“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I stumbled on this comment and I was taken by the profound philosophy behind this quote. It subtly mocks at our society’s steadfastness to measure ones abilities through standardization. I would rather say everybody has a talent and the quest is to identify and cultivate that talent! It’s a different proposition whether you end up a Genius or not. So where is the first place in our life where we all get a taste of our talents and abilities? School ?
Were you a straight A student in School. I was definitely not. I was a Straight B student with a sprinkling of A’s here and there. I admit it always felt good to see an A grade on my Report Card. The Straight A students are all hyped and generally labeled as super intelligent. However most of our school curriculum focuses on the standard subjects and if you bring sports, music, inter personal skills, intra personal skills, leadership skills in to the picture performance in school was not a general indicator of how well the so called intelligent students performed later on in their careers. Good performance in school is a sufficient condition but not a necessary condition for future success. The Performance in school is mostly all about academic intelligence which is more in tune with the concept of General Intelligence. But there are outliers a student who is remarkably good in one subject can be exceedingly poor in another. You can be a Rock Star in Mathematics but be a pauper when it comes to language skills. History had such Prodigies who were so gifted one dimensionally like the famed mathematician Ramanujam. This brings to the fore how exactly we define intelligence?
Human Intelligence is the intellectual capacity of humans, which is characterized by perception, consciousness, self-awareness, and volition. Through their intelligence, humans possess the cognitive abilities to learn, form concepts, understand, apply logic, and reason, including the capacities to recognize patterns, comprehend ideas, plan, problem solve, make decisions, retaining, and use language to communicate. Intelligence enables humans to experience and think.
General Intelligence can be defined as our ability to reason, problem solve, decide, learn & act successfully in the pursuit of your valued goals.
David Wechsler – the creator of the most widely used psychometric IQ test, the WAIS – defined intelligence as: The global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally and to deal effectively with his environment.
Human Intelligence has so many components to it as mentioned but many psychologists tried to take the bull by the horn and came up with a wide variety of tests to measure Human Intelligence. A fancy word Intelligence Quotient was introduced to define each person’s intelligence with a unique number. It has been argued that generally people with higher academic achievement have a higher IQ score. All people with such credentials like MD’s, JD’s, and PHD’s are bracketed in that category. The precursor for all the IQ tests has to do with the G factor of intelligence proposed by a British psychologist Charles Spearman who argued that one dominant general intelligence factor (also called the G factor), that governs all cognitive abilities. He after comparing the scores of grade school students for score correlations across several subjects and noting that individual students routinely scored within the same ranges across the subjects. This apparent correlation led him to the conclusion that each individual possessed a basic ability intelligence level. Not everybody agrees. Some claim that there are multiple intelligence factors, which are more or less independent. According to these scientists, a person could for example be very good at math, but very bad in memory related tasks.
If we agree with the G theory of intelligence it follows that a guy who is good in Mathematics is good in understanding Roman Literature. Strangely I cannot agree with the G theory of Intelligence as it really fails to explain how a person who is hailed a Genius in one field area fails to pass the test as even moderately accomplished in another area. Remember I quoted the example of Indian Mathematician Ramnujam and even Einstein the quintessential Genius was also a one dimensional Genius. How about Sports Starts Messi who is hailed as a Football Genius but I wonder where he would fall when he takes an IQ test. The IQ test does not have any means to ascertain his sporting abilities. Similarly great Musicians and Singers abilities cannot be gauged by the IQ tests. That’s why I am a big fan of the multiple intelligence theory proposed by Howard Gardner who breaks down Intelligence into nine types.
Linguistic intelligence: the ability to read, write, listen and speak;
Spatial intelligence: the ability to orient yourself in space;
Logic-mathematical intelligence: the ability to calculate, solve logical puzzles, reason and think scientifically;
Musical intelligence: the ability to sing, play a musical instrument, analyze music and compose music;
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: the ability to move your body in a coordinated way, for example in dance, sports or surgery.
Interpersonal intelligence: the ability to understand and interpret verbal and nonverbal behavior of others;
Intrapersonal intelligence: the ability to reflect on your own actions and to understand them.
Naturalist intelligence: the ability to recognize and categorize objects in the natural world;
Existential intelligence: the ability to determine your own position with regards to existential features of the human existence, such as death and the meaning of life.
The theory of multiple intelligences though at odds with the idea of G factor does justice to the multi-dimensional aspect of intelligence. All the great geniuses of mankind showed their intellect in one area of human Intelligence. Leonardo Vinci was one of a kind who was multi-faceted and a showcase example for a multi-dimensional genius.
Think of a person who has the abilities of Shakespeare, Neil Armstrong, Isaac Newton, Mozart, Pele , Bradman, Sigmund Freud, Gautama Buddha combined who represent the various facets as described in the multiple intelligence theory such a person I hail as a Super Genius!!