10 Myths About Intelligence

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by: Meredith Bower
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The IQ test was developed more than a century ago, and is recognized for measuring intelligence and predicting academic success.

Have you ever met someone who seems both brilliant and clueless? You know the type. People like this can spout off explanations of complex scientific theories, but when it comes to something simple, they're stumped. There's no question these people are intelligent, but are they smart?

Is intelligence just about "smarts" or does it involve using information to understand and reason, and then apply it to other situations? Despite their brainpower, scientists have yet to agree on a precise definition of human intelligence.

Intelligence or mental aptitude is measured by the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) test. Although the test, developed more than a century ago, is the most recognized tool for predicting academic and professional success, its value is often questioned. Theories about intelligence abound from the notion that people have multiple intelligences to the idea of general intelligence, which argues each person is born with a mental aptitude over which they have little control.

Certainly, as humans we are anxious to control what goes on in our brains. We want to get smart, be smart and stay smart. From doing crossword puzzles and eating fish to building brain cells by holding our breath underwater, people are constantly searching for ways to up their intelligence; and everyone from scientists to snake oil salesmen are happy to oblige.

When it comes to boosting brainpower, today's medicine may be tomorrow's myth. But if there's one thing that everyone seems to agree on it's that exercising the brain is as important as exercising the body.

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