Intelligence – is it Overrated?

In how many brochures or application forms have you seen written, “we do not discriminate between people on the basis of creed, age, gender, sexual orientation etc etc?”

The reason behind this disclaimer is legal off course, but what is the actual thought behind this? I think it’s because we have no control over our creed, race or gender. These are not things which we can change. They are inbuilt within us. Do these constitute everything that we cannot control but which influence our lives. Take for instance our intelligence. Do we have control over our intelligence. One may find books in the market which supposedly increase intelligence. But can intelligence truly be increased or in other words, are we predestined to have a particular I.Q.

I have taken intelligence as an example because our society values intelligence highly. Particularly in the field of science and technology I.Q. is highly valued. Some groups who not have much faith in I.Q. results have found other ways of selection. If we exclude every position which needs muscles or a some skill i.e. typing, tailoring etc. , are there many good jobs which do not need SAT, GRE or some similar score. There are many people in history who have had low I.Q.s but did tremendously well in the so called “brainy fields.” Albert Einstein for instance. Now some may say that I.Q. is not the actual measure of intelligence, and I would agree. But how much can a person improve his intelligence ? I know this is a unanswerable question since one would never know if the intelligence is increasing or if the person is only utilizing it to the fullest.

Also isn’t intelligence a double edged sword.? An intelligent person could do you harm if s/he intends to. Isn’tt honesty, compassion etc better attributes? Many jobs in fact in fact need attributes like honesty more than they need intelligence.

Through the ages we have treated intelligence as the scale by which we can proudly say, we are different/better than animals. But what has intelligence actually given us. It has definitely made appliances which has made our lives easier, but were these really needed. Are we any happier than our ancestor monkeys swinging from trees. Would the world be a “better” place without our intelligence.

On a sidenote, intelligence is characterised by the structure of our brains. Maybe it is hereditary, but in any case we do not have much control over it. But many other qualities like ability to love others, honesty, etc etc can be imbibed in oneself. Or can they …I am not sure, what if they are controlled by some genes too….? Then it would closely mirror what hindu philosophy says that ” everything is fated.” Because whatever we do would be due to rungs of our DNA. So the final question is, are we limited by what we are?

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