and it was all questions on specific details of the thing he'd read to us some 40 minutes earlier at that point.

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Euripides:
Good luck marketing those games by the way Lisa.

Thanks.
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Euripides
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quote:
Originally posted by Bob_Scopatz:

I want to spray paint graffiti on their website.

The best we can do (short of spamming/hacking them) is to keep clicking on the link to their website above. That way, when they review their web stats and find that this thread is a major referrer, they'll read the post and see this graemlin:

[Laugh]

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littlemissattitude
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Different people have different ideas of what makes one intelligent, obviously. I got into an argument (not a discussion, because guy I was into it with got horribly exercised about the whole thing) with another class member...interestingly (or maybe not), it was an honors colloquium...over what constitutes intelligence.

The genesis of the argument was that I had called this guy on the fact that he was trying to make an argument in a class discussion simply by throwing out one discrete fact after another, without even attempting to connect them into a coherent whole. He contended that he was more intelligent because he could memorize virtually any fact. My contention was that I am more intelligent because while I have to look up facts...isn't that why God invented books and the Internet? [Smile] ... I can then put them together into a meaningful argument while he could not.

As I recall the course of the argument, he would not back down and I finally just said that if he wanted to think he was more intelligent, that was fine with me; my ego didn't (and doesn't) depend on being the smartest one in the room. His apparently did.

That is why I've never been all that impressed with the Mensa members I've met out here in the real world. I can't speak about the whole membership, because I obviously haven't met all of them, but of the ones I have met the vast majority seem to be very invested in being "the smartest" in any group they are in, and when they get together with another Mensa member or two or three, they've seemed to spend an awful lot of time talking about how cool it is that they are so much smarter than most people. I ran into the same sort of attitude among some of the members of the honor society I was associated with in community college. That sort of thing is really distasteful to me, and in fact, I quit the honor society for awhile because so much of it was going on.

Perhaps my attitiude has to do with the fact that most of my life, again out here in the real world, I have been the smartest person in the room, and that and two bucks will get me a soda at Denny's.

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Euripides
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Please don't attribute man's most important inventions to God. Thanks.
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Bob_Scopatz
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quote:
Perhaps my attitiude has to do with the fact that most of my life, again out here in the real world, I have been the smartest person in the room, and that and two bucks will get me a soda at Denny's.
Yeah...but YOU get free refills!
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littlemissattitude
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quote:
Originally posted by Bob_Scopatz:
Yeah...but YOU get free refills!

Oh, is that how that works, Bob? I was wondering about that. [ROFL]

And, Euripides...can we call it a figure of speech?

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King of Men
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I used to be a MENSA member, but I'm too smart to pay thirty pounds a year for a crappy membership magazine.

On the subject of speed, it seems to me that there do exist cases where getting the right answer quickly is important. In the wild, figuring out which direction to run from the lion, for example. More realistically, job interviews - seconds may not matter, but minutes do. Conversations of any kind - if you have an insightful comment after one minute, people will still listen; in ten minutes, things have moved on. (Or fill in your own numbers if you don't like mine.) Scientific work: There is a major difference between being able to answer questions in a day, and in a week; or between an hour and five hours. (Especially since the probability that someone will interrupt your train of thought is at least linear in time, and then you have to start over.) Although here, experience also matters; this weekend, for example, I'd been struggling to debug some toy Monte Carlo, putting in several hours a day. Then yesterday, my professor shows up and says "How's it going?", and I have to admit it's not so good, because of this, that, and t'other thing. He thinks for two minutes and then says "Well, did you make this plot yet?", and when I do that, the whole problem becomes clear and I've solved it within an hour. That's experience for you!

Any kind of creative work, in fact: Suppose you are an author, and need to figure out what's happening next. If you can do it in an hour, and another guy can do it in a day, times some large number of such problems in a book, that could easily be the difference between discouragement and getting published, or between getting out in time for the Christmas season, and not.

And again, the whole interrupting-the-train-of-thought thing is highly important. Some problems are such that you need to think them through from scratch; so if it's going to take you five hours to find the answer - well, how many of us have five un-interrupted hours available for thinking? While if you can get the right answer in one hour, that's much more doable. If the difference is even larger, that could be the difference between being able to do it at all, and not. Even if the difference is fairly small if you assume un-interrupted thinking time, real life is a large multiplier here. Suppose one guy can do problem X in one hour, and another guy needs two, and the probability of interruption each minute is 1%. Then the first guy has an about 55% chance of getting the answer the first time he sits down to think about it; the other guy, only 30%. Such differences add up quite rapidly.

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Will B
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quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
"how do you define intelligence?"

Being smart enough to recognise that Mensa is composed of the none-to-bright.

This might be a little more convincing without the spelling error.

--

"Intelligence" is a word, and you can define it however you like. Our usual definitions aren't specific enough to say for sure whether speed is a factor. Consider it one if you want to.

I would consider it to be a factor. All other things being equal, if Tom figures out the problem in a minute and Joe takes several hours, Tom seems brighter to me.

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Tyler
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quote:
Originally posted by Nighthawk:
quote:
Originally posted by Euripides:
If you thought Mensa was exclusive, check out Giga. They will only take you if you score within the top 0.0000001% percentile.

Too bad they still can't design webpages.

Good lord, does that page suck. Why would I want to be with them when I can be stupid, yet aesthetically pleasing?
dear lord that is the most horrid site i've ever seen. and the cheesiest little acronym. wow. i feel stupider having visited that sight.
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Euripides
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Tyler mate, it's a site.

[Laugh]
quote:
Main goal of Giga Society is to reward high-scoring performers for their contribution to the study of the measurability of high intelligence...
[Edit: Ok, I'm over this Giga thing now.]

[ December 06, 2006, 12:23 AM: Message edited by: Euripides ]

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ricree101
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I'm not sure that intelligence is something that can be quantified easily.

Certainly, I'd say that speed can be a factor, but as others have pointed out, it is far from the only one. Besides the scope of one's knowledge and ability to make connections, there's also the question of context.

For example, how intelligent is someone who is really good at working with and understanding other people, but isn't all that great at physics. How about a good strategist whose math skills don't stand out. Intelligence is one of those things that is often a lot easier to recognize than it is to actually give any sort of meaningful measure.
Really, any way you go about testing for it is going to unsatisfactory in some way. The best you can do is pick some particular aspects of intelligence and use those.

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Tyler
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quote:
Originally posted by Euripides:
Tyler mate, it's a site.

[Laugh]
quote:
Main goal of Giga Society is to reward high-scoring performers for their contribution to the study of the measurability of high intelligence...
[Edit: Ok, I'm over this Giga thing now.]
its just, i always assumed someone with high intellegence would learn how to do elementry website design, as like, a reflection of said intellegence. haha, mostly im just amused by it. and the, yes, humorous things they say along those lines.
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Euripides
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Sorry to be snarky, but I was actually referring to the fact that you wrote 'sight' as opposed to 'site'.
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aspectre
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recognise sight
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Tyler
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quote:
Originally posted by Euripides:
Sorry to be snarky, but I was actually referring to the fact that you wrote 'sight' as opposed to 'site'.

oh geez im sorry. haha. i feel like a dork.

i just type as im thinking, and sometimes spelling doesn't really pop out. i rarely even look at what i type. haha.

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aspectre
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The use of 'sight' was perfectly valid by definitions 6, 7, and 8.
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Tyler
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quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
The use of 'sight' was perfectly valid by definitions 6, 7, and 8.

you know what... yeah! thats right!

you kids, trying to tell my grammer. pshh.

wow, i just you kids and more likely then not...

hah.

i dont know if being correct by accident is really ... i dont know. helpful?

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Eduardo St. Elmo
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IMO the best sign of intelligence is a willingness to learn, even if the information seems trivial and/or impractical. The ease with which one learns new skills or ingests new knowledge has to do with your natural interest in the subject area.
For example, I'd have no problem remembering trivial info about 70's rockbands, but it would be much harder for me to study calculus. But while I'd still be able to eventually understand the calculus, I'll never know the technical aspects of a car engine. The sole reason being that I really don't want to know.
People who do not excell at school can suddenly show an uncanny ability to remember things when it's a subjects that's close to their hearts.
Finally I'd like to say that I totally agree with lma's above statement that it's not so much the amount of facts that you've stored in your head, but your ability to tie them together into a form that makes sense.

But then again, what do I know?

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
recognise
This isn't the misspelling he was referring to.
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KarlEd
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quote:
Originally posted by Euripides:

This is his website. He can draw too. Amazing.

Can anyone say "conceited"? How about "pretentious"? The man's splash page is a collage of photos of his own face.

From the site:
quote:
intelligence. actually the most valuable human characteristic. civilization basis. evolution factor which promotes progress and discloses unknown prospects. a multi-dimensional entity, not yet thoroughly described and recognized. i define intelligence as the reasoning and cognitive process, the multiplicity and complexity of a logic-based thinking, as the cognition and perception ability and speed.
[Roll Eyes]
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Bob_Scopatz
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I vote we send Pelegius there to infiltrate the organization!
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Euripides
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So I couldn't help myself.

Dr. Katsioulis wins the following awards:
  • Most thinly veiled public display of narcissism.
  • Personal website with the most photographs of the author looking skyward.
  • Most blatant use of membership badges as status symbols, and of army snapshots as evidence that the author is also a Renaissance man in the physical sphere.
  • Most prodigious use of the Photoshop feather feature.
  • Most third person references to self.
  • Most elaborate table of autobiographical information.

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Olivet
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You know, I have been able to remember huge amounts of information most of my life without even trying. It was a helpful oddity in school, but often a hindrance in the workplace.

The thing that I have found to be most beneficial in my life is something that you cannot truly measure: Intuition.

You know, that moment when some stray bit of knowledge or experience slips into something truly useful.

Anecdote: I used to work in a governemnt office house in a dank basement. Before office hours, we would sometimes prop the side door open for a bit of fresh air from the alley (it would blow down the stairwell). One spring morning, a songbird flew in, and pandemoniun ensued. People waving their arms trying to chase the bird out. Poor thing was panicked.

I suddenly knew how to get the bird out, but no one listened to me. So I did it myself. I went to the stock room and hit the breaker, cutting out all the lights. The bird flew to to an exit light, and I shooed it away. Then it flew out the door, and turned the lights back on.

My supervisor asked me how I knew that would work. I didn't know but I did know. Nothing I could point to specifically from study, just casual observation of the way birds act, and knowing this was not a noctournal bird.

If somebody had given me word problem with that scenario on it, I probably would not have come up with that solution, but being there and seeing the situation, I just knew what to do.

It's no great leap of intelligence, mind you, but I was barely 20 and very sheltered (which was probably why no one expected me to know what to do).

Intuition requires a certain amount of intelligence to be effective, but I believe it is more intrinsically valuable in day-to-day life than high I.Q. scores.

Of course, I could be wrong. [Smile]

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Lisa
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There was a guy I went to high school with... actually, we were in day camp together when we were 11, and overnight camp when we were 12. We belonged to the same synagogue and went to the same high school.

He had an annoying, nasal voice, and even back when we were 12, he was all about showing people how smart he was. I'm sure he joined Mensa as soon as he was able to, and I know he was a member when we were in high school. I think I may first have heard of them from him, and I wouldn't be surprised if my negative opinion of them started with this guy.

I, on the other hand, looked at being smart as a major pain. It meant my parents going on about "wasted potential", and being made fun of for being a "brain" by anyone who found out. Looking back at it now, I realize how much easier it probably made school for me, but at the same time, it also crippled me by taking away any real need for me to learn how to work at learning. I'm a much lazier person than I would have been, probably, had I been further left on the bell curve.

But anyway, the irony was that he and I were two of 6 National Merit Finalists in our school, and I was one of the 3 National Merit Scholars. He wasn't. My class rank my senior year was 30 out of 60. He was 31. He scored about 10 points less than I did on the SATs. And so on. It totally infuriated him, because he cared about that stuff, and he knew quite well that I didn't.

Back then, the SATs were essentially an IQ test. In fact, I didn't actually have to take the Mensa test, it turns out, because they accept SAT scores up to about 1990 or 1992 (the proctor wasn't sure which), which was the point at which they changed the nature of the test. Any test score from back then over 1280 or so would get me in, and I beat that the first time I took the SATs.

Here's the thing, though. I dropped out of Electrical Engineering into Arts and Sciences because the EE was too hard for me. My little brother, who probably scored in the 1000s or low 1100s on his SATs, graduated one of the cum laudes in EE. Then he went to law school (again, with LSAT scores nowhere near mine), and blasted through there like a pro. He's a patent attorney, and he's both smart and fast. He was a lawyer when I was still a secretary at a small college. But our test scores put me above him, which makes no sense to me.

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