Stories abound of the trouble that arises when humans tinker, meddling with systems we don’t understand. On the other hand, without experimenting and taking risks, would we ever progress?
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Intelligence can be measured in many ways. The way human society has developed, we tend to measure it most often according to proficiency with the skills necessary to survive inside the established system. This may apply to most people but society depends on those irregular “others,” the geniuses who can’t fit inside the system, to help us evolve. If 100% of us only did ever more efficient assembly line work, we’d stagnate and expire as a species. We depend on our outliers to renew society periodically, like a snake shedding his skin.
What creates that kind of change resides in an aspect of intelligence we all possess, difficult to enumerate but essential to our wellbeing. “Unfortunately, our highest form of intelligence is not well measured, well recruited, or well known. We are well-trained in our schools to suppress creative thinking as we are most often measured on knowledge recall rather than knowledge creation. As a society, we often look for safer forms of measurement and recruiting using historical knowledge and tested methodologies. (And that is the irony—because creativity is always risky).” 1
The recruiting this author speaks of is into a system dedicated to preserving itself. But a little dangerous knowledge can be a dangerous thing… to the system. Once someone has experienced what lies beyond the norm—creativity that is—it’s impossible to settle for paint by numbers living. More please! The way unfettered creativity catalyzes change is disruptive but necessary. As they say, you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.
Intelligence is traditionally presumed to reside inside the individual. Perhaps it’s not that simple. Genius—according to brain researchers—is a quality that we access rather than possess, and this realization opens the door to improvement. Imagine, being able to increase our intelligence. That’s a radical thought, in a society where we’re taught that what we arrive with is what we’ve got for life. In fact, all of us can learn how to access the genius we need, both personally and for our culture to thrive.
Knowing this, it would make sense to ease the way, so that more of that valuable asset could develop. But the system remains stacked against imagination and innovation. What do we get? Tests. Tests don’t usually measure creativity; they measure compliance and memorization skills. Quoting further from the same article, “Its no wonder some of the brightest minds ever known have been school and social rejects. And it is going to take many risk takers to get our systems and methodologies to step up to higher ground and find more balanced ways to measure our intelligence and recruit for success.”
This reminds me of a true story about a college student who was failed for his answer to this question: “Determine the height of a tall building using a barometer.” His answer was to go to the top of the building, tie a long string to the barometer and lower it to the ground, measure it, that gives you the height of the building.
He met with his professor to challenge the failing grade, explaining that he was tired of questions that required no imagination from him and that he’d chosen this test to exercise his genius. The professor was sympathetic and probed. “Do you know any other ways to determine the height of a tall building using the barometer?” The student said that he did. “Go to the top of the building. Drop the barometer and time its fall. This enables you to calculate the height of the building.” He added that he knew other ways as well, for instance: “Find the superintendent and say: “You tell me the height of this building and I’ll give you this barometer!” The professor relented and changed his F to an A, and he even acknowledged the learning problem.
Since school has failed to support the development of outside-the-box creativity, it’s up to us to grow our own. We won’t do this through conventional means. If the genius key is access, then it makes sense to increase our accessing abilities. Meditation comes to mind as the best technique. Stilling our minds, eliminating outside stimulation, we become free to explore our inner world and to connect with the life force that animates us, as well as ever other living being in the cosmos. Experiencing this connection takes real intelligence! Genius!
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