Nature and Nurture: Some Thinking on Intelligence's Flexibility

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My mom told me, that the more frequently I use my brain, the better it'll be. It seems that over these years I used my brain a lot, and I feel good about it. We saw many people around us who are idle came to be somewhat less intelligent, but as those principles of critical thinking suggests, the causation can also be vice versa.
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Things can be really interesting and worth debating concerning the issue of intelligence. On the one hand, as the authors in the textbook demonstrate, various researches prove that a great amount of intelligence is due to the heritability, that is the genotype. The data of correlation between identical twins and fraternal twins and even those twins separated and adopted after birth and their IQ clearly suggests this idea, that the genotype is fairly dominant. However, on the other hand, various factors concerning environment of growth also have great impact. The deprivation of enough nutrition, the abuse in the family, the discrimination of peers, teachers and even society, can cause serious physical and psychological trouble to individuals and have obvious influence on their intelligence, let alone those situations in which people contact with materials toxic to their brain like lead and even consume them due to drinking contaminated water and so on. So it seems quite obvious, that the mechanism is about to be genotype supplies a fundamental basis for individual's intelligence, and if the environmental condition is above a certain healthy level for people to grow, the IQ will largely depend on that individual's genotype.
But the thing I'm really curious about is that, how large can we change (mainly means increase) due to the environmental factors for a certain individual. In China, a famous poet and reformer called Anshi Wang in Song Dynasty once wrote a prose telling a story of a genius. That child's forefathers were all peasants without much knowledge, but the child were born with extreme intelligence, as he cried out to his father to order for brush pen and paper and made an poem at age 5 even without exposed to learning literacy. His family was proud of him and showed off the child's compositions everywhere instead of letting him be educated further. When this child, call Zhongyong, grew to adolescence, his advantage over his peers still existed but not as large as when he was an infant. And when he finally grew up, as Anshi Wang wrote, he was just a common people. Though this story might be anecdotal, it does shed light to our understanding about the effect of postnatal factors on individual's IQ development. This is just a tragic example of how large environmental deficiency can draw back individual's intelligence. However, there are also quite a lot examples of someone with okay intelligence finally manage to make great progress due to their consisting diligence, conscientiousness and so on. As we usually consider every person who finally succeed to be of high potential and intelligence at first ( and they won't deny that, -- after all, no one see themselves as fools, normally), it's extremely hard and embarrassing to point out someone famous or successful and say that he or she is a fool. But needless to say, the diligence and a great variety of other virtues do play an essential role in building up someone's intellectual intelligence.
So, mother wins! We should study hard to make ourselves more intelligent. Just joking, but things are certain that, even almost nothing is absolute when we talks about intelligence, we can make our effort to make it better or worse. Despite our capacity to change it is limited, things will go better if we try our best.

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This page contains a single entry by liux1445 published on November 18, 2011 8:30 PM.

Bigger isn't always better was the previous entry in this blog.

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