1) Dr. Keogh, first of all, do you think it appropriate to try to measure one’s cognitive ability, our intellectual ability or our information processing ability? (We certainly try to measure our reading rate, reading comprehension, fluency, as well as math skills?)
Cognitive ability, intellectual ability and information processing cannot be measured. It is not possible to assess a person’s inner thoughts, desires, dreams and fantasies. We cannot see how a person processes and categorizes information and acquired knowledge in sleep. Neither can a person’s ability to create, compose and plan be measured to any degree of accuracy. We can measure a person’s reading rate, fluency and comprehension with considerable accuracy. It is possible to measure mathematical skills too. Reading, writing and mathematics can be taught and learned. A human being’s thinking ability is beyond our reach. It is unique and private to each individual.
2) Now, I have often criticized intelligence tests because they do not seem to be able to measure “ motivation “- Yet, teachers world- wide recognize when some students work harder, and longer than others
It is possible to recognize something without being able to measure it. We can certainly see when a student is motivated and we can see and judge the consequences of his/her motivation. A student may work hard in order to please a teacher or parents. If motivation is superficial the results may be short-lived.
3) Some children in various parts of the world have a bit of an advantage- they are born into rich families or families with resources- But is part of “intelligence“ socio-economic status or just the luck of the draw?
I don’t believe that intelligence has anything to do with socio-economic status. A child born into a rich family will have better opportunities in life. They may get opportunities to attend good schools. They may be afforded the chance to avail of private tuition. They may travel more which will broaden their horizons but all that will not make them more intelligent. The intelligent child born into an economically deprived family has merely been given the short straw. That child will have very little opportunities to create, compose or produce works of art or produce an architectural masterpiece. Most of their creativity may revolve around survival
4) Some children simply either HAVE a better developed memory, or they have a better than average memory span. Is memory part of intelligence, or do you see it as a skill?
Memory is a skill. It can be trained, developed and improved. Sleep, exercise, fresh air and good quality nutritional food help the memory. Interest plays a major role in memory retention and recall.
5) Being able to write a song, play the accordion, piano, violin, perform music—is this a talent or an intellectual ability or a by-product of intelligence?
Composing is an intellectual ability. Playing a musical instrument, whether it is a piano, an accordion or a violin is a skill. However, a person can also be creative in playing a musical instrument or in a musical performance. That would be a manifestation of intelligence. But, the mechanics of playing an instrument, no matter how good the performance is, is a talent.
6) What other factors need to be considered in terms of assessing an individual, say for admission to Trinity College?
A person’s interest in a subject as displayed in projects, assignments or other form of examination is an acceptable of choosing candidates for particular faculties. However, I think an aptitude test with a view to establishing an insight into the candidate’s ability to think laterally and creatively would be advantageous.
7) In your new book, Defining Intelligence, you address the importance that needs to be placed on creativity to define intellect. Why do you seem to agree with E. Paul Torrance, the deceased “father of creativity” in this regard?
All the wonderful human achievements and developments; inventions, artistic and architectural masterpieces, literary and musical compositions, communication technology, air, space and submarine travel have resulted from creativity.
8) I agree with you that “Behaviour is not a reflection or manifestation of intellectual processing” But if I were to travel to Dublin for a year- to study Irish history, I would be confronted with a massive amount of information that I would have to process to call myself even a mediocre student of Irish history- your thoughts?
Processing information is an intellectual ability. Processing volumes of information will increase a person’s store knowledge about a subject, Irish history, American history or European history. That will make a person wiser but not any more intelligent.
9) Why are “contemplation and intellectualizing outside the realm of empirical testing methods”? Could we not infer from the number of books written, or the number of articles published that a person has been engaging in intellectualization?
The product of thinking is categorically different to the process of thinking. Books, buildings, musical compositions, artistic works etc are the product of thinking or intellectualizing. Thinking is potency. Thoughts that are the result of thinking are concrete manifestations of thinking.
10) I have actually written an article on Creativity in the Kindergarten Classroom ( which I would be happy to share) but why do you stress the importance that needs to be placed on creativity in early childhood education?
A child’s imagination is highly fertile. Kindergarten children are free from the burden of useless information. Conditioning, linear thinking, customs, habits and culture may inhibit creativity. Too much information may diminish the freedom of the imagination to see another world. Children should be given lots of time to think, dream, create, plan, draw, paint, construct, to learn through play and free expression (I would love to read your article on Creativity in the Kindergarten Classroom)
11) I would agree that “Intelligence involves abstract, purposeful, logical thinking and the ability to create and execute ideas” However, why would you include “unconscious thinking” and how can you prove it exists?
We can prove that thinking exists from the results of thinking. The vast majority of our thinking is unconscious thinking. We think in our sleep. We know this as we often wake up with solutions to problems that we took to bed with us. We are constantly day-dreaming. While we are engaged in conscious thinking we are simultaneously engaged in unconscious thinking. I may be engrossed in trying to solve a problem when suddenly a separate thought crosses my mind. Perhaps it is another problem that required an answer.
12) For many individuals, “The mind is never at rest”. They are always thinking, reflecting, planning their next hobby, or endeavour. Is this a reflection of a healthy mind, or a mind that is continually challenged by others?
That is a very good question. The agitated, over-active conscious mind may not allow the brain to rest. That is torment. Mental restlessness can cause anxiety and leave a person unable to sleep. The person who is too engrossed in daily living and burdens him/herself with financial, social or family problems does not allow the unconscious mind time to resolve difficulties. The mind that dreams never rests either. But, it allows the brain time to relax and the body to sleep.
13) “Day dreaming is often seen as idling and time wasting, but this is not the case.” Is this part of the creative process?
Yes! Day dreaming affords time for the mind to create. The over-active mind is unable to create. It is too busy solving problems. In order to create, the mind needs to be freed from earthly entanglements. It needs to be able to think the unthinkable.
14) Defining Intelligences relays the message that observing or analysing behaviour, appearance, character traits, beliefs and acquired knowledge should not be used to produce a quantifiable measure of a person’s intelligence.
It is not possible to measure and quantify intelligence. Intelligence is outside the scope of scientific investigation. We can measure and analyse behaviour beliefs, appearance, character traits, and acquired knowledge. But, they do not constitute intelligence. Intelligence has a spiritual dimension that cannot be measured or analyzed.
15) What have I neglected to ask about you, or your book?
You might wonder what the cover picture, a picture of New grange megalithic tomb has to do with intelligence.
The people who constructed that tomb left a lasting mark of their intelligence for us to witness. The detail in planning and precision in the execution of their plans are awesome. When you visit this tomb and reflect on the ingenuity of our ancestors you get a sense of the meaning of intelligence. You can be mystified here experiencing a presence that is absent and an absence that is present. You can enjoy an existential awakening and a celestial calmness, live for a brief moment in a distant past while pondering on the meaning of eternity.