Jeopardy of Knowledge

Once Einstein was on his way to deliver a speech to university students. His faithful chauffeur not only drove his car, but was always present amongst the audience during all his speeches. Einstein had delivered this particular speech so many times that his chauffeur had actually memorized it. On that day, Einstein, while on his way to the university, said aloud in his car that he felt tired. So his chauffeur suggested that they switch places, and that while he delivers the speech, Einstein could drive them back home.

Their identities wouldn’t be a problem because Einstein’s chauffeur looked somewhat like him and no one in that university would recognize him. So he agreed, but he was a little thoughtful about what his chauffeur would do if he was asked any difficult questions by the students.

However, the speech went well, but a student came up with a question. Einstein’s chauffeur said “that’s simple, even my chauffeur can answer it”, and gazed towards Einstein, who was sitting at the back of the room. Einstein stood up and answered the question, much to the amazement of the audience.

Its a funny anecdote. But it also questions the core difference between knowledge and intelligence in human psychology.

Justin Menkes wrote in his book, “Executive Intelligence”:

The distinction between knowledge and intelligence is frequently blurred. For example, most people are familiar with the popular television show Jeopardy!, on which contestants are rewarded for the amount of knowledge they possess of a wide variety of topics. Often the winners are referred to as “exceptionally smart.” But the truth is that they are exceptionally knowledgeable. Successful Jeopardy! contestants haven’t really proven anything about their intelligence. Joseph Fagan, chair of psychology at Case Western, has done research focusing on racial differences in test scores, and his experiments found that measures that required certain kinds of academic knowledge, such as vocabulary or complex math, yielded significantly different scores between racial groups. But tests focused on reasoning or processing skills, such as picture and spatial pattern recognition, showed no such differences.

Knowledge without intelligence, is as good as, intelligence without knowledge. While knowledge can stem out of books and school, real intelligence can only step out of experience, a desire to question, and an uncanny ability to take risks.

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