Many Kinds of Smart (A Continuing Series)

By Sean Carroll | October 31, 2011 9:14 am

Steve Hsu points us to an NYT op-ed by Walter Isaacson, in which he ponders the crucial question, “Was Steve Jobs smart?” Isaacson has written biographies of both Jobs and Albert Einstein, so he should know from smart.

One might think that the answer is an obvious “yes,” and Isaacson admits this. But then he tells this anecdote:

But I remember having dinner with him a few months ago around his kitchen table, as he did almost every evening with his wife and kids. Someone brought up one of those brainteasers involving a monkey’s having to carry a load of bananas across a desert, with a set of restrictions about how far and how many he could carry at one time, and you were supposed to figure out how long it would take. Mr. Jobs tossed out a few intuitive guesses but showed no interest in grappling with the problem rigorously.

And what are we to conclude from this?

So was Mr. Jobs smart? Not conventionally.

Arrrgh. I’m not sure what kind of conventionality is being invoked, but I don’t want any part of it.

We all know about Steve Jobs’s accomplishments. Built a major multinational corporation, created (or at least nurtured) several different devices that noticeably changed our everyday lives, became an icon for user-friendly and design-savvy technology. And he didn’t do it all just by getting lucky, or even by simple hard work. There is no useful definition of the word “smart” under which Steve Jobs doesn’t qualify.

Isaacson explains Jobs’s success, despite his lack of smarts, by saying he was a “genius,” or at least “ingenious,” and going on about intuition and wisdom and visual thinking and overcoming Western rationality. (His examples of plodding non-geniuses include Henri Poincaré and David Hilbert, maybe not the best choices.) (Also, we are told that Einstein was a genius, but not whether he was smart.)

But why in the world wouldn’t we describe someone who was wise, was a brilliant visual thinker, and exhibited world-class intuition and imagination as “smart”? Because he wasn’t interested in a brain teaser about monkeys carrying bananas? (Not even that he tried to solve the puzzle and failed — just that he wasn’t interested.)

The answer is apparently … yes. Maybe it’s from talking to too many physicists while working on the Einstein biography, but Isaacson falls into a trap that snares many people, especially academics, and especially mathematicians and scientists: a view of intelligence that narrows down to an ability to solve logic puzzles and do well on IQ tests. It’s the kind of attitude that judges graduate students by how well they do on their qualifying exams, rather than the quality of their actual research. It’s easy to fetishize puzzle-solving ability, because it’s easy to demonstrate and measure and quantify.

But there is more than one way to be smart. We’re not talking here about feel-good attempts to grant equal amounts of smartness to every living person, or to reclassify “common sense” or “down-home wisdom” as superior kinds of intelligence, or even an ability to deal with people on an everyday level. We’re talking about a very traditional notion of smarts: solving problems, having ideas, speaking and writing well, seeing things clearly. Sometimes you can be very good at those things, and not very good at (or interested in) logic puzzles or IQ tests.

Even within the narrow range of logic-puzzle-smarts, there are very different kinds. Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann were smart by any measure, but they were also very different thinkers. Professional mathematicians can be grouped roughly into “algebraists” and “geometers,” and the two groups sometimes have trouble talking to each other. Anyone who has observed successful scientists over a period of time cannot possibly miss the fact that there are many different approaches to success.

This isn’t an academic discussion — different problems require different ways of being smart. Bill Gates read science books in his leisure time, but the design of his products was crap. Albert Einstein was the most successful physicist of the twentieth century, but it was Neils Bohr who really pushed quantum mechanics forward. The problem isn’t that we need to look beyond smarts — it’s that we need to acknowledge smarts when we see them.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humanity, Top Posts
  • max

    I think your disagreement with Isaacson is largely semantic. Isaacson was just defining smart to be precisely that kind of smart that allows you to solve logic puzzles easily, and then pointing out that one doesn’t necessarily need that kind of smart to be a genius. Probably a silly way to use the word, but not one that doesn’t have precedent.

    Then again, I may have misread the article. I’m not that smart.

  • http://sievemaria.com sievemaria

    The only kind of *smarts* that is useful and Knowledge worth pursuing is that which helps one lead a better life.

  • http://mengbomin.wordpress.com/ Meng Bomin

    I like Isaacson’s terminology better than yours if for no other reason than it distinguishes between the concepts of being a “genius” and being “smart”. If one were to use Sean Carroll’s terminology instead of Walter Isaacson’s, it becomes less simple to express the thought that one does not need to be smart to be a genius, which is, in my opinion, an important insight.

  • Joel Rice

    Tomonaga was going on about how Heisenberg used analogies, Pauli took a frontal attack, and Dirac was simply ‘acrobatic’ – being much too modest to mention his own genius – in his 1973 lectures on “the Story of Spin”. Funny how a bunch of geniuses missed the ‘Thomas Factor” that arises in an accelerated reference frame.

  • speranza

    Perhaps the disagreement is semantic; perhaps Isaacson’s terminology makes a distinction our ordinary usage doesn’t. The problem with adopting a non-standard definition of a word is that it brings its ordinary-language associations and implications along with it. So while Isaacson’s usage, equating puzzle-solving with smarts, might make a useful distinction, it carries along the unfortunate implication that Steve Jobs was dim, slow, obtuse, not good at thinking, et cetera. I think that’s Sean’s point here — let’s not redefine “smart” in a narrow, idiosyncratic way, because if we do we risk throwing out some pretty smart babies with our uninterested-in-puzzles bathwater.

  • http://www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~criedel/ Jess Riedel

    > Albert Einstein was the most successful physicist of the twentieth century, but it was Neils Bohr who really pushed quantum mechanics forward.

    I’m not so sure this is a good summary. David Griffith had this to say about Bohr’s contribution:

    “It is interesting to note the Bohr was an outspoken critic of Einstein’s light quantum (prior to 1924), that he mercilessly denounced Shrodinger’s equation, discouraged Dirac’s work on relativistic electron theory (telling him, incorrectly, that Klein and Gordon had already succeeded), opposed Pauli’s introduction of the neutrino, ridiculed Yakawa’s theory of the meson, and disparaged Feynman’s approach to quantum electrodynamics. Great scientists do not always have good judgement–especially when it concerns other people’s work–but Bohr must hold the all-time record.” (“Introduction to elementary particles”, David Jeffery Griffiths)

    Even worse, to me, was the lasting damage Bohr did to how we teach quantum mechanics. For example, see “Early Gedanken Experiments of Quantum Mechanics Revisited” by Yu Shi (h.t. Godfrey Miller).

    http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9811050

    Roughly, the uncertainty relation championed by Bohr is exactly the wrong way to think about quantum mechanics. Entanglement, which Einstein knew was important yet could never properly articulate, is the primary idea for understanding the non-intuitive aspects of quantum mechanics.

  • http://arunsmusings.blogspot.com Arun

    I think this obsession with “smartness” is very damaging. It lends itself too much to “I’m not good at math (or school work or whatever else)” because I’m not smart”. A good degree of “smartness” can be acquired, but acquired ability is typically not included in the common understanding of “smart”. The judgment of “smart” that people confer on others is simply another obstacle in the effort to accomplish anything. The only meaningful measure really is to ask – what are your goals? and then, do you bring enough along to accomplish those goals? By that measure, Steve Jobs had or developed his abilities to accomplish what he dreamed of. (Of course, there is the goal of wanting to be perceived as smart by one’s colleagues – but that goal is not a particularly worthy goal.)

    Steve Jobs’ accomplishments are stellar, whether or not he was “smart”. How does a verdict of “Yes, Jobs was smart” or “No, Jobs was not smart” make his accomplishments more comprehensible or emulatable? How does his smarts or lack of it, add luster to or diminish his accomplishments?

    Whatever label you apply to Jobs, his accomplishments are unchanged. This topic of smartness may be the atheists’ equivalent of discussions of God’s Will or the non-superstitious’s equivalent of the discussion of Fate. Being able to add the label “smart” to someone seems to hold some psychological satisfaction utterly out of proportion with any explanatory power that it confers.

  • http://arunsmusings.blogspot.com Arun

    To quote the Tiger Mom, Amy Chua, “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences.”

    The culture of “smartness” detracts from this.

  • Kirk

    First, I have to care. That is the first rule of motivation.

    I simply don’t like the missionary/cannibal/canoe or fox/hen/monkey puzzles. Or is it an Orca/unicorn/scorpion, I just cannot trouble myself to remember…

  • bigjohn756

    But, didn’t Jobs delay his normal cancer treatment for nine months while he pursued alternative medical treatments which had no basis in science? That’s not smart.

  • karaktur

    There are many kinds of smart and they have different names: Smart, intelligent, educated, and wise. But there are also bright, clever, savant, genius and others. If we think about how we use these words we can discover that do each mean something slightly different.

  • http://broadspeculations.com Jim Cross

    “Mr. Jobs tossed out a few intuitive guesses but showed no interest in grappling with the problem rigorously.”

    I imagine Jobs might have had quite a bit more on his mind to expend his brain power on than a puzzle, to say nothing about the fact he was at dinner with his family.

    Sean, I expected a post today on the Zombie Paradox – how lumbering zombies dragging one leg always seem to be able to catch healthy running non-zombies. I am certain the Zombie Paradox probably has some deep significance to cosmology, quantum mechanics, relativity, or something if only we could explain it.

  • Jennifer

    Sean this is great, both your post and the zombie paradox in the comment above. I think your reaction to Isaacson’s conclusion from the dinnertime discussion on monkeys and bananas is spot on. That is some faulty logic on Isaacson’s part.

    I would say that if anything, the anecdote reveals the kind of prioritizing that brilliant people do. Namely, full immersion in what they are doing at the time – whether it be working on a project, or having dinner with family. Full immersion. No interest in having dinner while working on projects, no interest in working out puzzles (something like work, trouble shooting, idea generating) while enjoying a family dinner.

    But it’s more likely that he just wasn’t interested.

  • http://jbg.f2s.com/quantum2.txt James Gallagher

    Steve Jobs and was a smart business person. He wasn’t in any way close to the smartness of the great scientists. He had some good technological ideas, but he didn’t invent mp3 technology or discover any of the outstanding science that enabled the hardware in his shiny ipods etc to work.

    In fact Jobs and his corporation were most likely the lucky beneficiary of the short wonderful (illegal) reign of Napster – which brought mp3s to the mass public in volumes that Jobs et al would never have achieved with restrictive business models.

    Successful scientists are definitely smart, successful business people are mostly lucky and determined, I mean obviously one or two products are going to be market leaders, even if they’re “crap” (eg early windows – sorry Sean, windowsXP and windows7 are not “crap”)

    A better comparison would be Jobs, Gates, Torvalds – place them in order of “smartness” – I bet over 90% of people would pick the same order (Torvalds top, then Gates then Jobs) – but successful scientists are in a different league of smartness.

  • Justin Loe

    Smartness is usefully defined as the success of an individual in your profession. Essentially, a scientist will regard another scientist as “smart”, while a successful musician will regard other members of their profession as “smart.” Likewise, the rank order of “smartness” by which any of us judges the intelligence of people in other professions likely reflects the metrics of of fellows in our own field. This is certainly normal and expected, since we judge the world based on our own experience of it, and not based on the experience of working in other fields, which we haven’t had.

    Who’s smarter, Beethoven or Einstein? I think it’s essentially a meaningless question, since they are each smart in their own domain of expertise but not in the other.

  • johnthompson

    What James Gallagher said at @14! That’s a really good insight on Napster and mp3s. It’s easy to forget that it was the iPod & iTunes that really saved Apple.
    plus
    “It’s the kind of attitude that judges graduate students by how well they do on their qualifying exams, rather than the quality of their actual research. It’s easy to fetishize puzzle-solving ability, because it’s easy to demonstrate and measure and quantify.”
    That’s very nicely said Sean,. I do hope you (and the other Cosmic Variance bloggers who don’t blog much) remember it the next time you are on a graduate admissions committee looking at Physics GRE scores…..

  • Mark P

    I agree with Sean – there is no meaningful definition of “smart” under which Jobs can be considered not smart. I think one reason, perhaps the main reason, anyone tries to figure out whether Jobs was “smart” is that it gives us a way to tear him down so that we can treat him (or his memory) with less intimidation. If we can conclude that he was not smart, then we can feel superior to him, despite his tremendous success. Because we, of course, are smart.

  • jick

    I’m not quite sure what you meant by: “Bill Gates read science books in his leisure time, but the design of his products was crap.”

    Paraphrasing your own word, I can’t think of any useful definition of the word “smart” under which Steve Jobs does qualify and Bill Gates doesn’t. (Remember, Apple nearly vanished from history because Microsoft’s products just f**king worked.)

  • tim Rowledge

    and children on their own never want to work,

    … which just goes to show that Ms. Chu ain’t all that smart about children.

  • http://malct32@blogspot.com Malc

    “…..solving problems, having ideas, speaking and writing well, seeing things clearly. Sometimes you can be very good at those things, and not very good at (or interested in) logic puzzles or IQ tests.”

    AGREED!

  • JohnGalt

    Imagine, people in one faction claiming to be smarter than people in a different faction. Imagine all the people living in harmony… ha, ha…

  • Elliot Tarabour

    Another aspect of “smartness” in science that I think gets less credit than it deserves is the ability to ask the “right” questions. Although those who ask key questions don’t often get credit for the solution, the ability to put these issues front and center is critical in my mind.

  • Eric

    Re: “It’s the kind of attitude that judges graduate students by how well they do on their qualifying exams, rather than the quality of their actual research. ”

    I had to chuckle when I read this. We had our quals last month. Most of us passed at the PhD level, one student passed at the Master’s level, and a few other failed altogether.

    Here’s the kicker: They guy who passed only at the Master’s level? He’s the only one of us to be first author in paper published in Nature. Heck, one of the highest scoring candidates hasn’t even published a single paper yet (but can get that 99% on the Physics GRE and ace the Quals!).

  • http://sievemaria.com sievemaria

    Jobs gave us creations that were no longer homely and plain about homely and plain things but he gave us skill and invention – his threats of simplicity and necessaries turns to threats of disaster fr complex technology. good thing bad thing, who can say. What is important is he never joined the intellectual or academic crowd.

  • http://sievemaria.com sievemaria

    His experiences with LSD were transformative ! so he says.

  • Kaleberg

    What does solving logic problems have to do with being smart?

  • Jennifer

    nice illustration of Sean’s point, Eric.

    I want to say something else that kind of freaked me out and made me think about the future of Siri. I was reading a textbook for a class, I’m in a physics phD program, and I petted the book to change the page. As in, I swiped my finger on my physical textbook. I’ve had the ipad2 since…whenever it came out, April 2011 I think. I was not impressed with it for months. But it is damn intuitive, damn natural, using that thing.

    It makes me think that Siri will be the same, so natural and intuitive to use that we will never believe how we made our little fingers fly over tiny keyboards or learned to pause a second between writing words with letters that follow each other in the alphabet. I am not an apple junkie, but I think there is something inherently natural and captivating about their product designs.

    That’s all an aside. I also think Tim’s comment is great, it certainly does show her lack of knowledge about kids. My nieces can focus far longer and with far greater pleasure than any adult I know, save the nerdiest scientists and the nerdiest musicians. All on their own too. When I am like them with my studies, it feels perfect (it’s rare at this point, but practice will get me there I think).

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  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    With regard to the topic in general, there is an episode of All in the Family which deals with this (and, like almost all episodes, is very, very funny). AITF could be watched for its humour, or social commentary, or both. “Recorded on tape before a live audience”: yes, it was essentially filmed theatre, live. There’s probably a way to watch old episodes on the internet these days. If you aren’t familiar with the show, take it from me and watch: but watch a whole episode in one go (something of a lost art these days).

    “Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann were smart by any measure, but they were also very different thinkers. “ Indeed. In James Gleick’s biography of Feynman, there is an absolutely hilarious episode which illustrates this beautifully, as funny as any of the stories (also extremely funny, but not just that) Feynman told about himself.

  • Unclellama

    ‘Being good at lots of things’ has always struck me as an indicator of smartness. Some people pick up all manner of concepts and skills lightning-fast, as if they don’t have a particular talent for it, but just ‘get it’ instantly.

    I doubt that will ever be a useful thing to measure, though, even if we figured out a way to do so… for any given problem/job we tend to need people who are skilled in some specific way, so why not just test for that?

  • Philip

    What is the Turing test all about?

    We agree that a good working definition of an intelligent computer is one that can talk.

    All human beings can talk; therefore ___________.

  • Maxi Noggin

    I completely agree. I have an IQ of 70 and stupidly always thought I was smart!!

  • http://www.lightfield.com William Croft

    The recent TED / RSA video overview of Iain McGilchrist’s 2010 book, “”The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World” — is relevant in this discussion. Beautiful summary in 12 minutes.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/iain_mcgilchrist_the_divided_brain.html

    ‘A wonderful book about brain function and its wider implications … that two different styles of perception and cognition, holistic versus narrowly focused, are both needed for survival, hence evolutionarily ancient, [is] a very nice insight into why brain division was selected for … And it’s refreshing to see sense being talked about the Libet experiments.’

    — Professor Michael McIntyre, Fellow of the Royal Society, and Professor of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge

  • Muffit

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and point out that timing and luck HAS got a lot to do with how ‘genius’ manifests itself, possibly more so than anything else.

    It’s like that saying “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Newton said that, I believe.

    Surely there are countless magnificently smart individuals enjoying a quiet life out of the public eye, just as there are relatively average people catching the luck of the draw at the right time, to become publicly revered. Or even genius people stumbling in the limelight only by being lucky that one time.

    Quantifying this would be rather hard, I’m just not a huge believer in unique insights (which disregard history, luck, timing, I feel). Often it could be more of a sign of the times than a sign of individual genius.

  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    Jobs had, for lack of a better word, a true “knack” for discerning desirable embodiments of consumer technology. He had stunning intuition for appealing style and the right balance of simplicity and capability. He had some happy accidents in his youth that inspired him and connected him to the nascent field of personal computing. He had some truly bizarre, and at times quite difficult, personal traits which, in the role of CEO, proved to be assets. He was obsessive, demanding, and preternaturally charismatic. However derided by those who weren’t susceptible, the “reality distortion field” was a great motivator and actualizer, and got those true technologists and design whizzes who he shepherded to do things that they never imagined they could do, even if they were browbeaten and broken by the process. Jobs left a trail of personal carnage in his wake, as many “great men” do, in the process of achieving greatness. It’s totally wrong-headed to ignore the role of sociopathy here. So, in many respects, even if Jobs wasn’t conventionally brilliant, he had, you might say, just the right mix of the exceptional and appalling to be a captain of industry. His accomplishments speak for themselves. I don’t think there’s much more analysis that will be of use, and probably no chance we’ll ever see another man like him, genius or monster, or both.

  • http://wavefunction.fieldofscience.com Curious Wavefunction

    I think Isaacson’s conclusion is ridiculous. As you note there are different kinds of smarts. Plus in the case of the anecdote, maybe Jobs just wasn’t interested in solving the problem seriously and made a half-hearted attempt to take a crack at it, like many of us often do. That hardly proves even that he wasn’t “conventionally” smart. How many times do we not latch on to every single problem that is tossed at us? It’s a matter of interest and priority much more than of intelligence.

  • http://math-frolic.blogspot.com Shecky R

    “Professional mathematicians can be grouped roughly into ‘algebraists” and “geometers,’ and the two groups sometimes have trouble talking to each other. ”

    I’ve not heard quite that distinction made before, and although I have a sense of what you mean, I’d be curious to hear it elaborated further, and perhaps some names attached to the 2 groups…

  • Christopher

    Steve was a genius and Bill Gate’s designs were crap? So a true genius is one that designs products the way you like?

  • Curtis

    To label Steve Jobs a genius, when other “acknowledged” geniuses are the likes of Da Vinci, Newton, Einstein, Jefferson, etc., stretches credibility and virtually disqualifies those who consider Jobs to be one. Was he smart? Sure, he was clearly “smart enough.” He was smart enough to find clever, inventive, creative people and to push them and to demand their best… and get it. He was smart enough to buy existing technologies and have his people improve and repackage them. He was smart enough to hire great ad agencies. He was smart enough to make people believe “his” consumer electronic goods warranted standing in long lines, sleeping in long lines, and paying a lot of money for the brand image he and the marketing agencies he had hired created. That buying an Apple product says something about you that is “special.” He was smart enough to eventually lead Apple into becoming the world’s most valuable company. He did his job exceptionally well. That is enough.

    (Submitted from my MacBook Air)

  • http://n/a vonbahr

    Some excellent comments; some incomplete; some mistaken in their attempt to get it all right. But, if bloggers here think Jobs did this and Gates did that and do not consider the enormous role of others on their “teams”, they will not get any closer to a comprehensive set of factors that make for “smarts” or any of the other attributes of types of intelligence. Instead, much of the discussion is confused because of these characters as “successful” in heading up organizations. I’d want to know just what were the patents Steve Jobs had in his name, what they were for, and who else (if anyone) worked on them, for example. Being the head of either of these (or any) multi-billion dollar corporation is not proof of genius, although it could be….

  • Jan

    I think you people are way too concerned about who is smarter than whom.

  • http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/people/e.lim/ Eugene

    Apparently according to Isaacson, being a “Genius” is insufficient to be called “Smart”.

    I hate authors sometimes.

  • Anonymous

    Isaacson writes:

    Einstein is, of course, the true exemplar of genius. He had contemporaries who could probably match him in pure intellectual firepower when it came to mathematical and analytic processing. Henri Poincaré, for example, first came up with some of the components of special relativity, and David Hilbert was able to grind out equations for general relativity around the same time Einstein did. But neither had the imaginative genius to make the full creative leap at the core of their theories…

    This is hilarious!! The dude who came up with Homology and Homotopy lacking in “imaginative genius”??

  • http://www.unusual-perspectives.net PeterKinnon

    The general consensus arising from the above posts underlines the great variability in the qualitative rather than quantitative functions of human imagination (a word I prefer to the rather vague “intelligence” or “smartness”). Extreme example of this are “autistic savants”.

    On another tack, Muffit’s post raises another very significant concept, he says:

    “I’m gonna go out on a limb and point out that timing and luck HAS got a lot to do with how ‘genius’ manifests itself, possibly more so than anything else.
    It’s like that saying “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Newton said that, I believe.Surely there are countless magnificently smart individuals enjoying a quiet life out of the public eye, just as there are relatively average people catching the luck of the draw at the right time, to become publicly revered. Or even genius people stumbling in the limelight only by being lucky that one time.Quantifying this would be rather hard, I’m just not a huge believer in unique insights (which disregard history, luck, timing, I feel). Often it could be more of a sign of the times than a sign of individual genius.”

    If we shake off our very natural anthropocentric biases it becomes clear that, except in a very trivial sense, there are no inventors, no designers.

    We do, of course have discoverers, those who happen to be the right types, in the right place at the right time, who pick the low-hanging fruit.

    But objectively, we have to interpret science and technology as evolving autonomously within the collective imagination of our species.

    Do you honestly believe that without Faraday we would have no electric motors or transformers, no mathematical understanding of the electromagnetic field without Maxwell, no steam engines without Stephenson, without Marie Curie we would know nothing of radium, we would have no radio without Marconi?
    Or that without Steve Jobs we would not have computers with GUIs and pointing devices and other gross features not too far removed fro the Apple Mac?

    This is expanded upon in my latest book “”The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?” (free download in e-book formats from the “Unusual Perspectives” website).

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  • collins

    I’ve noticed the acute concern for full-time academicians over who is “smart” or not, and the preoccupation with the pecking order of “smartness” (the real issue). I guess it comes with the territory.
    In non-academic fields that are still results-oriented science (like clinical medicine or ?perhaps engineering and computer firms) no one cares who is “smart” if they are not getting this other thing done called “solving the problem.” And not a theoretical problem, a real one.

    I would say “smart” means developing and using your natural-born abilities to the best you can, whether you’re a bricklayer or a theoretical physicist or (Jobs) a businessman.

  • floodmouse

    I would be more interested in the brainteaser about the monkey and the bananas if I got to EAT the bananas after I solved the problem ;)

  • http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/finding-the-next-einstein Jonathan Wai

    Was Steve Jobs Smart? Heck Yes!
    Steve Jobs was not “the 99 percent” intellectually or financially

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/finding-the-next-einstein/201111/was-steve-jobs-smart-heck-yes

  • B^2

    Was it this brain teaser?

    Corey Camel’s Bananas

    Consider the case of Corey Camel – an enterprising, albeit eccentric owner of a small banana plantation in a remote desert oasis.

    Corey’s harvet, worth it’s weight in gold, consists of 3000 bananas. The market place where the stash can be cashed in is 1000 miles away. However, Corey must walk to the market, and can only carry up to 1000 bananas at a time. Furthermore, being a camel, Corey eats one banana during each and every mile she walks (so Corey can never walk anywhere without bananas). How many bananas can Corey get to the market?

    Yeah he must have not been that smart because most people talk about celebrity gossip, and the occasional ad hominem arguments based on hearsay.

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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