May 4, 2001 (Ira Pilgrim)


If an animal does something, they call it instinct. If we do exactly the same thing for the same reason, they call it intelligence. Entomologists say that ants, for example, are guided entirely by instinct and not by intelligence. They say the ants do not know what they are doing. And do the entomologists know what they are doing? Besides watching ants, I mean. I'm only asking. I guess what they mean is that we all make mistakes, but intelligence enables us to do it on purpose.

Will Cuppy

Did you know that one half of all of the people in the world are of below average intelligence? Of course, the other half are above average. It doesn't matter how you measure intelligence, or anything else, for that matter, half of everything that you measure will be above average and half will be below average. That's what average means; in the middle, with half falling below the average and half falling above. I assume, with great pride, that almost all of my readers are in the upper half of everything, except wealth. Not many people are of average height and weight; almost everyone is either above or below average.

Many people believe that a person's score on a so-called intelligence test measures how smart he is. Some people believed, and published their beliefs, that giving two populations an intelligence test(IQ) told you whether one population was smarter than another. The usual target of this kind of thing was measuring people who had very little melanin in their skin against those who had a lot of melanin. For a while, anthropologists were measuring the volume of the inside of the skulls of different races and inferring how smart they were. The people whose skulls they measured were dead, of course, and were, at the time of the measurements, as stupid as a person could get (IQ=0). The assumption underlying this kind of work was that the greater the amount of brains you had, the smarter you were. If this were true, you would expect the tiger to be a lot smarter than a house cat or any of a variety of small wild cats. We all know that that just isn't so. With many times the brain size, a tiger is hardly many times smarter than a bobcat.

There are people with high IQs who couldn't find their way out of a department store, much less a forest. There are people with high IQs who are social idiots, and so on.

In the nineteen eighties, Howard Gardner of Haavaad published on what he called multiple intelligences, claiming that IQ tests only measured a few dimensions of intelligence(smarts) and proposed the theory of multiple intelligences. He proposed that there were a variety of intelligences and, at the time, proposed seven. They are verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal. As any biblical scholar can tell you, seven is a magic number. And it was magic for Gardner and soon his theory was accepted by all but the stodgiest IQ fanatics. My wife tells me that there now are eight intelligences(naturalistic intelligence has been added), but the seven performed its magic. The number of intelligences are bound to increase as psychologists and educators find out that you can get an easily publishable paper out of finding another intelligence. They might eventually have spiritual intelligence, mystical intelligence and others to the point of nausea. It is, however, a distinct improvement over the idea that there is one kind of intelligence and that it can be measured by a single test.

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