When I was in my senior years of high school (I’m now in my 30s) I had administered a very long IQ test to a friend. I did it for old’s time’s sake, as we hadn’t been friends since we were 13, when we had a falling out over a prank I played.
Almost immediately after testing him, he suggested I test his mother, who, like me, had also been largely out of his life until about that time. I was reluctant; did his mother really want to be tested by some teenager? But my friend insisted, and since I was always looking for new test subjects, I allowed him to introduce to me her. She did extremely well on the tests which was not especially surprising since it was likely from her education (a PhD in math) that she was highly intelligent. Just the fact that she lived in Ottawa, the most educated and powerful city in the most educated country in the World’s most powerful continent, was evidence of superior genetic stock. She was also the first person I had ever met who was able to define the hardest word on the vocabulary subtest I administered.
But what really impressed me was the discussion about intelligence we had later, when I asked her how she would define intelligence. She pondered the question for a few seconds and said “I would define intelligence as the ability to synthesize information usefully.”
I was speechless. Out of all the definitions of intelligence I had read or heard, none had ever been so succinct, and you could tell she had just made it up on the spot.
I went on to tell her my high school chemistry teacher’s definition. The mental ability to adapt: to take whatever situation you’re in and turn it around to your advantage.
“I think we’re both saying the same thing,” she replied. I was stunned at her level of comprehension…that she could so immediately see that the two definitions were identical, despite their superficial differences.
My friend thought his mother was very bright, but he thought his father, who was a great physicist, was ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. He would constantly gush about how brilliant his father and it was creating great tension in our friendship.
Thus it was with great satisfaction that I watched my friend’s mother say to him “I’m smarter than your father.”
To my friend this was blasphemy. His father was everything to him. He absolutely hero worshiped him.
But his mother got in his face…this tiny 90 lb woman just wouldn’t back down: “I’m smarter than your father. I have the higher IQ. I’m more intelligent!”
I said nothing as I watched, but inside I was cheering. Finally someone has stood up to his childish hero worship.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Sadly, I no longer see this woman because he son and I drifted apart again…this time over a prank I played at age 23.
Then one day I was shopping for some groceries and I looked up at the cashier, and there she was, beaming with enthusiasm over her new job: