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Is it possible to become more intelligent?

Rome96

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#1
Is it possible to train your brain to potentially make you more intelligent? Like using exercises specifically designed to make your brain more focused, improve your analytic capabilities, improve your memory etc. How would it work, neurologically speaking? I've tried finding answers online but all I've managed to find is self-help bullshit and this: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/22-ways-to-train-your-brain.html

If you have any experience with brain "exercising" I'd like to hear about it. Thanks.

:elephant:

The elephant is cool.
 

Rome96

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#4

DelusiveNinja

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#6
Studies have shown that brain training games do not increase overall intelligence. You do however become more efficient at solving the tasks over time. This is more to do with familiarity than intelligence however.

According to László Polgár, "Geniuses are made, not born". He attempted to prove this by turning his daughter Judit Polgár into a Chess genius. By the age of 4 she could beat her father at Chess. She achieved grandmaster status at the age of 15 and is the strongest female Chess player in history (by a mile).

Much of her training was via the rote learning of various chess scenarios and how to play them.

Does this make her an intelligent player?
 
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#7
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#8
Becoming more intelligent

Is it possible to train ... to potentially make you more intelligent?
Why not?

1. Start by learning logic and its fallacies. There is a link for this but I don't have it handy.
2. Learn basic psychology to learn how your mind and emotions work.
3. Learn some philosophy so you can rate what is important and what is not.
4. Apply all this to your fondest areas of interest so you have something to work with.

The more you learn, the more connections your brain will have. Your can either seek breadth to cover many situations or depth as Hawkeye's example gave.

Personally I started out with an I.Q. of two digits and have increased that by fifty percent to three digits! Now I'm proud to the point of vanity.:D
 

Hadoblado

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#9
Re: Becoming more intelligent

Why not?

1. Start by learning logic and its fallacies. There is a link for this but I don't have it handy.
2. Learn basic psychology to learn how your mind and emotions work.
3. Learn some philosophy so you can rate what is important and what is not.
4. Apply all this to your fondest areas of interest so you have something to work with.

The more you learn, the more connections your brain will have. Your can either seek breadth to cover many situations or depth as Hawkeye's example gave.

Personally I started out with an I.Q. of two digits and have increased that by fifty percent to three digits! Now I'm proud to the point of vanity.:D
That is an incredible feat. You must have been entirely unactualised before.

Becoming more intelligent is something you do by default up until 25ish. You then get some diminishing intelligences, but also some ever increasing ones.

Becoming a more effective thinker is easy, that's learning.

However, most programs designed to improve your processing power only do so under limited conditions. The improvements don't generalise too well.

There's word of electromagnetic transcranial stimulation being able to improve particular abilities such as math, though I haven't actually read the studies.

I think the first and most important step is to take care of your environmental factors. Eat well and exercise etc.

In the future I'm hoping for some form of artificial cognitive augmentation. :borg:
 

Rome96

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#10
Re: Becoming more intelligent

Why not?

1. Start by learning logic and its fallacies. There is a link for this but I don't have it handy.
2. Learn basic psychology to learn how your mind and emotions work.
3. Learn some philosophy so you can rate what is important and what is not.
4. Apply all this to your fondest areas of interest so you have something to work with.

The more you learn, the more connections your brain will have. Your can either seek breadth to cover many situations or depth as Hawkeye's example gave.

Personally I started out with an I.Q. of two digits and have increased that by fifty percent to three digits! Now I'm proud to the point of vanity.:D
You actually had an increase in IQ? Impressive. I know that knowledge is connections between neurons, but knowledge =/= intelligence. Are you saying that by acquiring more knowledge you subsequently became more intelligent? I guess it makes sense, the more you engage your brain, the better you become at using it. I'm interested in both psychology and philosophy but not sure which books to start out with, what would you suggest?
 
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#11
If you would like to have an excellent memory (and consequently the ability to be full of random information and seem intelligent), you should look into mnemonics.

Methods such as memory palaces, the major system, the peg system, etc. can come in pretty handy - and they're all incredibly easy to learn. You can begin to use them as soon as you're somewhat clear on the basics.

I'm presently halfway through learning the name of every country in the world and their populations.
 

Hadoblado

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#12
Mnemonics are amazing. They come under what BAP said about learning how your brain works in order to use it more effectively (the whole list was great, actually).

I use mnemonics for everything. Mostly I just use relaxed chunking methods, but come exams, I am a proponent of the peg system.
 
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#13
Re: Becoming more intelligent

Intelligence is a habit. I believe it has a lot to do with how you think, not what you think, which is why it appears in so many different forms. People who develop lazy thinking habits end up developing lazy thoughts.

Active vs. lazy thinking:

In the context that I say intelligence is a habit, predicated upon lazy vs. active thinking, there's a lot of facets to consider. People can be active thinkers and seekers of new information in specific areas - Chess, Mathematics, Linguistics etc.

They can also be broadly intelligent - able to consider many mutually opposing concepts and to identify the correct one(s) through both deductive and inductive reasoning.

This is hard for me to formulate into words concisely...I don't really feel like writing an entire essay on the concept of lazy and active thinking habits and how they contribute to the development of, 'intelligence'.

So I'll use an example, and hopefully you can take from the example the underlying premise I'm trying to highlight and see the pattern I'm attempting to express. Just to note, I'm not accusing you of lazy thinking in this.

Example follows on from this quote:

You actually had an increase in IQ? Impressive. I know that knowledge is connections between neurons, but knowledge =/= intelligence. Are you saying that by acquiring more knowledge you subsequently became more intelligent? I guess it makes sense, the more you engage your brain, the better you become at using it. I'm interested in both psychology and philosophy but not sure which books to start out with, what would you suggest?
I don't think you need to really read books about things to become more intelligent (what is intelligence anyway, this is hard to discuss without knowing what the definition you're judging it by is supposed to be...). I'm always wary of books, because they're full of opinions. A lot of the time books don't seem to make people smarter, just better at regurgitating the information within the books.

Philosophy is individual to everyone, and reading lengthy materials on the matter is (mostly) missing the point of philosophy in the first place.

I'm not against books, I just think that there's a key difference between studying underlying concepts of a book as opposed to simply assimilating droves of information and opinions contained within.

Essentially, how you read (actively) is more important than what you read (lazy) in developing intelligence. Though again, there's exceptions to this rule...obviously if you want to learn chemistry you wouldn't read a story about Spot the Dog (well, maybe you would).

What I'm trying to highlight is that intelligence is fluid and ever-changing. You aren't set at a certain level of intellect, and you don't possess the same intellect across all contexts. So it's important to develop the habit of being intellectual, if you want to become intelligence.

To me, intelligence is largely contextual. People who can identify and adapt to many different contexts are the sort of people I see as most intelligent, because they don't just have the ability to assimilate information - they have developed the habit of being intelligent and thinking with originality. Concepts are approached without predisposition to one conclusion or another, and they are able to think, discuss and problem solve anything - they can root out and identify the important points of any given situation and understand its relevance both to the given context, and the importance of that context within the whole.
 

Rome96

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#14
@redbaron

When reading things you're not just supposed to memorize the words to spew out afterwards. You're supposed to analyze and critique what you've just read. In that way, reading is a good form of brain "exercising". I wasn't trying to say that I want to accumulate a bunch of other people's opinions and droves of information, what I meant was that the process of acquiring that knowledge is what leads to intelligence. The constant evaluating of what you're reading, the questioning of it's validity.

I get what you're saying though, but I think I'm always actively reading, I focus on the fundamentals of what I'm reading and build everything on top of that. Can't really imagine it any other way.

I disagree with you on the philosophy part. I think reading up on philosophy can help you reach your own philosophical conclusions. I'm not the kind of guy that embraces a concept just because it's written in a book, I need to be certain that it's logical first.

:elephant:
 

Rome96

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#15
If you would like to have an excellent memory (and consequently the ability to be full of random information and seem intelligent), you should look into mnemonics.

Methods such as memory palaces, the major system, the peg system, etc. can come in pretty handy - and they're all incredibly easy to learn. You can begin to use them as soon as you're somewhat clear on the basics.

I'm presently halfway through learning the name of every country in the world and their populations.
Seems interesting, I'll check it out.
 

Etheri

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#16
knowledge =/= intelligence. Are you saying that by acquiring more knowledge you subsequently became more intelligent? I guess it makes sense, the more you engage your brain, the better you become at using it.
What is one without the other?

Knowledge without the proper intelligence to back it up is what I'd call a parrot... but intelligence without a constant drive for knowledge is probably worse.

Newton was without a doubt a genius, yet I'm sure there are thousands of less intelligent people today who have a better grasp of the physical reality than he did. Why? Knowledge and education.

The more you know, the more you have to apply your intelligence to, the more dots you can to try and connect.
 

Valentas

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#17
I think in this topic, all of you mainly consider brain intelligence(scientists, chess players, programmers). Did it ever occur to you that there are other types of intelligence? What about physical intelligence? See basketball players in NBA, look at their developed physique and mastery they demonstrate. Or take into consideration great composers, with great musical intelligence.

I once had pleasure to meet a jack-of-all-trades, a guy who could build a chimney, fix your car and any other type of thing. He demonstrated great Kinesthetic intelligence. I would not be able to become as good as he is. Unless I decide to try but I don't want to.

In my opinion, you can become more intelligent but you need to provide workouts for your brain. For instance, my close friend recently reported her increased memory capacity after completing first year of med school. Another guy is a mathematician who did internship this summer to become programmer. He reported the bewilderment in the beginning, clarity after one month nolifing the concepts and actually ability to work in a team competently at this moment. He said that problem solving skills helped but it was all about work he put in to achieve competency.

All blabber away, the ability to become more intelligent is directly proportional to the time you put in and has a similar graph as computers development: at first it moved slowly upwards and then exploded in exponential growth. It happened to me, when I finally got Calculus and moved on to Calculus 2
 

just george

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#18
It would help if someone actually defined intelligence.

What is intelligence, anyway? Is it the ability to accurately remember facts? Or the ability to combine facts to solve problems? Or the ability to remember facts to solve problems at a certain speed?

I've taken a few IQ tests, and blown them away. However, some questions have to do with vocabulary. How is vocabulary relevant? What if a very intelligent person was never exposed to the word that is the correct answer to the question? Seems a bit unfair, and certainly results in error.

Some IQ tests are timed. What happens if someone takes ages to solve a very easy question, but a fraction of a second to solve a difficult one? How do you measure intelligence in that context?

The whole thing stinks, imo.

Anyway, for the sake of answering the OPs question, then yes, I think that there are ways to improve all of the above. If you want to learn facts, you have to study and learn them in the first place. If you want to get better at solving problems, then learning various methods to sort through data (like logic) would help there. If you want to improve raw intelligence ie overall ability, then there are things, like meditation and sometimes drugs that will affect neurons positively. LSD, for example, has repeatedly been shown to help repair damaged neurons.

(Hows that for a justification to go an trip? :D)
 

Hadoblado

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#19
I'd define intelligence as cognitive ability to respond appropriately within a given context. It's a functional definition that allows for multiple intelligence types, but still allows one to make concise ordinal statements.

In the question above, you'd likely find the tests measure two completely different types of intelligence. If that's not the case, look for the limitation. Often it will be an issue with the question, or an inability to switch perceptual set.

I've shat bricks over an ambiguously worded exam question. It took me 15 minutes to answer it (it was a multiple choice item), as I was so stressed I was unable to model the examiner's intentions. It was either a really easy question, or a skill-tester, I think I ended up assuming it was an easy question eventually, but it had me massively rattled. If the question had been reworded I would have been able to answer it before I read the options.
 

just george

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#20
I'd define intelligence as cognitive ability to respond appropriately within a given context. It's a functional definition that allows for multiple intelligence types, but still allows one to make concise ordinal statements.

In the question above, you'd likely find the tests measure two completely different types of intelligence. If that's not the case, look for the limitation. Often it will be an issue with the question, or an inability to switch perceptual set.

I've shat bricks over an ambiguously worded exam question. It took me 15 minutes to answer it (it was a multiple choice item), as I was so stressed I was unable to model the examiner's intentions. It was either a really easy question, or a skill-tester, I think I ended up assuming it was an easy question eventually, but it had me massively rattled. If the question had been reworded I would have been able to answer it before I read the options.
What are the elements of this "cognitive ability"?

Also that's why I don't like multiple choice questions. Imo it's just laziness on the part of the examiner. Come to think of it, I don't like exam questions at all, and think that university learning should be tested gradually, and intensely, with far more examiner student interaction - but that's a completely different (and large) topic.
 

Valentas

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#21
Intelligent person is an individual who works towards his goals and aspirations. If he acts towards his goals he acts intelligently, if not, then he is not intelligent. When you consider this, most of the intelligent people had goals and were actively trying to achieve them. Not intelligent person procrastinates, skips steps, gets lazy and ends up without achieving his brain greatest desires. This is what I define as stupid person.
 

Hadoblado

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#22
The elements of the cognitive ability are entirely functional, though they will hopefully be understood physically some time in the future. You set a goal, and their cognitive ability is their ability to achieve it.

Tester: DO MATH
Testee: *does math*
Tester: GOOD, NOW DO SLIGHTLY HARDER MATH

Eventually you find the point at which the person has too much difficulty, and this is taken as a measurement of that particular cognitive ability. It's a useful view, as it allows one to identify limitations without generalising them further than the parameters of what is tested.
 

Hadoblado

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#23
Intelligent person is an individual who works towards his goals and aspirations. If he acts towards his goals he acts intelligently, if not, then he is not intelligent. When you consider this, most of the intelligent people had goals and were actively trying to achieve them. Not intelligent person procrastinates, skips steps, gets lazy and ends up without achieving his brain greatest desires. This is what I define as stupid person.
I strongly disagree. That is a motivated person.

If I aspire to take all the rocks in pile B and move them to location C, and then have the energy to do so, in what way have I demonstrated intelligence?

While I appreciate that motivation is often undersold as a measure of life success, I think it would be a mistake to equate it with intelligence, at least in the broad sense. Cognitive control, or the ability to think about the things you dictate as appropriate, is a type of intelligence, but it does not encompass all of the intelligence types.
 

Coolydudey

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#24
Intelligence is not IQ. IQ is a form of intelligence though, and can change up to 20 points as somebody grows up. Neuroplasticity is much more important than we think, and the brain can adapt quite a lot. Take for example London taxi cab drivers, who are supposed to know almost all of London without a GPS. They have a significantly swollen hippocampus, so as to allow them to store all this information. As far as spatial processing and spatial memory is concerned, they have become more intelligent.
 

Valentas

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#25
Okay. Henry Ford had little education and formal schooling. Most of us would call him illiterate or some other names. Yet, a man was educated and had a goal. When he achieved it, no one dared to call him not intelligent. This is why I gave such a definition of intelligent person.

Motivation is to get you going, discipline and commitment, sticking to your goals requires tremendous intelligence which is why I define person who is under commitment to achieve his/her desires.
 

Hadoblado

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#26
Okay. Henry Ford had little education and formal schooling. Most of us would call him illiterate or some other names. Yet, a man was educated and had a goal. When he achieved it, no one dared to call him not intelligent. This is why I gave such a definition of intelligent person.

Motivation is to get you going, discipline and commitment, sticking to your goals requires tremendous intelligence which is why I define person who is under commitment to achieve his/her desires.
But Henry Ford was almost certainly both motivated and intelligent. The way you use the word 'intelligent' implies that something cannot be a positive attribute unless it is intelligent. But this is not the case. He was successful, but so are many stupid people. These are two different axes, and while sometimes they coincide it is not accurate or useful to deem them indistinguishable from one another.
 
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#27
Defining Intelligence

It would help if someone actually defined intelligence.
I've always defined intelligence as, "The ability to do stuff*", and haven't been able to improve on that. The next question is, what stuff and what kind of ability? The answer would be a great INTP project. My answer so far is random situations. Since it's been pointed out there are many different kinds of situations, one could define general intelligence as rolling the dice to pick a situation and plopping one down in that situation and measuring somehow one's ability to deal with it.

What is intelligence, anyway? Is it the ability to accurately remember facts? Or the ability to combine facts to solve problems? Or the ability to remember facts to solve problems at a certain speed?
All of those. Defining intelligence is like defining an organism. What are we doing? Trying to simplify a complex situation? That's okay. Go ahead and do it. If you repeat what I said above and keep count, you have intelligence. But organisms are like sieves ... notorious for having holes in them.

I've taken a few IQ tests, and blown them away. However, some questions have to do with vocabulary. How is vocabulary relevant? What if a very intelligent person was never exposed to the word that is the correct answer to the question? Seems a bit unfair, and certainly results in error.
Good questions. Yes it's fair ... or semi-fair. It's statistical. The more words you know, the more you have dealt with situations. The more you have dealt with a variety of situations, the more likely you have some ability to deal with them. Not a sure thing ... just probabilities.

In my late teens I was a poor reader but loved to think**. I wanted to know the truth but angrily felt what I read was biased/illogical. This made me lop-sided and limited my intelligence.


Some IQ tests are timed. What happens if someone takes ages to solve a very easy question, but a fraction of a second to solve a difficult one? How do you measure intelligence in that context?
I once was given a culture free intelligence test. The tester said I got all of the questions right but three and they were the very easy ones. What the F was wrong with me? Answer: something.

The whole thing stinks, imo.
We are all limited in some way in our intelligence. Fight. Fight against it.

*Not restricted to cognitive consciousness.
**Maybe because I had no idea what was going on.
 

Magus

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#28
Intelligence is a tricky concept to pin down. In terms of 'natural ability' I don't think it is possible to improve yourself -- your genes are your genes, but there are a multitude of factors which will affect how traits are expressed, e.g. early child learning opportunities, good nutrition etc which will help especially young individuals get the most out of their natural talents.

I think different people might get vastly different 'mileage' on their natural abilities. To actually apply your intelligence is a different thing altogether, and a person of modest natural ability might, if they read everyday/constantly work on themselves come across as vastly more intelligent than a true genius who builds a life of under-performance. Its obviously nearly impossible to look at a person and deduce how much natural talent they have vs how much where they are now is due to their own effort.
 
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#29
This thread is huge but I want to just post really quick, I got this far before I saw what I was looking for.

I do believe it is possible to become more intelligent. Simply put your brain to work.

I try do pump out a crossword and sudoku every morning on the train. I feel this helps prepare my brain for a boring day of looking down at the ground 20 feet below me and trying to trust my body not to fall.
 

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#30
Mhm yeah. I used to work summers in one doctor's house and she said to me that in order to stay sharp, she solves crosswords in a foreign language. She is Russian but currently learn English and solves crosswords in that language. Smart :)

I can share another story which I read on a blog post. Basically, author once met another citizen of the same country 500 miles away and he offered the author a free ride home. The driver said that he used to work as a doorman and after six months asked for being fired. Not because he was bad at that job or hated it. He said that he could not stand the feeling and realization that in this job his brain atrophies. He could feel it. Now he laughs at this decision with admiration because he put his brain and talents to use and owns 3 successful businesses. So you must train your brain just like a muscle - otherwise it will die.
 
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#31
Intelligence is a tricky concept to pin down. In terms of 'natural ability' I don't think it is possible to improve yourself -- your genes are your genes, ...
One could use the analogy that your natural abilities are like a cup (I hesitate to say "balloon.") One can fill it up or not fill it up as one chooses, but the ultimate size is bounded.
 

Etheri

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#32
One could use the analogy that your natural abilities are like a cup (I hesitate to say "balloon.") One can fill it up or not fill it up as one chooses, but the ultimate size is bounded.
If I fill it up with a gas, the size is irrelevant until the gas becomes a SCF...

Okay I see your point.


I am wondering why the emphesis is on natural abilities. Some people are better at certain things than others, nothing new. We can get better at just about anything by practise, nothing new either. BAP's allegory implies there's an upper limit, and I agree with this... I just think almost none reaches this personal upper limit?

Lets be honest here, we're far too lazy. Perhaps our focus is on natural ability, because we're pretty decent at that and pretty terrible at the 'working hard' part.
 
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#33
Personally I started out with an I.Q. of two digits and have increased that by fifty percent to three digits! Now I'm proud to the point of vanity.:D
Just to tie this down, I was making a joke.

Notice how one can define "that." Two digits to three digits is an increase in digits of fifty percent. That could mean my I.Q. went from 99 to 102 ... not that impressive at all.

Sorry for the joke but I think it's funny. Logic is just one factor in intelligence. One does not need good logic to be intelligent. They could have the ability to weave a great story or paint a great painting.
 

Rome96

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#34
One could use the analogy that your natural abilities are like a cup (I hesitate to say "balloon.") One can fill it up or not fill it up as one chooses, but the ultimate size is bounded.
I like that analogy. Thanks.
 
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#35
Note that I hesitated to use as a limit the analog of a balloon. Think of this: A blind person may develop their kinesthetic sense, hearing and touch to a great degree. They would do that to a high degree we cannot because we are distracted visually. That means the cup is expandable.

Yet there may be those with special abilities like photographic which are inherited. Or Same with an idiot savant or perhaps some of those with autism. They would have high intelligence of this specialized sort.

This is something for additional research.
 
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#40
As poetic as this sounds; I disagree.
then i'm afraid you're in possession of a dogmatic pseudo-spiritual intelligence trope.

being one with all is having infinite intelligence. infinite intelligence isn't very useful. it is equivalent to non-intelligence.
 
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#41
then i'm afraid you're in possession of a dogmatic pseudo-spiritual intelligence trope.
Now, that is something I would encourage you to elaborate.

being one with all is having infinite intelligence. infinite intelligence isn't very useful. it is equivalent to non-intelligence.

∞ =/= -∞

You are saying that being able to topple every problem is the same as not being able to topple any problem.
 
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#42
You are saying that being able to topple every problem is the same as not being able to topple any problem.
i am saying that intelligence - in any useful, real sense - implies a desired outcome, which in turn implies deficiency. thus being all is, in terms of intelligence, equivalent to being nothing.
 
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#43
i am saying that intelligence - in any useful, real sense - implies a desired outcome, which in turn implies deficiency. thus being all is, in terms of intelligence, equivalent to being nothing.
I think you're confusing intelligence with omnipotence
 
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#45
nope. omniscience and omnipotence are equally nonsensical ideas though.
Basically you are saying that a carrot and the ultimate genius are equivalent in terms of intelligence. This is nonsensical.
 
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#46
Basically you are saying that a carrot and the ultimate genius are equivalent in terms of intelligence. This is nonsensical.
any proposition including "the ultimate genius" is transitively nonsensical because "the ultimate genius" cannot be consistently interpreted as anything other than a perfect intelligence, an omniscience, yet intelligence presupposes deficiency, incompleteness, in order to even exist. there is no such thing as the ultimate genius. intelligence as we know it has collapsed and imploded before it gets to that point. it's simply an unqualified everything. as we are when we are born and when we die.

a carrot is far from either. the subjective experience approaches infinity at the two defining points of our lives, though.
 
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#47
any proposition including "the ultimate genius" is transitively nonsensical because "the ultimate genius" cannot be consistently interpreted as anything other than a perfect intelligence, an omniscience. yet intelligence presupposes deficiency, incompleteness, in order to even exist. there is no such thing as the ultimate genius. intelligence as we know it has collapsed and imploded before it gets to that point. it's simply an unqualified everything. as we are when we are born and when we die.
This all depends on the definition of intelligence you are using. Could you please clarify your interpretation of intelligence.

Also do you mean before we are born and after we die?
 
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#48
This all depends on the definition of intelligence you are using. Could you please clarify your interpretation of intelligence.
any definition - provided it concedes the instrumental nature of knowledge itself as well as the faculties of its acquisition - is compatible with my proposed reasoning.

Also do you mean before we are born and after we die?

not sure. i picture the infinitesimal points where subjectivity and non-subjectivity intersect. ya dig?
 
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#49
any proposition including "the ultimate genius" is transitively nonsensical because "the ultimate genius" cannot be consistently interpreted as anything other than a perfect intelligence, an omniscience. yet intelligence presupposes deficiency, incompleteness, in order to even exist. there is no such thing as the ultimate genius. intelligence as we know it has collapsed and imploded before it gets to that point. it's simply an unqualified everything. as we are when we are born and when we die.
Infinity brings in a lot of paradoxes.
And sorry, you weren't claiming:

∞ = -∞

You were claiming:

∞ = 0

Please elaborate what kind of deficiency and incompleteness intelligence presupposes? It implies only the potential, only the ability, which it is, by definition.
 
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#50
I think that it is measured on a continuum, which is a given, which therefore means there is no maximum, which might also be interpreted as ...
 
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