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Have you ever made yourself actually smarter or known someone who has? People can learn more things, but I've never known someone who made themselves think faster and more accurate.

Do you think it's possible, and if so, how? Studying logic? Training yourself to ask different questions before acting? Gaining a better memory?

Comments (61)

  • dt18's picture

    It's called not drinking for a few weeks. Whenever I have to stop drinking/partying for sports my mind get sharper.

  • XPJ's picture

    Read more... of anything. Lay off Real Housewives & 16 and Pregnant -- shit rots your brain.

  • vadremc's picture

    I think the problem with getting older is that you have too much information being thrown at you. That is why children are able to learn at a much faster pace because they are not thinking about mortgages, grad school and the like.

    If you want to focus more, be sharper etc., manage your intake of everything. People, TV, etc., and replace those items with some form of self-education (reading, writing, etc.). Your abilities/social behavior will change considerably.

    "Cut the burger into thirds, place it on the fries, roll one up homey..." - Epic Meal Time

  • GTRnitro's picture

    think key is to read and interact more with people outside of your normal everyday interactions and read and review what you've read with other. this way you'll be able to develop an understanding of how others come to the same conclusion

  • starwin's picture

    If you want to be book smart, just seclude yourself from the world. That's what those savant kids do. You can have near perfect photographic memory if you train yourself and buy my book for $19.99.

  • eokpar02's picture

    Read books, become knowledgeable, do crossword puzzles.

    I am not cocky, I am confident, and when you tell me I am the best it is a compliment.
    -Styles P

  • Faustus's picture

    I don't know about making yourself "smarter" per se, however, a more interesting person is a worthy goal. I listen to a lot of podcasts and ItunesUs on a range of topics that I am interested in, some of my favorite are:

    This History of Rome
    Entitiled Opinions
    General Philosophy

    Others that I wish I listened to that are in my itunes account are:
    The Granta Podcast
    NY Reveiw of Books
    New Yorker Fiction

    I'm ignoring the econ and finance stuff which I am always reading and listening to (econ talk, planet money, etc.) as well as the funny stuff (Old Jews Telling Jokes)

    My blog roll is finance and econ heavy, but there is also a lot of art, literature and food stuff - some funny stuff as well.

    Not sure I answered your question, but theses are some of the things I do to balance my business education.

    fdba Emory Blaine and BBA or otherwise trying to find the perfect pseudonym.

  • OMS's picture

    Get off WSO and read a fucking book.

  • UFOinsider's picture

    * less booze
    * no drugs
    * more sleep
    * more reading
    * better food
    * less caffeine [ironic, but true]

    From personal experience: take an interest in what you're doing, and the natural 'genious' part of the brain kicks in

    Get busy living

  • macro's picture

    UFO definitely got most of the important ones. In addition, I would include surrounding yourself with people who are intelligent (you absorb a lot and it forces you to step up your game) and completely avoiding television.

  • HireUp212's picture

    I have not, to be honest, seen anybody get "smarter". I do think your "intellectual capacity" is something you are either born with or develop very early in your life.

    I have seen people change their work ethic - reading/studying more so you learn more information.
    I have seen people work on their communication and logic skills - being able to more effectively and articulately communicate your point is certainly half the battle of appearing "smart"

    But getting smarter in the sense of synthesizing information quicker - or however you define it - I don't think it's likely. But of course intelligence by itself won't get you far if you don't couple it with the two things I mentioned above - so there is always a ton of progress that most people can make it even if they can't change their core IQ.

  • In reply to HireUp212
    UFOinsider's picture

    HireUp212:
    I have not, to be honest, seen anybody get "smarter". I do think your "intellectual capacity" is something you are either born with or develop very early in your life.

    I have seen people change their work ethic - reading/studying more so you learn more information.
    I have seen people work on their communication and logic skills - being able to more effectively and articulately communicate your point is certainly half the battle of appearing "smart"

    But getting smarter in the sense of synthesizing information quicker - or however you define it - I don't think it's likely. But of course intelligence by itself won't get you far if you don't couple it with the two things I mentioned above - so there is always a ton of progress that most people can make it even if they can't change their core IQ.


    Changes your brains horsepower is probably not possible given current technology, but I'm thinking it's definitely possible to squeeze more out of it with good habits. I hope.....

    Get busy living

  • WUnderful's picture

    Theoretically, you can do it. I was thinking about doing it consistently, kind of like mentally working out, but then decided I might as well just spend that time doing the things I want to get smarter to do better.

  • heister's picture

    While you all have good posts, the OP was asking if it is possible to increase your raw intelect. Short of cheating by contionusly taking the same IQ test over and over while you learn why you missed the questions you missed I am not sure its possible. Generally what people think of as getting smarter is actually not having an increase in raw brain power but an increase in efficiency.

    Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

    Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

  • manbearpig's picture

    I think studying pure math makes you smarter. The more interesting topics bend your mind like crazy.

    -MBP

  • macro's picture

    I think the OP was asking whether it is possible to become smarter in a practical sense. I believe it is, as everyone has some degree of unused potential that can be unlocked. Of course no one can enhance the inherent capacity of their brains at this point in time, the technology to do so has yet to be developed (you can read Ray Kurzweil if you are interested in these things).

  • In reply to manbearpig
    swagon's picture

    manbearpig:
    I think studying pure math makes you smarter. The more interesting topics bend your mind like crazy.

    I'll bow to your expertise, but I always seem to "get smarter" when the math is applied to something (i.e. not necessarily "pure" math). Analyzing Econ graphs, for example, allows my mind to reach a "deeper", more incisive level than I get from analyzing plain-old-graphs and variables that have no "real" meaning. For me, such "abstract" math, if you will (I'm no math expert in case you couldn't tell, ha) has no purpose or meaning unless it can be used to solve "real" problems.

    Making up math problems that apply to what you're doing (traveling, whatever) helps. Also, making an effort to think and communicate as perfectly as possible - at the cost of sounding like a robot...doesn't work with chicks - helps sharpen your mind, IMO.

  • Mr. Cheese's picture

    - eat healthy unprocessed foods
    -run/workout. See where your limits are physically and overcome them mentally
    -read nytimes,wsj, an the economist
    - study for the GMAT(huge impact on analytical ability)
    -stop watching television. No sports or cnbc(ive never understood everyone watching the same business/markets show in order to learn/get information about the markets when EVERYONE is getting the same biased information)
    - develop hobbies. Golf, reading, extreme activities, outdoors...something!
    -develop a passion for films. Not these mainstream blockbuster nonsense, but true films ala IMBD top 250. You can't go wrong. Learn to seek the message from the director and not the same message the average person would notice
    - train yourself to not sleep. There are so many more interesting things to do than sleep
    - word of the day, everyday. www.wordthink.com. Use each word at least one in everyday vernacular
    Some of these may sound odd or atypical, but will make you a much more interesting and intellectual person
    - read one book a month totally unrelated to your interest. You never know what your true passion is in life if your looking in the wrong spots

  • fonz's picture

    Anyone who says you can't get more intelligent is plain wrong. When I look back at stuff that I wrote during my freshman year of college, I feel embarrassed. I couldn't speak well either, and I would surely lose any intellectual debate with a reasonably intelligent person. Even though I majored in engineering, which involved no writing, speaking, or presenting, I became better at all three just by associating with smart people. All of my friends are fucking smart. All of my coworkers are fucking smart. Being around them and continually engaging in intelligent conversation has enabled me to hold my own in both written and oral discussions and debates with my peers. Suggestions that involve less booze, drugs, etc will make you slightly sharper, but not more intelligent. Reading might make you marginally smarter, but only if you are reading something that is well-written and logical (ie Ayn Rand, not the latest Harry Potter novel).

    We all learn best by doing and repeating. If you want to get better at math, work math problems. If you want to be able to speak intelligently, hold intelligent conversations. If you want to write intelligently, then do it as much as possible. In all cases though, you need peers, mentors, etc to surround you that will provide you with the feedback necessary to make substantial improvement.

  • In reply to UFOinsider
    Stan the Monkey's picture

    UFOinsider:
    HireUp212:
    I have not, to be honest, seen anybody get "smarter". I do think your "intellectual capacity" is something you are either born with or develop very early in your life.

    I have seen people change their work ethic - reading/studying more so you learn more information.
    I have seen people work on their communication and logic skills - being able to more effectively and articulately communicate your point is certainly half the battle of appearing "smart"

    But getting smarter in the sense of synthesizing information quicker - or however you define it - I don't think it's likely. But of course intelligence by itself won't get you far if you don't couple it with the two things I mentioned above - so there is always a ton of progress that most people can make it even if they can't change their core IQ.


    Changes your brains horsepower is probably not possible given current technology, but I'm thinking it's definitely possible to squeeze more out of it with good habits. I hope.....

    I agree. we should accept the fact that none of us will be like malcolm x. my observation tells me that the IQ capacity is pretty much born with you, the question is whether you recognize your capacity and make use of them. i think it's important to make use of the full-room instead of building an extra garage~ make sense?

  • knaegeli's picture
  • she_monkey's picture

    when you get a bill, always calculate the tip mentally
    and do simple mental math whenever you can

    eventually it'll get you to memorize a few basic calculations and remember numbers / patterns easier.
    this surprisingly can go a long way

  • In reply to swagon
    manbearpig's picture

    swagon:
    manbearpig:
    I think studying pure math makes you smarter. The more interesting topics bend your mind like crazy.

    I'll bow to your expertise, but I always seem to "get smarter" when the math is applied to something (i.e. not necessarily "pure" math). Analyzing Econ graphs, for example, allows my mind to reach a "deeper", more incisive level than I get from analyzing plain-old-graphs and variables that have no "real" meaning. For me, such "abstract" math, if you will (I'm no math expert in case you couldn't tell, ha) has no purpose or meaning unless it can be used to solve "real" problems.

    Making up math problems that apply to what you're doing (traveling, whatever) helps. Also, making an effort to think and communicate as perfectly as possible - at the cost of sounding like a robot...doesn't work with chicks - helps sharpen your mind, IMO.

    Look up the banach-tarski paradox. It's an interesting result in measure theory, which says that you can take a ball, break it up into a finite number of pieces, and reassemble those pieces in a way to make two identical versions of the original ball.

    -MBP

  • In reply to she_monkey
    bfin's picture

    she_monkey:
    when you get a bill, always calculate the tip mentally
    and do simple mental math whenever you can

    eventually it'll get you to memorize a few basic calculations and remember numbers / patterns easier.
    this surprisingly can go a long way

    this

    The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

    WSO is not your personal search function.

  • Man at Work's picture

    "Regardless of your natural endowment, the important thing to remember is you can still get smart by being proactive in a number of different ways. Here are some options:

    Join as many non-work organizations as you can- Learn what's expected of you to be respected and to advance in the organization- whether it's your church group, book club, or even a sports league. For some people this comes naturally, but you can still become a leader in all of these groups to by being aware and perceptive.

    Pursue hobbies- It can be something academic like computer programming or learning a second language, or something more fun like gambling or playing a musical instrument. The main point of all these activities is to learn and master the different interconnected networks of resources and ideas.

    Read (a lot)- I'm not talking about War and Peace here, I mean reading anything at all- any information is good information. One way to learn about these different specialized networks is to participate in them, seeing and imitating what it takes to succeed. Reading about the networks is another method of understanding them.

    Talking to successful people- This is definitely going to be easier for some people than others. You might be one of the lucky few blessed to have friends, family, or business contacts with deep pockets and an eye for opportunity, or an in with the movers and shakers in a particular field. For the rest of us, there are always ways around the problem."
    http://manatworkblog.com/are-you-an-intelligent-pe...

  • LeveragedTiger's picture

    Read from a broad source of subjects, use less (or no) mind-altering substances (the hippy telling you that smoking weed and psychedelics make you smarter is lying) and play chess or bridge.

    Continually learning is a given for getting smarter as well.

    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

  • econ's picture

    Ludwig Von:
    Have you ever made yourself actually smarter or known someone who has? People can learn more things, but I've never known someone who made themselves think faster and more accurate.

    Do you think it's possible, and if so, how? Studying logic? Training yourself to ask different questions before acting? Gaining a better memory?

    Ludwig Von... Mises?

    I feel I've made myself smarter by studying econ, math, and reading various stuff in my free time (but maybe I'm just blowing smoke up my own ass haha).

  • dwight schrute's picture

    Interesting question.
    I don't think it is possible to increase raw brain power after a certain age but maybe using a higher percentage of it is.

    Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art - Andy Warhol

  • workerbee's picture

    NZT, a revolutionary new pharmaceutical drug that allows you to tap your full potential.

  • In reply to workerbee
    CapToed's picture

    workerbee:
    NZT, a revolutionary new pharmaceutical drug that allows you to tap your full potential.

    Knew this was coming.

    Increase your reading speed and vocabulary (can be done with the proper practice and drilling).

  • In reply to Mr. Cheese
    The Phantom's picture

    Mr. Cheese:
    - train yourself to not sleep. There are so many more interesting things to do than sleep

    You cannot train yourself to be a short-sleeper if you don't have needed genetics and cannot commit to a strict sleeping schedule. People get too overworked about this. Just learn how to be productive and enjoy your 7 hours of sleep. Only 1-2% of people are natural short-sleepers

    edit: great word of the day website!

  • Status_Quo's picture

    Subd

    http://ayainsight.co/ Curating the best advice and making it actionable.

  • wannabeaballer's picture

    I think we underestimate our intelligence because we rely so heavily on recall. With so much information out there that we can derive from indexed sources, we will return to those indices vice memorizing the overwhelming amounts of information.

    When William Shakespeare wrote plays, he did not write out a master script like the ones we can check out at our public libraries that start at Act 1 Scene 1 and run till end. Shakespeare gave each cast member only his lines on a small piece of paper - there was no master script - which begs the question - how did we assemble the modern day play texts? The audience had such a low level of indexed information in their brain because there was no mass media in the 1500s that many in the audience had the ability to see and memorize the play from start to finish - verbatim - and then go home and transcribe it. And these people were intellectually stupid in today's terms.

    Don't beat yourselves up trying to get smarter. It has already been covered in this thread that you can improve yourself thru better communication and realizing your potential by discovering new and revisiting old avenues of mental stimulation.

  • In reply to wannabeaballer
    UFOinsider's picture

    wannabeaballer:
    I think we underestimate our intelligence because we rely so heavily on recall.

    THIS

    Einstein refused to clog up his brain with data banks, and thus was perceived as absent minded. Instead of wasting brain resources on memorizing things past a basic level of understanding, he was focused more on larger concepts and wrote down raw information. This alone will make even a less intelligent person highly effective.

    Get busy living

  • In reply to UFOinsider
    bonks's picture

    UFOinsider:

    Einstein refused to clog up his brain with data banks, and thus was perceived as absent minded. Instead of wasting brain resources on memorizing things past a basic level of understanding, he was focused more on larger concepts and wrote down raw information. This alone will make even a less intelligent person highly effective.

    My first ever post, I will never forget this day.

    Are you saying that we are "filling up" our brains with the useless shit from school/work/TV? Or are you saying that we should take a moment to look at the forest and not just the trees? (Sorry to use that awful metaphor) Being able to see things more broadly is essential, but a field of expertise is also required.

    In reply to the OP, reading anything will help one appear to be more "intelligent" in the sense that you will have access to a broader range of perspectives, an expanded vocabulary, increased reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. Now that you know what to do, the more difficult task, and in my opinion a true measure of intelligence, is to act on that knowledge and actually do what needs to be done. I'm sure we all have a friend that "is really smart, but just doesn't try," and never misses the opportunity to express that. Fuck those people. While they may get their jimmies imagining what they could do, you need to be out there doing it. That's what makes you smart. You know that there are better uses of your time than watching Teen Mom and Jersey Shore re-runs.

    That's all I have for my first post! Feels god man.

    Nothing short of everything will really do.

  • In reply to bonks
    UFOinsider's picture

    bonks:
    UFOinsider:

    Einstein refused to clog up his brain with data banks, and thus was perceived as absent minded. Instead of wasting brain resources on memorizing things past a basic level of understanding, he was focused more on larger concepts and wrote down raw information. This alone will make even a less intelligent person highly effective.

    My first ever post, I will never forget this day.

    Are you saying that we are "filling up" our brains with the useless shit from school/work/TV? Or are you saying that we should take a moment to look at the forest and not just the trees? (Sorry to use that awful metaphor) Being able to see things more broadly is essential, but a field of expertise is also required.

    In reply to the OP, reading anything will help one appear to be more "intelligent" in the sense that you will have access to a broader range of perspectives, an expanded vocabulary, increased reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. Now that you know what to do, the more difficult task, and in my opinion a true measure of intelligence, is to act on that knowledge and actually do what needs to be done. I'm sure we all have a friend that "is really smart, but just doesn't try," and never misses the opportunity to express that. Fuck those people. While they may get their jimmies imagining what they could do, you need to be out there doing it. That's what makes you smart. You know that there are better uses of your time than watching Teen Mom and Jersey Shore re-runs.

    That's all I have for my first post! Feels god man.


    Welcome....

    Yes, the trees vs the forest.

    And you're right: effort trumps natural talent, unless of course natural talent applies itself

    Get busy living

  • In reply to Faustus
    Faustus's picture

    Faustus:
    I don't know about making yourself "smarter" per se, however, a more interesting person is a worthy goal. I listen to a lot of podcasts and ItunesUs on a range of topics that I am interested in, some of my favorite are:

    This History of Rome
    Entitiled Opinions
    General Philosophy

    Others that I wish I listened to that are in my itunes account are:
    The Granta Podcast
    NY Reveiw of Books
    New Yorker Fiction

    I'm ignoring the econ and finance stuff which I am always reading and listening to (econ talk, planet money, etc.) as well as the funny stuff (Old Jews Telling Jokes)

    My blog roll is finance and econ heavy, but there is also a lot of art, literature and food stuff - some funny stuff as well.

    Not sure I answered your question, but theses are some of the things I do to balance my business education.

    WFT, I got shat on for this, lol, damn.

    fdba Emory Blaine and BBA or otherwise trying to find the perfect pseudonym.

  • In reply to manbearpig
    eokpar02's picture

    manbearpig:
    I think studying pure math makes you smarter. The more interesting topics bend your mind like crazy.

    Yea man, math definitiely helps the brain.

    I am not cocky, I am confident, and when you tell me I am the best it is a compliment.
    -Styles P

  • HFFBALLfan123's picture

    Obviously you haven't seen the movie Limitless... all you need is some blue dolphins and you're good to go

  • Slimn's picture

    Logic puzzles, Sudoku, Chess, Checkers, Poker, Crosswords, reading bloomberg, zerohedge, economist and what not and actually understanding everything and having your own opinion helps :)

  • TropicalFruit's picture

    Yes it is possible. You just have to make a conscious effort to improve your abilities.

  • In reply to Mr. Cheese
    contrarian_in_thought's picture

    Mr. Cheese:
    - eat healthy unprocessed foods
    -run/workout. See where your limits are physically and overcome them mentally
    -read nytimes,wsj, an the economist
    - study for the GMAT(huge impact on analytical ability)
    -stop watching television. No sports or cnbc(ive never understood everyone watching the same business/markets show in order to learn/get information about the markets when EVERYONE is getting the same biased information)
    - develop hobbies. Golf, reading, extreme activities, outdoors...something!
    -develop a passion for films. Not these mainstream blockbuster nonsense, but true films ala IMBD top 250. You can't go wrong. Learn to seek the message from the director and not the same message the average person would notice
    - train yourself to not sleep. There are so many more interesting things to do than sleep
    - word of the day, everyday. www.wordthink.com. Use each word at least one in everyday vernacular
    Some of these may sound odd or atypical, but will make you a much more interesting and intellectual person
    - read one book a month totally unrelated to your interest. You never know what your true passion is in life if your looking in the wrong spots

    I agree with everything Mr. Cheese said. Especially the watching tv part. I've experienced both sides of that one, (not watching tv and watching tv). There are considerable intellectual differences when you don't have crap being thrown at you on a constant basis. Definitely working out makes you more aware, because your body is more aware, and you just feel better as well. That makes you clearer mentally. You can imagine the results that a clear mind can yield. Educate yourself and step away from your everyday routines. You will be surprised.

    If you ain't buy side what are you doing on Wall St.? Gimme something good sport...

  • In reply to contrarian_in_thought
    econ's picture

    contrarian_in_thought:
    I agree with everything Mr. Cheese said. Especially the watching tv part. I've experienced both sides of that one, (not watching tv and watching tv). There are considerable intellectual differences when you don't have crap being thrown at you on a constant basis.

    Maybe even more importantly, when you stop watching as much TV it gives you a lot more free time and you'll spend some of it on the internet reading, listening to podcasts, watching intellectual youtube videos, reading paperbacks, having debates, etc. At least that's how it's worked for me. I haven't owned a TV in almost 2 years (and the 3 years prior to that, I barely watched the TV I did own).

    Have any of you guys ever read the book "Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi? If not, I highly recommend it. There was some little tangent he went on in that book that completely changed my life. He talked about how people need hobbies to keep themselves busy. Then he talked about some woman he met whose hobby was collecting random, novel trinkets. She had been doing it for 30 - 40 years and she had collected so much stuff. In the book, he asked a simple question: "What would her life be like if she had chosen a different hobby?" That simple question sent my mind racing with the endless possibilities. Just think how much more her life would be enriched if she had chosen to exercise as a hobby, start a business as a hobby, read classic literature, write a book, trade stocks, travel, etc. In other words, pick your hobbies carefully. What we do in our free time is always a huge time sink, so make sure you get some solid ROI on that time sink. If you've spent 3 hours a day watching TV for the past 10 years, then that's over 10,000 hours. Just think what you could have accomplished if you spent a fraction of that time on something much more productive!

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