Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Intelligence : Nature vs Nurture vs Random

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I have read considerably amount of articles on this topic, and there seems to be a common consensus that intelligence is 50% nature and 50% nurtured. But i was reluctant to jump to the boat. Now this is what I believe – intelligence is 10% nature, 10% nurtured and 80% random. I will present three arguments to support my points.


a. Defining Intelligence (from Mainstream Science on Intelligence) –

A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—”catching on”, “making sense” of things, or “figuring out” what to do.

b. Intelligence is a Talent itself.

1. Talent is born. One thing common i noticed among highly intelligent and talented people are – they all started young. Example:

  • Tiger Woods started playing Golf at 2 years old.
  • Michael Dell was already an entrepreneur even before he hit his teenage years.
  • Albert Einstein studied Mathematics, Science and Philosophy when he was 10 years old.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci became an accomplished artist by 14 years old.
  • Garry Kasparov won his first chess tournament at 13.
  • Michael Jackson started singing at 5 years old.


I’m not suggesting that every highly talented people will accomplish something big during their early years. What i’m trying to say is, talented people will always somehow, subconsciously ‘know’ of their potentials during the early years and will play around and explore with their talent.

Tiger Woods got hold of a golf club when he was 2 and was hooked to the game ever since then. I myself tried playing it when i was 8 and i totally do not fancy the game at all. Will it be a safe assumption for me to say that Tiger Woods ‘subconsciously’ know of his talent when he was young?

Another point one need to understand is – interest and talent are directly linked. If you are good at something, chances are you will like it. If you are good at drawing, you will like arts. If you are bad at sports, most likely you will have no interest of becoming an athlete.

Therefore, my point here is – the environment around you do not dictate what your talent is. Talent is innate and either you have it or you don’t. Now, if based on my assumption that the ability to think is a talent itself, then intelligence should also be something innate and inherently born with.

2. Don’t get confused between smartness and intelligence. You stumbled upon Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. You mix around with people who have exceptionally strong entrepreneurial spirits. Your friends always talk about financial freedom and escaping the rat race. All these circumstances made you realised ‘job’ is a dirty word, thus constructing your mindset accordingly of becoming an entrepreneur.

No doubt, the environment will have a significant influence on you. But think harder, does learning about entrepreneurship from people around you makes you more intelligent? Sure, perhaps it will make you more smarter and wiser, but again, my question is – will it make you more intelligent? Will it make you an Einstein?

I think people are not aware of the thin line separating between being smart and intelligent. According to American Psychological Association, being smart is the ability of a person to adapt to his/her environment. You are basically smart if you have ample knowledge on things around your environment. But does that equals to our mental capacity to think beyond obvious, abstractly and deeply? Apart from entrepreneurship, does learning about politics, computers, cars, and animals will expand our thinking ability? I had put fourth my argument before on something similar here – You Can’t Buy Imagination.

(I will write a separate post later on to further strengthen my point)

3. Creativity is also innate. Do you know what separates creative people with non-creative people? The answer, according to neuroscience, is the fluency of neurons exploring and tapping different regions of the brain when communicating and exchanging information in our head.  Basically, creative people can access and tap into different regions of the brain easily while indulging in an activity. Hence, this gives creative people much more options and alternatives in articulating the thought process. On the other hand, ordinary people do not have such abilities. That’s why, it is difficult for an ordinary person to think out of the box due to the limitation in the thought process.

For instance, though not 100% proven, the absence of Sylvian fissure (which divides the frontal lobe and parietal lobe) in Albert Einstein’s brain may have attributed his ability to create high-level abstract thoughts. It was believed that with the absence of Sylvian fissure, neurons in Einstein’s head have the capacity to exchange information with ease, thus allowing him to access and connect different parts of the brain which not many ordinary people can do.

Now, i’m not sure whether you can learn to be creative or control these neuron activities, but one thing i’m pretty sure of – some people are gifted with such ability from the birth and many aren’t. 

Although i believe that Intelligence is given by Nature, i don’t believe in intelligence inheritance as championed by Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, in his book Hereditary Genius. It is by chance and probability if you are born intelligent.

Well, i may be all wrong since nobody really 100% understand how our brain work. But at the moment, i’m not at all convinced that genius is made. I just felt people who championed the idea that anyone can become a genius is fooling himself/herself and giving false hopes to other people.


Written by elan85

February 9, 2008 at 10:17 pm

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