Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thinking Smart

A researcher once gathered two groups of United States Army enlisted men. The groups were separated based on their scores on the army’s intelligence tests (which are not really good tests, but that is another issue). These two groups of men were then split into two more groups by how much they knew about baseball.

Once the groups were formed, all of the men were told about the events of a half of an inning of baseball. For example, “the first batter hit a double, the shortstop caught a fly ball, the third batter hit a home run” and so on. All of the men were then told to write down all that they could remember from the baseball half-inning.

The researcher’s analysis of all of their responses was that the men who had a lot of knowledge about baseball remembered much more, regardless of the level of intelligence. There could be many factors at work, may be familiarity with the situation led to better recall. Instead of just trying to memorize the words, may be those with baseball knowledge could visualize the actions described, leading them to better recall.  Another possible factor could be that some men may not have felt very confident when taking an intelligence test, while they would feel very confident in taking a test about baseball, and vice versa.

Nonetheless, reading this study (as well as other experiences) made me re-think some of my theories concerning the source of intelligence. There is much more to it than a genetically programmed functioning brain.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians that his confidence and competence comes from God. Although Paul was very persistent in his walk, it seems that God shaped and molded his experiences in such a way that his skills fit with his situation.

Sometimes it is tempting to use one’s current position to look down on others. We can think: “if they were smart, they would be where I am.” Yet when one looks at intelligence as a combination of a God-given brain, as well as God’s hand of providence in one’s life, it becomes more problematic. Then it seems the best response is to be thankful for God’s gifts.

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