T Nation

common sense

It has come to my attention that people who have a high level of intelligence have no common sense, and vice versa. I know a girl that is very very smart, but if you put her in a room with the lights turned off and she is clueless about what to do. I must add for argument sake that a person who doesn’t have any intelligence doesn’t have a high amount of common sense they are just stupid. This theory of mine only applies to people who have an average amount of intelligence.

You are not entirely correct, because there are many people with both high ‘intelligence’ (however you define that) who also have ‘common sense’ (however you define that). I would also like to point out the numerous studies that have concluded that there is no such thing as ‘common sense.’ There are some people that are strictly academic. In those cases, such people aren’t necessarily that smart ‘naturally,’ but have simply focused on academics to the point of excluding other experiential forms of learning. There are also people that are very bright that tend to leap to conclusions… this is a natural consequence of a society that favors cleverness over correctness or simplicity.

Just to finish up (assuming that my last post went through), I think that there are people like you describe, and that usually they are examples of selective adaptation. I do personally know many intelligent people, however, that have plenty of common sense. Can you introduce me to your friend? :wink:

I understand where you’re coming from on this, but I don’t see it to be a rule. I agree that many very intelligent people seem to overlook “obvious” things, but I think there are reasons for this observation. First, the definition of “intelligent” needs to be refined. I’ve known several people with 4.0s in college that I didn’t consider very intelligent, but they did work their asses off. There are also many ways to be intelligent. One example of this is a girl I dated. She was a film major in college, and I was a computer science major. Though we were both good at what we did, we were unfortunately from completely different planets, so things that seemed obvious to me were completely confusing to her, and vice versa. To me, she seemed to lack “common sense”, and I’m sure I lacked that same quality in her eyes. “Common sense” is unfortunately not very definable, as nephorm pointed out. Also, one may know what the correct, or “common” thing to do in a situation is, but they may not act on it if they aren’t concerned with the “common” results of acting that way. But I do agree with you that a lot of people that are very intelligent will occasionally do things that seem so stupid. I think we all do, though.

I think I’ve just been insulted!:wink:

Yeah, I’ve seen it. I tested at around genius level for IQ, and got into one of those “gifted” classes, and got myself out because most of the people in the class were educated derelicts. Sure, I’m intelligent, and I tend to “get” things pretty easily, but I just can’t get into that whole nose-in-a book living. One guy even went home on weekends and did mathematical proofs fur FUN! What a geek.

I grew up with another kid. We were always together, everyone thought we were brothers. There wasn’t much we didn’t do together, so we had very similar learning experiences when we were young. Both of us tested at genius level IQ. I ended up dropping out of HS.(It was very boring for me) He’s now in college majoring in physics. We still hang out, but the funny thing is, everyone thinks this guy has absolutely no common sense. He always makes relationship mistakes(Hitchin up with Pyschos) and he just isn’t very bright when it comes to common, every day things. While I tend to have a lil more ‘street smarts’ or common sense.

I also supposedly have a high IQ, and I had a lot of problems relating to children my own age as I grew up (this may be more easily attributed to my father’s ‘rebel’ attitude, and example, rather than intelligence). So, I purposefully got myself involved in things that involved group interaction and the development of social skills. Having been an isolated child, I had a lot of development to go through, but after being an RA for three years, and working closely with others throughout college, I think that a lot of my ‘gaps’ have been filled. Again, I think it’s an issue of prioritizing learning.

RenegadeDragon reminded me of something with the whole “street smarts” thing. I know a LOT of intelligent people who have no clue about how to get laid. I don’t think natural selection works anymore.

Well I definitley think it’s all relative. Most of the people that I see claiming “street smarts” are just people that get into trouble all the time. Admitting you don’t know what the hell is going on is the best protection.

All of you are right I did fail to present a solid definition of “intelligence” and “common sense”, but for us to come to solid definitions of those words is a debate in itself. I never had an IQ test, but if I study minimally I make a 3.0 average. I know how to solve common problems and get laid so I guess I am just and average joe.

The question of what constitutes intelligence is a fascinating one to me. To my way of thinking, how one qualifies for the descriptor “intelligent” is mostly a function of context. Example: in our (post) modern society, where a scientific understanding of the universe and our place in it, is normative in academia, value is placed on excellence in mathematics and its cognate disciplines. Those who excel in these fields are dubbed “intelligent” because math is the “language” of modern science. It proceeds largely on the basis of attempting to articulate it’s understanding of the physical universe via the mode of cause and effect as expressed in terms of measurement by assigning numeric values to phenomena which can than be processed in mathematical models and formulae. But if you lived in a largely tribal hunter-gatherer community, excelling in mathematics would be of far less value. More valuable would be the tribal “political” skills such as the ability to organize and lead people, to maintain this unity by winning the favor of all factions, and the successful application of basic hunting/gathering techniques by the team/tribe under one’s supervision (of course physical prowess would be a given). Hence, the rising to Alpha position of the tribal “chief” who possesses the requisite characteristics needed to pull this off. In this context, the chief would be construed as intelligent.

Virtually the same could be said of the contemporary political context. That is, the rules of the success game are different for each given social context. There is a different code for the street gang than for a class of Philosophy students. Depending on the context, the western artist (be it a painter or composer, etc) may well be considered “smarter” than the rocket scientist.

I guess what I am saying is that various historical contexts provide differing base goals towards which a civilization strives. Those in that civilization who possess the characteristics and abilities that render them better at realizing those goals, are usually thought of as more intelligent. Of course the picture I’m painting is a highly pragmatic one. I.e., success in practical terms is primary in defining the class of the smart. But this is nothing less than a description of the American mindset and America, at least in practical terms, is leading the world.

Since we are in the transition from a modern society to a post-modern society the agreement upon the base goals is fragmenting; and, as such, so is our criteria for being “intelligent.”

The modernist paradigm was the child of the Enlightenment with its proposed common ground of what constitutes “rational.” But due to changes in philosophy (esp the Philosophy of Science), what constitutes rationality is no longer naively assumed. All facts can and are interpreted from various perspectives and from within various contexts. As such, differing “truths” emerge. With the dethronement of Science and Western Philosophy–which is in process, there is no agreed upon meta-project with common starting points or cannon-like premises.

My own opinion is that this will facilitate an age of spirituality. Humans are beginning to see what should have been seen all along: science and “rationality” do not provide the ultimate answers for the ultimate questions concerning human meaning and existence. There is a larger context in which such questions must be posited. To posit these kinds of questions within the framework of science and social sciences only leads to a reductionistic view of humanity and the meaning towards which it strives. Man has and always will be more than the model of causes and effects (whether they be understood sociologically, psychologically, economically, physically, etc) put forth by all manner of science and/or social science.

To my way of thinking, our understanding of intelligence will undergo radical revision over the next age–an age of a new and dawning world-view. If the biblical picture of the end is true, then this dawning world-view much more renders itself to facilitate this end time demise of man. That is, to my way of thinking, in order for a figure like an Anti-Christ to ascend, the rules of the game need to shift radically from the lingering but still present rules of the Enlightenment/Scientific model to one that is largely based in and presupposes a spiritual giftedness. I’m not prophesying the end of the world in the next 100 years or so–indeed a whole plethora of societal and civil cycles may continue over the next couple millenia. But, I would say that the rules of what constitutes “enlightenment” would necessarily need to change from a primarily cerebreal/intellectual basis to a spiritual/emotive basis before a picture of the end like that portrayed in the bible could ensue.

I love this topic and think it applies to the vast majority of T-Frqeues. While I am horrible at math, I always tested extremely high for reading and verbal skills (I beleive TC and I had the same SAT scores). I was an extreme underachiever in high school yet managed to graduate college with honors (envoronmental constraints, anyone?). Now, after a semester of graduate studies I find myself disgusted and burnt out with educational paradigms. But I digress. Throughout high school I knew plenty of individuals with whom I would be impressed had they tied their own shoelaces. Yet these same students tripped over said laces on their way to honors-level classes. You can view the issue from many facets whether it be out educational system, social factors, or some evolutionary protocol. Fine. What I have found most advantageous is the ability to bullshit people to the point where they have no grounds for accepting you any other way than that which you exhibit.

MBE: “From chaos come this order. Since 1900.”

-Eric

Prime evidence: James seems relatively intelligent, yet does not have the common sense to break paragraphs or write a short enough response that most of us will read. Just having fun, James, no disrespect intended.

Lol, that’s funny. I’ve lived long enough now to know to pay careful attention when people say things when joking because that is when they are usually the most honest! When I posted, I proof read to be relatively sure of spelling and that it was diced into paragraphs. When it came out, no paragraphs. Also, I guess I should mention, I didn’t write what I wrote to gain an audience, it was written to the author of the original post who I felt had enough interest in the subject to read my post irregardless of length.

Your correct, I did read the whole thing. I understand where you are coming from. When I posted the original thread the definition, at least the way I define, for intelligent was academics, and the definition for common sense was how to solve everyday problems. If a person with a moderate amount of common sense directed their attention to a problem that could have many solutions or explanations to why this problem occurs, but chose the most obvious because the other explanations seemed a little to far fetched to explain these occurences. That is what I was trying to indicate when I said a person with common sense. The girl that I spoke of in the original post didn’t know where to put the soap in a dishwasher or how to turn on the dishwasher until today, and this girl is a National Merit Scholar.

Here is the definition of common sense in my own words. If you ever go into the mens bathroom and you see the cloth towels that are on a roll that you pull down on and leave a loop. If you insert your head into that loop, you lack common sense.

James, if you type a “<” and a “p” and a “>”, you’ll be able to look more intelligent in the eyes of those of us who value such things as paragraphing… :slight_smile:

I graduated first of my class in burger school, and personally hold the record for “highest score in the history of Chucky Cheese’s whack’em all game”. Its great to be among my peers. Sorry, just thought i’d throw some stupidity into this thread of smart people.lol bye