What are the key elements of cleverness, mental acuity, or what is sometimes loosely called "intelligence"? Some candidate factors:

  • speed- quickness in processing information
  • capacity- a large storehouse of facts
  • method- diverse toolboxes of techniques
  • linkage- systematic interconnections among related items
  • randomness- wild and crazy bridges, to juxtapose diverse things and trigger creative insights
  • filters- for removal of fluff and false cross-references, and to help reject bad notions
  • depth- specialized knowledge of central, important fields
  • breadth- general acquaintance with many areas of knowledge
  • indirection- pointers to where more information can be found
  • meta-knowledge- judgments about the precision (or imprecision) of what is "known"
  • openness- willingness to accept new data
  • uncertainty- ability to hold multiple possibilities in mind without leaping to a premature decision
  • humility- recognition of one's own weaknesses and limitations

Smart people unconsciously tap into many of the above sources of power during the thinking process. Smarter people consciously study and build capability in these areas. Mental processor speed is hard to increase (though strong coffee sometimes helps!); the other factors all can be cultivated and improved over time. That's called learning.

Sunday, November 14, 1999 at 09:29:08 (EST) = 1999-11-14

TopicThinking - TopicMind

(correlates: BoysAndCookies, MoreMetaforestry, DeliberateOpinion, ...)