Intelligence, Education, and Skill

When meeting someone highly educated or someone with great skill, the typical reaction is to see them as intelligent. Both education and skill are considered mental accomplishments, and mentally accomplished people are seen as intelligent. This is a logically false statement.

Intelligence accelerates both education and skill development, but it is only one factor. If you want to identify intelligent people, a good idea is to study the field of giftedness. That’s the term researchers use to describe the field. There are very specific behavior patterns that emerge from high levels of giftedness. If you study these, then you can quickly identify closet intellectuals. Those of high intellect will be great problem solvers. In fact, they are driven by interesting and unusual problems. This is an essential skill for many technical fields.

Education does not represent intelligence, problem-solving ability, or skill. The purpose of the education system is to write papers. The more highly educated, the better quality papers are written. Ideally, education should create expertise, but it utterly fails in that regard. For example, the teaching of science is less about science and more about the history of science. Real science requires looking at things in a different way and learning how to think differently. The same is true for mathematics, computer science, and many other fields. Learning how to think differently is the key to advancing a field.

While education and intelligence can help with skill, skill grows independently of education. An expert is defined as someone with immense skill compared to a novice. They can work faster and more efficiently. This efficiency amount depends on the skill and work complexity, but an expert can be fifty times more productive than a novice. The study of skill begins with chess. Chess has a numeric ranking that’s quite accurate. If your rank is two hundred points higher than your opponent, you will win three out of every four games. Since chess skill can be quantified, it can be easily studied and researched. They’ve learned many things, like experts are made and not born. Natural talent can give you a small boost to start, but long-term study creates expertise. Simply using a skill repeatedly doesn’t improve it; you must throw yourself into projects that are just beyond your level. This forces you to improve. This property also makes skill development at work very unlikely. You are employed to work within your skill. If you work beyond your skill, then the work becomes less predictable and dependable. People who become experts do so by working on fun projects in their own time. Skill requires many years of dedicated work.

When hiring someone, you should evaluate your needs and look for someone who matches. Does the job require problem-solving? Does it require credentials? Is skill and productivity a more pressing matter? If the work requires no problem-solving and you hire someone intelligent, they will quickly tire of it and leave. If the work is low skill, then a skilled expert will tire of it and leave.

If contracts require credentials, then focus on education. Many potential contracts require education or accreditation. The other party often uses that to screen potential bids, thinking it gives them a better product or service. While credentials don’t reflect skill, it does weed out novices who believe they are experts.

If the work is complex, then you need an expert. Experts complete complex tasks far faster than novices. Use working memory to gauge expertise. For example, in programming, ask how many lines of code they keep in their mind as they work.

If the work involves complex problems and difficult tasks, then look for someone who is both intelligent and skilled.

If you hire someone highly skilled, then the best way to utilize them is to give them complete control over their projects. If they are being managed by someone of less skill, then it frustrates them and reduces their overall productivity.

You may not want to hire intellectual people, even if you can find them. The genes that amplify intellect have side effects. Learn more about these before hiring. Some universities have departments that study gifted psychology. There’s also a large body of literature you can study online. A quick hint: don’t try to organize intellectual people. They’ll organize themselves as needed, and they’ll do it very effectively.

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