Sunday, September 04, 2005


Intelligence II

So why is intelligence over-rated? Well, to start with, let me acknowledge some of the cool things about being smart . . . for starters, intelligence means you are never out of work, unless you want to be, and you can be fantastically successful at your job, especially if you are like me and chronically underemployed. Come to think of it, my whole intelligent family is underemployed . . . .

If intelligence is nicely spread out among several different areas (as outlined by Howard Gardner), then it has the benefit of making a guy all-around interesting, able to converse at length on many different topics, able to build a deck, tune a motorcycle, and promote teamwork and harmony among his co-workers. Intelligence also tends to minimize fear, as most fear arises from the unknown and the unknown is just a book waiting to be read when no subject is considered unknowable. I'm serious, that's the kind of parents I had growing up - it didn't matter what the project was, it only took the right book and a free weekend and they were happily making stained glass, or making jewelry, or building a harpsichord, or making lampshades, or learning about the Egyptian Pyramids, or identifying new bird species. My brother built the gorgeous house he lives in, my sister just got done remodeling a house she bought as a repo, my Dad is sharp as ever and is limited only by the physical as to what project he tackles. I have my own bag of tricks I've accumulated over the years with a dab of welding, engine rebuilding, carpentry, EMT training, electrical, and an odd assortment of arcane knowledge accumulated from a couple hundred college credits in the areas of anthropology, chemical engineering, life science and teaching culminating in a sort of intellectual arrogance that I could build a fighter plane from scratch if I just had the right book and a free weekend . . . .

So what's not to love about intelligence? Well this is my view (and just my view, open to debate):

These are just a few downsides to intelligence - I'll add more as time goes on. As I strive towards my apex I will still be working towards improving my intelligence - but it will definitely be more in the areas of mastering the guitar or building a canoe than improving my vocabulary or re-visiting calculus.

I've had to think about your statement for quite some time, (being a slow thinker.) Is it not a sensitive heart and not intelligence which lets you down?

Intelligence is something which I question daily while working with disabled individuals. I have this one child who most would consider a vegetable but I see as a teacher of love, patience and understanding.

Often, I see individuals, including myself who waste hours, days, or even years doing nothing to benefit others or even ourselves.

So, what is intelligence? Does it have a purpose?
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