Author Topic: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?  (Read 4355 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Implode

  • Lord of the Squids
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 5517
  • Gender: Male
Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« on: June 25, 2012, 10:19:04 AM »
Do you think intelligence is a trait that someone is born with? Obviously people aren't born with knowledge; I mean the inclined ability to learn, remember, and comprehend things. Or do you think that anyone given the right effort can be intelligent?

I ask because recently I've been contemplating the ethical implications of the answer to that question. Most people value intelligence. Smart people end up being more successful and making more money on average. We only let the smarter kids get educated even further by only accepting a few to the best universities. Even culturally, the most common and still acceptable insults are insulting someone's intelligence.

Most people seem to ascribe to the philosophy that an incination to be smart is something your born with. But if that's completely the case, wouldn't be wrong to insult someone's natural intelligence or only reward people who were born with a better advantage? I think it's a mixture of both being born with it and being brought up in the right environment, but I'm still not sure what that means for all my other questions.

Your thoughts?

Online BlobVanDam

  • Future Boy
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 38737
  • Gender: Male
  • Transform and rock out!
    • BlobVanDam's 3D Portfolio
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2012, 10:36:45 AM »
I think potential intelligence is genetic to some degree, but I also believe someone's upbringing to nurture those talents is a huge factor. A lot of a person's brain development is in those early years after birth, so I don't think it's just a matter of two brainiacs popping out a kid and that's the end of the story.
But I'm not sure that if you took a baby spawned from two dumbasses, and had rocket scientists raise the kid from birth, that it could end up a genius.

There are so many factors that come into play, so it's probably hard to separate it all.
Only King could mis-spell a LETTER.
Yep. I think the only party in the MP/DT situation that hasn't moved on is DTF.

Offline Ħ

  • Posts: 3247
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2012, 10:42:58 AM »
What blob said.

I think that the learning capabilities between between any two different is too minuscule to make a difference.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline tofee35

  • Posts: 326
  • Gender: Male
  • That aint nothin'
    • repenso architecture + design
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2012, 10:59:02 AM »
I think the gift is somebody's partial ability to retain information. The skill part comes in the form of learning how to retain useful information, block out useless information, work ethic, and conveying information in a persuasive way. Much of it comes down to learned morals, ambition, and self-confidence. For me, it's been 25% gift, 75% skill. I bet the ratio is totally different for everybody.

I second Blob's idea on the early years of development too, and I think that would fall under the gift category for me.


Offline kirksnosehair

  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 6679
  • Gender: Male
  • I'M CAPTAIN KIRK!!!!!!!!!!!
    • The ANABASIS
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2012, 11:06:04 AM »
+1 to 'da blob man  ;D

Offline jammindude

  • Posts: 8632
  • Gender: Male
    • The Jammin Dude Show
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2012, 11:10:19 AM »
I have to agree.  POTENTIAL for intelligence is a gift.   ACQUIRED intelligence is a skill.   
"Better the pride that resides in a citizen of the world.
Than the pride that divides when a colorful rag is unfurled." - Neil Peart

The Jammin Dude Show - http://www.youtube.com/user/jammindude

Offline theseoafs

  • When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bayyyyy
  • Posts: 5573
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello! My name is Elder Price
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2012, 11:14:38 AM »
I do think that intelligence is genetic. Some people naturally cruise through school without ever having been taught how to do that, while there are others who could never get straight A's even if they worked 24/7.

However, there is also a nurture aspect to the question. It's important for kids to be raised in an environment that values learning, reading, and critical thinking.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to know exactly how much each factor matters, because this would be a horribly unethical area for experimentation.

Offline Ħ

  • Posts: 3247
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2012, 11:26:41 AM »
I do think that intelligence is genetic. Some people naturally cruise through school without ever having been taught how to do that, while there are others who could never get straight A's even if they worked 24/7.
Cruising through academics is not a result of just being naturally gifted - it's figuring out what works. Whether through luck or cleverness, some people get it and some don't. But I don't think you pop out of the womb with a gift for academics - academics is, after all, a man-made construct.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline El Barto

  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 20550
  • Bad Craziness
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2012, 11:40:04 AM »
Unfortunately, it's impossible to know exactly how much each factor matters, because this would be a horribly unethical area for experimentation.
Not at all.  You study the long term results of adopted and foster children.  I know of some research that's been done in that area, but it involves some racial elements that I think we'd all prefer to not get into, and the results aren't particularly consistent anyway. 
Argument, the presentation of reasonable views, never makes headway against conviction, and conviction takes no part in argument because it knows.
E.F. Benson

Offline rumborak

  • DT.net Veteran
  • ****
  • Posts: 26444
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2012, 11:40:11 AM »
@H: Nah, it's not just about "figuring out how it works". At least in my EE studies there was a clear divide between the people who could understand the matter, and those who didn't. And we certainly tried with some folks to get them to understand, but at some point we just had to drop them from our group.

rumborak
"I liked when Myung looked like a women's figure skating champion."

Offline theseoafs

  • When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bayyyyy
  • Posts: 5573
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello! My name is Elder Price
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2012, 11:49:06 AM »
Unfortunately, it's impossible to know exactly how much each factor matters, because this would be a horribly unethical area for experimentation.
Not at all.  You study the long term results of adopted and foster children.  I know of some research that's been done in that area, but it involves some racial elements that I think we'd all prefer to not get into, and the results aren't particularly consistent anyway.


Right. Those are "studies", not "experiments"; an "experiment" in this case would be randomly selecting a bunch of families and ordering certain parents to do a bad job raising their kids, which is horribly unethical. You can learn a bit from studies but the information won't be as certain or valuable as what you might get from an experiment.

I do think that intelligence is genetic. Some people naturally cruise through school without ever having been taught how to do that, while there are others who could never get straight A's even if they worked 24/7.
Cruising through academics is not a result of just being naturally gifted - it's figuring out what works. Whether through luck or cleverness, some people get it and some don't. But I don't think you pop out of the womb with a gift for academics - academics is, after all, a man-made construct.

A clarification: I don't mean to imply that success in academics equates to general intelligence. However, it's what a lot of people think of when they think of "intelligence", and it's what the OP was asking about.

Academics might be man-made, but I don't see how that would preclude someone having a natural knack for it. Also, as rumby said, it is certainly true that some people are simply stronger than others when it comes to academics.

Offline wolfandwolfandwolf

  • Gym Rat
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 718
  • Gender: Male
  • Really Scrappy Player
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2012, 12:16:52 PM »
Midichlorians.

Offline Implode

  • Lord of the Squids
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 5517
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2012, 01:20:20 PM »
Midichlorians are an effect, not a cause.

Offline Jaffa

  • Just Jaffa
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 4599
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2012, 01:28:45 PM »
I'm not really sure about the answer of the question of whether intelligence is a gift or a skill.  I know that I had an easier time in school than most people around me did, but I also know that I had more supportive and nurturing parents than some other kids did.  So whether or not I was 'naturally' more 'intelligent' or whether I had just learned to be better at academics than them, I don't know.  I do genuinely believe, however, that some people have better memories than others, and that this does play a factor in potential intelligence.  Remembering is an important part of learning, so a person who can remember better is usually capable of learning better. 

As for the ethical questions...

Most people seem to ascribe to the philosophy that an incination to be smart is something your born with. But if that's completely the case, wouldn't be wrong to insult someone's natural intelligence or only reward people who were born with a better advantage?

To insult someone's natural intelligence, perhaps.  You could argue that it would be a bit like mocking someone for a disability (that is, if intelligence is, in fact, something we're born with or without).  But to 'only reward people who were born with a better advantage'... I would say there is no ethical dilemma there. 

Working with the assumption that some people are inherently less intelligent than others, would it make any sense at all to treat everyone as equally intelligent?  You mention that the smartest kids get the best education - but why shouldn't it be that way?  If someone is borning lacking in the area of intelligence (again, I'm not suggesting that this is the case, merely rolling with the assumption), does it make any sense to give them access to the same education as those gifted with intelligence?  After all, aren't the 'gifted' going to be able to make better use of that education?  I mean, this may sound callous, but why waste a Harvard education on someone who isn't actually going to learn much from it?  Why shouldn't Harvard be reserved for those gifted few who are going to make the most of their time there?

I think a fitting analogy would be a basketball team.  As a general rule, basketball players tend to be pretty tall.  There are exceptions, of course, but it's the general rule.  The reason is that height provides certain advantages which are good for basketball players to have in order to be successful at the sport.

But height is definitely a genetic trait, with no skill involved whatsoever.  Nobody 'works hard' to be tall.  They're just either tall or they aren't.  Does that mean that it is unethical for a basketball coach to work mostly with taller players?  I'd say definitely not.  That coach is merely taking the players who have the most advantages because the players with the most advantages will be best for his team.  Why should he spend his time coaching a midget when, in all likelihood, that midget will never possibly be able to perform a slam dunk no matter how much training he has? 

I'd say the same would apply to intelligence, if it were a natural genetic trait.

A rocket scientist's education shouldn't be wasted on someone who will never be able to be a rocket scientist. 
Sincerely,
Jaffa

Offline Implode

  • Lord of the Squids
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 5517
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2012, 01:50:47 PM »
I understand where you're coming from with those points, but what about this?

I have a friend that came from a broken family where he didn't always get the emotional or monetary support that he needed. He's also not the most intelligent person, but he's been putting in alot of work. He's trying to take some college classes, but he has to pay for them himself. Because his low test scores and grades, he can only find simple jobs at places like walmart where he works tons of hours with minimum wage. It took up so much time that he couldn't put in the required effort that he personally needed to succeed in all those classes. He's been rejected at many major colleges, and that's really getting him down.

Not all of that might be relevant, but it makes me wonder if it's fair that he doesn't get any rewards for working so hard just because he wasn't able to get through school easily with decent grades. I hope he'll be able to be successful some day, but it'll be really difficult.

Now you say you wouldn't want to waste education on someone who doesn't get it. That makes sense, but when things like money are involved, it's not that simple. People with more education will make more money and be able to live easier. It doesn't seem fair, but at the same time, life isn't fair and I don't see a better way.

Offline Jaffa

  • Just Jaffa
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 4599
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2012, 02:10:48 PM »
Now you say you wouldn't want to waste education on someone who doesn't get it. That makes sense, but when things like money are involved, it's not that simple. People with more education will make more money and be able to live easier. It doesn't seem fair, but at the same time, life isn't fair and I don't see a better way.

I don't disagree with anything you said, except that I don't see much of it as relevant.  In the case of your friend, I think that's an entirely different question.  Because in his case, we have no reason to believe that he isn't intelligent.  His situation is difficult because of his parents and because of his social status and because of several other factors, not just because he was born without the genetic gift of intelligence.  So while I do feel for him - very much so, I assure you - I don't really think the question you're asking in the OP has much to do with people like your friend.


I'm talking about a theoretical world where intelligence is an innate genetic trait, where some people are simply and objectively less intelligent than others by default.  Person A is naturally smarter than Person B, and Person A will always be smarter than Person B no matter how hard Person B works to learn.  Person A can coast through school with better grades than Person B can get when he spends hours a day studying. 

Again, I'm not suggesting that this is actually the case very often or even at all.  But if intelligence IS a 'gift', then this sort of situation is entirely possible.

It boils down to this: as an employer, would you rather hire someone who can achieve positive results with minimal effort, or someone who can achieve decent results with a lot of effort?  Because that's what we're talking about.  Person A is inherently better for the job than Person B, because Person A is inherently more intelligent.  Shouldn't employers be allowed to accept the ones that are best for the job?

Is it always fair?  No, absolutely not.  It's also not 'fair' that some people are born with genetic defects that cut their lifespans in half.  But it's not society that's being unfair to those people; it's nature, or random chance, or God, of whatever else is responsible for deciding which people get which genetic gifts. 
Sincerely,
Jaffa

Offline theseoafs

  • When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bayyyyy
  • Posts: 5573
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello! My name is Elder Price
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2012, 04:56:53 PM »
Not all of that might be relevant, but it makes me wonder if it's fair that he doesn't get any rewards for working so hard just because he wasn't able to get through school easily with decent grades. I hope he'll be able to be successful some day, but it'll be really difficult.

Well, the college application process makes use of a bunch of other things that don't necessarily require as much free time as performing well in school might. If a student is truly gifted, he'll probably be able to ace a standardized test without much effort whatsoever; essays are also a big deal, and it's good writers who write great essays, not people who are obscenely rich or have great home lives. There are checks in place to make sure that people like your friend are judged as fairly as they can be.

Like Jaffa said, under the assumption that some people are simply more intelligent than others (and from the encounters I've had with people, I'm sure this is the case), the intelligent are entitled to better opportunities simply because they are able to handle them. Is it fair? Of course not. Can we fix it? Of course not, for the same reason that NBA teams would be fairer but worse if they didn't take the players' heights into account while selecting them.

Offline Riceball

  • It's the economy, stupid.
  • Posts: 969
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2012, 06:10:58 PM »
First of all: school grades, particularly high school grades or exam grades, don't equal intelligence; they equal an ability to memorise and recall facts. University is still not as much to do with intelligence as recall, but suceeding in your particular area of expertise after becoming good at recalling stuff is intelligence. Just knowing facts isn't.

In my mind (lolpun), intelligence is mostly a skill, but the ability to focus on lifting intelligence through the appropriate motivating factors is something that is part genetic and part to do with how you were raised. For example, my parents encouraged me very early on, just after I was talking, to learn how to say three and four digit numbers (like saying 3965 is three thousand, nine hundred and sixty five) and to try to read books. Its no small coincidence that I now work in a field dominated by numerical analysis and reading/writing/interpreting, IMO.
I punch those numbers into my calculator and they make a happy face.

A $500 Musical Odyssey: Now accepting nominations

Offline Adami

  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 26527
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2012, 06:13:45 PM »
I'd say it's a bit of both. Some people have a higher degree of ability to be smart than others. I have known people who could have been really smart, yet didn't care about learning. I've also known people who tried rather hard to learn yet at no point had the ability to be any smarter than a 12 year old (at best).
fanticide.bandcamp.com

Offline SeRoX

  • DTF.org Offical Obsessed Member
  • DTF.org Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1932
  • Gender: Male
  • The VoiceMaster
    • James LaBrie
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2012, 03:47:27 PM »
I define this like that.

Intelligence is a potential energy that everybody has. (Aside some genetic problems) Turning that potential energy into kinetic energy is a gift that not everybody has.
Quote from: Plasmastrike
SeRoX is right!
Quote from: Nihil-Morari
SeRoX is DTF's JLB!
As usual, SeRoX is correct.

Offline Rathma

  • Posts: 616
  • oh no she didnt
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #20 on: June 26, 2012, 08:00:33 PM »
you marxist

Offline hefdaddy42

  • Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound
  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 40294
  • Gender: Male
  • RIP Dad 1943-2010
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2012, 04:26:35 PM »
I work with the general public.  IMHO, intelligence is a gift, and not one that is shared by most people.
Hef is right on all things. Except for when I disagree with him. In which case he's probably still right.

Offline Rathma

  • Posts: 616
  • oh no she didnt
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2012, 11:10:02 AM »
i believe there needs to be more focus on emotional intelligence, as that is definitely more able to be improved than IQ.

Offline Ħ

  • Posts: 3247
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2012, 05:32:29 PM »
To be honest, I don't know one way or another. But if you accept the mindset that anything is possible physically and mentally, you push yourself to a much higher standard than if you just think everything is genetic and we have no control over our talents. I'd much rather err on the side of the former.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline hefdaddy42

  • Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound
  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 40294
  • Gender: Male
  • RIP Dad 1943-2010
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #24 on: July 07, 2012, 04:19:44 AM »
YOU might push YOURSELF, but the overwhelming majority wouldn't and don't.
Hef is right on all things. Except for when I disagree with him. In which case he's probably still right.

Offline Ħ

  • Posts: 3247
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #25 on: July 07, 2012, 11:44:39 AM »
Shouldn't you expect others to push themselves, or at the very least encourage it? I'd rather talk to others about unreached potential over limitations.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline theseoafs

  • When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bayyyyy
  • Posts: 5573
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello! My name is Elder Price
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #26 on: July 07, 2012, 11:46:18 AM »
I don't think anyone is arguing that we stop pushing children to do their best. 

Offline Ħ

  • Posts: 3247
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #27 on: July 07, 2012, 11:49:49 AM »
I know. But we shouldn't inadvertently discourage people by talk of genetics or limitations all the time. IMO, there are no "math kids", "art kids", or "music kids". We shouldn't recognize those terms. All of us have a right and left brain and on the elementary level, I doubt very many people are really hindered in their development of these very basic areas.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline theseoafs

  • When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bayyyyy
  • Posts: 5573
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello! My name is Elder Price
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #28 on: July 07, 2012, 11:59:59 AM »
Well, I think we should try to learn as much as possible about human development even if it bums some people out. :lol

Offline Ħ

  • Posts: 3247
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #29 on: July 07, 2012, 12:03:58 PM »
I agree, but don't let it become an excuse for people to not push themselves. That's the problem.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline theseoafs

  • When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bayyyyy
  • Posts: 5573
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello! My name is Elder Price
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #30 on: July 07, 2012, 12:22:25 PM »
The thing is, though, that telling every student that they're very special and the smartest kid ever and that they should apply to Harvard up until the end of high school is potentially more damaging.  At the end of the day, it will become apparent what each individual student's strengths and weaknesses are, and being honest with ourselves about what they are is the only way to achieve true self-improvement.

Anyway, I don't think we actually disagree on this topic, H.  It's important to push every student in spite of the fact that some are better at some things than others. I think we're Internet Disagreeing.

Offline Ħ

  • Posts: 3247
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #31 on: July 07, 2012, 12:27:17 PM »
Yeah, probably. :lol Just gotta get that last word in every time!
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline Jaffa

  • Just Jaffa
  • DTF.org Alumni
  • ****
  • Posts: 4599
  • Gender: Male
Re: Intelligence: Gift or Skill?
« Reply #32 on: July 08, 2012, 01:33:02 AM »
I know. But we shouldn't inadvertently discourage people by talk of genetics or limitations all the time. IMO, there are no "math kids", "art kids", or "music kids". We shouldn't recognize those terms. All of us have a right and left brain and on the elementary level, I doubt very many people are really hindered in their development of these very basic areas.

Shh.  You're ruining the conspiracy.  If everyone knows they have equal potential, everyone will want cool jobs.  There will be no one to do any of the crappy jobs! 
Sincerely,
Jaffa