To get into the Halloween spirit, I’ve embedded one of my favorite horror shorts of all time below. It is Tales from the Darkside Season 2 Episode 20 A Choice of Dreams. I strongly advise you all to watch this short film some time before Halloween (you have almost a whole week. And watch it BEFORE YOU READ THE COMMENTS).

I often reference my high school chemistry teacher who taught me what intelligence really is: The cognitive ability to adapt–to take whatever situation you’re in and turn it around to your advantage. Some people don’t like that definition, because it reminds them more of an evil opportunist getting rich than a brilliant scientist doing truly genius work.

But as the Bible says, For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Thus, the opportunist who sells his soul to get rich has not really adapted the situation to his advantage to any huge degree. He either had no morals to burden him, and thus had an easy situation to adapt to, or his material pleasures are negated by the psychic pain of having ruined the lives of others.

The film below is about a rich mobster who got rich using some intelligence (his IQ is probably an above average score of 110) and a lot of evil (probably a psychopath). He is smart enough to adapt to a life of crime, but it takes a scientist with an IQ of probably above 170 to figure out away for him to adapt the situation to his advantage for all of eternity, which is infinitely more advantageous than a mere lifetime of wealth. And yet, the best and truest line of the video, is “never underestimate the power of money, kid”.

So defining intelligence as the ability to adapt is perfect, because not only did intelligence evolve to enable us to adapt, but both a common sense understanding of intelligence (if you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?), and an academic image of intelligence (breakthroughs in science) are all about goal-directed adaptive advantageous behavior. As my chemistry teacher so eloquently explained, it’s the single umbrella that covers all of intelligence.