Is intelligence overrated?

I thought I’d continue to put my thoughts in my blog this year, rather than keeping them bubbling up inside. It started with my inquisitive mind – of why some choose not to continue their formal education beyond highschool.

A couple of months ago in a café near work, I was waiting for my coffee order and had a small talk with the barista. I can’t remember the context of the conversation anymore, but he said something along the lines of “I’m not smart enough to do things like that”. I’ve heard similar comments before from other people too. My mind works funnily sometimes – maybe there’s a dog who lives in my head. Once my mental dog bites into a tidbit of treat, he will not let it go.

So this simple line gets me thinking – are people really not that clever not to handle complex mental challenges? Or are they led to believe that they are not?

Is it that the Chinese, Indian, Singaporean population are so full of clever people that they seem to go for the stars? Or are they put in a pressure cooker and in a conducive environment where they are forced to exercise their mind to handle more complex mental challenges? It’s the nature versus nurture debate all over again.

Perhaps, everybody is intelligent – given the right environment?

I hope you don’t take what I’m about to write next as me being conceited – I thank God for the sharp, analytical mind that gives me things to think about, and the means for me to do my PhD research and beyond. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that everybody is capable of undertaking their PhDs. I used to expect my environment, through the way I see my environment – in line with this quote that is often attributed to Anaïs Nin, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”. I sometimes think to myself, and find it irritating – when somebody fails to see a solution that is so simple, or understand something that I treat as trivial – that surely it should be that obvious to see!

I have slowly changed my view since then.

So what if somebody is not clever enough to handle complex equations or mental challenges, but is a great person overall? They can find simple solutions and approach life without soul-searching moments. Some of these people may be wonderful baristas, chefs, artists, tradespersons, singers, … mothers, fathers – a group of people that is individually wonderful.

Perhaps intelligence is overrated.


Published by fuzz

I've finally relented to the lures of blogging - and for those who care, well, I'm a self-confessed geek who's a wanderer at heart, who thinks and analyses too much, and who's trying hard to hold on to his 7-year old inner persona.

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