Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Smart or Knowledgeable?

Ever since the TV show entitled Are You Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader? came out, only one thought comes to mind: WTF??? Let's consider the facts. On the show, a group of kids faces off a group of adults whereby they are asked to answer questions straight out of a 5th-grade textbook. I've never watched the show, but I'm guessing that the kids generally cream the adults on this one. Why? Simple: the knowledge is fresh in the kiddies' minds. The operative word here being knowledge, NOT intelligence. Knowing that hummingbirds can fly backwards or that the official language of Mexico is Spanish (if you don't know that last one, you're IGNORANT), while very intriguing, are just facts. People often confuse knowledge with intelligence. Spitting out facts don't make you smart. It just makes you knowledgeable.

Up until university, I always found it funny that people could be pegged as smart just because they were able to memorize and regurgitate a plethora of facts onto a test paper to earn them a 90%. There sure seemed to be a lot of "smart" people in high school. Then came the true test of university, where true intelligence came out in all its glory. This was the pivotal point where the walking encyclopedias of high school were weeded out to make way for true intelligence. University forced you to work with the facts you knew to derive answers to things that you didn't necessarily know. THAT is intelligence.

Does this mean that knowledge is useless? Not at all. As they say (whoever "they" are), knowledge is power. Intelligence requires knowledge. How can you do epsilon-delta proofs without knowing the fundamentals of calculus? Knowledge allows us to make intelligent decisions - do I take Job A with X benefits, or do I take Job B with Y benefits?

So, GI-Joe was right in saying that "knowing is half the battle". Go figure...

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