Intelligence Redefined

The Clever Species

Dolphins and monkeys may appear “intelligent” but they are limited to a reliance on genetically passed on patterns/concept frameworks (due to their much lower astrocyte: neuron ratios) and they cannot consciously develop new concepts 'on the fly' and develop the reasoning framework 'therefore this implies'. If they could, a chimp would take the learned idea of poking a stick into a termite nest, retrieving it and sucking off the tasty creatures and ask himself; “What else could I do with this magic stick idea?” 

To understand intelligence and this new model of how the brain learns we need to be able to explain a group of people that have some very unusual sets of capabilities; a group of people known as savants. There are somewhere between 50 and 100 savants that we know of. Savants are a fascinating group of human beings who have extraordinary capabilities.


While Stephen may be able to recall the extremely complex visual sequences other savants such as Daniel Tammet can remember and sequence the mathematical notion of Pi to 25 000 decimal places and the young, blind savant, Rex Lewis-Clack can play complex pieces of music having heard the piece of music played just once and probably the most famous savant, ‘rain man’ Kim Peek' can recall the sequence of huge amounts of text with almost perfect accuracy.

The other unique aspect of savantism is that almost all savants require a full time carer to assist them with even the most basic life concepts as they all have a very limited capacity around forming conceptual frameworks of understanding. It is their inability to form concept frameworks of understanding that also enables their unique capacity to sequence so brilliantly.

But is this intelligence? How do we define intelligence?