On Facebook, a "friend" posted a question, which bothered me because of the implications put forth by the phrasing.
"So who can tell me why a reflection is reversed horizontally, but not vertically? (Without using the internet.) Try not to hurt yourself."
I'm somewhat pleased with the fact that I can dissect the implications of this, but less pleased with the fact that it makes me upset enough to find quotes by well-known thinkers, and then go on a thinking rampage. On one hand, great that I can think and research, and consider things, and that in itself is a greater form of knowledge. However, on the other hand, I feel angry that I feel like defending my intelligence because I can't answer a basic physics question.
Let us consider the world at this moment. There is a greater push towards creative, right-brain thinkers, but it is still profoundly insistent that left-brained thinkers are the greater thinkers, and that without those skills, your level of intelligence cannot be valued. Based on that, we can consider the question of reflections. The addition of 'Try not to hurt yourself' is insulting, as it assumes that it is terribly difficult and painful to recall answers presented in high school. I will admit that I do not know the answer. I do not recall simple physics problems presented in Physics 30, as that was about 3 years ago, and a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience have since entered into my life. Can I explain other things, and answer difficult questions? Yes. So could anyone else who would not have interest in holding onto that information. We live in a world full of people with varying skills, knowledges, intelligence levels, and all of these people come together to form the world we know. Suffice to say, people in fields like physics shouldn't look down their noses at other people, or be disgustingly prissy when presenting something that everyone learned in high school (especially since it is a test of memory, and asking someone to remember something with an air of ridicule and judgement is extremely impolite).
That being said, this problem raised a few curiosities and questions. I know that Albert Einstein, as well as many other thinkers, have said profound things about intelligence, and what it means to be intelligent. I read several fine quotes, such as...
"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination" -Albert Einstein
"Information is not knowledge" -Albert Einstein
"Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change" -Stephen Hawking
"Common sense is not common" -Voltaire
"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance" -Confucius
"Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think" -Ralph Waldo Emerson
After reading wonderful words and thoughts like these, I considered a few things (side note: I just had the most tremendous sense of deja vu). First, I considered Albert Einstein. Reading his quotes, I'm led to believe that he's not brilliant because he's intelligent. It seems to draw more from his honesty and the fact that he knew what it means to be intelligent, and that intelligence is nothing without other contributing factors. Obviously, the man was incredibly intelligent. Like Stephen Hawking, he is considered to be one of the world's geniuses because he figured out hugely influential physics and math problems. I won't argue that these men are not amazing, but they are amazing for reasons beyond their mathematical and logic capabilities. Both are honest and virtuous fighters, who worked hard and think about everything. In their thoughts on what it means to be intelligent, it is grounded in the idea that intelligence is meaningless unless you have ambition, can adapt, have imagination and an ability to think, and so on.
Brilliant? I think so. Personally, I would much rather be able to adapt than be able to remember small things. Regardless, though, no one should ever think that they are stupid, or worth less because they can't answer a skill testing math question. Everyone thinks differently, and everyone learns differently. This is an amazing thing. After all, if we all learned and thought the same way, so many problems would go unsolved.