Update and musings!

Hello, random spam and Google indexing bots that are still remaining loyal to my site!

First off, despite what the major media outlets are claiming, I’m not dead.  I am alive and well, kept busy by both work, working on my NaNoWriMo novel, and by the fact that Netflix has just released all five seasons of Chuck for online streaming.  Damn you, Chuck, and your silly everyman approach to being a super-spy.

If you’re wondering about progress on my novel, as I am sure that you all are (thoughts of a search bot: “Yay, he’s writing more stuff for me to index in hopes of coming across a tasty nugget of advertising!”), rest assured that I am meeting and exceeding my word targets.  It is currently day 8, which means that my novel is supposed to be at 13,333 words by the end of the day.

My novel is 20,000 words.  And I’ll work on it more this evening.

Thank you, search bots.  Please, you can stop your electronic beeping.  Is that supposed to be applause?  You should work on that.

However, I don’t just want to talk about all the congratulations that I’m receiving – no, I currently have a different train of thought passing through my mind-station.  And that train is named “The concept of intelligence.”  Weird name for a train, I know.

If people were given the choice of any three qualities or characteristics for them to wish to possess, their choices would likely be something like “Rich, Popular, and Smart.”  Actually, for some people they may replace “Smart” with “Beautiful/Handsome”.  Fine, Smart is in the top four choices.

But saying whether someone is smart or not is quite difficult.  And, surprisingly, I feel that, just like wealth, intelligence is a trait that can be changed – unlike looks, you can work on being smart!

In talking to many people, and reading many accounts on the internet (“See, I’m not just on Reddit to goof off – I’m conducting important sociological studies!”), I’ve seen a tendency for people to consider themselves either “smart” or “dumb”, and usually in a pretty static range.  They point at things like IQ tests, Mensa memberships, grade point averages, or college/job history to prove their intelligence.

I don’t feel that this is a good measure, however, as plenty of Mensa members tend to be arrogant blowhards that could use a couple months with their jaws wired shut.  And at the same time, I’ve heard people who would consider themselves to be “stupid” make surprising flashes of brilliance.  Instead, I feel that intelligence should be defined in a couple of different ways:

1. Intelligence should be segregated by area.  Knowing about biology, genetics, and biochemistry, while admirable, does not mean that I should let you fix my car.

2. For each and any area, intelligence should be defined as such:
“the amount of factual information known”
multiplied by
“the ability to draw inferences, make connections, and bridge gaps in this knowledge”
multiplied by
“the ability to express ideas clearly, as a percentage”

This formula is simple: there are three ways to increase your intelligence in any area!

Approach 1: learn more.  Read books, practice a skill, watch others, ask questions, add to your mental library.
Approach 2: practice making connections.  This is probably the toughest to train (and thus, comes the closest to being intelligence that you are born with).  But the more knowledge is truly understood, including the reasoning behind it, the more connections can be made.
Approach 3: talk, talk, write, and talk again!  I know so many intelligent people that are mind-numbing bores when they speak.  If you can’t communicate an idea clearly, you may as well not know it at all.  It is trapped in your head, unable to get out!

“But, Samwise, why do we even need to redefine intelligence at all?” you ask me.

“Spambots, it is very clear why this is necessary,” I reply.  “And I shall provide a personal example.  I know a person who knows nothing about science, my chosen field.  Biology is a mystery to her.  I possess years of experience and factual information about things like DNA, RNA, recombination, and genetic analysis that she does not.

“However, when I explain concepts to her, as soon as she has the background, she is able to quickly and intuitively follow my leaps of progression!  In her formula, the first value may be low, but the second value is high.

“Does this mean that, even focusing on biology as an area of intelligence, that she is dumber than I am?  Well, yes, as a total value at the end of the formula.  But that is due not to a lack of brainpower on her part – merely the fact that she doesn’t have as many facts as I do!  It’s easier to win a race in a Lamborghini than in a Volvo, even if the Volvo has a racecar driver behind the wheel.  Looking at potential intelligence, the second value, she’s just as smart as I am.”

Of course, by this point the robots have long since stopped indexing the page, so I’m talking to myself.  But my point stands.  Our measures of intelligence are shoddy, and they need to be improved.

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