In reply to previous persons advocating Gardner’s “multiple intelligence” theory:
Intelligence is measurable to a significant extent, and among cognitive assessments such as IQ tests, a strong positive correlation has been observed across different proposed centers of intelligence in academic disciplines—some examples being spatial, verbal, mathematical, musical, and even existential intelligence. While the interaction between “nature and nurture” in the brain is quite complex, a person typically is not born with predisposition to particular disciplines. Some individuals who may be diagnosed with, for instance, dysgraphia, dyslexia, even “dyscalculia”, and (rarely) autism spectrum disorders, are potential exceptions to this rule, as they can be categorized as twice-exceptional (being proficient in, say one or two disciplines, but poor in others). Excluding such persons nonetheless, a child with an overall low IQ will demonstrate subpar skill across all subjects—and a well-educated child with an above-average IQ will likely demonstrate superb skill across all academic disciplines.
So it is evident that general intelligence (or g as some researchers term it) has a broad impact in one’s mental capacity to carry out varying patterns of cognitive processes. Twice-exceptional persons can be excluded from this pattern with confidence and without compromising this observation because of inborn setbacks. On the one hand, genetic factors can severely compromise development of cognition in the critical stages of development. But on the other hand, early intervention is key to improving the condition of individuals afflicted with impairment in cognition—this tells us that twice-exceptionalism is not entirely genetic. On an anecdotal note, a best friend of mine was diagnosed with high-functioning autism—he has trouble with spelling, grammar, and verbal communication in general—yet at 16 years of age he is improving quickly in verbal and social skills. (He’s… almost normal, lol.)
I go so far as to assert that intelligence is measurable and can be reliably quantified. However, it is difficult to ascertain one’s IQ because of the complex interaction between brain chemistry and learned cognition. IQ is properly a measure of raw intellect, but it is not always easy to measure through judging one’s ability in specific skills in the same way that it is improper to measure the IQ of Spanish speakers based on their knowledge of English vocabulary—both procedures are not always appropriate, but necessarily will exhibit equivalent biases. It boils down to the fact that we’re not all born equal, and we all have our limits; ultimately, some people just have better or worse brains than everyone else. Not everyone can be a Nobel prize laureate—Francis Crick had an IQ of around 120, which is the lowest purported IQ among Nobel prize laureates. Even more obvious is the fact that you can’t make a genius out of a mentally retarded person. Despite that early intervention can bring such a person to a normal, adult-functioning position, someone like Teddy Roosevelt or Archimedes will always possess raw potential that is leaps beyond such a person.
But the other point that remains to be seen is that IQ is not limiting in a certain sense. It is stupid to assume that you inherently lack the capacity to be competent in a particular discipline—yet it has become rather fashionable to deprecate oneself with such phrases (especially, people like to say they “suck at math”). And if you’re a child or a teenager, if you are good in any one subject, then you can be, at the very least, decent in other subjects. You may feel smart when in English and dumb in math class, but that’s a self-created notion.
This pattern is prominent in the apparent dichotomous nature of intelligence between girls and boys. Girls are supposedly always better in verbal cognition, while boys are always better in spatial-mathematical cognition. This is a silly assumption that has been perpetuated by centuries of gender-based discrimination. While the studies support this statement, employers continue to show prejudice, for instance in engineering professions, where such careers are generally regarded as less-than-admirable and unsuited for women. If you’re a boy who has average social skills and likes math and science, chances are you’ll be the go-to guy for girls who need help in precalculus or physics. But if you’re a girl with average social skills who likes math and science, you’ll probably be brushed off as nerdy by boys and perhaps superficial by girls. These disparities are not products of gender-specific biological distinctions, but ingrained consequences of societal pressures to fulfill your gender role.