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janbb's avatar

If you could be more intelligent than you are, would you choose to be?

Asked by janbb (53594points) June 24th, 2010

Following on the discussion of god and goddess-like looks, I am wondering about other attributes you might choose to change. I suspect most of us on here consider ourselves to be fairly intelligent, but what if your intelligence could be magically increased? Would you do it? Would there be a downside to it? In what areas would you like to see your intelligence improved?

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58 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

I already am.

janbb's avatar

Your lack of logic disproves the statement, @smartypants.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Absolutely – who wouldn’t?

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

No. In fact I’d be willing to trade about 30 IQ points to have normal social skills.

dpworkin's avatar

Not in my world, dopey.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Though this may be a good idea for you, I sure as hell don’t hope this leads people to further discuss how the two just simply must be mutually exclusive, blah blah blah.

Disc2021's avatar

Yep. I’d be flying by school and acing tests – and still have time to party that same night.

janbb's avatar

I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

To return to the question at hand, I feel that I know a lot things and have a pretty good ability to understand and learn many new things. But there are certain concepts and logical problems that I grapple with and can feel myself stretching toward. I can understand Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle but a lot of quantum mechanics shuts me out and I struggle to get some of the logical puzzles that some in my family solve easily. I would like to be more intelligent, but I think there is an upper limit to how much more I would like to be. And this begs the question of different types of intelligence too – I feel I have greater emotional intelligence than many .

dpworkin's avatar

that’s not what “begs the question” means, smarty-pants.

janbb's avatar

See if I were smarter maybe I would remember that…

janbb's avatar

Vunessuh is either writing a tome or has fallen asleep in her beer.

CMaz's avatar

Hmmmm, me. I mean I am God.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I agree with you. I should explain to readers that my tested IQ is in the 180s but I have Aspergers Syndrome, which makes a normal social life all but impossible.

Vunessuh's avatar

Sure I would.

“In what areas would you like to see your intelligence improved?”

I’d like to know a lot more about our country’s history. I seriously feel like a dumbass whenever somebody talks to me about how we as a country came to be. Whatever it is: wars, eras, presidencies, scientific breakthroughs, etc. I want to know about it.
I’d also like to be much more informed about many current events. (This is from a serious lack of watching the news or reading a newspaper or searching for news online or communicating with people face to face about what’s currently going on.)
And I’d like to know more about our government and economy. These were all classes I never paid attention in. If I could magically know, (in more detail), what I chose to miss, I would love it.
As far as emotional intelligence, I agree with @janbb that I’m pretty well developed in this area, just not so much when it comes to cold hard facts about the country. I’d even go as far as to say I’d want to know much more about politics and the presidency going on now which I hate to admit I find incredibly unappealing. I’ve just always felt like I can never carry on a decent conversation about the above topics because I don’t know much about them, which is kind of a crappy feeling after a while.

Now where exactly do I sign up for this magicalness?

dpworkin's avatar

@Vunessuh none of what you said reflects on your intelligence. It merely reflects on the current state of your knowledge. From what I know of you, you are more than capable of learning all of that, and more.

janbb's avatar

@Vunessuh I – goddammit – have to agree with @dpworkin. Try reading the New York Times and listening to NPR for starters. You can learn a lot from each.

dpworkin's avatar

I’m not sure we know what “intelligence” really is. I think it’s more important to be insatiably curious, and open-minded.

janbb's avatar

Good point – but I was getting at areas in which you can see where your limits are. Although, possibly with the right teacher or explanation, I could understand quite a bit of physics. Sometimes, we limit ourselves due to affinity….

dpworkin's avatar

@janbb You might really enjoy watching the Feynman lectures on physics, which are abundantly available on the web.

janbb's avatar

I’ve listened to a few and he is great, but watching them would be better.

Vunessuh's avatar

Yes, you’re both right. I just feel so ignorant and naive when it comes to those things and it makes me feel really stupid when people around me carry on conversations about certain things and smirk when I don’t know something that is apparently suppose to be glaringly obvious. It actually just recently started really bothering me.
But thanks for that, because I feel a little bit better now.

But I’d still like to magically know all of these things since that’s what the question asked for. XD
It would be so much easier than essentially homeschooling myself in history and government/economics.
I truly am interested in knowing this stuff, I just need to find the time (away from work and other responsibilities) and some slight motivation to do it.

dpworkin's avatar

@Vunessuh No one knows everything. No one even knows everything about one thing. Follow your heart and your interests, and there is where you will be an expert, and your friends will be dumbstruck at how much you know.

Spider's avatar

I usually operate under the assumption that I (or anyone) could learn just about anything, but I think that there are natural limitations for certain types of knowledge, and whether they can be overcome is often up to the person.

An example that I’ll never forget is when I tried to teach my grandmother how to use a computer. She was probably about 80 at the time (she’s 94 now). I consider her pretty intelligent, but she couldn’t grasp the concept of using a mouse. Her hand was on the mouse, and I placed my hand on hers. I used my other hand to point to the screen where the pointer was and moved both my hands in conjunction so that she could see the connection between mouse and screen. When I let go for her to try on her own, she kept “spinning” the mouse, as if she were screwing a top on a jar. For a time, I thought it was simply an inconceivable concept for her, but maybe her desire to learn just wasn’t strong enough.

I would like to have the intelligence to adapt to the changes that I can’t foresee. To solve problems that I can’t think of. Kind of a non-answer, I know, but I want to be able to grasp concepts that are foreign to me, like the mouse was a foreign concept to my grandmother. She has yet to use a computer.

Vunessuh's avatar

@dpworkin Ah, thank you! That is definitely something I have to remember because there are some things that I know a lot about, they’re just not as universal as the above mentioned topics – I tend to forget what I do know and focus on what I don’t know (especially when everyone around me seems to be so well informed about it.) I guess it just gets discouraging after a while.
Anyway, I appreciate what you have to say. =)

SeventhSense's avatar

I think I would. There are a few obscure topics I’d like to tackle if I could wrap my head around them. But yet again it’s kind of like a situational ethics thing. You really don’t know how much it would or wouldn’t improve your quality of life until you actually have the outlook of the improved brain function. Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? It’s more of a philosophical question in my estimation.

Cruiser's avatar

My college degree had spit to do with my successes in life. Intelligence is knowing how to solve problems. It doesn’t take a genius mind to do that it takes moxy, confidence and courage. I know what I am doing and that is most of what matters to me.

Jeruba's avatar

I definitely would! When I run slam-bang into that wall of incomprehension, where I know there is something to get, and I can see just far enough to know that I am falling short, but I can’t make the leap, I feel very frustrated. It’s not that I envy the folks with better brains than mine—I don’t—but that the ability to see more, know more, comprehend more is just so tantalizing. I know enough to know that there’s so very much I don’t know, and it’s hard to settle for such a limited view when the panorama beyond must be amazing.

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba I’m with you, toots!

dpworkin's avatar

@Jeruba But there would never be enough! Each time your view would be blocked by a higher peak!

janbb's avatar

Interesting idea; Anyone ever read how someone like Einstein or for that matter, Feynman felt about their capabilities? Feynman was pretty arrogant I know.

Berserker's avatar

If I was more intelligent than I am now, how would I learn whatever I’m gonna learn in whatever remains of my life? Fuck the conclusion, progress is what’s important.

That wasn’t very smart was it? So yeah, probably, but only if it makes me rich.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Symbeline Makes sense to me.Maybe we’re both crazy the same way.^u^

Berserker's avatar

I’m pretty sure the only sane people left in this shitsack of a world are the ones who were always fucking psychotic to begin with. :)

dpworkin's avatar

Eisnstein had his limitations like everyone else. He died thinking Quantum Mechanics couldn’t be right, and spent the last years of his life fighting an unwinnable battle against it. Does that make Nils Bohr smarter?

Berserker's avatar

I denno who that is.

Nils Bohr, not Einstein, in case you was wonderin.

dpworkin's avatar

He was a guy who was right about QM when Einstein was wrong.

Berserker's avatar

@dpworkin Well, like you said, I can’t really define intelligence, so fuck it lol.

janbb's avatar

True – just using him as an example.. Anyone remember reading the short story “Flowers for Algernon” about the man who had his sub-normal intelligence improved in a scientific experiment and then the experiment failed and it was reversed? It’s very sad becuase he realizes what he’s losing. It was made into a movie too, which I’‘ve never seen.

Jeruba's avatar

@dpworkin, yes, it would. I do think it takes a certain amount of intelligence to recognize your limitations, but I don’t believe I’d ever say “Stop, that’s enough.”

wundayatta's avatar

Right now, I don’t feel like there’s much that I couldn’t understand if I put a little study into it. I suppose I might enjoy having a mind that can see possibilities even more than I already do. But what I’ve got already gets me into enough trouble.

What I would really like is more visual intelligence and a faster memory retrieval system. I’m sure the latter is fairly obvious, but the former may not be. I am having trouble interpreting what I’m seeing these days. I don’t see things as well as I used to. I’m sure part of that is physical, but I’ll be a lot of it has to do with my brain, as well.

Also, I don’t believe our thinking occurs only inside the brain. I think our thinking is distributed throughout our bodies. When we become disabled in one way or another, we lose thinking capacity as a result.

I want my eyes back. I want to be able to see things the way I used to, and I mean see in both senses. So if someone offered me that, I wouldn’t turn it down.

Dr_C's avatar

To develop an eidetic memory would be enough for me.

dpworkin's avatar

I would hate that! Think of all the trivia you would collect over a lifetime if your memory were truly eidetic.

Dr_C's avatar

@dpworkin works for me.

Jeruba's avatar

How about selectively eidetic?

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@dpworkin It is a curse, I know. In an age when people can Google everything, having a mind full of useless bits of trivia doesn’t even impress anyone.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’d like to be more intelligent when it comes to understanding mathematics.

nikipedia's avatar

I COULD WIN EVERY PUB QUIZ.

janbb's avatar

@wundayatta I know what you mean about the diminishment of visual ability;I sometims misinterpret what I see now too. (Like wondering whether your new avatar is a butterfly or really a vagina to match your old ass.) Seriously, it can be a problem at times.

downtide's avatar

Yes. Most of my friends are far more intelligent than I am and I think I would be able to participate better in conversations with them if I was smarter. Also I think I would have been more successful in life if I’d been more academically capable.

Jeruba's avatar

@janbb, I thought it was essentially the same form, just a different paint job. It’s still two parted lobes.

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba Ha! Maybe it’s really a Rorshach test?

wundayatta's avatar

@Jeruba and @janbb I’m definitely not seeing the vagina, although I can see the parted lobes concept. Still, as you’d know if you ever looked at my profile, it is a butterfly (I thought this had been established long ago, since I’ve been Wundayatta for forever), and it does symbolize being a healthy person, instead of identifying with being crazy. So think emergence and growth. Get your minds out of the gutter! ;-)

janbb's avatar

But it’s so much fun down here!

Jeruba's avatar

@wundayatta, I don’t challenge its butterflyness. I’m simply remarking that in form it is more like the old avatar than it is different, especially cropped that way. In fact, when it first appeared, I took it to be a deliberate echo, even to the slight asymmetry and the shadowy darkness at the center. Right where the…orifice…used to be.

tadpole's avatar

i would happily be multi-lingual…

wundayatta's avatar

aaaaaaaaggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! Ok, ok, you win! Now please, never talk to me about this again. I don’t want to be sick to my stomach!

Jeruba's avatar

Sorry. I honestly thought it was intentional. So we’d recognize you. I did.
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<Silence…never mentioning again.>

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