October 2017
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Intelligence vs admirable thinking


icon: "analytical (a close-up photo of my eye in bright sunlight, showing the green and grey and roots-looking patterns)"

webgirluk asked how I would define intelligence, and I have two answers to this.

Overall, intelligence is something I consider to be like 'attractiveness': a harmful social rating system with no useful applications. It is an arbitrary measure of worth, defined by how well a person's thinking reproduces society's values. For instance, someone who fails all standardized tests will be called "unintelligent" because they cannot predict what society would say is the correct answer. IQ tests are not a good measure of the skill or quality of a person's thinking but they are an excellent measure of how society will rate a person's intelligence, because the way the tests are formed favors those who have been exposed to certain concepts and values. Intelligence is held up as a virtue, but while it can be useful it is morally irrelevant, and I get extremely angry when people use 'unintelligent' (or slurs that are synonyms) to mean 'morally inferior' (for a whole host of reasons). I don't consider the category of 'stupid' to actually exist either, just like 'ugly' doesn't really exist. There are people who don't think like society wants them to, and those people are oppressed because of it, but they are not actually less able to think nor are their thoughts inferior. It is just a difference that is stigmatized.

Sometimes people use intelligence to mean "thinking that is valuable and worth admiration." Regarding this, I consider "admirable thinking" to be thinking that questions assumptions and looks for new ideas and perspectives. Thinking that is curious and expressive, that seeks to learn and reshape thoughts rather than to reinforce current ideas, that finds enjoyment in realizing their mistakes because it means they learned something new. This admirable thinking is present in a wide range of 'IQ levels' and expression-skill levels; however, it is not available to everyone, as it is a type of thinking that usually requires time, energy, and access to new ideas. So, a lack of it is not a moral failing UNLESS you have the privilege of those things. It is always morally negative (harm-creating) in the context of privilege. I don't consider this to be 'intelligence' but it is the closest thing I actually consider to exist.

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Comments
marchioness ══╣╠══
All very well said, m'dear. Standardized testing is such a pox on education.
belenen ══╣powerful╠══
thanks, and it SO is.
song_of_copper ══╣Miaow! =^.^=╠══
This is really well-put; what a helpful way of thinking about these things. Totally agree that standardised tests are untrustworthy/biased. One problem is that 'average' or 'normal' becomes a thing that people want to aim for, so that anyone not in the 'average' set is treated with suspicion or derision and expected to account for themselves. :-/ I like the phrase 'admirable thinking'.

Another such category that annoys me is 'primitive' v. 'evolved' or 'developed' with regard to societies/ways of life.
belenen ══╣artistic╠══
Thank you!

I so agree, that 'primitive' vs 'developed' is such an oppressive concept. gross.
webgirluk ══╣pic#118113725╠══
I love your reply and I was curious as to your thoughts as I suspected you would reply with something open minded and similar to how I would view it as well, although you worded it so much more efficiently than I could :-) I agree that it's a useless system in the same way judging looks is and typical society definitions in place to generate opportunity for some people to feel superior over a socially defined privilege basically. I get cross over the labels of people being unintelligent as well and never understand why it's seen to be so accepted to mock people who fall short of society's measure of worth in this area when we have no control over how we fit into IQ tests and such like. It feels like we live in a society that places value to superiority over compassion and something I'd like to change or at least surround myself with free thinking, fair people.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
value to superiority over compassion

I totally agree. Society at large does not care about anything of the individual except their wealth-producing capacity. :-[ I want to increase the valuing of connection as much as I can in my life.
kiwi ══╣╠══
*like*

(I wish LJ would bring on a "like" system...but for now, I read it and "liked" it.)
belenen ══╣amused╠══
:D
raidingparty ══╣╠══
And nobody believes me when I tell them I got a 90 on my IQ test.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
ugh, IQ tests. *shakes head*
bunnika ══╣bunny: glasses╠══
What are your feelings on this?

typesofintelligence

[Image description: Chart with the words "The Types of Intelligence by Mark Vital" in the center, and colorful blocks surrounding it saying, clockwise:
"Naturalist: Understanding living things and reading nature
Musical: Discerning sounds, their pitch, tone, rhythm, and timbre
Logical-Mathematical: Quantifying things, making hypotheses and proving them
Existential: Tackling the questions of why we life, and why we die
Interpersonal: Sensing people's feelings and motives
Bodily-Kinesthetic: Coordinating your mind with your body
Linguistic: Finding the right words to express what you mean
Intra-Personal: Understanding yourself, what you feel, and what you want
Spatial: Visualizing the world in 3D"]
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
My feelings are mostly indifferent, with some annoyance. There's way more than this, and this doesn't include things that only poor people have, like the particular kind of ingenuity you use when you make some cheap things do the job of something expensive, when that was not their intended purpose. I'm sure there are others, but I don't feel like classifying intelligence is useful at all.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.