Saturday, January 23, 2016

Levels of Intelligence

Intelligence level 1:
Everyone's so smart! I can't possibly match the mental firepower I see all around me. There's so much to learn!

Intelligence level 2:
I easily spot people's stupidity; therefore I am smart. The dumber people appear to me, the smarter I feel. Over time I come to feel very smart indeed.

Intelligence level 3:
Everyone's an idiot. Alas, no one more than me.

Intelligence level 4:
Everyone's an idiot. No one more than me. Wheee!


I've never met a truly intelligent person who felt superior. In fact, superiority is the very mark of stupidity (ala level 2).

#2 can't learn, because learning requires feeling dumb. #3 has potential, but they're weighed down by their skewed perspective. The only levels that learn much are #1 and #4. And, in fact, slow-minded people may learn better than anyone.

Speaking of which, here's a story from (I think) the Hindu Vedas:
Centuries ago, a teacher told his class to write the symbol for the number "one" in their tablets. They all duly scrawled a vertical line, save for one student, who sat with chalk poised, thinking deeply. "Just write it!" urged the teacher, but the student was frozen. Over time, the class had moved on to all the other numbers, but this one child remained lost in thought. Eventually, he was expelled for being too stupid to learn.

His family abandoned him, and he lived in the woods for thirty years, meditating and pondering. Finally, he returned to the schoool, naked and bearded, and, seeing his former teacher (now an old man) still in front of the classroom, he strode in, picked up a piece of chalk, and, with a godly sweep of his arm, full of confidence and grace, drew an enormous "1" on the front wall. After an awed moment, the entire school cracked in two along the mark he'd drawn.


Secret Bonus Level:
Intelligence is over-rated as a faculty. Calculation's fine, it helps us build cool things. But the very best stuff - the epiphanies, eurekas, and insights - arrive from somewhere other than linear thought.

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