Originally Posted by Canada's #1 Pats Fan
To be smart, does one have to be open minded? Are we talking academic smarts or 'life' smarts? Can you be smart and closed minded?
Wow. I mean, seriously, that's a profound question.
Now it's going to get very deep in here, and we may need the hip waders soon
I think it's possible to have really good processing skills in one or another discipline if one is closed-minded. Let's say your job is writing. You may actually be very good at it, and regarded as very smart, simply by internalizing a lot of rules, and having a natural affinity for language.
Or let's say your job is astrophysics. You have learned all the right rules and can apply them all flawlessly, and have the natural affinities necessary to excel at that job.
So you go and do those jobs... somebody feeds the data to you, and you perform a function well. But you're completely closed-minded. You add no value beyond perhaps holding many variables in mind at once, or processing the data particularly quickly.
I think people would, in fact, call those people smart.
It's hard to demand the inquisitive questioning of the established order that produced an Einstein or a Hawking, or the quest for the new that produced many great literary works, from everybody we call "smart."
So I guess the question is how we define intelligence. We could "teach to the test," or an autodidact can train himself for a test, and get a standardized "smart" measure for that person, and it could be very high. Let's also stipulate that the person just has a good solid brain to start with.... but has no inquisitiveness or skepticism.
That "smart person" might bound his inquiry at exactly the point where his field of expertise stops. For example, he may say "Although every instrument tells me that the world is about 4 billion years old, it still makes sense to believe that the bible is literally true in every way except the generational dating of the earth engaged in by Bishop Berekeley and his successors. The actual age of creation and the timing of it must be allegorical in some way."
Whereas an inquisitive man with the same skill set might say, "Okay. This turns out to be BS, if taken literally. Since it must be understood allegorically, or in the context of other creation stories, or in some other non-literal way, perhaps other aspects of the bible also are best understood as capturing a religious spirit, but in a very time-bounded way." That individual may find himself called to interpret the "inviolable literal truths of the bible" the same way that he found himself forced to interpret the first "inviolable literal truth" mentioned above.
So both would be forced to apply the narrow confines of what they know through their area of expertise, or engage in a sort of double-think about the origins of the planet.
But the inquisitive man, the one who asks questions, would ask whether there are other implications. What if a smart man in another field, for example, tells me a certain book has three different writing styles in it? What if that man is an expert in ancient languages, and has actually fought this conclusion for years, but comes to it anyway? And what if most of his peers agree?
Well, the questioning man would ask questions. He'd try to establish as best he could the pros and cons of the argument. The closed minded man would say, "nope, I know two things: The bible is absolutely literally true, except for one case which brushes against my knowledge; and of course, my own knowledge which I can not get around."
So, I dunno. I think I have to say for me, a closed minded man is, at least, not as smart as he could be.