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Improving intelligence

  1. Feb 2, 2007 #1

    I am a in bit of a trouble. I do not know how serious it is yet but it feels like it
    could be of tremendous signifiance.

    I graduated recently from a degree in elec eng and CS from Aus. In my first job with research organsation, I have come to a startling realisation that most people don't really think. Unfortunately I realised that I seemed to belong to this category and compared to my undergrad courses which I managed to get through without failing anything and getting honors through hard work I still seem to be show up as not rational. I just don't think as quickly as my peers or have the depth of awareness they seem to have in any situation. I realise that if I apply this to every area of my life and my decisions so far that the majority of it seems ludicrist. I think most people have some sense and I never believed in IQ before but now its seems to me like most people are monkeys with limits (of speed only?)

    I still like thinking and would like to think through my decisions. I understand that intelligent people see much more interrelatedness in things when the look through and read something. I am also aware that there are different kinds of intelligence. Personally I was better at verbalising and making associative connections between ideas than logic and concrete thought (which I'm trying to work really hard to address atm by doing lots of puzzles but I'm not sure this has to be a life-long thing?) I did my CS degree hoping that this would build my abilities which I am not sure was a good idea...

    Am I able to get some tips on how to improve my depth of awareness and speed of thought in any situation permanently and how to ask the right questions? So far the only answer i have found is putting yourself in a
    more intelligent enviornment which forces you to use your head more.

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2007 #2


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    if the people around you seem smarter and quicker than you, then you will get smarter by observing them and elarning their way of approaching problems, and absorbing some of their knowledge by listening and reflecting.

    When I was at harvard as a postdoc, at first I was coompletely intimidated by the vastly greater knowledge and quickness of everyone there. AS tiome passed and I dealt with my fears and kept working, I noticed that I myself was getting faster and more knowledgable.

    So in my opinion being around smarter more savvy people is the best way, and it seems you are already in this situation. so just hang in there, and don't be shy about your own potential and abilities.
  4. Feb 2, 2007 #3


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    Very importantly, don't fight who you are but try to understand. I don't mean you should accept forever that you won't change, of course you will but the way to do that is to work with yourself.

    I figure that there are 3 qualities that one needs to be versatile. By versatile I mean adept like Bruce Lee or Michael Schumacher. Both of them perfected their art: Bruce could fight with many weapons or weaponless, against all types of foes, Michael could win in the wet or the dry, or pretty much anything inbetween.

    The 3 qualities are consistent performance, awareness and motivation. I think the most difficult of these is consistent performance. If you can drive the same line lap after lap, you're well on the way to being an excellent driver. In order to do this, one must work to stay in peak condition. That means getting all the environmental factors correct: eating properly, getting quality sleep, staying fit, etc. Then one must practice the skill concerned to reach a level of consistent performance.

    Then once you've reached that level, you need awareness so that if you make small changes, you can accurately see the effect of those small changes. By making small adjustments and adjusting your technique, and because you are maintaining a level of consistent performance, you will become versatile in that discipline.

    Of course, one needs motivation. If you are happy with the rewards you get at an intermediate level, then you would not proceed beyond that. Unfortunately, it seems built into us that we only strive when there is a reason to do so. This is very telling in politics, because typically only where there is competition will you find efficiency.

    So I think intelligence is only important to the degree that it influences these factors. I'll not attempt to decipher what effect intelligence has, but I think one can be successful without too much intelligence, if one does the right thing. Of course, identifying what the right thing is is difficult if you aren't intelligent, and even if you are it is still difficult. As long as you are honestly searching for that right thing and don't settle, and you work on attaining these 3 qualities in whatever discipline you decide to pursue, that should be good enough.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2007
  5. Feb 2, 2007 #4


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    You should make the most of your situation. Do you think you would work harder if you are around lazy people who dont give a crap for what they do? Or would be motivated enough to work harder when in a challenging environment?

    I'm still an undergrad, but I'm often around students who have a greater depth of knowledge in certain areas. This is enough to motivate me to work harder and improve my knowledge.

    I would also say that "speed of though" isnt that important. Note by saying this, I am not implying that you should dwell on problems. You should take enough time to work through your scenario. There will certain situations where you need to work through, meticulously, every detail of a problem.

    Do not be intimidated by these people. Mayb they have more experience than you working in field. Fresh out of college, everything doesnt "click" right away (well at least this is what I'm told). Also mayb this situation will work out for best. With enough time and experience, you will achieve your intended goal.

    Also, I must ask you, do you know what intelligence is? I dont...
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2007
  6. Feb 2, 2007 #5
    Intelligence is
    Hard work and 1%
  7. Feb 3, 2007 #6


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    This thread suddenly reminds me of a joke my dad used to love to tell about "smart pills". but its late saturday night and i have no doubt merely lost focus.
  8. Feb 4, 2007 #7
    there's a book called 'the iq answer' by dr phils friend that may be of some help. i havent read it, but seen a dr phil show advertising it.

    i personally find eating low-glycemic meals helps me concentrate better.

    also, i wonder if viagra can make people smarter? (if it's used regularly during periods of studying). there was something on dateline (or similar show) about how it helps animal (rat) stroke victims recover much more quickly because it helps develop neurons. i kid you not. 2 weeks after having a stroke the viagra rat was good as new, and the test subject barely showed any improvement. :biggrin:

  9. Feb 4, 2007 #8


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    Well if its used regularly during studies, I doubt the first thing on the student's mind will be studying :)

    Its so funny how people are talking about becoming "smart", but are not willing to work for it.
  10. Feb 4, 2007 #9


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    it depends where you think your brain is, whether viagra can cause blood flow that makes you smarter.

    anyone who thinks that may be a candidate for my dads joke: this man was selling smart pills for a dollar apiece, and a guy was buying them to enhance his studying ability. He kept complaining how bad they tasted, and one day he said they actually tasted like rat dung. The response? "See, you're getting smarter already."

    my apologies for this country humor.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2007
  11. Feb 4, 2007 #10
    :rofl: good one
  12. Feb 5, 2007 #11
    thanks for all your replies.

    I take fish oil pills everyday. I do not know if they are making a difference yet. I have read that they can possibly have vaso-dilation effects, more blood supply to brain, and can help with stress relief by affecting dopamine levels. I can't say I'm that much calmer. Because they are no apparent side effects I have read about, I continue to take them and believe they will be helpful...most ppl really in the end understand so much and just believe even if they can claim to understand...

    anyway besides that I have just come to accept that I have work twice as hard as others to keep at the same level.

    I think its completely unfair that some people through their brains are given
    more hope. They put in less effort for same rewards. Then you think about
    some of those people in prison and you think wait, many of them might not
    deserve what they are getting... because they don't really understand as well... And there's all this talk about equality...it seems a bit disillusioning.

    But I have read that some intelligent people become slaves to their own intelligence..hence u see can see some uni professors lost in their own worlds... So is there really some kind of underlying equality? Is that even
    thei right question to ask? Perhaps there should be more people with much more powerful minds to assist others with discovering self-awareness for themeselves so that they can find their place that others can't occupy
    nearly as well and be 'equal'.
  13. Feb 5, 2007 #12
    then again more intelligent people are given more responsbility andn their mistakes have greater consequences and life may be just as tough?? duno..anyway maybe its a bit pointless to continue this.
  14. Feb 5, 2007 #13

    A major reason that I enjoy doing philosophy, mathematics and physics is because I construct my own abstract reality in which I am eternally a little kid again. I disconnect myself from this concrete perceptual awareness that we are born with and extend my consciousness into a world of knowledge, exploration and discovery.

    I am very much connected with society as I work in a professional law firm part-time and I live with my girlfriend but other than that, I like to live inside the knowledge in my head. My imagination is vivid, visual and powerful. I can retreat into my head and lose focus of the world in front of me.

    My favorite thing to do is acquire more knowledge and understanding so that I can continue to construct and engineer the architecture for my utopian reality. I don't see any reason why a uni professor shouldn't be allowed to live inside their own world. Sartre said that subjectivity is the starting point and that we can subjugate our past to mold our future, which I believe is true.

    However, being considered intelligent does come with a lot of problems. Ordinary people do not want to discuss differential geometry, tensor calculus, manifolds, rings, fields, logic, quantum physics, etc. so you often find yourself extremely bored with people.

    I have a lot of friends whom I appreciate very much but about 99% of our conversations involve me pretending to listen and simply retreating back into my head.

    In high school when I was too cool to learn and nearly failed, I was one of the people that I no longer care to associate with. I have seen myself transform from an extroverted, social individual who enjoyed casual conversation and disliked discussing "nerdy subjects" such as math and physics but now, I am on the other side of the fence and I never want to go back.

    This universe is much more intricate and complex than most people could ever dream and that is where I wish to reside, within my own subjective construction of this reality.

    You only get one experience with this universe, why spend it worried about money, fashion, cars, celebrities and all the other trivial stuff people care about?
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2007
  15. Feb 5, 2007 #14


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    I hope that was claimed by someone intelligent because I don't see how someone unintelligent could know better than someone intelligent whether that person was enslaved or not. I think it is more a case of intelligent people not being interested in what most other people are interested.

    An example that many people use of how too much intelligence can be bad is William James Sidis, a child prodigy who supposedly went off the rails. If you read about him, you'll find that he spent time in jail for rioting, but in his testimony you can see that he was marching against racism.

    Is it any wonder he lost interest in society?
  16. Feb 5, 2007 #15
    I just wanted to expound a bit on what Verty alluded to regarding 'intelligence people being slaves to their own intelligence.'

    Before I begin my lengthy post, I just wanted to make clear that I am trying to establish the reasoning behind this mode of thought as I believe it is triggered from ignorance and lack of understanding and really has no basis for truth. Also, please don't feel like we are attacking you for your comment, I believe we are addressing a general issue among society, atleast that is my perspective.

    Anecdotal experience and observation has led me to conclude that nearly all of society is unable to comprehend algebraic arithmetic, let alone the implications and conceptual elegance contained within the concepts, axioms and applications of mathematics and empirical sciences.

    Every individual that I speak with and explain that I am a math and physics major (who are not not familiar with mathematics) consistently claim that "once they introduced the X into math, they lost me". If a person can't grasp the concept of a variable, they won't understand anything mathematically beyond that.

    Prior to my independent introduction to physics and mathematics, I was unaware of the inextricable, interconnected relationships between mathematics and the physical universe. It was only a year ago that I first encountered a picture of a ‘nebula’ and had no idea what I was looking at. In an awe-struck state, I started to develop a mystical conception of the universe and concluded that it was far to complex for me to ever understand.

    After being exposed to something as beautiful as a nebula and realizing I was completely ignorant towards the entire architecture of the universe, I started to read almost non-stop, as much conceptual physics as I could find.

    Being a terrible math student in high school naturally led me to assume I was not bright enough for mathematics or physics until I realized my shortcomings were the result of pure laziness and a lack of understanding of the theoretical framework of mathematics. I failed Algebra three times in high school and vowed never to participate in a formal mathematics course ever again and decided to pursue a degree in neuroscience and philosophy as that utilized the least amount of mathematics with the greatest amount of knowledge.

    However, after realizing that mathematics was purely deductive and based on axiomatic logic, postulates, definitions and elegant concepts, I realized that my mind was exactly modeled for logic. I am a logician at heart and discovered my love for mathematics was greater than my love for philosophy as my subjective perception of mathematics quickly transformed into the universal language of the physical universe. Upon this realization, I have since then self-taught myself as much mathematics and physics as I can and continue to do so in conjunction with my courses.

    I am now a mathematics and physics major, pursuing pure mathematical physics.

    I feel that the whole of society can not simply recognize the importance and implications contained in mathematics and empirical sciences because it requires an understanding to some degree of the subjects themselves, to establish a strong embrace towards such topics.

    I believe society simply does not understand the work scientists spend their lives doing and are simply ignorant to it. I can completely understand the perspective of society as I was clearly a model of the status-quo.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2007
  17. Feb 6, 2007 #16
    here is a link I found that can possibly help other people who feel sense of adventure and ability to face challenges has been stifled because of their not-so-gifted intellects.

    www.newscientist.com/channel/being-human/mg18625011.900 - 71k - 4 Feb 2007 -

    Very few of us are granted the power that people like supposedly 'complex philosophy' possesses. (Although there are surprisingly more gifted people out there than one realises..according to statistics) Hopefully more of those that do have such potentials can go ahead and invent the 'smart pill'. It could resolve so much chaos and possibly cut down on the mis-understandings that majority of society faces when dealing with scientists and possibly change majority of society's values that seem so materially driven. Some people without adequate self-awarness do begin by embracing non-material values and apprectiate the 'higher and worthwhile' things, but once their they discover their limitations or think they discover their limits can let themselves become part of the herd.

    Sure there is theory of tensors and manifolds and other wonderful intellectual artifacts that the gifted mind loves to feast on but there are probably similar or greater levels of challenge involved in trying to unlock what it takes to improve intelligence in everybody. I think more scientists should strive to work on this area. let's be a bit more unselfish rather than just scoffing at society.
  18. Feb 6, 2007 #17
    when i say appreciate, possibly many of us who think can appreciate really don't know how but nevertheless some of can see that they obviously have value and that it would be nice to able to aspire to things like designing a bridge or being able to design a computer game or whatever..
  19. Feb 6, 2007 #18


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    I think these people are called mentors.

    No one has answered my question as to what intelligence is. I've seen the word intelligence pop up many times during this thread, such as:
    You think being able to discuss high level mathematical topics makes you intelligent, complexPHILOSOPHY? And have you become so sophisticated that you cannot converse with "ordinary" man? Or mayb this is pretense for the lack of social skills, so you make your own little "intelligent" world and pretend that you are simply too great to step down the level of ordinary society.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
  20. Feb 6, 2007 #19
    I have discussed this previously and I agree with your assessment. Intelligence does not have an objective definition and is dependent upon social contexts. An example I have probably exhausted is: Suppose an individual had the 'intelligence' and 'knowledge' of solving Riemannian Geometry in their head but decided to live with a tribe in the Amazon. This individuals ‘mathematical intelligence’ would not be valued and instead, a ‘survival intelligence,’ in which the individual had intuitive insight into providing food, shelter and fresh water to their tribe, would be considered valuable. In this context, this individual would not be considered ‘intelligent’ by the tribe.

    Did you just read through pieces of what I wrote and pick this out to attack me with? I have a girlfriend, I was a varisty lacrosse player,a regional wrestling champion and a regional debate champion. I am not trying to sound like I am special beause I did these things, I am explaining to you I used to be what I consider an 'ordinary person' becaues of interests, not intelligence. The phrase 'ordinary people' DOES NOT REFER TO INTELLIGENCE, that is something that you percieved.

    I work in a professional law-firm with extroverted individuals. I do not lack social skills and I think it's absurd you would allude to that. I simply said my interest now are not that of my friends and I am forced to retreat into my head to think about the things I enjoy. I made no mention of being better than anyone nor did I say I retreat because I lack social skills.


    I was explicitly stating that I was at one time, what I would consider an ‘ordinary person’, in that I had no desire to engage anyone in topics outside the scope of my own interests. I did not care to hear about math or physics or chemistry or philosophy or biology. I just wanted to play sports and talk to my friends about casual topics that didn’t require much thought.

    I never said I was ‘too intelligent’ and I think it is ridiculous that you even made that claim. I never even alluded to being better than anyone. I said I had the interests that most society has, which is to have fun and enjoy life, which typically doesn’t involve math and science as a favorite past-time. Time and time again I show my respect to those of you on here much more intelligent than I and ask questions from the masters.

    My entire point is that people are intelligent enough to understand high-level mathematics, it is just their interests do not pertain to it. If you even read what I wrote, I mentioned I am a dynamic member of society. I live with my girlfriend and I have a great group of friends. However, none of them enjoy or even care to hear anything related to physics and mathematics. They are all very intelligent and bright and if they wanted to, could probably surpass me very easily.
    I was saying that if people are turned off by math when the variable X was introduced, they aren’t going to admire the minds of great professors who spend their life inside their head, working on their areas of interests.

    Again, I explicitly stated that because ‘ordinary people’s’ interests do not lie in math and physics, they do not learn enough of it to appreciate it. I consider my girlfriend and friends to be ‘ordinary people’ in the sense they do not want to spend their life solving science problems, they would much rather get an easy degree and make a good living.

    I never once made mention that this was bad. I said I personally do not see the point in investing my time into such things as I have been there, done that and do not wish to return.

    What is really the problem here? I wasn’t being arrogant, I have nothing to be arrogant about. I am an undergrad math student who lacks all the knowledge required to be considered an average math student. I was trying to clear up a problem that I face a lot in that people do not care about these topics and genuinely don’t appreciate them.

    This was purely anecdotal and if you read thoroughly, I make mention that I once considered myself ‘ordinary’ in the sense that my interests were ingrained in the status-quo (what was popular and mainstream) and that I had no care about learning.

    I even mentioned a few months ago I had no idea what a nebula was or a polynomial and because of my interest in math and physics, I have taught myself a lot.

    I was expressing my belief that people can accomplish anything, as their interests permit. I am not of the opinion everyone has to do math and physics to be intelligent. I am of the opinion that people do their best in life and find things they are good at.

    I even mentioned that Sartre, a french existentialist, stated that one must realize their potential through subjective reflection and that through the subjugation of one’s past, an individual can do anything they dream.

    I am an existentialist, a humanist and a believer in humanity. I want to do mathematics and physics to contribute to positive evolution of society and to spend my life discovering things for those who want to know but are better served pursuing other interests (whether it be a full-time job, degree, sports career, etc.)

    I only made mention of constructing my own abstract reality because it is something that makes me happy and was a point I was trying to make. Do what you enjoy. Did you have a bad day today?
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
  21. Feb 6, 2007 #20
    What power do I possess? I fail to understand where I somehow mentioned I am some special person?

    I said I like to construct my own abstract reality using things that I have learned, what is the problem with that?
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