Saturday, November 16, 2013

Define Smart

"Mom, if there was a group of people who lived in total isolation from the outside world, and they had a written historical record about their people, but it was totally false, and a person in their society was an expert on that history, would he still be considered a smart person?  I mean, someone who knew all there was to know about something that was false, had written treatises on it and studied it and taught it to others and everything, would that still be a smart person?"

Sometimes Bigger Girl's philosophical questions catch me a bit off, so i thought about this one for a few minutes before i noted that intelligence, and the ability to memorize facts, are not the same things.

"So you would say that person is smart?" she asked.

Yes, you would have to be smart to become an expert at something, able to analyze it.  Whether the facts it contains are truthful or not doesn't change whether you have intelligence.  It's a separate measure.

"Okay, I think so, too.  But what about a person who doesn't read, but can take engines apart and fix them, without even being taught how, just figuring them out for themselves?"

That's another kind of intelligence, and that person would probably be able to learn to read if he wanted to put his mind to it, i noted.

"Yeah, probably.  Anyway, i've just been thinking about the definitions of intelligence, and with that, I'm going to go do something totally frivolous and meet up with my friends to see Thor II."

Just what you need to do to rest your mind, i thought.

Today is:

Birth of the Blues Day -- birth anniversary of W.C. Handy, "Father of the Blues"

Bonn Om Touk -- Cambodia (a/k/a The Water Festival, it is Cambodia's largest party, always held for two days around the time of the full moon in November)

Button Day -- internet generated; a day to collect, or reminisce about collecting, buttons

Dagur Islenskrar tungu -- Iceland (Icelandic Language Day)

Day of Declaration of Sovereignty / Day of National Rebirth -- Estonia

Family Volunteer Day -- to get families working together to better their communities and the world

Famous San Diego Chicken Day -- a day to celebrate anyone who has ever slugged a purple dinosaur

Flag Day/Statia and America Day -- St. Eustatius

Have a Party with Your Bear Day -- no comment, it's too obvious

Hecate Night -- Ancient Greek Calendar (date approximate; celebrated still by some Wiccans)

International Day for Tolerance - UN

Kalamazoo Russian Festival -- Kalamazoo, MI, US

National Fast Food Day -- why?

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week -- US (remembering those who have little or nothing during the upcoming holiday celebrations, and making time to share our bounty with them; through the 24th)
      co-sponsors National Coalition for the Homeless and National Student Campaign Against Hunger & Homelessness

PCS and Homeplace Festival -- Waretown, NJ, US (a family affair with country, bluegrass, and traditional music)

St. Gertrude the Great's Day (Patron of nuns; Naples, Italy; West Indies)

St. Margaret of Scotland's Day (Patron of learning, parents of large families, queens, widows; Scotland; against the death of children)

St. Matthew the Evangelist's Day (Eastern Churches)

Anniversaries Today:

Oklahoma becomes the 46th US State, 1907

Birthdays Today:

Oksana Baiul, 1977
Lisa Bonet, 1967
Dwight Gooden, 1964
Shigeru Miyamoto, 1952
Daws Butler, 1916
Burgess Meredith, 1908
W.C. Handy, 1873
Tiberius, Roman Emperor, BC42

Debuting/Premiering Today:

The Roman Catholic Church issues the first new Universal Catechism since 1563, to address modern issues, 1992

Today in History:

The second and final revision of the Codex Justinianus is published, 534
Francisco Pizarro captures the Incan emperor Atahualpa after the victory at Cajamarca, 1532
The first colonial prison is organized, in Nantucket, Massachussetts, 1676
Kentucky becomes the first state to nullify an act of Congress, 1798
The New York Evening Post publishes its first edition, 1801
An earthquake in Missouri causes the Mississippi River to flow backwards, 1811
Missouri trader William Becknell arrives in Santa Fe, New Mexico over a route that became known as the Santa Fe Trail, 1821
Napoleon Guerin of NYC patents a cork life preserver, 1841
Fyodor Dostoevsky is sentenced to death for anti-government activities; sentence is commuted to hard labor, 1849
Amsterdam post office at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal opens, 1856
William Bonwill patents dental mallet to impact gold into cavities, 1875
6,000 Armenians massacred by Turks in Kurdistan, 1894
Arturo Tuscanini begins conducting NY's Metropolitan Opera, 1908
US Federal Reserve System formally opens, 1914
LSD is first synthesized by Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland, 1938
UNESCO is founded, 1945
NASA launches Skylab 4 with a crew of three astronauts from Cape Canaveral, Florida for an 84-day mission, 1973
The Hoxne Hoard is discovered by metal detectorist Eric Lawes in Hoxne, Suffolk, 1992
After nearly 18 years of incarceration, the People's Republic of China releases Wei Jingsheng, a pro-democracy dissident, from jail for medical reasons, 1997
The People's Republic of China begins to implement the "Great Firewall," filters which make it impossible to connect to internet sites the government deems illegal or unhelpful to the communist ideal, 2006


  1. This reminds of of when somebody would say that someone was "street smart" or "book smart".

  2. You daughter is very smart. You are too.

    Have a terrific day. :)

  3. If you don't know the story of the Hoxne hoard it is well worth looking up. I saw a programme on it recently and it was fascinating.
    My Mum had a button box full of buttons and I loved playing with it. My psychotherapist wife, Jo, uses buttons in some of her therapy sessions with clients.

  4. Question, does the hypothetical expert know the history he's mastered is false? It seems to me that Bigger Girl is also asking whether or not everyone can be wrong about something. And the answer is yes.

  5. God is testing you with that one!

  6. OH! I do so like a young person who ponders deep thoughts! I would like to think that intelligence is also tied in with morality, but history has shown that this is sadly not always true.