What defines a person's intelligence?

[deleted account] ( 20 moms have responded )

Just like it sounds? What defines our intelligence? A university degree? Proper spelling and grammar? Someone brought this up in another debate and I'm curious to know what everyone thinks.....

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?? - posted on 05/21/2010

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I think face to face is WAY different than online too. Online you have to be able to present your intelligence in a manner that translates well. There are some smart smartypants out there but their communication skills aren't polished, so when they get on the computer, they come off as a total idiot because they can't tweak their communication patterns in order to present themselves in a fashion that highlights their intelligence.

I also think that intelligence comes in many different ways in every single person.


My dad got to grade 8 in his education. At 15 he stopped going to school and started working alongside his brothers. He's been a logger for nearly 50 years now. (I'm nearly 30) for as long as I can remember he's been able to name pretty much every tree, bush, shrub, plant in the forrest and tell you what kind of bugs like each different kind of tree. Mushrooms, mosses, grasses, flowers he can tell you the environment they need to live in the wilderness, or what you need in order for them to survive in your yard. He can name the animals, big and small and what kind of environment they like to live in. He can hunt, fish, build and survive with absolutely NOTHING modern, not even a knife.

Put him in a city and he'll take in the surroundings, grab his bearings and continue on as best he can.

Put him on a computer or in a classroom or in a discussion about politics and he'll sit there and stare at you, tell you he doesn't give a shit and walk out the door.

But then you can take someone who THRIVES on a computer, in a classroom or in a political discussion.. and throw them out in the wilderness...... they'd curl up and die crying.

?? - posted on 05/21/2010

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I agree with both Mary & Christa.



One of the biggest measurements of intelligence, to me, is shown when people can admit they don't know the answer, and go forth to find it. My mom always said the only stupid question is a question that goes unasked.



I think intelligence is shown when people are willing to learn, ready to listen and able to process and soak up the information they are given.

Melanie - posted on 05/23/2010

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Hard to say really..., there are different types of intelligences. Someone may excel in math ( reasoning of numbers) but may not do so well in music (discern pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone). I think it's different for every person. I also think it's BS how some people think that anyone who's pursued post secondary education is automatically "smarter".

Charlie - posted on 05/23/2010

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Well there are different types of intelligence , intellectual and emotional .

I know people high in IQ who have no sense of emotional intelligence whatsoever and people with loads of emotional intelligence who are not necessarily high in IQ , i personally hold emotional intelligence in a higher regard than intellectual intelligence , its all good and well to know lots of facts and information but in the real world in means jack shit if you lack the ability to have empathy for other human beings .

Suzette - posted on 05/21/2010

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I believe that experience and education define a person's intelligence. Having experience can make you wise but it doesn't make you intelligent, an education can make a person smart, but not wise. Much like a person who has book smarts but no common sense because of lack of experience. I do not believe there is only *one* set area of intelligence though. People can vary in intelligence in many areas.
(Like Jo's Dad, I don't have that type of interest in nature... but he's very intelligent in that area.)

Howard Gardner's theory is that there are multiple intelligences, and I tend to agree with that. There are people that surpass others in certain areas and vice versa. According to him, there are at least eight intelligences which everyone possesses.

@Christa,
"If someone is uninterested in the world around them, or does not care to ever learn or explore new things, then I wind up taking a very dim view of their intelligence."

Just because a person isn't interested in learning about the world around them doesn't mean that they're not interested in learning period. For example, I am interested in learning all about the world around me, more and more everyday.

But what do you consider "the world around them"? Is it the world entirely or is it their world? My world consists of my husband, our daughter, my husband's career, my education, etc. I have little interest in learning about nature, though that doesn't mean I'd pass up a nature hike that's educational, it just means I won't go out looking for one.

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Jenny - posted on 08/20/2010

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I belive you learn alot more by experince than you ever do in school.I beleive street smarts is what get you places in life but if you do not know how to be street smart you will never make it in this world.

Lea - posted on 05/24/2010

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Yes, proper communication skills, problem-solving skills, self-discipline, and some kind of talent in one or more areas.

Christa - posted on 05/23/2010

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I agree Melanie. I was just thinking about that while I was out. I consider myself intelligent, but I'm also lazy. I never wanted to pursue an advanced degree because I just didn't want to go to school that long. I love learning, but on my terms. I also know people who were just afraid/unprepared to enter the "real" world so they stayed in college for YEARS and got 15 degrees. I also have friends who have degrees got straight A's but when you have a conversation with them it's like talking to Jessica Simpson, you wonder how the hell did you survive high school much less college. :-P So a degree or lack there of is not a way to determine a persons intelligence.

Krista - posted on 05/23/2010

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@Christa,
Just because a person isn't interested in learning about the world around them doesn't mean that they're not interested in learning period. For example, I am interested in learning all about the world around me, more and more everyday.

But what do you consider "the world around them"? Is it the world entirely or is it their world? My world consists of my husband, our daughter, my husband's career, my education, etc. I have little interest in learning about nature, though that doesn't mean I'd pass up a nature hike that's educational, it just means I won't go out looking for one.


I just mean interested in learning about new things, period. Things that are outside of their immediate, every day circle. I don't think that it's vital to be interested in learning about EVERYTHING, as there is some stuff that people will find interesting and some stuff that people will find boring.

But, if someone has absolutely NO interest in learning anything beyond what they need to know in their day-to-day existence, then that is when I start to wonder about their intelligence.

Iris - posted on 05/23/2010

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There are so many different aspect of intelligent out there. I want it all, but I can only get so much of it. I read about politics, religions, philosophy, cultural anthropology and more but it doesn't make my statements any more important then anyone else.

I've lived in five different countries and I love to learn about new cultures. That might make me open minded, but it doesn't mean that living in one place have to make you narrow minded.

Meaning, we all have some intellect that we can share.

Shelley - posted on 05/21/2010

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Good Question. The old don't judge a book by its cover comes to mind
I would equate experience over education. Although i think education is important.
I think that people that show large amounts of empathy are more inteligent than those who are arrogant in their views.
As i read over my answer i supose i'm describing what i think is a better person rather than intelligent could this be the same?
Obviously a high IQ is a high IQ

Sharon - posted on 05/21/2010

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There is education, common sense.... a papered education helps weed out a great many dumbasses. it also helps you see who has the "stick to it" ability.



Those who can learn, do. There are so many exceptions to the rule though. I know a few educated people who just have no common sense whatsoever. They do as they are told, say as they learned and thats that.



TOooooooo subjective I think.



Aiming for mediocrity sucks.

Krista - posted on 05/21/2010

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Curiosity is a big component of intelligence, as far as I'm concerned. If someone is uninterested in the world around them, or does not care to ever learn or explore new things, then I wind up taking a very dim view of their intelligence. Obviously, reasoning skills and critical thinking skills are in there, as is the ability to learn from one's experiences and apply those lessons to new experiences.

[deleted account]

So, would you agree that somewhere in the middle is best? Should we strive to be well rounded or focus specifically on our strong suit?

[deleted account]

I do understand that, Michelle, but what I'm asking is how do YOU define intelligence? When you meet someone, online or face-to-face, what things do you notice that lead you to believe they're intelligent or not?

Shelley - posted on 05/21/2010

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Intelligence is subjective
and therefor has no means by which to be measured or defined

Sharon - posted on 05/21/2010

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What defines intelligence?



What defines stupidity? If you talk like a moron, act like a moron and hold a college degree, you're still a moron.



Its to broad. Its very difficult to nail down. But I do know stupid when I read it/see it.

Christa - posted on 05/21/2010

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I agree Mary. I think it comes down to how well a person processes new information. Do they have the critical thinking and logic to process the new information add it to the old and come up with a conclusion. Can they stray from the popular opinion, can they back up their own thoughts? I also think intelligence and wisdom get mixed up. A person can have 20 degrees and have lots of intelligence, but not be wise. I also think age is a big part. People tend to graduate college or whatever and suddenly think they have all the answers. There is a lot to be said for someone who has years of learning and changing and experiences. Those are the people who are truly wise.

ME - posted on 05/21/2010

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I don't think any one deffinition of intelligence works for everyone. I have a double Masters Degree, my husband didn't go to college. Both of us are equally well-informed, inquisitive, thoughtful people. I might be a little more engaged in politics and public issues, but that doesn't make me smarter. People who use their reasoning and critical thinking skills to their advantage certainly seem smarter to me than those who just blindly repeat the talking points of "experts"...but I don't think a college education is a necessary prerequisit for that skill set...

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