Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Exercising for Smartness - Azara Feroz Sayed

Philosopher Alfred North Whitehead's words - "Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite and the purpose of human life is to grasp as much as we can out of that infinitude"

The below are ideas from the book "Brain building - Excercising yourself smarter" by Marilyn vos Savant, the worlds smartest person. Marilyn is accredited by Guinness book of world record for highest recorded IQ.

As we all know and unfit mind is as unattractive as unfit body. Brain building is a program of exercise : mental exercise. As with any other exercise program, the secret for success, is repetition, repetition, repetition till it comes natural to us like breathing. By building brain power, we add to the ways in which we can think and reason, we add ways with which we can control and direct our own life.

Heraclitus words, "Learning does not teach a man to have intelligence".

We spend most of our life ging to school, reading, looking up facts, acquiring information and memorizing it. Although we will become more informed, in the end it won't make us any smarter exactly as a reference library isn't smart. The brain is an organ, pure and simple - the same kind of organ for just about everybody on planet. The mind is the mysterious thing that contains not only the intelligence and the learning but also the perceptions and emotions. It is our intellect - our intelligence - that gives us the capacity to reason, to ask questions.

The dictionary definition of intelligence is the capacity to know or apprehend. Intelligence is a potential, separate and distinct from learning. It is the potential to learn, to profit from experience, to deal with problems and solve them, to speculate on the unknown and to chart new worlds and explore new horizons. The curiosity, the speculative, "what if..." has changed the course of history in form of printing press, wheel etc

In this book, Marilyn starts with evaluating our current intellectual fitness i.e. whether our mind is awake or asleep i.e. evaluating Do we think for ourselves or have put our brain on "auto pilot", letting others do the thinking for us. Marilyn follows this by providing exercises for developing our intelligence. The exercises for vocabulary building, our ability to process information comming to us in form of words, teaches us to notice something new, how not to pass over the unknown without trying to know it. In this technique, Marliyn stresses on the availability of Dictionary for easy use. Feroz keeps his dictionary with him all the time and keeps refering and memorizing words as "a well developed vocabulary is the outward sign of a well-developed mind". Feroz will never tire himself of playing scrabble, we have played scrabble till early hours of morning. Marilyn provides exercises in mathematics and logic to prepare the mental ground for precise thinking. These are followed by exercises for building our inner spirit - by bulding and strengthening our - insight and intuition, orientation, attention span and senses, comprehension, perspective. These exercises help to stretch the mind - to increase intellectual power - to help us be smarter tomorrow than we are today - to apply those in our life to perform miracles for us.

Marilyn provides what are the categories in a standard IQ test and what part of our intelligence is being tested in those categories of questions
1. VOCABULARY - How well are you able to process sucessfully the wealth of information coming to you in form of words
2. OPPOSITE ANALOGIES - Beyond receiving information, are you able to use it e.g. A mirror is opaque, a window is _____
3. ARITHMETICAL REASONING - Are you able to use logic? Logic is the foundation for correct thinking - it is dispassionate and not tinged by emotions
4. INGENUITY - Are you able to create your own path in the jungle of the intellect? e.g. If you have three-pint container and a two pint container, how can you measure out one pint?
5. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ABSTRACT WORDS - Are you able to make distinctions between concepts? e.g. what is the difference between alone and lonely
6. PROVERBS - Are you able to generalize from the particular? e.g. if ain't broke, don't fix it - examine the consequences-what would happen if you change something that is working well
7. ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCES - Do you know how things get to be called opposite? e.g. what is difference between pleasure and pain
8. RECONCILLATION OF OPPOSITES - In order to understand why things are at opposing ends of the pole, you need to be able to identify the pole itself. Can you? e.g. How are short and tall alike?
9. ESSENTIAL SIMILARITIES - Are you able to see how different poles relate to one another e.g. what is the principal way in which fruits and vegetables are alike?
10. FINDING REASONS - Beyond knowing the way things are, are you capable of understanding why they are the way they are? e.g. Give three reasons why we should have a government?


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