Forms of Intelligence #science #biology #intelligence

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An internet rabbit hole led me to an article on the nine types of intelligence: naturalistic, musical, logical/mathematical, existential, interpersonal, linguistic, bodily/kinaesthetic, intrapersonal, and spatial. Some other articles claim only eight, leaving out existential intelligence, while another claimed there are twelve, adding emotional, creative, and collaborative intelligence. I bet if I search long enough, I could find articles claiming anywhere between eight and twenty forms of intelligence – I seem to remember hearing a claim of 27 once – but I don’t want to work too hard at this. It doesn’t matter which model I use because I’m not addressing all forms in this post.

This will be nowhere near as important as an evaluation of me by others, but it seems like an appropriate post to follow the debacle that was Inktober. Here it goes.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

“An understanding of oneself and the human condition as a whole.”

“Sensitivity to one’s own feelings, goals and anxieties, and the capacity to plan and act in light of one’s own traits.”

I think I have exceptionally high intrapersonal intelligence. This should surprise no one considering the existence of this post. I’m brutally honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly. Anyone involved in competition develops skills in this area regardless of whether their intrapersonal IQ is high. Part (not all) of winning a fight is evaluating your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, comparing them to your own, and then making the fight a contest relying on the things you do better than that opponent. Over my life, competition has taken the form of martial arts and lawyering, both of which involve “fights.”

This is an intelligence I use often, as it can span areas that we’d generally associate with other forms of intellect. For example, I’ve trained in martial arts since I was 14, but I wouldn’t say my bodily/kinaesthetic IQ is particularly high. And then there’s . . .

Musical Intelligence

“People with musical intelligence are generally more sensitive to sound and often pick up on noises that others would not normally be aware of. They have an excellent sense of rhythm and the ability to recognize tone and pitch.”

“Sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody and timbre.”

If I could have a higher intelligence in any of these forms, it would be musical intelligence. I played alto saxophone from 4th to 11th grade, moving onto guitar and (electric) base immediately after that. I dabbled on the keyboard every now and then since my undergraduate days and the University of Maryland (Go Terps!!!), and the keyboard my current focus. Beyond the saxophone, however, I’m entirely self-taught, and it shows in the terrible habits I developed on guitar and keyboard.

Despite my bad habits, I’m still “musical.” My musicianship is an example of how practice, persistence, and knowledge can overcome raw intellect. My knowledge of music theory is far above average, though there’s still a lot more to understand.

I’m looking at you, jazz.

I’ve used that knowledge to make myself better, but obviously Eddie Van Halen, who couldn’t read sheet music, was a better musician in his sleep than I was on my best day. Raw musical intellect served him far better than my study of music theory served me. I, on the other hand, can’t learn by ear; I need that sheet music. But that’s okay. Music has never been more than a hobby to me, so I can live with that. I just think anyone in earshot, as well as I, would appreciate me having a higher musical IQ, and not being high on that scale would always have held me back from a career. A career would otherwise have still been in play in my retirement.

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence

“People with this type of intelligence are excellent at maths and working with numbers. They can recognise patterns easily and work out processes in a logical manner. They have excellent reasoning skills and can often talk themselves out of trouble. People with high logical–mathematical intelligence are often drawn to games involving strategy and the solving of puzzles.”

“The ability to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations and investigate issues scientifically.”

This is easily my highest form or intellect – I’ve forgotten forms of math that many people don’t know exist – but one I don’t use to any appreciable degree. When I was 15, I knew what I wanted to do for a living: Combining science and math with the law through the practice of patent law. Unfortunately, my experiences at a large law firm soured me to the practice of patent law. There’s nothing wrong with it; there’s just something wrong with that firm and the people who ran it. I can’t help but stay sharp in these areas, but patent law specifically gives me the shakes. It’s a behavioral thing, similar to a phobia but not nearly that bad. I associate anything patent related with a feeling of dread springing from how terrible my experiences were. I have little patience for people stupidly putting me through hell for no reason other than, “That’s just how we’ve always done it.” I’ve worked with both copyrights and trademarks professionally since leaving that firm, so this is specific to patents. It’s a shame. There’s serious money to be had there, and I have the background for it (i.e., a physics degree).

Interpersonal Intelligence

“People with this type of intelligence are often good at reading verbal and non-verbal cues as well as determining temperament and mood.”

“The ability to interact effectively with others. Sensitivity to other people’s moods, feelings, temperaments, and motivations.”

This is by far my lowest form of intelligence. I fully understand that humans are just apes flinging pooh, but that doesn’t mean I can predict your behavior. This comes from the fact that my childhood was rough, and in particular I was discouraged, and sometimes denied, close relationships that threatened my nuclear family’s control over me. As a result, I never developed a lot of the basic relationship skills that most of you take for granted. Being an attorney taught me to deal with people in some sense, but more in a ritualistic than intuitive way. Combined with a lack of interpersonal IQ, and viola! I’m middle-aged and have never been married despite that always being important to me.

Linguistic Intelligence

“People with high linguistic intelligence are very good at putting their feelings and thoughts into words in order to make others understand them.”

“[S]ensitivity to the meaning of words, the order among words, and the sound, rhythms, inflections and meter of words.”

As an attorney, this is the intelligence I use the most, but it’s exceptionally hard to evaluate myself in this regard. I have no sense of how high my linguistic IQ is. For example, I can write a mean legal brief, but I wouldn’t know how to start to write a work of fiction meant to entertain.

I would start every novel with this line just to spite all of you.

I think this fact reared its ugly head with my most viewed blog posts. Those posts were written for two different audiences, and I had a lot of trouble navigating between the two styles of writing. It negatively affected my clinical writing while doing little to grab people that don’t think that way. Perhaps my linguistic IQ is low, and I’m relying on other forms of intellect to compensate. Perhaps my linguistic IQ is high, and I would be an excellent creative writer if I put my mind to it and broke habits that make me a good technical writer. I certainly have an idea for characters that could be the basis of a series of novels, but I doubt I’ll ever even try to put that to paper. I may never know if I’m capable of it.

Existential Intelligence

“[P]eople with high levels of existential intelligence often think more deeply about daily occurrences.”

While I’m not sure what my existential IQ is, this definition certainly applies to me. A high existential IQ could be what I’m relying on to be a good lawyer. I have a passion for constitutional law, and there’s nothing concrete about that. That’s all philosophical. The average person’s inability to understand why the Supreme Court does what it does is often grounded in a misunderstanding of the nature of constitutional law itself. I’ve read (or re-read) easily over 1,000 pages of Supreme Court text within the past couple months. Here’s just a few: Apodaca v. Oregon, Edwards v. Vannoy, Ramos v. Louisiana, Johnson v. Louisiana, Carson v. Macon, Espinoza v. Montana, Kennedy v. Bremerton, Dobbs v. Jackson, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Roe v. Wade, Citizen’s United v. FEC, Google v. Oracle, Craig v. Boren, Clark v. Jeter, United States v. Virginia (VMI case), Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, Reed v. Reed, Romer v. Evans, Fourth Estate v. WallStreet.com, Loving v. Virginia, Matal v. Tam, Miller v. California, Paris Adult Theater v. Slaton, Walker v. SCV, McDonald v. Chicago, and District of Columbia v. Heller. Of all these cases, I’m willing to discuss only Google v. Oracle with people, and even that could get me in trouble. I don’t need the headaches you give me, but I do love reading landmark cases and those tangentially associated with them.

Collaborative Intelligence

“In the organizational and social media environment, has emerged a new type of intelligence that refers to the ability to work as a team to achieve a common goal.”

This is one of the additional 3 forms of intelligence, and I’m not sure what to make of it. First, collaboration precedes social media by millennia. Seriously, cave men collaborated to take down dinner. It’s who we are. This actually seems like a hybrid between interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. It combines your ability to work with others (interpersonal) with knowing where to place yourself within the team to maximize everyone’s strengths and minimize everyone’s weaknesses (intrapersonal). Oddly enough, despite my low interpersonal IQ, my high intrapersonal IQ always leads me to seek out a team to accomplish a goal. When I do so, I suggest placing people exactly where they belong without any consideration for how their placement insults them. 🙂 This is probably why I greatly prefer collaborative board games (e.g., Pandemic, Wizards of the Coast’s games based on the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons engine) to competitive ones).

I have nothing to say about the other forms of intelligence. Maybe I’d make the best gardener in the world, but I simply don’t care if I can grow tomatoes. And reading maps is far less important to me now that I have Google Maps to do it. I’m happy in my job, and if I weren’t, I’d probably go back to software engineering. I doubt I’ll ever “live with the chimps.”

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc

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