What is intelligence 


Many moons ago we had a discussion here about IQ. After that I wrote to Isaac Asimov and below is his response 🙂

What is intelligence, anyway? 

When I was in the army, I received the kind of aptitude test that all soldiers took and, against a normal of 100, scored 160. No one at the base had ever seen a figure like that, and for two hours they made a big fuss over me.

(It didn’t mean anything. The next day I was still a buck private with KP – kitchen police – as my highest duty.)

All my life I’ve been registering scores like that, so that I have the complacent feeling that I’m highly intelligent, and I expect other people to think so too.

 

Actually, though, don’t such scores simply mean that I am very good at answering the type of academic questions that are considered worthy of answers by people who make up the intelligence tests – people with intellectual bents similar to mine?

For instance, I had an auto-repair man once, who, on these intelligence tests, could not possibly have scored more than 80, by my estimate. I always took it for granted that I was far more intelligent than he was.

 

Yet, when anything went wrong with my car I hastened to him with it, watched him anxiously as he explored its vitals, and listened to his pronouncements as though they were divine oracles – and he always fixed my car.

Well, then, suppose my auto-repair man devised questions for an intelligence test.

 

Or suppose a carpenter did, or a farmer, or, indeed, almost anyone but an academician. By every one of those tests, I’d prove myself a moron, and I’d be a moron, too.

 

In a world where I could not use my academic training and my verbal talents but had to do something intricate or hard, working with my hands, I would do poorly.

 

My intelligence, then, is not absolute but is a function of the society I live in and of the fact that a small subsection of that society has managed to foist itself on the rest as an arbiter of such matters.

Consider my auto-repair man, again.

 

He had a habit of telling me jokes whenever he saw me.

 

One time he raised his head from under the automobile hood to say: “Doc, a deaf-and-mute guy went into a hardware store to ask for some nails. He put two fingers together on the counter and made hammering motions with the other hand.

 

“The clerk brought him a hammer. He shook his head and pointed to the two fingers he was hammering. The clerk brought him nails. He picked out the sizes he wanted, and left. Well, doc, the next guy who came in was a blind man. He wanted scissors. How do you suppose he asked for them?”

Indulgently, I lifted by right hand and made scissoring motions with my first two fingers.

 

Whereupon my auto-repair man laughed raucously and said, “Why, you dumb jerk, He used his voice and asked for them.”

Then he said smugly, “I’ve been trying that on all my customers today.” “Did you catch many?” I asked. “Quite a few,” he said, “but I knew for sure I’d catch you.”

 

“Why is that?” I asked. “Because you’re so goddamned educated, doc, I knew you couldn’t be very smart.”

And I have an uneasy feeling he had something there. 

I don’t care if you agree with him or not.

I have a few questions of mine and there is no gift voucher for the first person who gets all the questions correctly. 

1. How do you put an elephant in a fridge

2. A meeting of all wild animals was called by the king of the jungle, which cunning animal did not show up?

3. You have been sent to the market and you have to cross a crocodile infested river, how do you do it without becoming crocodile’s supper?

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

49 thoughts on “What is intelligence 

  1. Daniela says:

    Hello there and Happy New Year to you!

    I have no idea what might be the correct answers to this questions but I enjoyed reading the post. I always believed that there is no such thing is one universal test that can measure intelligence! Anyhow, here is my attempt to answers:

    1. I guess you must open the door to start with!
    2. Lion!
    3. You swim. Crocodiles are at the meeting!

    Liked by 3 people

    • makagutu says:

      Happy new year Daniela, how nice to read from you. It’s been ages!
      I like your answers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Daniela says:

        It has been ages indeed! I am trying to focus on writing more and have less time for blogging. Still, I sometimes blog and visit my old blogging friends! By the way my daughter loved Kenya and had some wonderful experiances as well as some challenging ones! Hope all is well with you.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          All is well with me.
          I am glad. Most people who come here have great times except maybe losing a necklace or phone, most of the experience is great.
          When do you finish the book you are writing?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Daniela says:

            I am hoping to have it done sometimes this year … as always it is a fine balancing act of finding time! I still keep Lantern going, so will be posting from time to time about it too.

            Like

  2. Tish Farrell says:

    A very happy New Year to you. I love this post. It’s so easy to take ourselves too seriously, and totally miss the actual point. But I would never try to put an elephant in the fridge. I’d take the ferry across the river, but number 2 has got me stumped because I want to say it was Hare who did not turn up, but that’s because I wrote a story about this kind of situation, and we SO love to believe our own stories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carmen says:

    Oh, Mak, I loved that story. I read it to hubby and we both had a good laugh, first thing this morning. (He calls himself a half-assed mechanic, so he really appreciated it)
    Now, to answer those questions.
    1. I wouldn’t
    2. The lion wouldn’t show up. That way he’d have his meal assembled.
    3. I’d take the bridge.
    I am assuming you’re going to give us the answers at some point. (Like a wise teacher)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. shelldigger says:

    If there is one thing I have learned in life it is never under estimate the intelligence of even the dumbest looking hillbilly you have ever seen, nor over estimate your own. Even the daft probably know something you don’t.

    I thought about those questions for a moment. Then cheated with Google 🙂 I won’t post the answers. But, does cheating with Google indicate intelligence?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent post. Some fine wisdom here.

    Like

  6. Ubi Dubium says:

    1. How do you put an elephant in a fridge?

    Open the door, put in the elephant, and close the door.

    2. A meeting of all wild animals was called by the king of the jungle, which cunning animal did not show up?

    The elephant. He’s in the fridge.

    3. You have been sent to the market and you have to cross a crocodile infested river, how do you do it without becoming crocodile’s supper?

    Two answers on this: First, the crocodiles went to the meeting, so it’s safe. Or, go get the elephant you put in the fridge, and ride it across the river.

    Liked by 6 people

    • makagutu says:

      Excellent Ubi.
      I will send you a gift box by holy spirit express.
      Have a great year ahead

      Liked by 2 people

    • koppieop says:

      I knew the answers but I didn’t remember them. Is that a lack of intelligence? I hope not!
      Being a poor swimmer myself, I much prefer the elephant’s solid back. Specially on the trip home, with the market stuff (who knows how long the list was).
      .-
      ..

      Liked by 1 person

      • makagutu says:

        Haha.
        I, too, would love to ride the elephant

        Like

      • Ubi Dubium says:

        Probably not a lack of intelligence, probably just age. Or the fact that we fill our heads so full of this stuff that some of it is bound to leak out.

        The version of the joke I am most familiar with actually starts with “How do you put a giraffe in the fridge?” And then follows up with the question about the elephant. The answer for the elephant then is that you open the door, take out the giraffe, and put in the elephant.

        Liked by 1 person

        • koppieop says:

          A matter of age? Ok. I can perfectly live with that. In addition to … [nothing important, I’m at home, everything is under control!] an enlarged heart and a defective left valve, discovered exactly on my 85th birthday last month, on a routine check….
          .
          The giraffe and the elephant. A similar solution is the one proposed for the problem how do you allow four elephants to travel in a Volkswagen Beetle: Two on the front seats and two in the rear. Please don’t hurry, let them get in one by one…
          .-

          .-

          Liked by 2 people

  7. Haha, good one.
    1. Either kill and cut it into steak size pieces for a garage freezer or you don’t until you build an extra large freezer room.
    2. Lion; he assembled dinner.
    3. Don’t go or find a bridge or boat.

    Interested in your answers. Happy day. 🙂

    Like

  8. This is a fascinating topic- the story is absolutely correct regarding specific knowledge. What it doesn’t address are the systems that allow us to discern the validity of information even when we don’t have specific knowledge- as is the case with Aristotelian logic 🙂

    Like

  9. Brilliant response by Asimov, truly brilliant.

    3. You have been sent to the market and you have to cross a crocodile infested river, how do you do it without becoming crocodile’s supper?

    Answers:
    a) Tell the person who sent you to the market to go screw themselves!
    b) Hire someone else to go to the market.
    c) Build a very high and sturdy bridge over the river.
    d) Shoot a wildebeest, throw it in the river downstream to distract the crocodiles, and swim across the river upstream as fast as you can!
    e) Smoke some marijuana and forget about the whole thing. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Asimov’s response is spot on. I have seen people with (academic) intelligence who can’t direct their own lives. And now to your question:
    1. Turn the elephant to elephant meat.
    2. Baboon – the main opposition leader (google “A Crown for the Baboon and Other Poems”)
    3. African crocs enjoy hot spicy grilled chicken so bribe them with it and hurriedly swim across while they are busy feasting. Any living thing in Africa can easily be bribed. Speaking of chicken I wonder how many were slaughtered this Christmas, and whether us humans are, in a certain sense, chickens in the hands of the “gods.”

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Hello good man
      I think many chicken lost their lives so we may celebrate a myth

      Like

      • Why callest thou me good man? There is none that is good save “the gods.”

        It’s not easy being a chicken. Myth or no myth, eat well and drink well, and let thy ‘soul’ be merry.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          The gods are not good. In the movie god on trial, the Jews say their god was not good, it was on their side.
          We ought to be merry, at least once in our lives

          Like

          • African idea of godism is probably the best that ensures peaceful co-existence. In indigenous Africa, universal gods are considered impotent and far off. Only personal, clan and tribal ones were taken seriously and worshipped. Even a slave was allowed to worship his personal god. You will notice that prior to colonialism Africans fought wars for economic and political reasons but never for religious reasons. The Jewish hegemonic god however, is a very interesting one. He still hasn’t yet procured for them “a peaceful home.” Aside that, am I the only one who thinks it’s funny that a Jew died for the love of Africans?

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            I don’t know whether it is funny or a ridiculous belief. All the same why Africans think a Jew died for them is beyond me

            Like

  11. nannus says:

    Happy new year, Mak! Hope you are fine!

    I like the anecdote with the scissors. Exellent!

    People who are illiterate or have not gone to school long normally fail on the standard type of intelligence tests. They just have another way of thinking. Look for the works of Walter Ong on this topic.

    Like

  12. Real real me says:

    A very interesting post!
    Here are my answers:
    1. Well if we really have to then, I guess a large size fridge needs to be made, or… we could simply put a toy elephant in an ordinary fridge.
    2. The lion of course, so the others would argue badly and possibly kill each others. (The lion would appear at the end to possibly “solve/save” the situation so the remaining animals respect him even more)
    3. This is the hardest one. Perhaps find some material and make a crocodile costume, so the crocodiles would think the person is one of them.

    Like

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