“What is Intelligence, Anyway?” is a short piece by Issac Asimov that focuses on intelligence and the different perceptions that surround it . For Asimov, he described himself as a very well educated person, who always scored high on aptitude tests. Asimov reflects on what it truly means to be intelligent as he describes his auto-repair man and how he was not as book-smart as Asimov himself was, but he had an incredible intelligence about cars that far surpassed Asimov’s intelligence in that subject.

Intelligence is all subjective. There is a quote I thought of while reading that is often attributed to Einstein, however the actual source of the quote has been disputed by many:

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Just because an individual does not know much about certain subjects like science, reading, or math does not make that individual stupid. I consider myself to be a fairly well educated person, with a varying knowledge on a variety of different topics, yet even a lesser educated person could outsmart me in certain areas. Like Asimov, I know very little about car mechanics, and if I had to fix my own car, my car would never get fixed properly. Even those considered brilliant in our society, such as rocket scientists, could have a hard time learning how to play the guitar.

Ultimately, this distribution of intelligence is what allows humans to have an intelligent, well-functioning society. Since not everybody is an expert in everything, we have people specialize in certain areas, and then we have these people come together to form a society. It is similar to puzzle pieces snapping into place; there is a place for everybody with all the varying degrees of intelligence. This is why society can have barbers, auto-mechanics, realtors, accountants, teachers, nurses, and police officers; each of the people in those occupations possesses a knowledge that none of the others do.

Every person has their own story to tell and their own intelligence to share. My mother always used to tell me as a child that I would always learn something from others because everybody knows one thing I do not, with the same going for me (I know one thing others do not). It is important to recognize that although an individual does not pass a standardized intelligence test, that individual still has intelligence to spread to others.

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