Intelligence

A few weeks ago, we were in Chicago for an archery tournament at Roberto Clemente Community Academy (i.e., high school); Grandpa came down from Arlington Heights to help us cheer on Jake, and a pleasant time was had by all (at least, nobody threw up in the parking lot this time).

The gym (Field house? Big building full of archers?) where the tournament took place had a colorful & interesting mural painted on its west wall. I took a few pictures, but somehow never got around to posting any of them. (My bad. Sorry!)

The mural included a sentence:

There in Egypt all the sages were convinced that gender is not of essence in matters of intelligence.

I understood the artist’s point, but also I wondered: What is intelligence? Is there only one kind of intelligence, exactly the same in everyone, with the only variable being how much one has of it?

That strikes me as far too restrictive a definition.

The mind’s agility can’t be usefully described by a single number, or even by a set of numbers. That’s just a temptation to people who need to feel superior to others. Getting hung up on who’s superior to whom is a sign – not of intelligence, of its absence.

Intelligence is: clarity, creativity, eloquence, empathy, memory, perceptiveness, precision…and probably a dozen other things. (Does athletic ability count as intelligence? Perhaps it should.)

It seems foolish to expect all of these to manifest equally in all people; and foolish to take offense at the possibility that they do not. Would civilization really collapse if it turned out that intelligence operated differently in men and women?