Image source:

What Is Intelligence?

A source of much curiosity, the ever elusive intelligence. While beauty has selectively been seen as an outright politically incorrect basis of discrimination, intelligence has had the dream run for as far as mankind has observed its own existence. So many centuries gone by, and still, I label it elusive.

We’ve found interesting methods of aggregating those who can play well with numbers and patterns, siphoned off those who seemingly stutter logically and brandished an axe at the throats of the wretchedly mentally ill-equipped. We evolved of course to understand that there is also creative intelligence, the kind which brings forth creative thought process and enables artists, musicians, actors among many others. The evolution went beyond even this though; we began to understand each of these intelligence areas had a similar bifurcation — in born talent and developed through effort (and sometimes both).

So here we are. Centuries into our evolution, cutting up society into parts based on assumed intelligence at youth and we know nothing about it. By now we understand, most of this aptitude is governed by genetics and can be improved on by hard work. Of course I haven’t said anything new until now, I’ve just been reporting the news as we have it. So let me start with beauty. Isn’t it curious, that we are allowed to look down on those who can’t think like us but we aren’t allowed to look down on those who don’t seem to shine like us. Let me flip this. How can we sideline someone based on intelligence which for the larger part seems derived genetically, but be conservative in our approach to someone who looks unpleasant to us, which ironically is also genetically derived. It’s worth noting that, much like the accepted existence of intelligence, even beauty can be improved on by effort. Hence, we can say that beauty is a form of physical intelligence? I mean we do have so many forms of intelligence cropping up, why not add one more? (Don’t get me started on emotional intelligence).

There’s a need for this bickering, this ever present debate. It keeps the masses busy while there are other issues with intelligence that haven’t been approached much, for good measure. With age, we realize, each of us starts truly thinking independently. Yes, some move onto to be mathematical geniuses or musical maestros, I’m not referring to that kind of thinking. I guess you could say I’m speaking of perspective. The world seems unique to each of us. We react differently to music, observe colours differently, absorb information and assess it in a totally separate manner. Each dimension of our being combines uniquely to create a priceless ‘me’. This growth comes rapidly with time and the outcome has direct correlation with exposure to your surroundings, your sources of information and your acceptance of the information from your surroundings.

The brain I imagine is like a bucket. It has a little bit of knowledge in it, a few experiences and a lot of opinions. With time, the bucket gets heavier depending on what you put in. Knowledge is pretty heavy while putting in but seems to settle well and evaporates now and then with disuse. Opinions are always going to pour in and are quite light. They are almost like the air on top of everything in the bucket, they come and go quickly and change with the slightest provocation. Bucket still seems to be rather light. Then comes the experience. These are the assorted variety of brain bucket inventory. Going down the road to buy a loaf of bread — add a drop of experience to the bucket. Made a new friend — we’ll need to pour in quite a bit of experience there. Had a kid while trying to finish college and juggling a part time job to support everything — we’ll need another bucket inside this bucket please. So you see, it fills up quite uniquely.

What does this have to do with intelligence? As I’ve mentioned before, all forms of intelligence can be improved upon through effort (I like to say ‘sustained hard work’). So basically our genetically derived intelligence is the bucket itself. Some are amazing and so well built, others have holes and a few are on the verge of collapsing. Our sustained hard work generally and initially is focused on plugging holes in the bucket after which we move on to purely filling it. Or at least that should be the case.

Everybody gets busy filling the bucket and don’t exactly focus on the crucial hole plugging bit. Plus we have the whole, assorted experience bit. In time, there is a skewed ratio of people who are weighed down by their bucket and those who necessarily aren’t. I believe many of us have heard the concept of people who know more as being more sober and depressed. This could be the origin. You could have a nice bucket and be a genius but never really be weighed down by anything. You could start off as a societal dunce but move on to being bogged down by worldly views and experiences or even the other way around.

There’s a type of intelligence we don’t really quantify and it’s ordinarily referred to as wisdom. We can’t always solve problems with it or paint a canvas with it. Yet it’s there in skewed quantities across the masses. We aren’t wise unless our wisdom solves the problem at hand, yet the wisdom exists. It isn’t quantifiable as I said. It’s more of a mental manifestation of our physical reflexes and reactions. We use it to drive our daily lives. We primarily use it to be wary of certain aspects of our surrounding. To avoid threats and limit hurdles.

Wisdom is the experience part in the bucket. Yes. It defines the weight of the bucket and in turn defines the weight on your mind. Those who possess heavy wisdom seldom celebrate it. They are generally in envy of the lighter buckets; those who sleep peacefully knowing less chaos. Wisdom can bring sadness, fear, depression and anxiety in those who possess too much of it without knowing how to let go or achieve peace through various methods.

Our society is sprinkled with wisdom laden individuals of all ages. Young, old, man, woman, all kinds. They are silent protectors. They quietly guard the lighter buckets whose mind is mirthful and light. It is generally seen in epics, the all-knowing wise folks aren’t heroes. They discreetly help the heroes from the sidelines while being weighed down by their own existence. The heroes meanwhile gallantly move ahead with less worry and brimming with optimism. Lesser buckets.

I guess I’ve come in a full circle. These filled buckets, filled till wisdom. They don’t discriminate against other intelligence forms. They are just content that few are like them.

You don’t need to be brimming with wisdom to understand though, that there’s a need to be more inclusive. Involve with more people in society who do not conform to your standards of intelligence. Maybe, just maybe, you could help plug some holes and move forward together.

Originally published at