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Intelligence: a new paradigm Intelligence: a new paradigm
by Joseph Gatt
2021-02-21 12:09:35
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The old paradigm, or the paradigm some scholars like to take into account, is one where there are multiple, distinct intelligences.

Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence has it that human beings have 8 distinct intelligences: visual-spatial ; linguistic-verbal ; interpersonal ; intrapersonal ; logical-mathematical ; musical ; bodily-kinesthetic and naturalistic.

I do not completely discard Gardner's theory. Gardner's theory to me is a little “prescriptive.” That is, in my opinion, Gardner designed his theory to encourage teachers to lecture while catering to different “senses.” That is rather than the good old education system which mainly focused on language and behavior, Gardner encouraged teachers to nurture the visual aspects of students, the bodily aspect of students, the sense of touch, and learning in natural settings.

genio0001_400But what I'm about to do here is give a more “descriptive” definition of what society defines as intelligence. Because while we can analyze the brain in ways to understand how vision works and how hunger works and how reflexes work, or how language works, “intelligence” to me is a social construct and varies a great deal from social group to social group.

But, around the world, here's what people tend to refer to when they discuss “intelligence” or “genius.”

Academic excellence

Yes you got into Harvard or the MIT, so you must be a genius.

Academic excellence usually involves getting excellent grades. It's the test-taker's genius if you will. Students who are good at reading test questions and providing the correct answer to test questions. That's a form of genius alright, and a prized one in social settings.

Academic genius

Academic excellence is not the same thing as academic genius.

Academic excellence involves test prep, memorization, and usually involves preparing for tests but no reading or academic activities that don't involve acing tests.

Academic genius on the other hand involves grasping academic topics: history, math, literature, science, engineering, politics, sociology, anthropology, you name it.

That is academic genius involves being comfortable discussing academic topics, anywhere from discussing the Bible to discussing classical philosophy and modern scientific or social trends.

So if someone is good at telling stories and commentaries on academic topics, that tends to be defined as “being smart” by society.

Social genius

Some men and women may not be bookworms and may not grasp academia all that well. But they attract people like magnets.

Social genius involves connecting with people, being liked by people, and being solicited by people.

So if people are constantly calling you to hang out or solicit your advice or your talent or simply your presence, that's a form of genius.

Social intelligence usually involves remembering people's names, and knowing how to behave in ways that impress people in social settings.

Social intelligence is usually coupled with linguistic intelligence. That is people who are comfortable around other people tend to master the art of conversation, and the art of conversation in multiple languages.

Labor genius

This one is important to me, and I've never seen this one discussed in books or theory.

Labor genius involves being a genius at doing your job. You may not be a bookworm. You may not be a social creature. But when you show up to work, you get the job done, and you shine. That's a form of genius.

So labor genius involves performing greatly on the job, and being solicited to work and excel at work.

Business genius

Labor is not the same thing as business. Labor usually involves performing a set of tasks to help business or administration or production.

But business involves selling things. And selling is a skill that requires a different kind of genius.

Selling involves social genius, but not the kind where people necessarily enjoy your presence. Selling involves being shameless during negotiations, and pushing hard enough to get a good deal, without making clients escape during the negotiation. And selling involves endless negotiations where you need to keep the clients coming, keep pushing hard for a good deal, and still make sure clients don't stop showing up. That's a very specific kind of genius.

Creative genius

Some men and women are just great at inventing products, objects, ideas, stories or art work that did not exist, that no one had thought of, and that are useful, necessary and enjoyable.

So creative genius is the kind of genius where you come up with “useful novelty.”

Ergonomic genius

I couldn't come up with a better word. What I mean by ergonomic genius is what I would call the “mother's genius” or the “housewife's genius.” That is the ability to make life comfortable to those surrounding us.

It is the ability to decorate, to create cozy environments, to create clean, pleasant environments for people around us to thrive. Could be cooking great meals, decorating rooms neatly, or finding products that make life a lot easier for those surrounding us.

This is a necessary kind of genius as well.

Factual genius

Last but not least, factual genius. You have men and women who are probably not social creatures or academia nerds, but who sure know everything that goes on in the city and in the country.

They know where you can purchase authentic Zambian food in town. They know where you can open a bank account at the branch office of a Namibian bank. They know where you can find an authentic Bengali products grocery store. They know where you can call someone to get your dishwasher fixed. And they know what day and what time the game will be in all 5 leagues and 7 divisions. You get the idea.

Some people just know all their facts. They may not be able to discuss classical philosophy, but they can tell you where to look for Norwegian food, and can discuss different varieties of peanuts, and which ones people prefer, and the whole brand range and price range. And that certainly is one type of genius.

Final thoughts

I hear you asking me: what about star athletes? Isn't that one kind of genius? To me start athletes would be in the “labor genius” category, that is athletes usually get the job done for their team, and often perform very well on their job, which is winning games or tournaments while entertaining crowds.

I also hear you asking me: what about people who are “good with money?” Isn't financial genius a type of genius? To me, financial genius is hard to define. It fits into several categories. Maybe you make a lot of money because you excel on the job. Or maybe you don't make that much money but you squeeze in your few resources to still be able to create a cozy environment. Or maybe you're a genius at business and master the art of selling. Or maybe you're a social genius or a factual genius and know where to look to make money. You get the idea, money doesn't grow on trees, and there is no such thing as people who know how to grow better money trees.

And what about “manual genius” or “dexterity” or “problem solving.” Again, I'd put that in the “labor genius” category.

I finally hear you asking me “what about emotional intelligence?” I didn't list emotional intelligence because emotions all by themselves don't produce much of anything. You could be able to control your emotions when studying for tests. Or when meeting people. Or when studying facts. But there is no such thing as a man or a woman with good emotions and little else. Emotions usually go with some kind of situation.

And I was going to add something I was going to call “competition genius” that is people who know how to win at competitions. But then I thought, obviously, competition genius is either academic genius or labor genius. That is to win at competitions usually involves mastery of your job or your academic life. Again, I consider sports, including chess, to be a job, and categorize that in “labor intelligence.”

Implications? I would say that the school system should nurture academic excellence. But it should also nurture social genius, labor genius, creative genius, business genius, factual genius and creative genius and the like.

Let me give you an example of how important I think this paper is (I rarely call my papers “important” but to me this one really is).

In China, Korea and Japan, and many other countries, “academic excellence” is the mother of all genius, and other kinds of genius are repressed or underrated. That is, in China, if you get excellent grades in high school and go to an elite college, your boss is going to assume that you automatically qualify for “creative genius” and “social genius” and “factual genius” and the like.

China, Japan and South Korea don't separate those intelligences. And that causes a great deal of stress and misunderstandings, because you'll keep hearing your boss telling you “if you went to Harvard, you should be a social genius and a creative genius and a factual genius and labor genius and everything else.”

The opposite is also true. In France or China or Korea, you could be a “labor genius” a fail to get a job anywhere because you did not train at the right schools. Problem is: labor genius is not taught in schools, and a lot of times labor geniuses learned their genius in many places, but not at schools. But recruiters in France or Korea often don't want to hear the story of how this labor genius came to be, and labor geniuses have to suffer for decades before their genius gets rewarded, if ever.

Which brings me to the final point: “unrewarded genius.” Because in today's society genius is equated exclusively with academic excellence, a lot of school drop outs, or people who went to “lower-tier schools” don't get their genius and talent recognized. That is they are out there excelling and what they do, and yet, out of bias, people don't see the truth. To most people, if you're not a Harvard graduate, you can't be a business genius or a labor genius. And that means a lot of business or labor geniuses are right under your nose, and yet you don't see them. Or you interview a labor genius for a job, but decide to hire the Harvard grad instead, when the Harvard grad does not have the other guy or girl's labor genius. Just an example.

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