Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Smart People Who Do No Math

Because I'm an astrophysicist I usually think of intelligence in terms of how well people do math or can develop physical intuition. That's why it's so nice to ocasionally see someone like Jon Schmidt in action. For those of you who don't know, Jon Schmidt is a pianist/composer who is smart in a totally different way than the people I usually hang out with. See (and enjoy) for yourself.

I will never understand how that happens. Those two men think in music and that takes smarts.


  1. When I first read the title of this post on my google reader I thought you meant "Smart People Who Do [Know] Math" and had intentionally misspelled it. So I was trying to figure out what in the world the post was about, until I saw the actual post.

    I really like the song, he did a very good job.

  2. That was Great! Thanks for posting this! I agree math is in no way synonymous to intelligence. Just like not all truth is scientific. Let's not ever get so caught up in our own brand of intelligence that we look down on anyone else's. Again, great post!

  3. No, the ability to do math is the only true measure of intelligence. If we even hint at extending the definition of what it means to be intelligent, it's just a complete slippery slope from there on out. Next thing you know we will saying people are intelligent for doing things like painting the Sistine Chapel marvelously or writing full orchestra combined with choral pieces couples with just the right biblical verses to capture the majesty of the Messiah as making someone intelligent.

  4. I took piano lessons for 4 years from the ages of 8 to 12 and for me playing the piano was always a mechanical act. By that I mean that I was simply trying to hit a sequence of keys in the proper order at the proper times - essentially I was emulating a player-piano. What blows me away is that Jon Schmidt and people like him don't have a sequence of keys in their heads - they are actually thinking in music. They know how they want it to sound and then they play notes that sound that way.

    Basically their brains can do something that I was unable to do after 4 years of training. That, to me, signals some heavy duty smarts.


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