Smart v. Intelligent

Common sense is not common anymore and it is due in part to the fact that many of us have lost, or have not been taught to use, our critical thinking skills. Many in the younger generations weren’t passed on historical data and tricks/hacks that made life easier since the dawn of time. My grandma knew how to cool coffee by pouring it between two cups but had no idea it was due to thermodynamics. I always considered her smart because of this but never thought of her as intelligent even though the words are synonyms. All she was doing was repeating a trick she was taught. Obviously she was full of these life hacks but that didn’t mean she had developed them herself. My grandfather, on the other hand, had been trained as an electrician and knew how to rewire almost anything to get it to work. Between the two they taught me how to learn, how to think critically, and when to apply or create my own hack; they embodied the difference between having smarts and being intelligent.

Intelligent people are, by definition, capable of acquiring and applying knowledge in abstract manner. Smart people in contrast are not only intelligent but can quickly adapt to any situation with their know-how. However, the word smart has been extended to include looking sharp or well dressed which can confuse things. Smart and intelligent people come in all shapes and sizes, and social economic backgrounds. Knowledge is power and it is also free; you don’t need to own a diploma to prove it. Being smart can definitely be a good thing if you are not applying what you learned by rote. That’s where the analytical or abstract thinking of intelligence comes in to save us all.


True genius requires both the quick witted smarts and the deep and introspective intelligence. It is only when we combine the two that we can truly become legends like Steve Jobs or Nikola Tesla. An intelligent person will know how to find information but they will be useless to society if they don’t know how to use it. That’s why on every zombie apocalypse show you will see smart and intelligent working together to solve problems and lead the way towards progress. For enginerds like me MacGyver was/is the ultimate hero because he possesses and masters both. There is nothing he can’t accomplish when he sets his mind to it.

Learn to recognize which situations need you to be smart and which ones need you to be intelligent. Smart people will get their point accross and achieve their goals in a fast manner. Intelligent folks may take a while to get there, especially the extemely introverted, but they will be able to find a more elegant solution within the additional time allowed to ponder. Pinky was smart even though he was seen as an idiot. Brain was intelligent and missed the mark on a few things because he didn’t engage his counterpart’s talent. We must work together to bridge the gap between the common sense that isn’t common and the need to appear smarter than we are or we will continue to have “smart” people that fall for the rethoric of those with power and influence who manipulate our perceptions daily without us realizing their end game. Only critically thinking will deconstruct and challenge these poisonous ideas and save the day. We must be vigilant and not lose this skill which both concepts demand we develop to its highest acuity.

 Choose what you believe wisely…

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