In a fit of boredom today while waiting for some process to execute, I took one of those free online pop-up IQ tests and found out nothing that I didn't already know. I'm literate, logical, spatially adept, but probably not so good at math. (Still, I'm smart enough to have rejected the $12.95 offer to get the extended test results and answers and membership, and to have navigated though the overwhelming special offers for coupons, deals, advice and cheap tickets without surrendering my email address.) Judging from the test questions, I'm not sure that intelligence has much to do with remembering formulae that involve hypotenuses, square roots and angles, and velocity, distance and time, things that I knew in high school and promptly forgot. I was confident about the language questions, the analogy questions, the what-does/doesn't-belong-in-this set questions. But I had to go to one of the math-oriented engineers I work with to get an understanding of a couple of those algebra problem questions. And I still need a calculator. Does intelligence involve an innate understanding of higher math? ( Interesting article, "Numbers Guy," in the March 3, 2008 New Yorker about this topic.)
Was it intelligence that told me it was soon time to join my freeway commute home? As I drove slowly along the airport underpass, I was cheered to see kolea (Pacific Golden Plovers) here and there in the grassy area off the starboard side. About this time of year, they are gathering energy for their annual commute to Alaska. Kolea are Hawaii's nondescript but charming plucky little territorial (in the sense that they return to the same backyards every year, not in the pre-statehood sense) birds who by the end of April all leave pretty much at once to fly 3000 miles to their breeding grounds, earning incredible frequent flyer credit with no discernible carbon footprint. They cruise at about the same speed I like to average on my commute (50-60 mph). I wonder if they just get in line and go with the flow, as I do on the freeway, observing their neighbors' bad flying habits, the state of their breeding plumage, being surprised by seeing someone they know in the next lane. And somehow they navigate the skies without instruments or calculations, like native Hawaiians navigating the Pacific ocean, going with the flow.
I don't know if this is intelligence, but it certainly gets the birds where they need to go. I couldn't manage it with a calculator, and I got a good score on the test!
Visit http://www.hawaiinaturecenter.org/kolea/biology.html to learn more about these interesting birds.
2 years ago