Does intelligence increase with knowledge?


Fact Box

  • Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that intelligence more accurately predicts future career success than socioeconomic background does. 
  • Harvard professor Howard Gardner says that humans can display eight different types of intelligence, “each representing different ways of how a person best processes information.” The eight intelligence types are: spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, linguistic, logical/mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. 
  • The so-called Information Age that we are living in now and which was made possible by the development of the internet and the World Wide Web is described as “a time in which information has become a commodity that is quickly and widely disseminated and easily available especially through the use of computer technology.”
  • One in ten autistic persons also displays savant syndrome, which Dr. Darold Treffert describes as “a rare, but extraordinary, condition in which persons with serious mental disabilities, including autistic disorder, have some ‘island of genius’ which stands in marked, incongruous contrast to overall handicap.”

Zoe (No)

While knowledge is a tool that can contribute to intelligence, knowledge alone cannot make a person intelligent. Knowledge is familiarity gained through experience; it is an acquaintance with a concept or a field. Intelligence, on the other hand, is the ability to deal with new or trying situations. Intelligence is a process of adapting to different circumstances. As a result, one of the main reasons why knowledge alone does not lead to intelligence is because it is non-adaptable. Knowledge in one field does not, of its own accord, translate to knowledge in another field. For example, the knowledge of how a car works is different from the knowledge of how a phone works.

Intelligence also requires the ability to think abstractly in order to make connections. In the previous example, the two areas of knowledge are factually separate as they pertain to two separate devices. However, only when intelligence is applied to form connections can the two areas of knowledge be translated. One might note the connection that both a phone and a car employ electricity through the use of batteries. This connection is not made simply by knowing these facts but rather by employing abstract thinking.

Intelligence also renders knowledge useful. For example, it does a person no good to know that a tomato is a fruit if they use it to make a smoothie that no one will enjoy. With intelligence, one can compare tomatoes and other fruits that are normally used in smoothies and conclude not to use them. Thus, more than knowledge, intelligence requires logic and critical thinking.


Luna (Yes)

There are two types of intelligence: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Studies over the years have shown that an increase in knowledge can boost crystallized intelligence, which concerns the facts we learn at school, the information we absorb through social interacts, etc. People who read more informational books, watch documentaries, and have a large variety of life experiences can therefore learn lots of new information, which boosts their intelligence. Based on these findings, the more you learn, the smarter you become.

Similarly, people who have a lot of novelty in their life also become smarter because, with each new experience, the brain creates new synaptic connections. These connections grow over time to form a complex network of neural activity that facilitates learning. But crystallized intelligence isn’t the only ‘improvable’ form of intelligence. Researchers have found that improving your memory through brain training exercises can significantly boost fluid intelligence. People who consistently worked on improving their cognitive functions through memory games and other brain training exercises noticed other cognitive functions also improved.

Applying this logic to the concept of neural plasticity, researchers in Sweden found that people who spent 14 hours improving their memory processes for five weeks saw “an increase of dopamine D1 binding potential in the prefrontal and parietal areas of the brain.” The studies show that this dopamine receptor, the D1 type, is important for neural growth, improving plasticity, and enhanced learning. Within just a few weeks of training, people can instantly boost their cognitive functioning, thus boosting intelligence.

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