What Is Intelligence?

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What is Intelligence? There are various theories that try to answer this.

There seems to be just as many theories as there are stars in the Universe. None seem to give any accurate explanation for a definition of Intelligence.

Albert Einstein was told by one of his teachers that he was below average intelligence, yet he is the probably the most well known and most brilliant scientist ever to have lived.

Einstein intelligence
Albert Einstein was told by one of his teachers that he was below average intelligence, yet he is the probably the most well known and most brilliant scientist ever to have lived.

Albert Einstein was told by one of his teachers that he was below average intelligence, yet he is the probably the most well known and most brilliant scientist ever to have lived. So, why was such a man judged to be below average intelligence?

What was it then that inspired German News magazine Der Spiegel to declare Albert Einstein “Genius of the Century” and Time Magazine to declare him “Person of the Century” towards the end of the twentieth Century?

Intelligence is not based on an individuals education alone. Different aspects pertaining to intelligence includes” learned abilities, Common sense to apply that learned abilities and the natural abilities to include all three aspects into a certain arena, known as Intelligence.


An individuals “Brilliance” is the ability to apply all those aspects together into intelligent thought and practice. An example would be a Medical Doctor who may be accused of medical malpractice. Chances are high that the Doctor may have applied his learned ability to his decision or practice but failed to apply any common sense into his initial decision, therefore failed to naturally foresee or recognise any potential reaction or problem that could arise from such a decision.

The malpractice could be a result of a certain misunderstanding of his learned ability, leading to the failed natural ability, which is to a degree, based on his common sense.

It has been said that any task or duty an individual carries out is ninety eight percent common sense. The other two percent is based on the individuals learned ability and their natural ability. Common sense and natural ability is inclusive of each other. A doctor or scientist who is considered Brilliant in their career is able to combine all three of the components that, when included make up an individuals Intelligence.

Another example could be the difference between science and pseudo science. Science is a latin word, meaning “Knowledge” and the word Pseudo, is also a latin word, meaning “false”. A pseudo scientist may be educated around any aspect of science, but fails to apply any of the other two aspects I previously mentioned into his educated thought.

This failure could be based on previous education that is corrupting his scientific education or personal beliefs that is reinforcing his or her predetermined ideals, thus basing their findings on their predetermined beliefs. Because of a lack of understanding of some of their understanding of their learned field.

The evolution of human intelligence would have begun around ten million years ago, as the Earth entered a warmer drier period, which ultimately led to drier conditions in northern Africa around 2.6 million years ago, resulting in the retreat of heavily forested regions into grassy savannah’s then the formation of the Sahara desert.

This change forced the early human ancestors to leave their previous habitat and favour the savannahs instead. This change of habitat would have made them vulnerable to predators such as big cats, which the heavier forests would have given them some protection from.

Distinctly Human: An Evolutionary Journey

Evolution: Work In progress

This was the time the early human ancestors first started to rise on two feet and the first steps of mobility as bipedalism, or the ability to walk on both feet. Freeing their arms and hands for food gathering and later, the ability to make and use primitive tools and harness fire for warmth, cooking as well as the ability to pick up objects.

The concept we now accept as human intelligence would have begun at this time as hominids adapted to their new environments and became smarter and able to avoid large predators while living in open grassy savannahs. Rising up onto two feet would have given an ability to see further afield to spot any potential dangers, leading to a more efficient form of locomotion.

About five million years ago, the human brain began its rapid growth that will continue throughout the human evolutionary process. In doing so, increasing the intelligence level of pre-human species. One main factor for an increase in the intelligence would have been when humans started living in groups, as a learned ability, a new method or idea would have been discovered, then through experience would have been taught to others in that group or community, then defined as a new ability was honed through experience of a newer generation, then the more advanced method would have been taught to the next generation.

Abstract thought would have been crucial for the improvements of tools and art throughout the evolutionary history of humans. An idea and an imagination of what the implement would look like and its use would have been defined during the making process and techniques would have improved with every new generation.


The evolution of human intelligence is believed to have taken a great leap forward around seventy thousand years ago, at the time a volcano in Sumatra, known as Mount Toba, erupted, spreading volcanic ash worldwide for several years. The explosive eruption decreased the human population to about ten thousand in Africa.

Being unprepared for the dramatic climate cooling as a result, those who managed to survive were those who were able to find new ways of keeping warm, finding new ways of finding food, which probably included the first tools and the ability to catch fish and later, ocean fishing as inland lakes and rivers froze as a result of the ice age of this time in earths history.

Throughout Human evolution, humans have had the mental ability to learn from experience, understand and implement abstract thought, adapt to different situations and also to use their knowledge to manipulate their environments.
As human communities grew, the intelligence also grew as well as other human traits such as altruism, as different relationships within the communities were formed and the ability to understand different emotions such as sadness and happiness and thoughts of others. Our closest relatives, the chimpanzee usually have social groups of around fifty. Humans commonly have social groups of around one hundred and fifty.

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