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Biotech Education

Entertaining Your Brain? 222

Spencer Wilson asks: "I'm constantly told that I have an extremely high intelligence. I always feel like I should know so much more, though. Do you, the Slashdot readers, know of any ways to improve ones brain power? Perhaps books, Web sites, etc., that provide questions that involve ways to increase memory, creativity, mental agility, logic reasoning, intelligence, etc. Are there any diets/exercises that really help?"
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Entertaining Your Brain?

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  • Drinking (Score:5, Funny)

    by SuDZ ( 450180 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:16PM (#8515775)
    Drinking, lots of drinking.

    • Judging by the number of questions this guy asks. He doesn't know half the sh!t which he should for that much intelligence boasting. :-P
    • Re:Drinking (Score:5, Funny)

      by spacecowboy420 ( 450426 ) <> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:44PM (#8516076)
      You know, I believe you are right. I read somewhere that alcohol kills brains cells - but which ones? Well, the weakest ones of course - thinning the herd as it were. So it stands to reason that if you were to drink enough [not too much, don't want to kill them all - just the shiftless or sick ones] you would have an optimised brain with only the more robust brain cells processing, thus a more efficient mind.

      • Reading your comment, I think you have overdone it yourself :)
      • Re:Drinking (Score:2, Funny)

        by RevAaron ( 125240 )
        Actually, this may be marked as funny, but there is a kernel of truth to this. A big one, even. Ready to be POPPED!

        Like the tokin' spacecowboy tells us, alcohol kills brain cells, killing the weakest ones. Everyone knows this. Everyone also knows that the average human only ever uses 10% of her potential brain power, with the exceptional folks only using a few percentage points more.

        When you drink, you are indeed culling the bad, thinning the herd. And as a result, you're giving yourself the chance to us
      • Re:Drinking (Score:5, Funny)

        by (trb001) ( 224998 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @11:00AM (#8520943) Homepage

        One afternoon at Cheers, Cliff Clavin was explaining the Buffalo Theory to his buddy Norm. Here's how it went:

        "Well ya see, Norm, it's like this... A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers."
  • by dbirchall ( 191839 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:17PM (#8515787) Journal
    Just engage in any sort of activity that requires your brain to be active, rather than passive. Read. Code. Race down hills. Whatever.
    • That's true. I think drugs, drunken violence, wild orgies, mosh pits, and occult study are *all* superior to watching television.

      The smartest people will have the fullest and richest of the human experience. Go out and try a little of everything... and, while you're at it, if you find one or two fields that really strike your fancy, indulge yourself in as much knowledge as possible. Try to be slightly controversial, while you're at it... if you pull it off right, you'll be noticed and remembered :)
      • drugs, drunken violence, wild orgies, mosh pits, and occult study are *all* superior

        Score, score, score, score, brick.

        Maybe "philosophy" would be a better fifth option. Occult study - unless you're studying "How Can Anyone Be Such A Moron As To Bother With This Crap" - is for losers.

        Anyway, I suggest you try wresting, but that's just me.
      • You've just about stated the basis of my life philosophy. Strangely enough I've also done all those things you've listed at the beginning of the post. Everyone I know says I'm a very intelligent person, and I know I am...I'm not trying to be egotistical, I just know it's true to a good extent. I think the biggest factor of all is just having an open mind. By not accepting new ideas, how can a person get any smarter? I am a very open minded person, I am willing to accept or at least hear out any sort of new
      • Ummm.... was the parent trying to be sarcastic? I sure as hell hope so. "Drunken violence"?

        Besides, if you watch the right channels, and (actively) critique and consider what you're watching, it can be very intellectual indeed. Not as good as reading a book or something like that.... but certainly better than drunken violence.
  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:20PM (#8515808) Homepage to hang out on Slashdot, of course. Especially at the -1 filter level. My goodness, this place positively drips with intelligence. All the smart kids hang out here.

    [rolls eyes]
  • Memorizing Pi (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sahrss ( 565657 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:20PM (#8515810)
    Well, here's one someone posted here on /. a while back: []

    I've tried it, and it probably would increase memorization ability, but I'm actually too lazy and busy to keep it up.
    • Somewhat related... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nacturation ( 646836 ) <> on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @05:06AM (#8519170) Journal
      This article [] talks about Rajan Mahadevan who memorized some 31,000+ digits of pi for the (then) world record. Another interesting article [] on Mahadevan if you're into that.

      The first article, however, discusses what it takes to become considered "best" in your area of study. Read through it for a fascinating look at performance and intelligence and how it relates to the amount of practice. The short version, for those who are allergic to reading, is that you can reach a level considered "best" after about 10,000 hours of practice regardless of whether you start out slow or whether you're a quick study.

      Want to become a killer programmer? Put in 10 solid hours a day coding (and related research activities) for 3 years (ie: 1000 days). After 18 months, you'll be at a stage where you're qualified to teach. After 2 years you'll be considered very good. And after 3 years, you'll get a call from Carmack. (Okay, maybe I made that last one up.)
  • by jeni generic ( 751123 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:21PM (#8515824)
    In several different dialects.
    • by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian.wylfing@net> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @10:29PM (#8516915) Homepage Journal
      This is not quite so much funny as insightful (not to detract from the funniness factor, to be sure). There are two fairly-well-proven means to increasing brain power: languages and music. Music especially has been the subject of many studies lately []. Both of these disciplines will dramatically augment your ability to reason.

      • by 1iar_parad0x ( 676662 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @02:19AM (#8518524)
        My advice is to study math and the sciences.

        Intelligence is predictability

        "Not many people understand how rare it is to really, really know something."
        -Richard Feynman

        If I could ACCURATELY predict the stock market, weather patterns, or the lottery -- would you call that intelligence? If I could quickly tell you the final result of any given set of initial conditions -- would you call that intelligence?

        Intelligence is predicatability. People may be impressed by philosophers and musicians, however when it comes to raw brainpower, never look past mathematics and the hard sciences. Predicitability is key. Anyone can collect stamps. Anyone can observe. Most people can describe. However ask for an uncanny and accurate prediction and the room becomes silent.

        I've found that studying mathematics and science has improved my ability to understand history, the humanities, and art. You learn to quantify things in science. When you study physics you learn what really knowing something means. You learn about the limits of knowing what you can know. You can only quantify so much. The question is how much can we actually quantify?

        "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."
        -Albert Einstein

        Reasoning is basic symbolic manipulation

        Mathematics takes us into the region of absolute necessity, to which not only the actual word, but every possible word, must conform.
        -Bertrand Russell

        Reasoning is basic symbolic manipulation. Even Aristotle believed this. Look at the syllogistic form. A tautology is a valid line of reasoning. Admittedly, any attempt to formalize inductive reasoning is as weak as formalizing probability itself.

        Intelligence is about encoding mechanisms. When you make a mapping from the real world to a rigourous set of rules or you merely compare sets of rules, you are finding a way to encode one system in terms of another. Thus the application of analytical geometry to our (observed) real space, is an encoding of real world geometry into algebraic equations. Any description in one has a signifigant result in the other.

        Teach yourself

        You've got to teach yourself. Frankly, even Havard won't make the dumb smart, it will only make them educated. Just having the ability to break down information and understand it on your own is a skill. You've get to be able to solve problems on you're own. Don't just stare at the problem. Play with it. Do something. Even if it's tedious. You'd be suprised at how just hacking away at a piece of it can help you solve a problem. Heck, I'm probably preaching to the choir here.

        "Don't let school get in the way of your education."
        -Mark Twain (or Ben Franklin or somebody else...)

        Give me a man who is mathematically mature and physcially intuitive and I will give you a genius. Genius is merely a social measurement of intelligence. Whose to say if Einstein was smarter than Hilbert. Was Godel smarter than Russell? Frankly, most of these parlor discussions are nothing more than pure bovine fecal matter. Don't obsess about how intelligent other people think you are. Frankly, if you're really smart, you will get two responses, comraderie or fear. Intelligent people will seek your company. Insecure people will tell you that you are foolish or ignorant only because they fear you actually know more. Intelligence is part performance and part stubborn confidence that you can figure something out by shear intellectual will. Of course, proving that you are a genius or even a genius in a world of geniuses is tough. However, I will leave that exercise to the reader.

  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sevn ( 12012 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:21PM (#8515836) Homepage Journal
    'm constantly told that I have an extremely high intelligence

    Quit hanging out with your mom.
    • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aoteoroa ( 596031 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @09:34PM (#8516484)
      I'm constantly told that I have an extremely high intelligence

      Reminds me of the famous quote by Margaret Thatcher:
      "Being a leader is like being a lady, if you have to go around telling people you are one, you aren't."
    • The fact that he lives in his parents' basement illustrates his extremely huge mental power. Afterall, only someone with his brain power would see that there was money to be saved living at home paying minimal rent for the barement and eating at home with mum and dad. I mean, you could save a couple hundred dollars every month! I mean, that goes a long way in those high-brow skin mags and EverQuest subscriptions...
  • by Prometheus+Bob ( 755514 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:22PM (#8515846)
    I'm afraid I'm not sure of too many shortcuts for intelligence. If you want to be quicker at math functions, for instance, you're going to have to do a lot of math. Like another poster said, just don't sit idle.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:26PM (#8515885)

    was obviously wrong. If you had extremely high intelligence, you wouldn't post a story on Slashdot - under what seems to be your real name, for gods' sake - starting "I'm constantly told I have extremely high intelligence . . . "

    Seriously, speaking as someone with an IQ in the high genius range: the first thing you have to learn is how NOT to walk around telling everyone how frelling smart you are. They'll figure it out quickly enough on their own, believe me: most geniuses are obvious within a few minutes of meeting them, just from the way they interact with other people.

    Other things not to do: DON'T join Mensa. Mensa is a club for losers who have a high IQ and nothing to show for it. Not for no reason is a former Mensa national president an advice columnist for Parade. DON'T talk about chess all the time. It's all right if you're good at it (or Go), but talking about it to everyone you meet will make you look like an A-1 geek, and your chances of spreading those high-intelligence genes around some will drop precipitously.

    Grow up. Study. Find something you love and put your whole heart into it. If you really have the brains, you'll exercise them on your own without having to trick things out.

    • most geniuses are obvious within a few minutes of meeting them, just from the way they interact with other people.
      Speaking as someone who hangs out with a lot of theoretical physicists, I can say definitively that you're dead wrong. Either that, or I don't hang around enough dumb people to know.

      But right on about joining Mensa, and props for using "frell".

    • "Mensa is a club for losers who have a high IQ and nothing to show for it."

      Hmmm... sounds like someone got rejected.

      Seriously, though, I joined Mensa [] just so I could say Mensa is for losers and not sound like I was shouting sour grapes [].

      Of course, now that I'm in, there are always greater heights [] to achieve.

    • just from the way they interact with other people

      I've noticed some of the most adept people often have a difficult time expressing themselves, and sometimes start off sentences just as this fellow has. HEY LOOK AT ME I'M SO SMART I HAVE NO INTERNAL DIALOG.
      • I have an IQ that tests in the genius range, but I have trouble at times expressing myself. Not so much in the written word, but when speaking. My internal dialog runs at a much faster pace than my mouth can speak, and it's easy for my internal dialog to get so far ahead of my mouth that suddenly I find myself with nothing to say -- because my mind is on a totally different topic. I also have problems selecting exactly the right word that I need. I know it's there, and sometimes the internal thesaurus r
    • The Einstein Factor : A Proven New Method for Increasing Your Intelligence []

      A very cool book, some simple concepts, interesting research. I was suprised by the results.

      Take a look.
    • Gifted kids need direction like everyone else. As a student teacher in a rural area of the country I have met a smattering few children that would likely have the aptitude to be Guru Level Engineers or Scientists. I am not as well adapted to noticing the same in 'artistic' or kinesthetic folk. I did see a man play 5 different string instruments in a single jam session though, but that is just sheer quanitity in the face I have a tin ear. What quanitative ways are there of measuring some of the 'new' int
    • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @02:23AM (#8518547) Homepage
      Seriously, speaking as someone with an IQ in the high genius range: the first thing you have to learn is how NOT to walk around telling everyone how frelling smart you are.

      Rule One of the Smart Club: You DO NOT Talk About The Smart Club.

      Sorry, buddy. You just eliminated yourself from it.
  • If you were smart. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:29PM (#8515923) Homepage
    Someone with a lot of brainpower would always be itching to put it to use. Neither Linus nor Alan Cox would worry about how to kill time. Richard Feynman probably had to find ways to get his head off Physics to get it some rest, same with Einstein.

    If youre wondering how to improve brain power or kill time, somethings wrong. Find a cause, like making so much GPL software, Microsoft gets broke, or start some world domination plans.

    Thats all you have to do.
    • by sydb ( 176695 ) <`michael' `at' `'> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:56PM (#8516202)
      I don't know. I'm fairly stupid, and I can't find the time to do everything I want to do. If I was more clever, then perhaps I'd develop better strategies for freeing up my time to fit more in - and end up with Spencer Wilson's problem.

      But on second thoughts, scratch that. I'm not that stupid, and Spencer Wilson sounds like he's just a self-agrandising twat with no perspective on life. If he's that bloody clever, why does he have to Ask Slashdot?

      Hasn't he heard of Google?

      Or perhaps he has a highly intelligent ulterior motive that is escaping us...
    • I think that there are different kinds of intelligence. One kind is the kind that helps you to easily solve difficult mathematic problems and other purely technical things. This, I believe, is the sort of intelligence IQ tests measure.

      Another kind is what I like to call "creative intelligence", meaning one's ability to think out of the box and come up with interesting tasks to perform without need for stimulation.

      I'd say mr. Wilson's intelligence probably consists mostly of the first, persons like RMS and

    • by Gulthek ( 12570 )
      Feynman did indeed branch out from physics, a lot. Read "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman" for some insight. This guy had a great love of life, and didn't let anything stop him from enjoying it.

      He became an accomplished artist, a great player (of both women and drums), and went into high levels in scientific fields other than physics.
  • Me too. (Score:5, Funny)

    by SuDZ ( 450180 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:31PM (#8515942)
    "I'm constantly told that I have an extremely high intelligence.

    Yeah, I only hang around with dumb people that make me look smart too.

  • you are of below-average intelligence. now please, go sit in a rocking chair for 8 or 9 hours and stay out of the way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:32PM (#8515957)

    I always feel like I should know so much more, though. Do you, the Slashdot readers, know of any ways to improve ones brain power?

    You're confusing intelligence and knowledge. Intelligence is pure processing power. Knowledge is how much data you've got stored on your hard drive. If you need to know more, read a book.

  • Wikipedia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Przepla ( 637674 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:33PM (#8515969)
    Wikipedia [] is always in need of good contributors. Give it a try.
  • hmmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3@y ... minus city> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:35PM (#8515992) Homepage Journal
    anyone else think the submitter could have written the question slightly less obnoxiously? Would asking "What are brain stimulating excercises?" (without "I am super intelligent") have produced much different answers?
  • Learn! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frantzdb ( 22281 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:36PM (#8515998) Homepage
    Set your home page to instead of Slashdot.

    Sign up for classes. Any classes. Cooking, SCUBA, basket weaving, learn a language, learn a new subject, join a choir.

    Now is the time. Carpe Diem.

  • This is VERY difficult, but it works: To be more intelligent, work on resolving your inner conflict.

    Read this book: The Primal Scream: Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis [].

    Other books I've found useful for personal growth: Read the Recent Great Books. []
    • But what if you don't have an inner conflict?

      Then again, I'm sure everyone does. However, I don't see any evidence for one.

      But something tells me that can't be right.

      It's all bullshit. There is no inner conflict. Wait....
  • by The One and Only ( 691315 ) <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:40PM (#8516026) Homepage
    The mind's just like the body. It gets stronger when you exercise it. Doing math, learning new things, studying philosophy, whatever you want. If you don't code, learn to code. If you do code, learn more languages. Anything like that gets you marketable skills and exercises your mind at the same time is good too. Don't neglect the body though. Eat healthy and exercise your body, as boring as it may seem, and your overall health will be good. A healthy body means a strong mind. Also, remember to get enough sleep. We're all idiots when we're tired enough.
  • Meditation. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eyeball ( 17206 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:41PM (#8516045) Journal
    Like the subject says -- Meditation.

    There are plenty of resources online, but I wouldn't be a /. poster if I didn't be a know-it-all and give my advice: You goal should be an hour a day, but It's really difficult to just sit down the first tim and do one hour straight. So start at 5 minutes, and when you can sit still for the whole time, increase by 5 minutes the next day.

    As for what to do with that hour, that's up for debate. I'm a Buddhist, and many of us believe in meditating on something rather than nothing.

    • Re:Meditation. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Clay_Culver ( 583328 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @09:06PM (#8516273)
      Well, meditation is a good idea, though the previous poster didn't explain why. Meditation can help focus the mind, and allow you to concentrate fully on what you are doing. I used to have this problem all the time in high school. Every time I sat down to do something, distractions came by the dozens to take me away from the task at hand. Early in my senior year I started studying Zen (which is a sect of Buddhism), and after meditating and being mindful of what I was doing for quite some time, I noticed significant improvements in my ability to concentrate on what I'm doing.

      Most westerners (like myself) are very goal oriented. There's no "point" or "goal" to Zen, or meditation. By that, I mean "I'm going to improve my concentration by at least a power of 2 in the next six weeks!" Results are also not instant. I was fairly capable in high school, but my grades were terrible. I didn't see much improvement until later in that school year (and since it was my senior year it didn't really affect my overall GPA), but now that I am in college I have a good GPA and no problem "finding time" to do homework.

      I also don't think that 1 hour a day is reasonable for most people. If you can meditate for an hour a day, great! If you can manage 15, perfect! If you can manage 5, wonderful! The point is, you should just meditate for the sake of meditation. It's true that it is relaxing, calming, peacful, and it helps with focus, concentration, etc, but unless you meditate for the sake of meditating (with no goal or "time limit") you will probably find it too difficult to reliably do every day.

      If you would like more information on meditation or Zen, you can always try your local Google. There are also MANY good books out there too that introduce the beginner concepts of Zen and meditation. I would suggest heading to your local book store/library and read through some of the books on Zen.

      As a final note, Zen can be practiced outside of any religion. The day-to-day practices of Zen has very little to do with religion.
    • Re:Meditation. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by StiLTs ( 7616 ) <jtacoma@connect.carl e t o> on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @04:27AM (#8518976) Homepage Journal
      You can develop concentration and focus with meditation, or with anything else that requires them. If you're not concentrating on what you're doing, make it more difficult: if you can play a piece on the piano without hitting any wrong notes, try playing it with perfect posture and rhythm; if you're fluent with a programming language, write your next source file with cat; if visualization-meditation on a labyrinth is getting easy, imagine moving through the same labyrinth with walls made of boulders, a blue sky overhead, and shrubs at your feet. The better your concentration and focus, the better your performance in anything you do.

      Meditation is also great for building elaborate mnemonic structures. Is your visualization of yearly or the daily cycles out of proportion? Do you find the breadth of material covered in a book or course a bit much to handle at once? Find a picture (with motion and sound, if possible) that corresponds better than whatever you've got, then just sit there and imagine the thing, explore it, interact with it. Art is another way to focus on the same thing: project conceptual structures into 2 or 3 dimensional space and build them there.
  • by dan_bethe ( 134253 ) <slashdot@smuckol[ ]rg ['a.o' in gap]> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:41PM (#8516046)
    It's a bit of a tangent, but I think that far more importantly than what you have, is how you use it.

    I think that my most important gifts are faith, honesty and transparency, and not ever giving up. I can quit or walk away from an attempt, but I don't give up on the principle. The intelligence backs those things up in terms of analyzing the structure, patterns, and deep relationships. Of broadening and supporting the interconnecting and overlaying latticeworks. Of eventually finding the big-picture paybacks of faith, reinvesting in it.

    I use my intelligence at increasingly abstract levels, not always to solve things but to improve my methodologies and to find problem-solving resources. That's really really hard and can be truly lonely, but see Exhibit A, "not ever giving up". Start at age 3 or 4! Also see the practice of neurolinguistic programming, aka NLP, aka "the study of the structure of human experience". Become the change you want to see. It gets way easier from there, and it'll eventually pay off! ;)

    Someday. Maybe it already has, just not the way I expected.

    The side effect of this principled and deliberate self architecture/rearchitecture is to live in a state of wonder and potentially of joy. To know that no matter what you think you know, the unknown is still a wonderfully deafening roar like the peak of a waterfall. To know, even on principle, that you're not alone. To have respect for self and for all life. To know that if you can imagine a question, someone else, somewhere, sometime, has found an answer.
  • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Michael.Forman ( 169981 ) * on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:46PM (#8516103) Homepage Journal

    Yes Spencer, I do know of ways to improve "brain power". (You did ask a yes or no question didn't you?)

    Thank you for your question, which I assume was actually just a vehicle to let us all know how extremely high you feel your intelligence is (based on what people tell you).

    Mod this as flamebait. Thank you.

    Michael. []
  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ ( 11968 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:54PM (#8516180) Homepage

    Some years back, I actually did some digging around about all of the 'smart supplements' and such.

    The upshot is that a lot of them DO work...but in inverse proportion to how much you NEED them. That is, they don't do much of anything for people who are already reasonably smart, but they are a noticeable help for people with mental deficiencies.

    Personally, I think the best way to get intellectual stimulation is to try to get as many varied experiences as possible. I like travel, myself. Dig out a map, find somewhere a few hours away you've never been to, and go for a drive. Bring the map in case anything looks interesting along the way and you decide to change your itinerary...

  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @08:56PM (#8516199) Homepage Journal
    I'm constantly told that I have an extremely high intelligence. I always feel like I should know so much more, though. Do you, the Slashdot readers, know of any ways to improve ones brain power?
    I don't follow. Do feel stupid or ignorant? These are two different things. I guess, like most people, you confuse intelligence with rote knowledge of facts.

    I'm going to assume you're not stupid. Probably a safe assumption, since you're obviously smart enough to see that you don't know as much as you should. So that leaves ignorant. So why are you ignorant.

    Steve Allen tells this story about a young, smart assistant he had who was dismally ignorant. He had to explain to her that her boyfriend was not a kind of Protestant (the guy was a Catholic!) and that the U.N. wasn't in Los Angeles (small schedule issue!). He blamed her ignorance on a sloppy education. But I have to ask, How do you grow up without learning where the U.N. HQ is? Answer, lack of curiousity.

    There's more to knowing stuff than memorizing lots of facts. It's an active thing. You read lots of books, journals, and newspapers. And you think about what you've read. Which means talking about it with others, writing about it, finding a place for it in your mental landscape.

    So, short answer to your question: there's no one book that will make you more knowledgable. What you should do is go to a library or a bookstore. Avoid the aisles with the recreational reading you normally go for. Than browse around until you find a book that looks interesting. Try to get into it. If you can't, put it back on the shelf and look for another book. If you can, read it, think about it, discuss it with other people who've read it.

    Repeat until you feel sufficiently smart. Which, if you're really smart is never.

    • What he says isn't that hard to understand. People find him intelligent but he feels like he should have a broader culture. Just because others find you intelligent doesn't mean you are and certainly doesn't mean that you want to be less intelligent.
      • My opening line was a rhetorical gimick. I understood what he was saying, but I wanted to point out the confusing way he was saying it. His confusion -- between intelligence and knowledge -- is precisely what I wanted to comment on.
  • you're so smart - figure it out yourself!

    Really, why does *every* nerd have to think he's exceptional, just like *every* jock that gets injured returns from their second hospital trip saying "the doctors were surprised at how fast my body is healing itself".

    yap yap yap. DO SOMETHING with your big brain. If you can't think of anything useful, maybe you're not so exceptional - maybe you should find a worthy cause, and devote some time to it?

    Ass whoopin's now be sellin' two for a dollar.
    • you're so smart - figure it out yourself!
      The dude is smart enough to know that he's ignorant, and that he can't change that on his own. That's smarter than you.
      • > smart enough to know that he's ignorant

        He didn't say that he's ignorant, he said he's really really brainy, but can't seem to figure out how to learn "more".

        My guess: he's a 17yr old nerd that thinks he's Stephen Hawking plus working legs, and he just wanted to say "Everyone tells me I'm soooo smart" in a public way.

        If he really was smart, he'd post a question that actually has an answer.

        How can one "learn much more"?

        Oh, the answer is: you should study French, physics, programming, politics, nutri
        • He didn't use the word "ignorant", but he did say it. Go back and read it. you stupid git.
          • > he did say it

            why not quote what you interpret as an admission of ignorance? Because it's not there.

            After his "All agree I'm dead smrt" bit, and just before his "how do I learn more", the submitter said:
            "I always feel like I should know so much more"

            If you think that's an impressive admission of ignorance, you suck.

  • Let me guess --- you are not constantly told how humble you are.
  • YES (Score:5, Funny)

    by illuminatedwax ( 537131 ) <(ude.ogacihcu.inmula) (ta) (egnardts)> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @09:54PM (#8516664) Journal
    YES!! I have discovered an amazing diet/exercise routine that increases your brain power by over 400%!!! It only requires 5 minutes of work a day, and best of all, IT REALLY WORKS!!
    I increased my GRE score from a lousy 900 to an astonishing 1550 just by using this method for only THREE WEEKS!!

    To find out about this AMAZING discovery, send $50 check or money order to:

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    You have received this email because you are on the Slashdot Opt-In list. To unsubscribe to future emails, send email to unsubscribe-and-well-forward-your-email-to-1000-ot
  • Take some courses in art appreciation, then spend your free time reading, seeing good films, and listening to good music. Few things will give your brain the kind of workout a really well written book provides.

    If you're looking for specifics, you could start with Hermann Hesse. Siddharta is a good book to start with. If music is more up your alley, steer clear of the crap (fuck Mozart) and go straight to the Romantics...Beethoven or Wagner if you like big, Chopin if you like simple. The nationalist co

  • by Nutcase ( 86887 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @10:10PM (#8516787) Homepage Journal
    I am often in the same situation. People tell me that I think totally differently from most people and am really smart and all that stuff. It's very hard to understand what they mean, because I just think the way I always have. I came to the conclusion that there are different types of intelligence, and people in various types view the other types as the intelligent ones.

    I really think that intelligence just boils down to the equivilent of system registers in the brain. Being able to hold more of an understanding of what's going on than those around you makes you more intelligence. This can be applied as social intelligence, mathematical intelligence (understanding the systems behind the numbers), scientific intelligence (understanding larger portions or more detail in the natural world than most), etc. Its a curiosity.

    I tend to have a social intelligence. I just think of it as common sense, but apparently others see it as something nice. Which helps, I guess.. but is weird. I look at a mathematically intelligent person and get intimidated. Or I look at the linguistically intelligent people who appear to be flaunting their intelligence by using ridiculously arcane words in common speech. It's more than likely they just know the words and use them without thinking.. but to people who don't it seems intelligent.

    So I guess to answer your question, Intelligence isn't about what you know. It's about what you CAN know, and what you can process successfully.

    Now, if you are looking for wisdom, you may want to make with the learning.
  • Learn Stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @10:27PM (#8516898) Homepage Journal
    If you want to be smarter do what I do. Try to learn stuff. Don't just volger around the internet reading shit like slashdot and playing stupid games. Spend that time learning something or spend it somewhere besides the computer/tv/videogames/dvd/etc.

    Here are some examples from my life.

    Example 1: I heard the words fast fourier transform many times. I realized, hey I don't know what the fuck that is, and I probably should. I searched on google and researched it. Now I know it as well as if I would have taken a college course on it. You know you know something when you can write a program that does it.

    Example 2: Hey, this python programming language seems to fit my style. Buy Nutshell book, learn python in a couple weeks.

    Example 3: hey, I have a project to do for class. I think I'll use the GTK+ library. Proceed to teach self everything about GTK from the GTK website.

    Example 4: Argument about gas prices. I thought the markup was a lot, my roomate correctly knew it was only a few cents markup at the gas station. We went out on the net and not only determined who was right, but learned all about fuel prices.

    Example 5: Hey, this Initial D anime is pretty cool, but no way is that drift driving realistic. Proceed to use internet to learn all about cars, drifting, etc. I now also am very fond of F1 racing. Just last week I read the entire rules at and simultaneously learned a great deal about how they make the best cars in the world.

    Pretty much, if you want to learn just try to. The information is free. Just go out and read what you want to know, and if you're serious about it you'll learn it. Things that you are genuinely interested in knowing are easy to learn because you will pay attention and actually try. If you are having a hard time learning something its probably because you don't actually want to know it, but instead are being forced to learn it. Or you could have a "learning disability".

  • by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @10:50PM (#8517056)
    I'm constantly told that I have an extremely high intelligence.

    Who do you hang around with that give out compliments so easily? If you associated with people of the same intelligence, you wouldn't have that "problem."

    I always feel like I should know so much more, though. Do you, the Slashdot readers, know of any ways to improve ones brain power?

    Yes - Look up the definition of "knowledge" and "intelligence." Compare... then contrast.

    Perhaps books, Web sites, etc., that provide questions that involve ways to increase memory, creativity, mental agility, logic reasoning, intelligence, etc.

    Increased memory comes from understanding, creativity is neither learned nor taught, mental agility stems from your creativity, logical reasoning comes from meditation, and intelligence encapsulates all above.

    Neither books nor websites can increase any of the above qualities... they increase from self improvement.

    Are there any diets/exercises that really help?

    Normal physical exercise as well as art stimulates the brain. Be active, be creative, and just put your body to use. But seriously, stop hanging out with the dullards who praise your "brain power."
  • by jefeweiss ( 628594 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @10:51PM (#8517067)

    I think there are some studies somewhere that link balance to improving thinking abilities. Take some Tai Chi or something.

    Meditation seems like it could be a good thing to do. You just have to try to figure out which kind of meditation you should do. I like zazen.

    If you haven't done drugs maybe you could try that. Don't get addicted or anything, but try 'em out. I would include alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine along with all the others in this experiment. I think this can bring a certain sense of perspective. I don't recommend doing ANY drugs (including alcohol, nicotine or caffeine) to someone who has pre-existing mental instability. In that case the brain is producing it's own novelty, it would be a shame to mess with it.

    Readd books that you don't agree with and try to make yourself agree with them. Or you can do the same thing with political talk shows. I do this with Rush Limbaugh, but if you are conservative you could maybe read Al Franken or something. Good for developing flexibility.

    Try fasting for a couple of days. It can bring about a change of viewpoint on your normal daily state.

    Doing things you don't ordinarily do can impact your brain. Like driving a different way home from work. Or going for a walk. Once I went around trying to do everything backwards as accurately as possible. It amazed me how difficult this was. A complete reverse order is wasn't my first intuition of doing something backwards. Doing something as simple as opening a door in reverse has some hidden steps that you don't really think about.

    Kind of cliche, but you could try "Undoing Yourself with Energized Meditation" by Christopher Hyatt (I think) It has some interesting exercises you can do to limber your brain up. I wouldn't buy it unless you are actually going to do the exercises though. It's kind of long-winded and new-agey at points, though

    Whether or not you take my advice, I wouldn't let the Slashdotters who are giving you a hard time get you down. A good number of the people who hang out on here are cynical asshats.

  • Nootropics (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bmud ( 590967 )
    Intelligence is a pretty cloudy concept. It's one of those words that's a reverse signifier. The way in which it is used by someone inform us more about the person using the word than about the things being classified on a scale of "intelligence."

    Current critical theory in the communications and philosophy fields would probably argue that "intelligence" is constructed by those with social privilege to justify their privilege through the illusion of naturalistic necessity.

    The only reason I caution with t
  • Exercise your mind. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jonadab ( 583620 )

    > I'm constantly told that I have an extremely high intelligence.

    > I always feel like I should know so much more, though.

    Intelligence and knowledge are different things. You gradually lose a lot of your intelligence as you age, but you gain knowledge and understanding and so are able to compensate. You can also gain thinking skills.

    > Do you, the Slashdot readers, know of any ways to improve ones brain power?

    Brain power? No, not as such. The brain (the physical organ between your ears) is

  • by solprovider ( 628033 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:00AM (#8517691) Homepage
    Do I get points because my sig was used as the title of an article? Is that why I have been moderating for more than 2 weeks? (I did manage to use up the points twice, but every day I have 5 again.)

    I'm constantly told that I have an extremely high intelligence.

    This gets annoying before finishing elementary school. Learn to change the subject. Discover what is interesting to the other person. Find subjects where there is a good chance the other person will give information you did not know.
    [This does not always work. A new girlfriend introduced me to one of her friends, who had just bought a house. I was ASKING questions about how he was remodelling the kitchen when he blurted, "You are a genius, aren't you?"]

    You will still get comments like "We have never talked about X, but you seem to know everything, so what do I do about X?" If you can lie [I cannot], tell them you have never heard of X, and then ask questions. Otherwise, quickly give them the solution, and move the conversation so you have a dialogue instead of a lesson.

    I always feel like I should know so much more, though.

    As long as you are always learning, do not worry about what you do not know. When something enters your interest, learn the basics quickly to know if it is worth researching. I prefer to work on creating new things rather than trying to keep up with the combined progress of all humanity.

    Do you, the Slashdot readers, know of any ways to improve ones brain power?
    [Learn to use apostrophes. It should be "one's".]

    The only exercise to help you think better is thinking.

    Perhaps books, Web sites, etc., that provide questions that involve ways to increase memory, creativity, mental agility, logic reasoning, intelligence, etc.
    [Learn to construct sentences. Every sentence should have a subject and a verb.]
    [Avoid the word "that". You used it 3 times. The first was unnecessary; the other two could have been avoided by changing the tense of the verbs.]

    Most geniuses read constantly. The material does not matter. Think about any new ideas. Think about what prompted it to be written. For fiction, think of alternate plots. Keep thinking. If you want to be more creative, you need to create. If you want to be better at logical reasoning, devise proofs. If you want to be more mentally agile, question every assumption, both your own and other people's: why is it an assumption, and what are the alternatives?

    Are there any diets/exercises that really help?
    I eat steak. It does not seem to make me any smarter, but it tastes good. I avoid anything that seems popular with the masses: potatoes, bread, rice, broccoli. (I would include pasta, but my Italian blood refuses to recommend against it.)

    Any exercise will help the blood to flow better. Do what you like, or do the same exercise as your friends. I bowl because a variety of interesting people practice with the bowlers I know. I kick around a soccer ball with several techies. I run just to enjoy the sun. I swim because I love swimming. Exercise helps, but do it because you enjoy it, and see if you can combine it with your desire for knowledge.
  • Tutoring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Justice8096 ( 673052 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:08AM (#8517754)
    ...and yet another way to give your brain a workout - try to teach something that you know to an absolute beginner. It is the only way to expose the holes in your knowledge. Just be prepared to learn how little you really know...
  • by THotze ( 5028 )
    And this goes for people of any intelligence. Its important to do the things that interest you. Everyone has their passions, and its through them that you really make a contribution. When you look at the great minds of the 20th century, they did what they were interested in. Einstein was a patent clerk who was sorta interested in solving some stuff in physics.

    So, what are you interested in? And remember, there are so many kinds of intelligence that its hard to say that one is better than the others.

  • Hey, some tips (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cookiepus ( 154655 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:58AM (#8518085) Homepage
    I often ask myself the same question (and not because people tell me I am brilliant).

    This is because now that I work I am not learning much. Back in school, I didn't have this problem, as my brain was always crunching something.

    There's a library near my job. I go there sometime and walk by shelves, and when I see a book that does not sound totally boring while being on a subject I have no idea about, I grab it. In fact, I grab a few of them.

    To be honest I rarely finish any of these books, but it constantly gives me more and more data in my head, as I at least become aware of the subjects.

    In particular, there's a great book called something like Century of Mind, or something like that, about all the great thinkers of the 20th century, from Picasso and Freud, and Wright Brothers to.. well, I didn't finish the book but you get the point... it was great to get into the heads and the environment during which these great thinkers did their thinking.

    Oh, and I didn't finish it because someone put it on reserve when I came to renew it and they took it from me.

  • Bust your ass (Score:2, Insightful)

    Being smart doesn't mean shit if you can't get stuff done. Work hard, finish what you start, and be humble (as in, don't try to "genius" your projects. Keep them straightforward and manageable). Do those things and the "having an extremely high intelligence" will take care of itself. Don't do those things and you will be wondering why less intelligent people keep outperforming you.
  • Another Question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @01:26AM (#8518237) Homepage
    When you go through your day, constantly ask yourself "what is this doing for me?" Weight the ups and downs. Television, for example. The ups? Well can entertain yourself. The downs? Don't even get me started.

    Then evaluate other things you might be doing in terms of how this will get you closer to the things that matter to you. Mine might be working on my business or listening to some audio tapes/spoken word, but what is right for me is not necessarily right for you.

    If you start weighting activities like they've got a price sticker attached to them -- which they do, really -- then you can start "comparison shopping." And then you can use your head to it's best potential. I think the "what" will flow naturally at that point. If learning Chemistry is important to you, then make the time and learn it.

    I know this isn't quite what you're asking. I hate it when people answer my "How do you do A?" with "Why don't you do B?" just as much as the next guy, trust me. I just think you might be approaching it from "what?" when it might behove you to simply free up the "when?" and "how?" and then "what?" will become obvious to you. Because you're the only person who can answer that.
  • Just don't start with Ayn Rand, like a lot of people did, it will make it all the more difficult getting into more sophisticated stuff.

    I recommend beginning with the Platonic dialogues, at least thats where I began. He teaches you how to think philosophically while introducing you to the Socratic method. I recommend starting with the Apology, then the Crito, and then the one where Socrates dies (forget what its called), then go after the Republic if you're ready for it. Be sure to get some secondary materi
  • by Laplace ( 143876 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @02:27AM (#8518559)
    Read. Learn. Write. Write. Write. Share what you learn. Formulate new ideas. Discuss them with other people. Prepare to feel stupid. Do the whole process again.

    I hate to say it, but people have book smart and they have monkey smart. You may have the former, but it doesn't sound like you have the latter. You may now feel free to exact monkey justice.
  • Then may i ask what brings you here?

  • I wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence. There's a knob called "brightness", but it doesn't seem to work.
    -- Gallagher

    Found in the Linux Fortunes DB ;-)

  • Random Google pull on this topic []

    The difference is huge, and dramatic. Takes more discipline than you first think. Those 30 hour coding binges and test crams do more harm than good on your productivity.

    Just cutting caffeine after 4pm changed my life.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.