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I find myself, except in the case of people with obvious impairments, completely unable to determine how intelligent someone is by interacting with them. Sometimes I can determine who is capable of performing specific tasks, but I have little confidence in my ability to assess "general intelligence".
To some extent, this is because different people have acquired different skills. Archimedes of Syracuse may have been the greatest mathematician in history, but he wouldn't be able to pass the exams in a high school calculus class. Obviously, the reason he couldn't solve these math problems is not that he isn't as intelligent as today's high school students. It's because he never had a calculus textbook.
If you had two black boxes, one of which contained a 14-year-old who scores in the 98th percentile on IQ tests, and the other contained the median college graduate with a degree in some technical field, such as electrical engineering, which black box would appear more intelligent?
It's hard to tell the difference between someone who is actually smarter and someone who has simply learned more. One thing that I learned how to do very well, which contributed greatly to much of my academic success, is translate "word problems" into mathematical equations. There's a systematic way to do this that works on just about any (reasonable) textbook, and it's a task that that I found many of my fellow high school students having trouble with in my science classes.
To what extent is "intelligence" simply a matter of having already learned the best ways to learn?
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