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Antonio V.

@antoniov502

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What Intelligence Is

Intelligence is a mechanism to solve problems (especially the ones related to survival). It includes the ability to gather knowledge, to learn, to be creative, to form strategies, or think critically.

It manifests itself in a huge variety of behaviors.

@antoniov502

What Is Intelligence? Where Does it Begin?

youtube.com

  • Not all scientists agree on what counts as intelligence.
  • We think of intelligence as a trait (like height or strength) but we find it difficult to define it.

We can think of intelligence as a flexible set of skills: a toolbox. And the most basic tools in the intelligence toolbox are:

  • The ability to gather information through senses, to navigate and react to the external world in the right way.
  • The ability to save information and to use it
  • The ability to learn.

These tools enable creatures that appear to be stupid to act in surprisingly intelligent ways.

Information is the basis of action for all living things.

Without it, we are not able to control and predict our surroundings, or to react appropriately and flexibly to them.

Information is much more powerful if we can keep it and save it. This is where memory enters.

Memory is the ability to save and recall information so we don't have to go back to square one every time we perceive something as important.

Learning is the process of putting together a sequence of thoughts and actions.

It is a series of repeatable behaviors that can be diversified and adapted.

  • Building on the basic tools, more complex living creatures have a wider range of problems they can solve: They can memorize different associations, connections, and mechanical moves and stratagems.
  • The more complex the problem, the more tools are needed in combination to solve it. The more tools there are, the more flexibility there is to solve the new challenges.
  • Even for complex problems, each living being's individual situation and circumstances are important.

Being creative translates into building something new and valuable from apparently unrelated things. In the context of intelligence, this means making new and unusual connections: pairing input with memories and skills, to come up with a unique solution to a problem.

Another aspect of creativity is applying a new tool/resource to a task.

Gathering materials for later use is connected to an advanced dimension of problem-solving: planning.

Planning means considering activities required for the desired goal and putting them together in a plan. When unexpected conditions and new possibilities arise, they need to be evaluated according to whether they match the plan or not.

Because we as humans are able to work together and share knowledge across generations, we can overcome challenges beyond any single individual's ability. This allowed us to shape the planet on our liking.

We also created new problems in the process: tax forms, but also climate change and antibiotic resistance, for example. To solve these, we need to look past short-term survival and think about the distant future.

Good Questions Bad Questions

Children are naturally inquisitive, but as they turn into adults, the frequency of asking questions slowly diminishes. They crystallize their understanding of the world and let things be as they are, not disturbing the status quo.

The lost art of asking good, challenging questions is essential in this world. Some questions are innocuous and simple, but there are other types of queries asked by curious minds which may not be appropriate to many people.

Why questions (good and bad) matter

theconversation.com

Asking fresh questions is essential to critical thinking, and for solving problems that appear unsolvable to rigid minds.

Thinking outside the box, a well-known cliché involves asking uncomfortable or unheard of questions that may sound ridiculous to some.

The world is full of mystery and wonder, but closed minds cannot fathom that their worldview and presumptions can be re-examined by inquisitive minds.

If they reflect upon the same, they might begin to realize that such inquiries are simply the product of fresh thinking and need to be seen with tolerance.

The Cornell Method

Divide your paper into three sections: a 2.5” margin to the left, a 2” summary section on the bottom, and a main 6” section.

  • The main 6" section is used for note-taking during class.
  • The 2.5" margin to the left is the cues section. Use this space to write down ideas you'll need to remember. Add a prompt for each. Include vocabulary words and study questions here.
  • The 2" summary section at the bottom is where you'll highlight the main points.

The advantages of this method are notes that are neatly organized and summarized.

How To Take Study Notes: 5 Effective Note Taking Methods

oxfordlearning.com

The Mapping Method

The page is organized by topic. While in class, start with the main topic. Branch off and write a heading for each of the subtopics. Add important notes underneath each subtopic.

This method is useful for visual learners. It helps you understand the relationships between topics.

The Outlining Method

Use headings and bullet points with supporting facts.

  • During a lesson, begin your notes with a bullet point for the main topic.
  • The first subtopic is placed below and indented slightly to the right.
  • Jot down the details below your heading and slightly to the right.

This method is useful when a topic includes a lot of detail.

The Charting Method

Divide the page into 3 columns and label each column by category. Fill the details of each category in the rows below.

This method is useful for lessons that cover a lot of facts or relationships between topics.

The Sentence Method

This method involves jotting down important information on each topic. Each line on the page is a separate topic. Use headings for each main topic.

Genius is not tied to age

Genius is tied up with precocity. We think brilliance requires youth and energy and freshness. Mozart wrote his breakthrough Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat-Major at the age of twenty-one. T.S. Eliot wrote "The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock" at the age of twenty-three

Economist David Galenson decided to find out whether the assumption is true that creativity, when discovered early, burns brightly, and then die out at an early age. He found that is what not so. Some are late bloomers. Mark Twain published "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" at forty-nine. Daniel Defoe wrote "Robinson Crusoe" at fifty-eight.

Why Do We Equate Genius with Precocity?

newyorker.com

Prodigies like Picasso, who created a masterpiece at age twenty, tend to be "conceptual" in the sense that they start with a clear idea of where they want to go, and then accomplish it. Picasso once said that he could hardly understand the importance given to the word 'research.'

But late bloomers tend to work the other way around. Their goals are imprecise and their procedure experimental. They build their skills gradually throughout their careers, improving slowly over long periods.

Experimental artists are perfectionists and are typically plagued by frustration in their inability to reach their goal. Their creativity proceeds through trial and error and takes a long time to come to fruition.

  • When Cézanne was painting a portrait of the critic Gustave Geffroy, he made him endure eighty sittings before he declared the project a failure. He was notorious for slashing his canvases to pieces in fits of frustration.
  • Mark Twain was the same. He fiddled and despaired and revised and gave up on "Huckleberry Finn" so many times that the book took him nearly a decade to complete.

Late bloomers don't realize they're good at something until they're about fifty. It's not that they start late; It's that they simply aren't much good until late in their careers.

Young Cézanne had rare endowments, but he couldn't draw. Cézanne required decades of practicing before he could master his ability.

Prodigies have it easier. Their genius gets noticed from the start.

Late bloomers have it harder. On the road to great achievement, they will resemble failure. They may revise and despair and change course and slash canvases. After months or years, what they produce will look like a thing produced by the artist who will never bloom at all.

The success of the late bloomer is highly dependent on the efforts of others.

  • In the biographies of Cézanne, his father didn't appreciate his genius. His father didn't have to support him all those years. He was well within his rights to make Cézanne get a real job. Instead, he paid Cézanne's bills.
  • Writer Émile Zola convinced the awkward Cézanne to come to Paris and served as his guardian, protector, and coach through the long, lean years.
  • Camille Pissarro was the next person who took Cézanne under his wing and taught him how to be a painter.
  • Then Ambrose Vollard sponsored Cézanne's first one-man show, at the age of fifty-six.

The Pareto Efficiency idea refers to situations where you can (or can't) improve something without trade-offs.

For example, consider designing a car where you aim for speed and safety. Pareto efficiency is to find a design that allows you to get more speed or safety without getting less of the other.

The Productivity Frontier: Can You Get More Done Without Making Sacrifices? | Scott H Young

scotthyoung.com

Mapping Efficiency Frontiers

Taking efficiency further, one can consider lots of designs. By putting them all on a graph, we can notice that the ones inside of the frontier are inefficient choices.

Efficient frontiers will show a general pattern.

  • Below the frontier, you can always improve by optimizing your choice.
  • When you're on the frontier, you can only improve by intentionally making something else worse.

When you put all the possible working schedules, habits and systems on a graph, the graph will show all your productive possibilities.

  • If we're below the frontier, we can make more improvements without facing trade-offs. We might choose to work less while keeping our workload constant.
  • On the frontier, we can only improve by accepting trade-offs. Choosing an ambitious career move may make us work nights and weekends.

The frontier is always a bit deceptive. Finding a new technique can suddenly let you get much more done in less time. The frontier can shift.

Guidelines to know if you are on the frontier:

  • You've read and applied a lot of productivity advice.
  • When you look in your schedule, there aren't many things you could easily cut.
  • Making an effort to do more inevitably cause a setback in other areas of life.

Those that are far from the frontier can focus on improving each element. You can improve by reorganizing your work to get more done.

But once you are on the productive frontier, things are different. Improvement comes from making hard choices about trade-offs. Do you want a cleaner house or more time to work on your projects? You may feel guilty for investing more time on one thing while limiting time for something else important. It is best to be intentional about what you really care about and what can be downgraded.

Default choices

90% of your daily decisions happen automatically, many shaped by your environment. Thus, most decisions are a habit, not a deliberate choice.

To make smarter choices, design smarter defaults. And habits can be developed by shaping the invisible defaults of your life.

How to Make Smarter Decisions by Designing Your Defaults

dansilvestre.com

Design your life like a choice architect:

  • Encourage smarter decisions you want to do by making them more accessible.
  • Add friction to habits you want to quit, making them less accessible, or remove the option to perform them completely.
Richard Thaler
“First, never underestimate the power of inertia. Second, that power can be harnessed.” 
  • Don't keep in the house food that isn’t on your diet or you know is unhealthy.
  • Buy items from the outer edges of the grocery store. The aisles are usually used for junk and processed foods.
  • Trick your brain into eating less by using smaller plates and bowls.
  • Plan and prep your meals in advance so you always know what to eat each day.
  • Use a gym partner to create accountability and make sure you exercise.
  • Lay out your workout clothes the night before and put them in a visible place.
  • Park your car at a healthy distance from your destination.
  • Take the stairs when you can.
  • Stand up during meetings at work.
  • Use cash for your daily expenses by default.
  • Never buy something on impulse. Think about how many hours it took you to earn that money.
  • Go for quality, not quantity.
  • Stick to the list when grocery shopping.
  • Go to the supermarket when you are full.
  • Cancel unused subscriptions and everything you can live without.
Deep Work
  • Work in full-screen mode to remove all distractions and focus on the task at hand.
  • Always wear headphones.
  • Plan your entire week on Sunday.
  • Listen to the same song on repeat. It help you lose track of time and focus on your task.
  • Design productivity spaces for different types of work.
Productivity
  • Clean your desk at the end of the day.
  • To avoid decision fatigue early in the morning, choose all your outfits for the week on Sunday night.
  • Use the 2-minute rule: if it can be done in 2 minutes, just do it; if it takes more than two minutes, start it.
  • Only use a handful of productivity apps to get things done.
Viktor Frankl
"It doesn’t really matter what we expected from life, but what life expected from us."

Logotherapy: Viktor Frankl's Theory of Meaning

positivepsychology.com

Logotherapy originated in the 1930s as a counter-response to the prevalent theories of the time, and examines the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of individuals. .

Its premise is that the strongest motivational force of an individual is to find a meaning in life and it was devised by Prof Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist.

Humans normally function on primal reactions like negative self-talk, emotional outbursts and irrational actions based on outside events and circumstances. The lost ‘spiritual’ dimension of meaning is brought forward by Logotherapy.

The Basic Tenets Of Logotherapy
  • Freedom Of Will: Human beings can freely choose their response to the outward circumstance.
  • Will To Meaning: Human beings are completely free to achieve their goals and purposes in life, with the search for meaning being the primary motive, even forsaking pleasure for pain in the process.
  • Meaning In Life: Meaning is an objective reality, and is not an illusion or a personal perception. Humans have the responsibility to be at their best possible selves by extracting meaning from every moment.

Logotherapy looks at all the three dimensions of an individual:

  • Psychological: Using paradoxical intention and de-reflection techniques to handle phobias, anxiety and compulsive disorders
  • Physiological: Coping with suffering and physical pain or loss.
  • Spiritual: Answer to people with an existential vacuum, manifested in boredom, emptiness and depression.

It is an effective therapy for PTSD, acute stress, alcohol and drug treatment, anxiety, depression and group behaviour/dynamics.

  • De-reflection: Individuals distance themselves from the negative aspects, obstacles and problems, and shift their focus onto something positive.
  • Paradoxical Intention: Eradication or reduction in fear using humor, ridicule, and imagination.
  • Socratic Dialogue: Often used in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), this technique breaks down the thoughts, going into the root cause, and the primal fear, pointing towards solutions already present.
Doodling And Creativity

A number of studies and extensive research point out that doodling, that is scribbling or drawing in a seemingly distracted manner, is actually great for information retention in the mind and fostering of creativity.

Doodling sets the mind up for greater, more expansive creativity and gets the neurons to fire. It frees up memory and increases the attention span.

Here’s Why, How, And What You Should Doodle To Boost Your Memory And Creativity

fastcompany.com

When the mind is only working in a linguistic mode, doodling provides a visual medium to support mind processing, providing it with neurological access.

The natural doodles that we can indulge to enhance our visual language:

  1. Atomization: drawing the word and its elements.
  2. Game-storming: Fusing two random drawings together.
  3. Process map: Make a flowchart or visual diagram to illustrate a process or sequence.

While we listen to people talk, taking notes interferes with our understanding, but if abstract visual doodles are created, the words turn into images and the brain gets visual support for the audio information.

  • Any lesson or presentation (just like those school classes when doodling was a sin!) is a great time to doodle.
  • Any place is a great place to doodle, be it a whiteboard, a notepad, or even on our hands.
  • Our drawing ability, handwriting, or the quality of our ‘art’ is not a consideration, as doodling will help the mind work better in any case.
We are exposed to biases that influence our ability to make good decisions.
  • We are quick to jump to conclusions because we fail to search for information that might disprove our thoughts.
  • We're overconfident. We look for information that fits our ideas and ignore information that doesn't.

Knowing these and other biases is not enough. We need a framework for making decisions.

The Four Villains of Decision Making

fs.blog

  • Narrow framing: The tendency to define our choices in binary terms. We ask, "should I, or shouldn't I?" instead of “What are the ways I could...?”
  • Confirmation bias: People tend to select the information that supports their preexisting attitudes, beliefs, and actions. 
  • Short-term emotion: When we’ve got a difficult decision to make, our feelings occupy our minds. And this doesn't add any new information that could benefit us. 
  • Overconfidence: People often think they know more than they actually do about how the future will unfold.
  • Counter narrow framing by widening your options. Expand your set of choices.
  • Confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information. Analyze and test your assumptions to overcome the bias.
  • Short-term emotion will tempt you to make the wrong choice. So distance yourself before deciding.
  • Prepare to be wrong. Don't be overconfident about how the future will unfold.
Anticipation

Anticipation can be described as a yearning or a desire to get something that would give you a burst of good feelings.

Anticipation precedes experience. Experience strengthens your anticipation and may set a new standard of enjoyment and expectation for future events.

Anticipation: Mind’s Hype Machine

specks.medium.com

Every thought has a desire behind it. It fuels the mind to divert attention from the current moment and instead focus on the spell of desire. If I receive a message from someone from work, I anticipate how I will feel reading the message. All focus is on predicting the next moment and checking if it matches the anticipated outcome.

Life gives many opportunities to build more anticipation with lots of new events happening. Daily notifications on the phone are continuously distracting us from reality. We have become a Pavlovian dog without even noticing it.

On the one end, desire cultivates anticipation. On the other, it fosters fear.

Positive outcomes build anticipation, and negative outcomes build fear from desire. In both cases, reality slips by unnoticed in the background. If we overcome desire, we eliminate anticipation and fear.

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