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Quotations about Intelligence


We should take care not to make intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. ~Albert Einstein, 1943

We function on a dozen different levels of intelligence. ~Bergen Evans, "Adam's Navel," The Natural History of Nonsense, 1946

I not only use what brains I have but all I can borrow... ~Woodrow Wilson, 1914

I am listening, I am diligently trying to collect all the brains that are borrowable in order that I may not make more blunders than it is inevitable that a man should make who has great limitations of knowledge and capacity. ~Woodrow Wilson, 1914

What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult. ~Sigmund Freud

With copious evidence ranging from Plato's haughtiness to Beethoven's tirades, we may conclude that the most brilliant people of history tend to be a prickly lot. ~Stephen Jay Gould, "Darwinian Fundamentalism," 1997  ["But Charles Darwin must have been the most genial of geniuses." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Einstein was once quoted as saying that in the society of Australian aborigines, he would rightfully be regarded as intellectually deficient for not being able to track a wallaby or throw a boomerang. If the aborigine ever did get around to drafting an IQ test, all of western civilization would presumably flunk it... Testing and teaching materials must clearly take cognizance of cultural and class differences if the true potential of the individual child is to be recognized and realized. ~Whitney M. Young, Jr., 1967

I have frequently been reproached for committing faults which my censurers had neither the power nor the intelligence to commit. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance"  [Lichtenberg's unfinished "autopsychography" (Norman Alliston, 1908). —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The great majority of the world prefers to attend the exhibition of money rather than that of brains. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882 tell you the truth... I see that what counts most in the world is brains — brains and mushrooms. But, gee whiz, I like ice cream, too. ~Percy Keese Fitzhugh, Roy Blakeley: Lost, Strayed or Stolen, 1921

To certain people a man of intelligence is a more awkward customer than the most avowed rogue. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908

The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read,
With loads of learned lumber in his head...
~Alexander Pope

MAD, adj.  Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence... ~Ambrose Bierce

Eventually you realize that if you're going to talk sense, you're going to antagonize its opponents. ~Robert Brault,

Don't play dumb with me — you're not smart enough. ~Elementary, "Through the Fog," 2018, written by Jeffrey Paul King  [S6, E14, Sherlock Holmes]

Some people take more care to hide their wisdom than their folly. ~Jonathan Swift

Science is the power of man, and love his strength; man becomes man only by the intelligence, but he is man only by the heart. Knowledge, love, power, — there is the complete life. ~Henri Frédéric Amiel, journal, 1851, translated by Mary Augusta Arnold Ward, 1885

Not All his Stock the Merchant's Window shows;
One should not make Display of All he knows.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Merchants," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

I'm not a nerd — I'm an intellectual bad-ass. ~Author unknown

Marial:  What? Are you mad?
Catherine:  I am brilliant, which has often been misconstrued as mad.
~The Great, "The Beard," 2020, written by Tony McNamara, Vanessa Alexander, and Gretel Vella, based on the 2008 play written by Tony McNamara  [S1, E2, Hulu]

Primitive does not mean stupid. ~S.A. Sachs

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer. ~Author unknown

It is hard to challenge an idiot idea, because people think you're challenging their right to idiocy. ~Robert Brault,

Character is higher than intellect. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The course of every intellectual, if he pursues his journey long and unflinchingly enough, ends in the obvious, from which the non-intellectuals have never stirred. ~Aldous Huxley

If the human brain were so simple
That we could understand it,
We would be so simple
That we couldn't.
~Emerson M. Pugh, as quoted in George Edgin Pugh, The Biological Origin of Human Values, 1977

Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun. ~George Scialabba, book review of Howard Gardner's Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, published in Harvard Magazine, 1982,

There is nobody so irritating as somebody with less intelligence and more sense than we have. ~Don Herold, So Human, 1924

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