Intelligence: Where did it go?

midvaleThere was a time long ago, when the word intelligence had a meaning. The man who embodied that meaning was special and unique, a head above the rest. He saw the world differently. He acted upon the world in a way most could not understand.

What is it that intelligence or being smart means to the masses of today? Can one learn smart? Or is it that in today’s world of needed skills, that smart no longer has a function, but that one has differing levels of skills: He is a moderately skilled programmer; he is a highly skilled programmer; he is a dynamic hacker. But is it not that once we enter the world of the highly skilled man that we can begin to see intelligence at work? At what point does man just zero in on his skill, elevate his skill in one area? Why can he not use the determination it takes to reach high skill levels to see the world around him?

If I am highly skilled, am I also intelligent, or smart? Can one be stupid and still highly skilled?

If everyone nowadays says that his 18 month old babies are “so smart,” what does that mean exactly? If we looked at the report card of a third grader and saw that he had all d’s in his subjects, was constantly in the principal’s office, but constantly questioned all those around him, especially when it came to the subject matter they tried to enforce upon him, would he be considered smart? What about the fifth grade student that is overweight, watches television all the time, but can be relied upon to never disrupt his class or his home life? Is he smart? How about the college girl who takes 18 credit hours a semester, receives all A’s, studies her subject matter intensely, but never thinks for herself, applies actual reasoning to thinking through life? Is she smart.

What is it that consists in smart? What makes someone smart? Is it blended with success in some way? How does one become smart, and if they become smart, do they forever remain so, even if they do not perform basic smart upkeep tasks? Why is it that people become so offended when they are called stupid? Or not smart? Or illogical? Its like calling a fat guy fat? Why does he get mad? I mean he is fat right? Or why do people think retarded is a profanity? Retards are retarded? Retardation is a suboptimal learning disorder. We all can’t use our minds to the fullest can we? People will get emotional over all sorts of put downs, from: You suck at sports (even if they do suck at sports); stutterer (even if they do stutter); slow, bad cook, over emotional, non thinker, ugly, lazy…etc. People just don’t like to be called names, even if they cannot explain why they would be the opposite of the name they were called. He does not say, “Hey, I am not retarded because I do x, y and z smart action.” No, he gets angry, hurls a bunch of non sensical emotional retorts, flails about for a bit, cries, hangs up the phone, but no where does he ever say, “Hey, I am working toward becoming a non-retard, I am slowly building my brain up to be smart!”

If reason is one of the main criteria that separates us from the other species, then shouldn’t man aspire to raise his reason to the highest level possible that he can? What is the deal with the status quo?

Intelligence is no longer here because kids are not taught that it is important. Mimicking obedience is important. Following instructions is important. Watching the television is important. Playing on the computer or the video games is important. Playing sports is important. Being equal is important.

Smart is seeing connections. Intelligence is individual. Genius is asking questions, and getting answers no matter the consequences. Smart is being able to say no. Intelligent is not backing down. Smart is constant reevaluation over whether or not you are stupid, and if so, what is the strategy to get un-stupid. What must you do to become smart? (hint. write. read smart people’s books written in  the times when philosophy flowed, when people questioned what smart really was).

What does smart mean to you?