When it comes to intelligence, I think about two aspects. There’s horse power and there’s acceleration. Some people, by nature, are smarter or more intuitive than others. Some people just apply their focus more sharply. I know really smart people who couldn’t win a chess game to save their lives, and chess masters who can’t cook.
It’s not enough to have raw intelligence. I’ve done a fair bit of research on philosophy, but I don’t remember most of it. The problem is that I don’t use it on a day-to-day basis. I think it’s fascinating, and I fantasize about being extremely knowledgeable in every branch of philosophy. The reality is, since I don’t use it, I don’t retain it. At this rate, I’ll never be extremely knowledgeable about philosophy. It’s just not a priority right now.
Right now, at work, I’m learning about DC motors and how to control them. I always thought you just plug the positive to one side and the negative to the other and then you get motion. I recently learned there are things called “Servomotors” which are basic DC motors, with circuitry to control how far and how fast you want to turn them. You need additional circuitry to send those signals. One of those circuits is called an “H-bridge“. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve researched the H-bridge, and got distracted by the inventor, and the history, and the industrial applications. At those times in my life H-bridges weren’t relevant, so I learned trivia and then quickly forgot it. Now that servos are relevant, I understand the fundamentals of H-bridges.
I can now confidently consider myself smart, not because of my raw intelligence, but because of the relevant information I have retained and applied.