"Smart" Is Not a Good Word
I’m going to be vulnerable in this post. Regardless of whether you know me personally, please treat this discussion primarily as a presentation of opinion.
I grew up not understanding mental illness. Like Jun Wu, I found studying this domain to be self-actualizing — anxiety and clinical depression had not been anomalies, but intrinsic parts of my childhood.
I’m now somewhere around 20 years old and persistence of least the latter is ubiquitous in my daily life.
My experiences with mental health have been the result of many influences. One
of the most important influences has been the notion of
discuss my interpretation of
smart, then explain why I think it’s not a good
word.I use the
word “definitely” frequently in this post, not as an emphasis but as a synonym for “confidently”.
u: School Rules
I grew up in an extremely competitive school district. Exemplifications of this include
- some of my friends began competing their SAT scores in the 7th grade;
- having a 4.0 GPA would not guarantee that you were in the academic top 10% of the student body;
- student leadership positions were often explicitly granted on a combined prestige and quid pro quo basis.
The problem is not always that such an environment exists. The problem is that for a student that has spent all of their primary education experience in such an environment, it is very likely the only environment they know exists. I still sometimes feel that it is the only environment that matters.
Viewerse.g. parents, teachers would compliment many
in this environment for their intelligence, and of course, for being
Maybe it is already obvious that
smart is not a good word for this - 80 hour
academic work weeks, at any age, is not necessarily an indication of
intelligence. It can only definitely be an indication of hard work.
smartness doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence.
s: DJ Benzi
What does being
smart even mean? In my experience, people use
simultaneously describe to someone’s prowess in a certain skill and their
The problem with this is that knowledge of a particular domain and general
intelligence have almost nothing to do with each other. The reality is that you
and I are probably very knowledgeable in respective (but different!) knowledge
areas, and also probably have nearly-equal intelligences. Lumping the two
together means that a a listener who hears something about an individual’s
smarts has to either
smartness as a score of both domains, or
- ask more questions.
Deference to the latter is least-ambiguous, but the presence of ambiguity at all
means this usage of
smart is already not a good pattern.
DJ Benzi is one of the most clever and knowledgeable individuals in their fieldFrom my perspective. There are many other clever and knowledgeable individuals in this domain as well. I just wrote this listening to Benzi. . From Benzi’s perspective, I imagine there is one domain that he would consider me clever and knowledgeable in. I also believe that both of us have equalor at least definitely highly-similar intelligences.
Maybe someone could say DJ Benzi and I are both smart. What does that tell you?
t: Computational Equivalence
The thing is, I’m pretty sure all entities in the environments around us are computationally equivalentDerived from the theory of computation, itself an idea popularized by Stephen Wolfram. , which is the idea that structures are identical in their design complexity though their functionality may be radically differentMy interpretation of computational equivalence is a very optimistic one. It may be the case that this model can be absolutely refuted, but it is the most generic appeal to logic I currently have. .
Treating all entities as computationally equivalent generalizes influences on
functionality. In this model,
intelligence is as not good of a word as
is. It becomes easy to show that the only
differentiatorsas related to this discussion
between any two entities are the knowledge domains they operate in.
This means the cumulative domain signature an entity operates in must be globally unique. Perception of something as “difficult” or “interesting” is an artifact of contrasting domain signatures, though in fact every domain is equally complex. This is the model I employ for reasoning why different people find problems to be difficult or interestingThis can be thought of as generalizing a context of ethnocentrism. .
“Passion” is also solved by this model.
A’s passion is an artifact of
perception of contrasting structural distribution. Structures may be more or
less rare, but they are still all equivalent in complexity. It’s even possible
to generalize that
A’s passion is
A’s computational signature.
Anyway, that’s an unbound idea. The point is
smart is not a good word. Maybe
it’s even a bad word.
I would like to hear your thoughts about my thoughts. The best way to contact me is via email.
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