Website owner:  James Miller

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On intelligence. The IQ concept.

   "How intelligent is Jack?  Jack is extremely intelligent.  Mary 
   is very slow."  Society judges and labels people easily and 
   mercilessly by calling them intelligent, slow, stupid, etc..  
   Actually the concept of intelligence is very vague, nebulous 
   and many faceted.  Many different things are typically taken as 
   indicators of intelligence.  Among them are:

       good memory
       tendency to be observant
       presence of mind
       quickness in learning
       extensive knowledge
       analytical ability, reasoning ability
       good sense, good judgment, prudence
       perceptiveness in regard to other people 
       articulateness in talking and expressing oneself
       ability to find one's way about a maze (as my wife in the 
          maze-like streets of old Barcelona that had me all 
       good understanding of things

   It is important to note that a person may rate very high on 
   some of these things and at the same time rate very low on 
   others.  Now I ask a question.  Does it make good sense to 
   categorically say that a person is stupid (unless he perhaps 
   rates very poorly in all of these things)?  Wouldn't it be much 
   more reasonable to simply say he is strong on some of these 
   points and weak in others?  And I don't really believe that a 
   person is likely to be weak in all points.  Why?  Because I 
   think some of the things are inversely correlated. For example, 
   some people may be very fast learners but may tend to rate 
   rather poorly in analytical ability, in reasoning ability.  I 
   would say that I personally tend to be very careful and 
   cautious in my thought processes: I don't pass judgment or jump 
   to conclusions quickly or easily, I tend to examine all basic 
   assumptions very closely and carefully.  I have a strong 
   tendency toward skepticism, a strong proneness to question.  I 
   don't just pick up, accept and absorb ideas and concepts 
   indiscriminately.  I treat each with skepticism and must 
   examine it, analyze it, understand it, justify it, and fit it 
   into its proper place in the whole before I can accept it.  And 
   I must take my time in doing it.  I can't be rushed.  If I am 
   rushed my mind shuts down.  If you rush me I will become 
   confused.  I am a person who can't be rushed in anything.  I 
   have to go at my own pace.  All this is just natural, automatic 
   --- just the way I am.  This tendency helps me in analyzing 
   difficult problems but at the same time it perhaps accounts for 
   why others may pick up ideas faster than I, learn faster (a 
   fast learner tends to be a person who is able to just accept 
   and absorb ideas quickly and indiscriminately without 
   questioning, examining or reflecting over them --- he tends to 
   accept ideas as a whole, to be only interested in the vague 
   overall picture, and doesn't want to take the time to consider 
   them minutely and in detail, to consider how they square with 
   other information he is aware of, etc.).  For example, a fast 
   learner is the kind of person who will quickly pick up the IQ 
   idea, believe it, accept the concept as valid.  It will become 
   part of his tacit assumptions as he lives his life.  I, on the 
   other hand, have never accepted it.

   June 1976

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