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View Poll Results: Is Stephen Hawking the smartest person in the world?

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  1. #1
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    Default Is Stephen Hawking the smartest person in the world?

    “I don't know what my IQ is. People who boast about their IQ's are losers” ― Stephen Hawking



    Great Minds: Stephen Hawking - The Grand Design Of The Universe


    From a scientific view I would say Hawking is indeed at the top, but from a view of overall enlightenment, I'm sure there are many figures that trump him.

    Anyway folks, what are your thought on this 'smartest person' question?

  2. #2
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    I'm sure he understands the intricacies of reality as well as anyone, for whatever it's worth.

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    I think he is indeed extremely intelligent but the smartest? The best? I wonder how much of his knowledge is due to his condition - being focused on developing new theories and ideas simply because his condition restricts a lot of alternate tasks. He's had it for decades, I could imagine an alternate Hawking without the illness perhaps being more rounded. I recall him saying in an interview that it was the initial prognosis that he did not have long to live drove him to think in new ways and productively use the time he had left.

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    I define intelligence as the complexity of information you can comprehend times how fast you can comprehend that information, so, in that aspect, Steven Hawking is probably near the top. that said, I think intelligence has a point of diminishing returns and, as he is probably aware (given the quote about intelligence and survival value), he is well past that point.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    "It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value."


    I've always found this a strange (almost stupid?) quote; if Hawking wasn't fairly arrogant, I would say he is trying to downplay his own intelligence. And I'd like to think it was taken out of context, but it's essentially saying that it may be net negative because it could destroy ourselves.

    Intelligence is, as far as we know, the only long-term survival strategy. Maybe we'll one day find a direct survival trait that leads to panspermia, but given a lack of local incentive to do so it seems unlikely. How does a creature form the ability to move biological bodies into space and arrange for non-observed multi-environmental survival without pre-conception? For almost any value of "long term" intelligence has extremely (approaching infinite) survival value. It's actually short term that can have very little value. Failing to do so comes close to almost certain extinction (although we may be able to advance and survive the next environmental collapse). Nuclear war or some other form of destruction is more a social problem than an intelligence problem. It'd be akin to saying that claws are not a survival trait in cats because cats attack each other.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    "It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value."


    I've always found this a strange (almost stupid?) quote; if Hawking wasn't fairly arrogant, I would say he is trying to downplay his own intelligence. And I'd like to think it was taken out of context, but it's essentially saying that it may be net negative because it could destroy ourselves.
    One of the first things an intelligent person learns is how to hide their intelligence. Of course i'm not saying this is always the case or that this is what he was doing but it reminds me of that situation.

    On the other hand his early life was filled with academia and parents big on it so chances are he may not have had to suffer through the same kind of ridicule as most people who grew up in a less academic environment. As you said, downplaying intelligence is also a subtle defence mechanism, which is not to imply that people should be the opposite; brash, intellectual snobs convinced of their own superiority.

    But it's telling to me on a subtle level the neurosis at the heart of society; it's almost like a collective deception to themselves wherein they have trouble accepting the limitations of their own intelligence, they suppress this notion which is then brought out by contact with those more intelligent than themselves, now the person is a perfect target for these projections to be placed onto.

    Such a person is 'arrogant' or 'pretentious' even if the individual in question has no intention nor any inclination towards these traits.

    There are certainly intellectual elites though, ironically not that intelligent themselves, as they would understand the different types of intelligence and their value to any society. But that's my bias of course.

    It might seem a bit strange for me to mention intellectual elites alongside a threatened general public, but while I do accept the idea of different types of intelligence, I also understand that there are certain types that are excluded more often by most people, pushed into their own circles which creates a rather self-fulfilling prophecy.

    As for my own intelligence, I don't think I should be so foolish as to proclaim myself an idiot after talking about self-deprecation and hiding intelligence, but at the same time I also acknowledge, quite happily, that there are a vast number of people far more intelligent than myself in pretty much all aspects of their thought. Besides mine is mostly intellectubatory which is often of no use to anyone, least of all myself.

    Plus i'm also immensely childish at times and one of the most important things to keep in mind is that no one is above the shit of life. I accept that and embrace it...so here's a dildo car!

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  7. #7
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    How could one possibly know? There are over 7 billion people in the world, and a singular person knows so little. Are you asking: is Hawking the most intelligent out of all the famous intellects alive today? There are probably a fair amount of total unknowns who are smarter than he is. Perhaps the question should be more on the lines of him being one of the most important (scientifically) people alive today, rather than most intelligent; and to that, I would say yes. To the original question, most likely no. He's simply used his high intelligence to produce works that are significant- there could be a person living in a wooden hut in the middle of a forest, sitting there creating miniature wooden huts out of twigs from the surrounding trees, instead of doing anything worthwhile... yet this person has an IQ of 195; perhaps he had burnout, or a troublesome childhood. Said person might be creating the greatest small-scale replica wooden huts man would ever know, but all we know is that they aren't engaging in anything near as profound (in this context, profound meaning something capable of progressing the human race) as Hawking. A lot of smart individuals simply don't care- they lead relatively modest and low-key lives. So perhaps in the sense that he is breaking new ground and doing things of significance (and using his intellect for progress), Hawking is the 'smartest' out said other highly-intelligent persons.

    To the quote in the OP: I believe that intelligence is simply one survival method out of many (dinosaurs were one of the most successful species on earth and had brains the size of a peanut, yet had brilliant adaption to the environment- until the very end of course), but what he may be saying here is in terms of the species that have been given it- humans, for instance, maybe on the verge of using nuclear weapons against itself due to our so-called intelligence.

  8. #8
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    I would agree that in his area he is extremely smart, and then he could be an idiot in other areas.

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    So fellas what type do you think Stephen Hawking is?

    My best guess is INTJ 5w6 so/sp.

  10. #10
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    According to Guinness Book this guy has the highest IQ. It's 210!

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