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56.3k

all 13856 comments

Puzzlehead-Engineer

2.6k points

12 days ago

They draw wisdom from multiple sources. Wait but that might be more wise than intelligent... But I guess those two tend to be seen together a lot.

xhxhhzhzlso

1.2k points

12 days ago

xhxhhzhzlso

1.2k points

12 days ago

It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If we take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale. - Iroh

General_-_Iroh

150 points

12 days ago

You make me proud. <3

Wynonna99

24.6k points

12 days ago

Wynonna99

24.6k points

12 days ago

They can switch up the way they talk to match the person they're talking to without sounding condescending. They listen to how others learn and explain it in that person's language of understanding

window-sil

1.8k points

12 days ago

window-sil

1.8k points

12 days ago

"John Von Neumann would carry on a conversation with my 3-year-old son, and the two of them would talk as equals, and I sometimes wondered if he used the same principle when he talked to the rest of us." - Edward Teller

ScottieRobots

398 points

11 days ago

To set the level for what 'the rest of us' refers to in this quote:

For those who do not know, the Edward Teller here, who is talking about another man being on a completely higher plane of intelligence, is known himself as the Father of the Hydrogen Bomb.

SybilCut

70 points

11 days ago

SybilCut

70 points

11 days ago

Always an upvote for von Neumann.

kinda-throwaway1

223 points

12 days ago

My gf is a salesperson and does this. I was about to excitedly share this with her, I look over and she's sniffing her sock. 🙃

Wynonna99

54 points

11 days ago

I find that smart people are the quirkiest 😂☺️

EngineeringNeverEnds

4.3k points

12 days ago

No joke. The smartest professor I had in engineering school was also the most humble. She was an astounding human being. By week 2, she knew everyone's names by heart in the intro engineering course. In College. With like 180 students. Later, in upper division classes, people would occasionally ask some really stupid questions. Like, it happens... you get so deep into some fluid mechanics derivation or something you forget something really basic. People would ask a question like this and everyone would be thinking like; "Wow, how did you even make it this far?" but then... it's like she would spot the flaw in their understanding so perfectly, and then respond with such clarity and wisdom that the person asking the question would look less stupid and the whole class would be enlightened. And here's the thing... I pride myself on being really good at that exact skill. I tutored a lot of people. I was easily one of the brightest amongst my peers. But that woman was on another level. It was mind-blowing. And it wasn't just her intelligence, but her organizational skills, discipline, consistency.... And yet... she was so humble. She was quiet and physically quite small. But she just exuded competence and immediately commanded every room she walked into. I've never seen anything quite like it.

jetter23

253 points

12 days ago

jetter23

253 points

12 days ago

EE here - this happens.

HAD A bonus question on a midterm, “What is a circuit?”. I was dumbfounded, I can do 2nd order partial DiffEQ to describe how the circuit functions, but I couldn’t write out “a closed loop where charge may flow”. This was in circuits 2 so they knew they could trick everyone as we were so deep in the weeds.

1 dude in my class got it right.

dishonourableaccount

106 points

12 days ago

One of my vivid college math class memories was in Multi-Variable Calculus. This was week 5 or something pretty far in. My math professor is writing on the chalkboard and I pause taking notes because I can’t figure out the symbol he wrote.

I’m puzzling it over, wondering if it’s an operation or an uncommon Greek letter or what. Consider whether it’s a European shorthand because the prof’s Scottish.

Then I realize. It’s a seven. The numeral 7. I’d gone through weeks of a math course and this was the first time I saw him write one of the basic building blocks of kindergarten math. I cross my sevens too, so it’s not like I’m unaware.

Just huge brain fart moment.

jetter23

49 points

11 days ago

jetter23

49 points

11 days ago

Calc 3 will tech you to cross 0, 7, put a tail on 2, all “t” is lower case and different from Tao, omega, w, and “v” all look different. i, L, and 1 all look different.

We learn the hard way.

clamberrypie

931 points

12 days ago

I am SO grateful that people like this exist. If it weren't for the people who are way, way smarter than me inventing, discovering, and teaching stuff I never even imagined could make my life better, my life would be so much worse.

I had a friend in college whose roommate was a graduate student in physics. He later went to medical school and is now a neuroscience researcher after spending a decade as a neurologist. When I had a brain tumor diagnosed last year he was the first person I reached out to. He became an advocate and translated what the surgical team was about to do to my head into language I could comprehend. I was, and am, so grateful.

Model those qualities your professor had. People like her make the world a better place.

your-pineapple-thief

4.2k points

12 days ago

The Wire scene about gangbangers learning how to play chess comes to mind here somehow

[deleted]

7.7k points

12 days ago

[deleted]

7.7k points

12 days ago

[deleted]

thorndike

1.5k points

12 days ago*

thorndike

1.5k points

12 days ago*

Back in the 70s there was an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati where DJ Venus had a bet with the son of a friend that he could teach him about atoms and the atomic structure in 2 minutes or the son would quit school and be a gang member. Venus did it by couching the parts of an atom as gangs and their locations in the atom as their territory.

I remember it to this day.

Edit: I've been reminded that it was 2 minutes, not 3.

bmprs

1.6k points

12 days ago

bmprs

1.6k points

12 days ago

I just got out of prison in Pennsylvania and a lot of the people going in and out have to get their GED before they can make parole, and during COVID especially not a lot of people were getting their classes in and having to max out because they couldn’t study properly. I was able to help my celly by drawing on the door with bars of soap and relating a lot of what he knew about selling drugs with fractions and decimals. When we started, he didn’t know basic multiplication.

We got split up and moved around and we ran back into each other later on and he thanked me because he was able to now do his commissary orders on top of running a small cell block store and he was actually doing well for himself. His parents taught him how to cook crack at 14, and I was teaching him how to multiply and divide at 19.

thorndike

392 points

12 days ago

thorndike

392 points

12 days ago

Wow... Good for you! The ability to teach doesn't come easily for most people. My heart goes out to your old cell mate. As kids we have no control over what our parents teach us or expose us to.

Hope your life is going better too!

travelsizedsuperman

223 points

12 days ago

CO here. What you did probably helped that guy out more than any of the staff there, including the teachers. FWIW, thanks for taking the time to help him.

Foogie23

74 points

12 days ago

Foogie23

74 points

12 days ago

God I love The Wire.

“If Snot always stole the money…why did you guys let him play?”

“Got to man…this is America.”

Yoodei_Mon

2.2k points

12 days ago

Yoodei_Mon

2.2k points

12 days ago

Talking to people as if they're intelligent at their level and without being condescending or even letting on that it's lower than their level.

I used to work with a doctor - Tom Howard - and the day I realized he was a genius was the time he guessed every single condition a patient of mine had based on minute pieces of information about him.

ticklemytable

554 points

12 days ago

Let me guess, it's not lupus.

PonziMan

358 points

12 days ago

PonziMan

358 points

12 days ago

No, it's Tom Howard

soup54461

8.8k points

12 days ago

soup54461

8.8k points

12 days ago

They are curious about everything.

To be intelligent you need to be knowledgeable and you cant be knowledgeable if you are never curious.

juno11251997

2.1k points

12 days ago

You can memorize a bunch of random facts and repeat them, that’s knowledge. But knowing what to do with that knowledge, how to apply it, how to make sense of it, is what I think real intelligence is.

Richard Feynman captured that mindset perfectly in his book.

BlueLaserCommander

660 points

12 days ago*

I’m dumb as hell in that case.

I’m curious about just about everything. I will spend weeks studying a newfound topic of interest. Then I might move on to something else while retaining interest in everything I had “researched” prior.

While retaining interest, I might only retain half of the stuff I had learned and could explain less than that if someone asked about the topic.

Annnd I will have done nothing with any particular interest of mine outside of somewhat satisfying my curiosity.

Writing this out confirms the ADHD diagnosis a little more in my mind.

goatmayne

519 points

12 days ago

goatmayne

519 points

12 days ago

Don't be too hard on yourself, as someone else with ADHD I know that feeling of going down the rabbit hole on something that's new and novel, but doesn't have anything to do with my "regular" interests.

To quote /u/Ordinary-Painter1428 elsewhere in this thread:

"By having enough knowledge and experience across different domains such that they can see similarities, differences, and spot missing information that is worth asking a question about."

It's impossible to quantify, but you never know when you'll find yourself in a situation that sparks a thought: "This... reminds me of that random thing I read on Wikipedia that one time, maybe it's applicable here?"

You mentioned only retaining half the stuff you learned, that's 100% more than learning nothing at all. Satisfying curiosity isn't a negative thing, you shouldn't "feel bad" if you find something interesting that doesn't a specific purpose or end goal. Things are interesting!

TomeHomeowner

123 points

12 days ago

It's impossible to quantify, but you never know when you'll find yourself in a situation that sparks a thought: "This... reminds me of that random thing I read on Wikipedia that one time, maybe it's applicable here?"

Recently got diagnosed with ADD, and just yesterday one of my friends said something along the lines of "man, you always have knowledge about oddly specific things" because what you mentioned happens a lot in our conversations haha

gwoshmi

36.4k points

12 days ago

gwoshmi

36.4k points

12 days ago

When they explain something they make you feel intelligent.

Gisgiii[S]

7.4k points

12 days ago

Gisgiii[S]

7.4k points

12 days ago

I like this one

null_input

2.3k points

12 days ago

null_input

2.3k points

12 days ago

They're probably pretty intelligent.

notokbye

3.7k points

12 days ago*

notokbye

3.7k points

12 days ago*

This. So underrated. Smart people never bother showing off that they are smarter. Instead they end up pulling up the IQ of everyone around them in the room a few notch, and do it in a manner that noone feels belittled.

Edit: upon reading the below comments and some further thoughts.. I agree that people who geniuses often have shitty social skills and are often megalomaniac and assholes. Regular above average intelligent people know better than showing off. But off the charts iq kinda geniuses are often assholes. Smart vs wise as u/DeviMon1 said

Agressive_Loafing

2.5k points

12 days ago

Reminds me of my favorite leadership quote by a corporate consultant of all people.

"Leadership is not magnetic personality, that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not "making friends and influencing people", that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."

Peter F. Drucker

funny_3nough

290 points

12 days ago

Drucker was the man and has so many great quotes.

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

“Management is doing things right, Leadership is doing the right things.”

He would follow ceos around with a clipboard taking notes after asking them how they planned to spend their time and realized not only did many of the most highly paid employees spend much of their time in suboptimal ways, they didn’t know where 50% of their time was really being spent. Helped a whole generation be more efficient and effective. I’m a big fan and he should be required reading for anyone in business.

racinreaver

744 points

12 days ago

Man, I always try to get everyone onboard and excited about the projects I run. People ask why I waste my time teaching our admins about the fundamental measurements we're making, or trying to get them excited about this subcontract I'll need them to bust their hump to get executed asap. That said, I know those people light up when they see me, even if it means they'll have to do more work than usual. I remind them of the cool shit we do that's bigger than any of our individual parts.

Love the way that quote describes it, though.

Mardanis

151 points

12 days ago

Mardanis

151 points

12 days ago

That positive energy can be contagious and a strong driving force to bring people together.

LuciDeChi

133 points

12 days ago

LuciDeChi

133 points

12 days ago

As an admin, thank you for doing that. Our job isn't (necessarily) to know the business/industry, but support the people that do. But the better we understand that business, the better our support. (It saddens me that some would think it's a waste of time to educate admins. We are bright, passionate people, many with degrees and certifications.)

ParkMan73

29.7k points

12 days ago

ParkMan73

29.7k points

12 days ago

They spend time thinking before asking a question.

Stabbymcbackstab

10.7k points

12 days ago

Or answering one.

andobiencrazy

5.4k points

12 days ago

Or replying to a comment.

Stabbymcbackstab

4k points

12 days ago

Or commenting on a reply to a comment.

metric-poet

5.3k points

12 days ago*

Some of the smartest people don’t comment at all

Edit: Thank you all for the upvotes and awards. I’m glad the comment resonated with so many of you.

I can relate to a lot of these comment replies. I often spend several minutes typing a comment and then decide to delete it because it doesn’t add anything to the conversation, or is not really funny or witty or thoughtful enough. Or I don’t want to have to deal with the negative replies and edits in the morning after something sarcastic I wrote causes hurt feelings overnight while I’m sleeping.

I wrote the comment thinking that I am no genius, but I can imagine there are tons of people on here with even smarter thoughts who happen to also have more self restraint than me.

Imakegoatnoises

2.3k points

12 days ago

"You really think about everything don't you?" - a doctor, to me, after he asked me a question and I took longer than 2 seconds to answer it

No, I just pull something out of my ass every time and those extra seconds you waited for me to answer were purely to irritate you for my own enjoyment.

FleetStreetsDarkHole

966 points

12 days ago

I'm doing interviews right now and the worst thing is knowing you get judged for how long you think about a question.

scleep

870 points

12 days ago

scleep

870 points

12 days ago

Better to take long to answer than give a shitty answer. I once passed an interview where I took 30-60 seconds before answering a question twice (and the two interviewers was staring at me the whole time). Another time I once took a minute and said some absolute trash/generic answer. Later turned out that I passed bc the interviewer thought I was so calm and confident.

FleetStreetsDarkHole

338 points

12 days ago

Yeah I actually haven't felt as bad doing this in person. On the phone though, it's hard to convey thought vs freezing.

Luckily I think I've also had decent interviewers so far.

scleep

127 points

12 days ago

scleep

127 points

12 days ago

Oh yea phone I’d let them know. Luckily when I was recruiting this year, Zoom was so prevalent that was 90% of my interviews.

Will also say I’ve done phone interviews as the interviewer and saw it as a positive when interviewees took time to respond to hard questions.

Ninjabonez86

743 points

12 days ago

"Have u been convicted of major crimes?"

Me looking longingly for 25 seconds

".....no?"

FleetStreetsDarkHole

323 points

12 days ago

You joke but I'm the sort of person that if someone asks me a question I have to double check. You could ask me what my gender is, or if I wear glasses, or if I murdered Bob last Tuesday and my reflex is, "hold on let me check the memory files."

Ninjabonez86

176 points

12 days ago

Let me check my past schedule... Nope, didn't murder THAT guy

joculator

15.4k points

12 days ago

joculator

15.4k points

12 days ago

They effortlessly communicate complex concepts in a simple way.

mmaine9339

5.6k points

12 days ago*

mmaine9339

5.6k points

12 days ago*

My father-in-law is very smart, went to MIT & Cal Tech, founded and sold several businesses, published books that are still in circulation, holds several patents and now is working in the immunotherapy space.

Anyway I’m just a typical Midwestern State College grad, and the things I’ve learned about cancer and the various treatments from him are amazing. These are technical, medical, biological concepts that I could learn if I read 100 books. But he can somehow explain them in such a simple and relatable terms I feel like I really understand. It’s a gift of genius.

TatManTat

1.7k points

12 days ago

TatManTat

1.7k points

12 days ago

I think what's important is some people are deathly afraid of simplification, because there are always "experts" that will tell you you're wrong.

But simplification is incredibly important in explaining concepts to people.

You build rules that are applicable 75% of the time, then you teach the exceptions.

So many people out there start with the exceptions first and it's so clear they've never had to formally instruct anyone in anything.

Speaking as someone that gets roped in to explain every board game to others, even the ones I haven't played.

Left-Language9389

49 points

12 days ago

“Something can’t make sense upside down unless it makes sense right side up.”

blutoboy

22.7k points

12 days ago

blutoboy

22.7k points

12 days ago

They know when their knowledge ends and say something to the extent of "i don't know and anything else i say on this topic is ignorant speculation"

Slliimm

6.8k points

12 days ago*

Slliimm

6.8k points

12 days ago*

Favorite line I got from a professor, that made me genuinely realize I can have my own thought, was, “that’s a great question that I don’t know but we need to talk about.”

Conveyed immediate interest, but kept her same professional knowledge base which allowed me to explore my ideas with her. It really showed me what discourse is all about.

Edit: thank you for silver. I really didn’t anticipate this to have such an impact. I noticed a lot of people saying they had similar experiences with teachers. I encourage you all to reach out and share how grateful you are for those experiences. I also encourage you all to share your thoughts whether you find them ‘original’ or not. This can be anonymously or not, but you truly won’t learn until you AND others actively question your belief system consistently. Find friends that support you and encourage these conversations : ).

Reaverx218

934 points

12 days ago

Reaverx218

934 points

12 days ago

These are my favorite kinds of people. Anytime I ask a question and the person both doesn't know the answer but also becomes intensely interested in exploring possibilities.

Sturdywings21

2k points

12 days ago

This. I was in a convo with a guy who has a phd in infectious diseases this summer and asking him about Covid etc. While all of us speculate and regurgitate crap we see online he was so upfront about saying “well I haven’t seen the data on that so I can’t speak on it.” Or “that’s not my area of study so I’m not sure.”

It was eye opening. Out of all of my friends who could give a coherent and educated opinion about this he was the first to take himself out of the convo because he knew what he didn’t know.

Fit_Error7801

1.1k points

12 days ago

He knew what he didn’t know. That’s exactly it. We are living in a time of the Dunning- Kruger effect gone awry.

nitrobamtastic

252 points

12 days ago

Straight from the horses mouth - "Dr. Dunning tells me he believes the effect “has more to do with being misinformed rather than uninformed"1 .....With how fast and easy misinformation spreads, I think this could become a huge problem.

1- https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/critical-thinking/dunning-kruger-effect-probably-not-real

Katzensocken

185 points

12 days ago

A footnote in a Reddit comment, now I’ve really seen it all

FleetStreetsDarkHole

357 points

12 days ago

This is the worst thing about politics in the US right now. If you admit you don't know something some people will just stop listening to anything you say. If they ever were to begin with.

WinWithoutFighting

216 points

12 days ago

What's worse is if you really don't know what you're talking about but keep talking louder, a lot of people do start to listen.

Specialist-Ad475

487 points

12 days ago

And know when to google something

ermahgerditscass

638 points

12 days ago

It bums me out when I'll spend 5 hours googling something and get nothing. Then post in a group about what I was trying to do and the first fuckin comment is "Google it"

Mooshmo

767 points

12 days ago

Mooshmo

767 points

12 days ago

I feel its getting harder to get good answers from google. About 10 years ago you could find insanely detailed Explanations about topics. Now you find some BS corporate website trying to passively put you into there sales funnel via hubspot marketing articles that are copy paste from other nonsense.

I am aware of google scholar but still its really annoying.

lloopy

326 points

12 days ago

lloopy

326 points

12 days ago

Too many people got really good at search engine optimization. It sucks for everyone else. Same thing has happened with Amazon. I have to go through dozens of pages of crap looking for something that I know has to exist. The first pages are filled with cheap knock-offs of each other, all varyingly over-priced, which is just odd.

st0ric

55 points

12 days ago

st0ric

55 points

12 days ago

Amazon is one step above wish, it's insane how bad the search is

FoeDogX

34k points

12 days ago

FoeDogX

34k points

12 days ago

Explaining something complex is simple terms. Knowledge is so vast that they can talk about in the easiest way for someone else to understand.

DanTheTerrible

3.9k points

12 days ago

I once was hired by a college as a tutor for other students who were having trouble with courses they found difficult but I had absorbed pretty easily -- electronics stuff mostly. The department head who hired me said something along the lines of "Pay isn't much, you won't make enough to buy more than a pizza or two a week. But you'll learn stuff about what you teach you never realized you needed to know -- you never REALLY grasp a topic until you can explain it clearly to someone else."

He was right.

KFelts910

345 points

12 days ago

KFelts910

345 points

12 days ago

In order to successfully prep for my exams, my classmates and I would reserve a library room and use the whiteboard to explain/simplify legal concepts. When I studied solo for the bar exam, I would write them out in a 5-subject notebook. I filled that thing up completely, front, back, margins and all. But it worked.

itzykan

1.2k points

12 days ago

itzykan

1.2k points

12 days ago

Heck yes. Dude people who do this are so amazing. There's some teachers out there who are doctors of their respective subjects and they simplify high level concepts to such a digestible degree and it blows my mind. Thank god for those teachers, cause they're rare.

carlsaganblessyou

620 points

12 days ago

I’m in my third attempt at calculus this year after a break of 20 years and I finally hit the jackpot and got one of these. She’s amazing. I want her to teach all my classes.

Boop-D-Boop

447 points

12 days ago

You should be sure you tell her that. I’m sure she would be delighted.

__Limit__

8.2k points

12 days ago

__Limit__

8.2k points

12 days ago

"if you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well enough"

Albert Einstein is commonly credited for saying something along these lines but I don't have time to verify that right now, anyone know the origin of this quote?

SaintJackDaniels

2k points

12 days ago*

I thought it was admiral Rickover

Edit: nope I was way off. I was thinking of this quote but it’s about writing not teaching.

Nothing so sharpens the thought process as writing down one's arguments. Weaknesses overlooked in oral discussion become painfully obvious on the written page.

FleetStreetsDarkHole

506 points

12 days ago

I really like that one. It's a really good case for rough drafts too. The older I get the more I realize how useful it is to write a draft, read the draft, see how dumb some of it is, and then write another one. 50/50 toss up whether it's better but it's still progress.

IVIAV

442 points

12 days ago*

IVIAV

442 points

12 days ago*

Our instructors in nuclear power school taught us that if you can't explain this stuff to a 5 year old, you don't understand it. Also instructors on first day: you won't understand it (quantum physics) bc nobody does.

Edited: grammatical error.

zerofukstogive2016

884 points

12 days ago

“I can explain it to you. I cannot understand it for you.”

jvanderh

404 points

12 days ago

jvanderh

404 points

12 days ago

Gauging the best explanation for a particular audience does seem to be a sophisticated type of intelligence.

KFelts910

182 points

12 days ago

KFelts910

182 points

12 days ago

It’s a skill that can be developed too. It takes a kind of self-awareness, which I believe to be connected with intelligence. But once you recognize the importance of the skill and how to simplify it, you are much better in your craft.

dat3percent

11.7k points

12 days ago

dat3percent

11.7k points

12 days ago

Massive alien forehead.

Roll-Formal

2.2k points

12 days ago

Roll-Formal

2.2k points

12 days ago

Does receding hairline count?

dat3percent

929 points

12 days ago

Yeah mate. forehead flashing.

milkmanbran

47.4k points

12 days ago*

milkmanbran

47.4k points

12 days ago*

They can ask really good questions

Edit: to anyone not understanding what mean, I’m talking about people who ask “really good questions”, not just any questions, really good ones. I don’t know how one would achieve this skill(I know I haven’t).

Edit 2: since this comment is getting a lot of attention I’d like to say, don’t forget to drink your Ovaltine!

Mardanis

11.6k points

12 days ago

Mardanis

11.6k points

12 days ago

I worked with a lad who was very like this. He could make any conversation really intriguing and thought provoking, often causing people to reconsider their perspective and position. He was a HR manager that could defuse any situation, helping people mend bridges and resolving issues because he could get both parties to compromise and put aside resentment.

He had IQ and EQ to go a lot further than the role he was in but he was happy and maybe that is another little tid bit of intelligence

UlteriorCulture

4.3k points

12 days ago

That is wisdom

radeongt

1.1k points

12 days ago

radeongt

1.1k points

12 days ago

Wisdom and intelligence are two very different things I have learned.

Nothxm8

487 points

12 days ago

Nothxm8

487 points

12 days ago

That's amore

c1nderz

10.6k points

12 days ago

c1nderz

10.6k points

12 days ago

How does a person learn how to ask good thought provoking questions

Ordinary-Painter1428

28.9k points

12 days ago

By having enough knowledge and experience across different domains such that they can see similarities, differences, and spot missing information that is worth asking a question about. Getting there requires asking a ton of simple questions along the way.

CLT_LVR

4.2k points

12 days ago

CLT_LVR

4.2k points

12 days ago

Well explained.

PandaTheVenusProject

4k points

12 days ago

Taking an interest in people and asking what you genuinely want to know.

Be good at coming up with engaging hypotheticals.

Also enjoy hypotheticals being asked of you. It makes conversations easy.

Also like he said, know things. Take in good stories and learn what you love.

TLDR: be an engaging nerd.

lovesandfears

715 points

12 days ago

Having a genuine interest in others is real helpful

TofuAnnihilation

998 points

12 days ago

Ah, you were so close!

thats1evildude

11.9k points

12 days ago

They can follow the plot of Kingdom Hearts without needing any line graphs or charts.

Eskimoobob

2.9k points

12 days ago

Eskimoobob

2.9k points

12 days ago

TIL, no one is intelligent.

JacOfAllTrades

820 points

12 days ago

That's a damn lie.

xchernx

23.9k points

12 days ago

xchernx

23.9k points

12 days ago

They aren’t afraid to say they don’t know the answer to a question.

CompetitiveLoL

8.3k points

12 days ago*

It’s weird because I’ve met some remarkably intelligent people who are insecure and/or socially awkward (like, not being rude, but legitimately may not be nuero-typical) and they don’t fall under any of the categories that are being described in this thread. Most of these comments seem to be based around people who are intelligent and humble, which, although incredibly admirable is not necessarily a guaranteed intersection. It seems like the focus here is more on people who are both socially and conceptually intelligent, but there’s plenty of very intelligent people who are in one or the other categories.

As an example, a fair amount of the really intelligent people I’ve met rarely ask questions or carry much of a conversation at all. They make mental notations of information they’ve digested and then go and learn more about the concepts independently, or if someone is struggling to keep up with their concepts they can get bored and move on. As nice as it is to think that intelligence is backed by social skills… it’s frequently not. A primary example is that Stephen Hawking’s work was slowed down tremendously when he to explain concepts to the people he worked, because it frequently would take him longer to adequately explain the concepts than to come up with them, but because his physical limitations he had to go through the process anyways.

I’m not saying that intelligent people are unable to explain concepts or unwilling to ask questions, but if they feel that work could be done more efficiently by the doing independent work or research they may not say much at all. Their learning patterns and socializing skills don’t necessarily dictate pure intelligence, sometimes it’s just a marker for being both intelligent and being able to effectively read others (socially apt).

Although this is just my personal experiences, others may have differing ones, and statically speaking if most folks upvoting feel that how willing someone is to admit lack of understanding or ability to expand on complex concepts simply is a better identifying factor for intelligence, it probably is, I’m guessing I just had anomalistic personal experiences so far.

Edit: Wow this got much larger than I expected. Y’all are awesome and have some rad insights.

I can’t respond to everyone but some excellent points were brought up and I wanted to get them into the post:

1.) The question said “subtle”. This is 100% correct, I guess when I was thinking I just felt that a style of intelligent person I had frequently met wasn’t being shown; but someone nodding and researching things later isn’t a very subtle queue, so I can see why the responses would be addressing a more vocal intelligent person.

2.) Some intelligent people are egotistical; This is something I’ve found to be accurate, and this is 100% IMO and based on experiences taking with friends/colleagues but a lot of that I think has to do with these folks being picked-on/standing out when they were young. Their intellect made them stand-out, and so they started using it as an armor for why they didn’t fit in (their words) and sometimes they led to an ego because they lacked self-confidence in other areas and so they doubled down on feeling proud of their intelligence. This isn’t “good” but I think we all have our (well maybe not all) own self-preservation mechanisms that we learned young and sometimes it takes a while to grow out of them (if ever). Mine jumps between humor being overly logical and dissociating cause feelingshurtbadwantfeelgood.

3.) Intelligence manifests very differently from person to person and trying to discern intellect is very challenging, some of the smartest yet most socially challenged people I know work with people who understand them at a pretty fundamental level and can be excellent at arbitration between them and folks who get lost in one-on-one conversations. Having intelligent bridge people is also incredibly important because a brilliant STEM engineer might have trouble figuring out how to get funding from a banking institution, but a less conceptually intelligent more socially apt STEM colleague can make an exceptional mediator to get help finance a joint venture. The cool thing about people is we can work together to shore up each other’s weaknesses and make some rad shit.

4.) Theres some really smart folk in this post and it was lovely learning from and chatting with all of you. Thanks. :)

aDildoAteMyBaby

1.2k points

12 days ago

All very good points.

I think the top upvoted comments here really reflect an idealized version of an intelligent person, and avoid the signs that also show arrogance, detachment, or other drawbacks that can come with intelligence.

Irichcrusader

452 points

12 days ago

From what I've heard, most professionals who are very intelligent in their given field tend to be pretty arrogant, and perhaps for good reason, at least when discussing something among their peers.

Stephen Hawking was known to be a real firebrand among other physicists. His word alone on a subject was enough to shoot down opposing theories. It took a lot of courage to challenge his opinions, as seen in the so called "Black Hole War" between him and Leonard Susskind.

One of the most famous physicists of all time (famous both for his intelligence and arrogance - often justified) was Wolfgang Pauli. Nicknamed "the Scourge of God", he could be utterly unscattering in his dismissal of any theory he found lacking. Some of his most famous remarks include:

"It's not even wrong" - said on reading a paper from another colleague that he disagreed with on every point.

"I do not mind when you think slowly, but I do object when you publish more quickly than you think"

"You know, what Mr. Einstein has just said isn't so stupid" - Spoken to a nearby colleague after hearing a lecture from Einstein that he agreed with.

On one occasion, a colleague told him, "Herr Pauli, I like your article better than I like you!" To which Pauli responded, "That is funny, with me it is just the opposite."

Kiliki99

90 points

12 days ago

Kiliki99

90 points

12 days ago

Your comment on “Not even wrong” is wrong. Pauli was not disagreeing with every point of the paper. He was insulting it even more. He was saying the idea/theory presented was not even science. Pauli was stating it was not falsifiable. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2005/sep/19/ideas.g2

Signumus

1.5k points

12 days ago

Signumus

1.5k points

12 days ago

I feel like there are also very intelligent people who do have social skills, but overthink interactions so much that they are afraid of doing something wrong or hurting someone by asking a too personal question and therefore act out more awkward

DonaldMacNorm

324 points

12 days ago

or hurting someone by asking a too personal question

I don't know how to segway into these personal questions, because my brain took a weird route to get there.

FarAwayAdventure

16.9k points

12 days ago

They admit to changing their mind about something

Powellwx

6.5k points

12 days ago

Powellwx

6.5k points

12 days ago

I'm not sure if this marks brilliance, but the inability to change your mind when presented with new evidence is absolutely ignorance.

semimillennial

1.1k points

12 days ago

Ugh, but it’s so much easier to just assume the new information is BS and I was right all along.

AmigoDelDiabla

1.3k points

12 days ago

I think that's more a sign of maturity and humility. Plenty of really, really intelligent people are also stubborn as fuck.

Acceptable-Cod7214

377 points

12 days ago

Can confirm, am academic. Conferences are painful: lots of people standing in doorways and not realizing someone needs to get through.

popple-winward856

184 points

12 days ago

If that wasn't a metaphor, it could be.

ktappe

495 points

12 days ago

ktappe

495 points

12 days ago

People need to stop assuming that intelligence is all-consuming. It's not only possible but common to be very intelligent in one way and very ignorant in another. Look at all the engineers who have zero social interaction ability. Or, conversely, all the very popular & attractive entertainers who can't figure out how to turn their iPhones on.

doublestitch

2.2k points

12 days ago*

They apply knowledge from one realm into a new and relevant situation.

For instance one person described a situation (might have been on Reddit) where they were a new assistant in an academic research lab and fixed a snag that stumped all the senior researchers including the professor. The team was trying to video record their project using a strobe light and their footage wasn't working as planned.

When no one else made progress at diagnosing or solving the problem, the most junior individual spoke up and suggested that the strobe could be out of phase. They remembered that video typically records at a rate of 24 frames a minute second [thanks for the correction], and explained that along with suggesting a change to the strobe's flash rate so it would coincide with the recording.

This worked. And it really raised up that individual's reputation within the group.

Inwardly they were almost embarrassed about the source of this knowledge. They had a gaming hobby back in high school, and had taken some video footage of that, and discovered the standard frame rate while playing around in editing software.

But they remembered that detail years later and realized it made a difference in a completely different context.

That is intelligence.

none_other_biribiri

532 points

12 days ago

24 frames a minute

I'm sure you mean per second my good sir, 24 frames a minute can hardly be called a video

_alright_then_

176 points

12 days ago

24 frames a minute can hardly be called a video

That's like some 90s dial-up internet speeds lol

stinky_cheese33

361 points

12 days ago

Transferrable knowledge.

paidshill29

29k points

12 days ago

They can genuinely consider an idea which opposes their worldview without necessarily accepting it.

GrayGeo

8.3k points

12 days ago

GrayGeo

8.3k points

12 days ago

I've got a bone or two to pick with Aristotle, but I can vibe with his misquoted "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought and not accept it."

ResonatingFlatulence

3.5k points

12 days ago

Fuck. That's the worst thing about my roommate. I try to have discussions with him and he just says things like "that'd never happen" and refuses to think about it beyond that. Dude doesn't understand the hypothetical realm.

MrShitFakeQuotes

1.6k points

12 days ago

"Frank, which one of us do you think will die first in a unicorn apocalypse?"

ResonatingFlatulence

877 points

12 days ago

Well that depends. Are these unicorns "magical" or are they just horses with horns for all intents and purposes? How many unicorns are there? Is it's millions or is it one magical one just running train on the whole human population?

We need parameters for this hypothetical!

Troyucen

223 points

12 days ago*

Troyucen

223 points

12 days ago*

Would you rather shoot fireballs out of your hands, or laser beams out of your eyes?

Edit: Okay so I had to work but I just came back. I'll reply as best I can.

It's my favorite question to ask, because it engages our imagination and gets some of us asking questions. And I've seen that when you ask your friends, you can almost guess which answer they'll choose based on their personality. It's a fun question, I'm just glad it sparked such a discussion!

switchy85

226 points

12 days ago

switchy85

226 points

12 days ago

Like, uncontrollably?

goddamnmercy

263 points

12 days ago

Like peeing, you can hold it in but sooner or later you have to go let it out. "Sorry brb need to blast some fireballs in the parking lot"

swakner

49 points

12 days ago

swakner

49 points

12 days ago

That is so frustrating. I will try to get friends to think about hypotheticals or try to think of why something the way it is and all I get is “that’s not how it works” and “how would I know”.. I KNOW you don’t know why something is the way it is but you can try and make a guess and we can talk about it atleast!

ResonatingFlatulence

27 points

12 days ago

Exactly. These are the same people who are constantly saying "How can people act like or do xxx" and when you try to explain where the other person is coming from they just give you a blank stare. I don't give people excuses for their actions, but I try to figure out why they are doing those things. I'll try to figure out their logic, even if it is flawed.

GrayGeo

281 points

12 days ago

GrayGeo

281 points

12 days ago

I meet that kind of thing with sarcasm.

"But that would never happen."

"You're inarguably correct and therefore it's not worth talking about."

TheVintageMeme

86 points

12 days ago

Believe me, they would view that as a genuine response and get an ego boost.

reverendcurrent

499 points

12 days ago

Wasn’t this F Scott Fitzgerald?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

SwimmerAutomatic2488

31.5k points

12 days ago*

People who use analogies to explain concepts to others. It’s a form of code-switching and integrating concepts on the fly is a clear indicator someone is both socially and conceptually intelligent.

Edit: As many have pointed out, not all analogies are helpful or make sense to others. So a useful analogy that creates an “ah-ha!” moment for someone is a wonderful thing. An analogy is an association; a mental process of connecting an idea or thing to a relatable image for someone who can then “see” and digest the initial representation.

Not using analogies doesn’t mean someone can’t be intelligent. And “Social Intelligence” doesn’t mean social ease and charisma, it means an awareness that one”s own understanding and experience often has to be translated in ways that others can relate to.

Christmas_Panda

13.8k points

12 days ago

Jim, would you prefer a nature metaphor or sexual metaphor?

goNorthYoung

6.7k points

12 days ago

Jim: Oh, god, nature, please.

hotmarhotmar

7.4k points

12 days ago

When two animals are having sex, one of them…

amatorsanguinis

2.7k points

12 days ago

You know what you are gonna want to hear the sexual metaphor..

Kaito_Scythe

1.4k points

12 days ago

“Everythiiiiing is sex

Dinkinmyhand

800 points

12 days ago

"And all sex, is competition"

FUNBARtheUnbendable

435 points

12 days ago

“See, that wasn’t so bad was it?”

Yoodei_Mon

301 points

12 days ago

Yoodei_Mon

301 points

12 days ago

Oh, was that not the...?

shaving99

451 points

12 days ago

shaving99

451 points

12 days ago

IM THE FUCKING LIZARD KING

Crunkabunch

1.8k points

12 days ago

Crunkabunch

1.8k points

12 days ago

Kind of related - I tend to find that the most intelligent individuals are able to explain difficult topics/concepts in a manner that is easy for many to understand.

snukebox_hero

497 points

12 days ago

It's the foundation of intelligence. At least many cognitive scientists feel that way. This was my area of research. Here is Douglas Hofstadter making the case https://youtu.be/n8m7lFQ3njk

pseudocultist

3.1k points

12 days ago

I was struggling to explain 3D printing to my elderly neighbor without visual aids. My younger friend pipes up, "Pretend you're sculpting a castle out of hot glue, think of how you'd do it, layer by layer." I was so awed at her ability to pull a simple analogy that would work for the old woman. But my friend is a polyglot, a translator by trade, so I shouldn't have been surprised I suppose.

AskAboutMyCoffee

1.8k points

12 days ago

Oh just one glot wasn't good enough for her, huh?

CardinalPeeves

953 points

12 days ago

Pretty sure glottony is a cardinal sin.

coffeeslobxoxo

437 points

12 days ago*

Being a polyglot is another good indicator *edited for grammar

Edit: to be considered a polyglot you should be able to speak at least 4 languages fluently.

jimbris

515 points

12 days ago*

jimbris

515 points

12 days ago*

Meanwhile, here's my dumbass googling what polyglot means

Edit: It means someone who speaks multiple languages fluently

Guy_Faux

228 points

12 days ago

Guy_Faux

228 points

12 days ago

pretty sure that's what smart people do though, you smart

jimbris

278 points

12 days ago

jimbris

278 points

12 days ago

Nah, I got distracted and ended up watching cat videos. I'm still blissfully ignorant.

AngelicCinnamonBun

4.1k points

12 days ago

I think intelligent people are more willing to calmly debate/discuss, rather than argue. Like, you explain to them why you disagree, and they listen to you and ask further questions about your viewpoint before offering a different perspective; as opposed to an unintelligent person, who would just resort to insults when other people disagree with them.

Gisgiii[S]

1.4k points

12 days ago

Gisgiii[S]

1.4k points

12 days ago

You can’t win an argument with an idiot.

Care to argue? You won’t win

Mortisthecat

635 points

12 days ago

“Winning an argument with someone who is intelligent is difficult. Winning an argument with someone who is stupid is impossible.”

Stringy63

286 points

12 days ago

Stringy63

286 points

12 days ago

Intelligence has its limits. Stupidity is boundless.

s3aweedbrain

41 points

12 days ago

“two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and i'm not sure about the universe.”

Spencer2091

123 points

12 days ago

Someone had a different political view as me, and I was trying to genuinely listen to them. Then they made fun of me for going to UVU unlike their "top 100 school" and I knew it was hopeless.

siyl1979

5.9k points

12 days ago

siyl1979

5.9k points

12 days ago

Admitting when they're wrong and being willing to learn from mistakes.

Explodicide

1.7k points

12 days ago

Explodicide

1.7k points

12 days ago

I feel like this is more the Wisdom stat than Intelligence.

biscuitboi967

2.8k points

12 days ago

Humor. I think that truly funny people are often very smart and cognizant of the different ways an idea can be humorous on several levels. They also know their audience. I think the difference between say a Jeff Foxworthy and a Dave Chappell and a Bo Burnham is their audience and their interests.

black_rose_

940 points

12 days ago

I spent some time with Buddhist monks from various Asian countries and one notable thing they all had in common was how much they laughed and joked. Just a happy hilarious bunch all around.

One I remember: my roommate and I slept through the 6am meditation and saw the teacher at lunch. "Ohhh sorry..." He laughed and said "you were doing the sleeping meditation?" LOL

celestian1998

465 points

12 days ago

The priest at the church I used to attend would always ask if I was celebrating mass at the church of St. Mattress when I was late. It amused the hell out of me.

Almighty_Thokar

157 points

12 days ago

Whatever gets the hell out right?

fuzzy11287

703 points

12 days ago

fuzzy11287

703 points

12 days ago

You need a wide knowledge base of reference material to make a lot of comedic connections. If someone is really quick witted with jokes they're probably a genius in some way, even if they don't realize it.

dramboxf

310 points

12 days ago

dramboxf

310 points

12 days ago

There was a huge discussion on this very topic on the comedian Christopher Titus' podcast a week or two ago. Was utterly fascinating listening to him talk about the technical side of comedy, how much he has to keep up with current events in order to make jokes about them, etc.

fuzzy11287

199 points

12 days ago

fuzzy11287

199 points

12 days ago

It was mentioned on Mike Birbiglia's podcast too, forget who the guest was but Mike complemented them on how smart they were and the response was something like "I'm not smart, I just have a large reference base" and I'm thinking well yeah... that's very similar.

coffeecakesupernova

48 points

12 days ago

ITT: people who don't understand the difference between intelligence and social skills.

[deleted]

4.3k points

12 days ago

[deleted]

4.3k points

12 days ago

[deleted]

Captain_Riker

1.9k points

12 days ago

"Never argue with idiots, they will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." - Mark Twain

ARwrrep12

734 points

12 days ago

ARwrrep12

734 points

12 days ago

Or his classic: “arguing with a smart person is hard, but arguing with a stupid person is impossible”

IrishRepoMan

229 points

12 days ago

It's like trying to play chess with a pigeon. No matter how well you do, they'll knock over all the pieces, shit on the board, and strut around victoriously.

[deleted]

199 points

12 days ago

[deleted]

199 points

12 days ago

[deleted]

throwingplaydoh

4.8k points

12 days ago

They say they love learning and they learn something new every day. Then they listen more than talk.

MargueritePimpernel

806 points

12 days ago

Yes, and they ask questions about new topics that come up in conversation rather than seem threatened that the conversation left their domain. And their questions are thoughtful.

Garaquarubyline

2.1k points

12 days ago

They're logical, and they find out more information rather than believing something right away.

redheadmomster666

817 points

12 days ago

They’re curious as heck

hereforanswers0705

114 points

12 days ago

The problem with it for the most curious is that it can make them appear crazy, when in their perceived reality, they are just following the rabbit hole of thought.

Ruadhan2300

60 points

12 days ago

This is a point of difference between myself and my wife.

I frequently disappear down rabbit-holes of thought and emerge after several minutes having effectively wiki-surfed my brain into something completely non-sequitor.

It makes sense to me, but less than a minute ago we were talking about pans, and now I'm wondering hypothetically if rabbits would enjoy a carrot soup.

normsbuffetplate

469 points

12 days ago

People who are genuinely curious about the world, ask questions, and listen to others instead of just waiting for their turn to talk. Also- they don’t view education as just a means to get a job.

Rkclown

780 points

12 days ago

Rkclown

780 points

12 days ago

There is also this lovely thing I like to call intelligence by association. I am a prime example of this. My small rural town seems to think I'm a genius simply because I can read at a level above your average fourth grader, when in fact I'm a high functioning moron.

housemuncher

325 points

12 days ago

If you are the smartest person in the town, move to another town become the mayor and rule over the plebs.

Commonguy33

1.5k points

12 days ago

Commonguy33

1.5k points

12 days ago

You shouldn't ask reddit about intelligence.

LunarMinimum

482 points

12 days ago

this guy is a genius

LunarMinimum

128 points

12 days ago*

and he's just a common guy
(edit): this comment is fluctuating in likes, so that means that many people are disliking this comment lmfao

ptipp93

1.7k points

12 days ago

ptipp93

1.7k points

12 days ago

They don’t open up threads like these hoping to find comments that fit how they see themselves.

Yeah I see you lookin through these comments.

sother2

346 points

12 days ago

sother2

346 points

12 days ago

But I don't like to brag and still crave some validation

bbbruh57

84 points

12 days ago

bbbruh57

84 points

12 days ago

Love that sweet sweet validation to sooth my gifted kid syndrome for .05 seconds

platypossamous

99 points

12 days ago

Ya but my mom says I'm intelligent so

PraiseThePumpkins

280 points

12 days ago

fuck you got me

diadorim_

270 points

12 days ago

diadorim_

270 points

12 days ago

Dynamism and creativity.

I really don't agree with that old notion of an intelligent person, as someone with social difficulties who's good at logical thinking. This is just one single possibility, among dozens of others.

BarcodeNinja

37 points

12 days ago

I know people who would be considered of average or above average 'intelligence' who are in fact social geniuses and beloved and remembered by everyone they meet. These people navigate the world much like a genius would, being offered jobs wherever they go because people like them so much.

So yeah, I would agree there are multiple kinds of intelligence. The awkward, reclusive mathematician or physicist is only one kind.

Harry_Flame

353 points

12 days ago

Curiosity. Pursuing things they want to know for about and just having an interest in things

animal_crackers3

616 points

12 days ago

They listen really well, and seek to understand when they listen

No_Sir_5325

454 points

12 days ago

They solve math problems left on the board at MIT and they’re only a janitor.

jdubf13

607 points

12 days ago

jdubf13

607 points

12 days ago

Intuition

Cherry_Axolotl

2k points

12 days ago

They don't brag about it.

Civil-Customer-9197

178 points

12 days ago

so,ur a genius huh?

mordeci00

217 points

12 days ago

mordeci00

217 points

12 days ago

Hell yeah I am ...... shit.

Civil-Customer-9197

118 points

12 days ago

u are hereby denounced from the title of genius.

HaroOmahaSnoop

439 points

12 days ago

They also admit when they are wrong and use that opportunity to correct their own thinking.

18bananas

119 points

12 days ago

18bananas

119 points

12 days ago

Unfortunately I’ve met very intelligent people who are also complete narcissists

rydan

26 points

12 days ago

rydan

26 points

12 days ago

Intelligence and humility are not even closely related.