What makes a person smart?

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Saiyan300Warrior
Is it how much knowledge they can attain throughout a lifetime or period of time, the more knowledge you gain in a period of time the smarter you are (smart in the field of knowledge you know about)? What separates the intelligent from smart and genius and average? Do I just go by google definitions, does it even matter, I am on physics forums so should I go back to just or start learning something out of curiosity related to physics? How does curiosity relate to a so called smart person. Oh yeah, then there is IQ tests, does an high IQ make you smart, lot of high IQ's out there but many didn't achieve much just spoke really fluently at times and could score high on an IQ test. It said a twelve year old girl got 100+ IQ, how is that even possible? Mensa? Was she smart at an IQ test? How can a 12 year old girl have such developed though patterns at a young age? Lots of learning or practicing for said IQ test?

So what is a smart person? Are all these kinds of terms going to soon be primitive in a way where we see people in different views when it comes to mental capacity, what does mental capacity even mean? Is it a good idea to think that people are pretty much on the same level mentally unless suffering from some physical disease that affects the brain and how they communicate?

Also when we see someone like Albert Einstein we immediately think of him as the epitome of a smart person even to those who barely know him but know his iconic image. I read an answer on Quora explaining that we tend to overlook peoples flaws when they have made great academic achievements in life and so already if they never took an IQ test already assume they have a high IQ. Could it be possible that someone like Einstein or even Newton have an average IQ or even lower than average IQ?

Hope you all have or had a great day and give me your best answer! Thanks in advance!

P.S. Is there still more to learn in the area of how brain functions from the physiological to the psychological? Is that field of study still young?
 

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  • #2
fresh_42
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My best answer: doubt and curiosity.
 
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  • #3
Saiyan300Warrior
So to doubt is to question and to question arises possible further discovery of "new" knowledge and curiosity keeps us wanting to "know" more and more... So based on my examination of your answer you imply that it is basically who is more knowledgeable?
 
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fresh_42
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So based on my examination of your answer you imply that it is basically who is more knowledgeable?
Depends on how you define knowledge. Doubt and curiosity is not gathering facts, it is also, if not more, the urge to ask why. You can learn history by dates and facts, but you won't understand history that way. You need doubt to get the suspicion that there is more than what you have been told, and curiosity to ask what this more is. Especially in history the narrative is rarely the true reason, just the convenient pc version of it.
 
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  • #5
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So what is a smart person?
As the question already suggests it, the answer would be about a (personal) definition/interpretation of the term anyway.

In my book 'smart' is about success in problems related to everyday life (apart from science).
So to say, 'smart' includes finding the right people for answering a question and not necessarily about finding the answer yourself.

Kinda' good that you asked :wink:
 
  • #6
Averagesupernova
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It said a twelve year old girl got 100+ IQ, how is that even possible? Mensa? Was she smart at an IQ test? How can a 12 year old girl have such developed though patterns at a young age? Lots of learning or practicing for said IQ test?
Considering the definition of IQ I can't see why this should be such a stretch.
 
  • #7
hutchphd
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I don't think any one has superseded F Scott Fitzgerald :

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Seems definitive to me.-
 
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  • #8
julian
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It said a twelve year old girl got 100+ IQ, how is that even possible? Mensa? Was she smart at an IQ test? How can a 12 year old girl have such developed though patterns at a young age? Lots of learning or practicing for said IQ test?
Aren't IQ tests adapted to the person's age?
 
  • #9
julian
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My best answer: doubt and curiosity.
With advent of the internet there has been a resurgence in the flat Earth society and other crackpottery. I think you need to add further qualities of adhering to the scientific method and empirical evidence. It is good to push things forwards through doubt and curiosity, make advancements, but not to go backwards a few centuries.
 
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  • #10
julian
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Also when we see someone like Albert Einstein we immediately think of him as the epitome of a smart person even to those who barely know him but know his iconic image. I read an answer on Quora explaining that we tend to overlook peoples flaws when they have made great academic achievements in life and so already if they never took an IQ test already assume they have a high IQ. Could it be possible that someone like Einstein or even Newton have an average IQ or even lower than average IQ?
Newton was not average, he was a absolute genius and saw further than all others of his time. He had flaws, when head on the mint he tortured people. And there was alchemy - well people didn't know better then.
 
  • #11
phinds
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What makes a person smart?
@Saiyan300Warrior You seem to be totally confusing intelligence with knowledge. Someone can be a genius at 5 years old but just not have a lot of knowledge. On the other hand, a lifetime of fact-gathering will increase knowledge enormously but it will not increase intelligence at all.
 
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  • #12
julian
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So what is a smart person? Are all these kinds of terms going to soon be primitive in a way where we see people in different views when it comes to mental capacity, what does mental capacity even mean? Is it a good idea to think that people are pretty much on the same level mentally unless suffering from some physical disease that affects the brain and how they communicate?

Also when we see someone like Albert Einstein we immediately think of him as the epitome of a smart person even to those who barely know him but know his iconic image. I read an answer on Quora explaining that we tend to overlook peoples flaws when they have made great academic achievements in life and so already if they never took an IQ test already assume they have a high IQ. Could it be possible that someone like Einstein or even Newton have an average IQ or even lower than average IQ?
I had a serious language developmental disorder (not dyslexia but probably SLI) as a child and young adult. I had to retake GCSE-English to get into university and I only managed to get a C grade required because I got help from a friend and my brother when writing essays. Nobody who has ever met me would say that I'm the most articulate person hey have ever met. It is a language development disorder that has now resolved to a large extent in later years but not completely.

All the same, I still I managed to go through the derivation of Feynman's rules for QED (Walter Greiner's books) and the formulation of Einstein's vacuum field equations when I was a 1st year undergraduate. I was then going through Greiner's book on Gauge theory of weak interactions in the summer holiday after my 1st year (there are a lot of typos so you can tell I went through the calculations because I pencilled in the corrections).

I've also had chronic insomnia for ever (well starting around the time I started university) and had to put up with all the intellectual impairments that comes with it. So I have accumulated a fair amount of knowledge but not as much as I should have done. But still my true intelligence shines through at times. For example there was this lecturer renowned for his difficult PhD lecture courses. I was the first person who did one of his homework problems in several years - despite the fact I missed most of the lectures. Also, there have been difficult logical problems that people have been given and people without my disadvantages - really intelligent people - have spent weeks/months trying to figure out the solution. I then I've come along and solved them in minutes.
 
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  • #13
jack action
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To me, intelligence is the capacity to identify patterns. But I also like the use of the terms doubt & curiosity by @fresh_42 , to which I would add imagination.

With advent of the internet there has been a resurgence in the flat Earth society and other crackpottery. I think you need to add further qualities of adhering to the scientific method and empirical evidence. It is good to push things forwards through doubt and curiosity, make advancements, but not to go backwards a few centuries.
Linking a belief to how smart someone is, is a mistake from my point of view. Not using the scientific method, doesn't mean you are not smart.
 
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  • #14
Lnewqban
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The importance of fantasy, imagination and curiosity, directly from the source:

"The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge."

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."

"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious."

- Albert Einstein
 
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Who is smart? Isn't this overthinking the label at least a little. In my life so far, over 6 decades, I have never been in the company of a group of people who did not think of me as "smart". My uncle tells me I was reading a newspaper at age 5. Clearly, a 5 year old that reads the newspaper is "smart". When I was in 3rd grade, all my little friends use to describe me as "smart". If eight year olds are not confused using this label for their peers, why should an adult be confused. Haven't you ever met a colleague or child who you would describe as "smart"?

Surprisingly, I did not always get the best grades. My parents never even asked me to get good grades, so I went to class and learned math and science and the subjects I was a natural at, rather than spelling for example. Once, my brother, who did well in spelling, told me all I had to do is spell the words correctly on the exam to get an A, and not do the homework. After that, just going over the words before the test, I had straight A's in spelling. Similar to learning dates for history, or countries in geography.

I do not think it is how much information you can learn in a particular unit of time, or the total amount of information you can learn. However, I think there is a correlation between a person possessing these two criteria and a person who most would label "smart". That is, it is more likely that a "smart" person would learn faster, and more material, than the "usual" person.

I am sorry to say, that I have far less imagination now, than I did when I was 12. When a colleague describes me as "smart" now, it is not because of a giant leap of imagination. It is usually for recalling a procedure I learned in my 20's and 30's, or maybe 40's. I remember creating much more elaborate and interesting drawings and models in my childhood than I can design now. I really think college education in physics caused me to constrain my thinking along the same lines as my professors and textbook authors. This may not necessarily be a bad trait. This filtering of skills can also said to be problem solving technique.

By the way, the uncle that told me I was smart when I was 5 was the finest pianist I ever heard, and I am told he had "perfect pitch". I am not even sure I know what that gift means. I think if I had to learn the piano, or any musical instrument, I am sure I would not be classified as "smart" from that talent alone. I also remember struggling to type 20 words a minute in school. My cousin, my uncle's son, said let me help you with that. He graduated in the last 8 places in a class of 400 in school. I showed him my draft, and he started tying over 60 words a minute. He would always consider me "smart" although by the criteria of typing or music I would be described as "dumb". It took me much longer to learn how to drive than might be considered usual. My cousins learned driving faster. To some extent, I am lucky that the skills I developed that earned me the description "smart" just happened to be the skills that in my culture that were considered "academic".
 
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  • #16
julian
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With advent of the internet there has been a resurgence in the flat Earth society and other crackpottery. I think you need to add further qualities of adhering to the scientific method and empirical evidence. It is good to push things forwards through doubt and curiosity, make advancements, but not to go backwards a few centuries.
 
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  • #17
julian
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With advent of the internet there has been a resurgence in the flat Earth society and other crackpottery. I think you need to add further qualities of adhering to the scientific method and empirical evidence. It is good to push things forwards through doubt and curiosity, make advancements, but not to go backwards a few centuries.
This resonates with me because I am personally attempting to reason with people who "think" the are disproving subtraction.

You were taught at primary school that if you eat 2 biscuits you then have 2 less biscuits, if you eat 3 biscuits you then have 3 less biscuits - this is subtraction. Well, there is this group I know who "think" that they have disproved subtraction. Really. And I am have much difficulty convincing them otherwise.
 
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You were taught at primary school that if you eat 2 biscuits you then have 2 less biscuits, if you eat 3 biscuits you then have 3 less biscuits - this is subtraction.

Reminds me of a joke, and I think it was from the 3 stooges, many years ago:

Educated woman: If you have two dollars, and you ask your father for three dollars, how many dollars would you have?
Stooge: Two dollars.
Educated woman: No, you would have five dollars, you don't know your arithmetic.
Stooge: I would have two dollars, you don't know my father.
'
The joke shows there are some situations where arithmetic doesn't apply. Another example is the total resistance in an electrical circuit. Adding a resistor in parallel lowers the total resistance. Addition of resistances seems to work for series circuits though.
 
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  • #19
Evo
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It said a twelve year old girl got 100+ IQ, how is that even possible? Mensa? Was she smart at an IQ test? How can a 12 year old girl have such developed though patterns at a young age? Lots of learning or practicing for said IQ test?
At age eleven, I was given IQ tests at the request of my teacher. I scored above 158 (or maybe it was 185, I can't remember, they didn't want me to know), that's all I know. The school freaked out and called my parents in saying they couldn't teach me and gave my parents brochures for schools for children that were "Academically Able", a minimum IQ of 140 was required to be considered. Children tend to score higher than adults until around age 14, (from what I've previously read), then their IQ's can tend to decrease.

"smart" is a loose term, a person can be "street smart" which means they know more about how to survive safely in unsafe and unpredictable surroundings. A person that was just "IQ smart" might get killed in the first few minutes. In the jungle, a native that was "smart" about what dangers to notice and avoid, and how to find safe food and water would be a tremendous advantage over a person with just a "High IQ.

There are many ways a person can be "smart", and none of them are advantageous in all situations.
 
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  • #20
julian
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You were taught at primary school that if you eat 2 biscuits you then have 2 less biscuits, if you eat 3 biscuits you then have 3 less biscuits - this is subtraction.

Reminds me of a joke, and I think it was from the 3 stooges, many years ago:

Educated woman: If you have two dollars, and you ask your father for three dollars, how many dollars would you have?
Stooge: Two dollars.
Educated woman: No, you would have five dollars, you don't know your arithmetic.
Stooge: I would have two dollars, you don't know my father.
'
The joke shows there are some situations where arithmetic doesn't apply. Another example is the total resistance in an electrical circuit. Adding a resistor in parallel lowers the total resistance. Addition of resistances seems to work for series circuits though.
They actually believe they are disproving these statements:

"If I eat 2 biscuits I will then have 2 less biscuits left behind"

and

"If I eat 3 biscuits I will then have 3 less biscuits left behind"

Just to be clear there is no trick question involved in this, and they actually believe that they are disproving these statements.

They are not disproving them and I've explained to them that it is impossible for these statements to be wrong because it would violate the law of conservation of mass. For example consider the statement:

"I start with 28 biscuits, if I eat 2 biscuits I will have 26 biscuits left behind".

Well, if this statement weren't true then the 2 biscuits in your stomach and the biscuits left behind wouldn't add up to 28 biscuits!

Let me elaborate on this, consider the fictitious scenario where you have 27 biscuits left behind after eating 2 biscuits....well then the 2 biscuits in your stomach plus the number of biscuits left behind would add up to 29 biscuits. But hang on, we only started with 28 biscuits! Where has this additional biscuit come from?! Has it just appeared out of thin air has it?! THIS is an obvious violation of the law of conservation of mass!

Even if you are not educated and not aware of the law of conservation of mass, surely you must be aware that biscuits dont just magically appear out of nothing - they are made out of ingredients in an oven!

No, it would require some "miracle of the loaves and fishes" to get around subtraction.

What does it say about their intelligence or lack of intelligence that they dont understand any of this? (Again, there is no trick question here).
 
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  • #21
Averagesupernova
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I once had a coworker who told me their brother could not understand how two vehicles traveling one behind the other could be going the same speed. The one behind HAD to be going slower. The world has no shortage of these people it seems.
 
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  • #22
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Maybe some people are metasmart and play jokes on the smart people...
 
  • #23
Averagesupernova
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Maybe some people are metasmart and play jokes on the smart people...
Lol. So was my coworker the smart one playing a joke on me or was his brother playing a joke on him? I agree, there are instances that what you describe happens. I doubt my example was.
 
  • #24
jbriggs444
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Where has this additional biscuit come from?! Has it just appeared out of thin air has it?! THIS is an obvious violation of the law of conservation of mass!
Biscuit number is not a conserved quantity. Nor is it an objectively knowable quantity. Nor (one might argue) is it even discrete. Conservation of mass does not imply conservation of biscuit number.

Admittedly, biscuit number is discrete and objective much of the time. The biscuit number in a lunch box is, with high probability, a conserved quantity between the time the box is packed and the time it is opened. Barring the presence of large quantities of [satiated] ants. Or storage of the lunch box in a kiln.
 
  • #25
fresh_42
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The biscuit number in a lunch box is, with high probability, a conserved quantity between the time the box is packed and the time it is opened.
Not really. The biscuit number is the expectation value of the length of the superposition vector between the cookie and the needle eigenstate:

11202014130490.png
 
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