One of the most defining life changing moments of my life came in high school, when I under-performed on a grade 11 chemistry test. Suffering from sour grapes, I ranted about the chemistry test being a poor measure of intelligence. My chemistry teacher approached to ask “Can you tell me anything in chemistry that doesn’t require intelligence?”
“All the mindless memorizing we have to do,” I replied.
“You know when you talk about intelligence, there are so many different parts to it, ” he said wisely. “It’s memorization, it’s pattern recognition, it’s…”
“I think intelligence is just how quickly you can process information,” I said, cutting him off, emboldened by knowledge of Arthur Jensen’s reaction time studies.
“No,” he corrected me. “That’s only one part of it!….If you want a single umbrella to cover ALL of intelligence….” he said, slowly, carefully, spreading out his arms as far as they would reach to convey the utter vastness of the entity he was describing, “then it’s the ability to adapt; to take whatever situation you’re in, and turn it around to your advantage. That’s really what intelligence is”