On Intelligence

A discussion was had the other day, in the plus of G about Intelligence.

What makes a man smart?

I am not smart. I will tell you what I do.

Read. When I was young, my father showed me the back of the Atari cartridge while he was on the phone and said "If you just read those directions, they will tell you what to do."


I have read voraciously ever since.

Listen and Think. David Mamet wrote in Heist "I tried to imagine a fella smarter than myself. Then I tried to think, "what would he do?""

Stop and Think.  Here's a secret. You rarely make decisions based of thought. You often make decisions based off emotions and rationalize them later.

Avoid Dogma. Dogma is literally the opposite of thinking. It is avoiding thought, and becoming subservient to the will of another person, religion, or organization.There are many heinous consequences of dogma, and the desire to lose yourself to it is quite strong.
When you "pick a side", then you cease to be concerned with the facts, and only become concerned about winning. Science is not something to follow, it is simply a series of steps performed that allow us to prove that something happens. That is useful.

Be Skeptical. Primary education is about enforcing the Status Quo. Schools are interested in producing a taxpayer base that can read, write, do basic math, and follow directions. Do more than that.

Question Everything.  Most importantly, what you already think you know. Does your source have an agenda? If they aren't independent, don't believe (i.e. think without proof) anything they say. Are you living in a filter bubble?


  1. Amusingly, you should definitely be skeptical of what it said on the back of cartridges. I'm a little young to have owned an Atari, but everything on the back of NES carts was a goddamned lie.

  2. The atari cartridges had instructions printed on the literal back of the physical cartridge.

    1. That's a good idea, since kids are not good at not losing manuals.

      NES carts just said stuff like "Do not clean with alcohol." Which, as I indicated, is a goddamned lie.

  3. Great article, recently had a discussion on the diference between intelligence and wisdom, as well as stupidity vs ignorance.

  4. There are some good thoughts there -C.

    I see intelligence as being in three forms: the intelligent, the clever, and the smart.

    - Intelligent people know shit.
    - Clever people know how to do shit.
    - Smart people know when to do shit (and when not to).

    I have above average intelligence (according to aptitude tests) but am neither clever or smart. I have a head full of useless trivia but am in awe of people who are clever or smart.

    Many people are strong in one area, some have strengths in two of these areas, a small percentage of people are blessed in all three. And sadly some are simply weak in all three. A person of average intelligence who is both very clever and smart is going to do much better in life than a person who is just very intelligent.

    Sometimes I see these three categories in D&D with Magic-Users, Thieves and Clerics, and their respective need for using their heads.


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