Ilya Shambat

Ilya Shambat
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
November 21
Adda Enterprises
Born in Russia, family moved to America when I was 12. Got a degree from University of Virginia at 18. Worked for Oracle, translated four books of classical Russian poety, was part of San Francisco and Washington, DC poetry and music scene. Good friends with San Francisco's own Persephone's Bees and acquainted with Patch Adams. Currently married with children, residing in Australia and working on a clean energy technology implementation.


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MAY 5, 2012 6:12AM

Intelligence and Success: False Causes, True Causes

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Many ideas about the causes of intelligence and success are wrong. This is as much the case for those who have negative outlook as it is for those who believe that they are positive.

There have been times and places in which having a brain was equated with cynicism and skepticism; or in which intelligence was equated with being morose. In both cases brains did not develop through an embrace of that attitude. One can be cynical, skeptical or morose and still be a complete idiot. Whereas there have been many brilliant people in history who did not have such worldviews.

Then there are those who believe that they know what creates success, and that it is self-esteem and a positive attitude. There's a problem with that explanation as well. Many of the most successful people in history and humanity's greatest contributors did not come from a place of high self-esteem or a positive attitude; and instead of creating successful people, this mentality creates a bunch of neon balloons and Amway salesmen who may or may not be successful but are universally annoying and typically in denial of many important things.

Having known many intelligent and successful people, I have found that the most intelligent ones are ones who consistently work on their intelligence and add to their knowledge as well as to understanding and applying its implications. This is the case regardless of whether they are cynical or idealistic, positive or negative, or do not believe in being either. With successful people, what I've found the most present is drive, ingenuity, perseverance and courage. This is as much the case for Vladimir Vysotsky who had a dark view of things as it is the case for Steven Jobs who had a much more sunny worldview.

With the greatest powers of the 20th century having been the United States, with a mostly positive outlook, and Russia, with a mostly negative outlook, it is obvious that success and intelligence are not the matter of either being positive or being negative. There are real causes for both success and intelligence that cuts across outlooks, as well as real causes for lack of either that cuts across outlooks as well. It's not the matter of self-esteem or lack of it any more than it is a matter of being cynical or idealistic. We'll see success and lack thereof, and intelligence and lack thereof, among possessors of either of these attitudes.

Instead of ascribing false causes to things, it is of much greater merit to look for true causes. This is the case with intelligence, and it is also the case with success.

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Very interesting. I just wrote about something fairly similar.
Saw it, Beth. Excellent work.
I appreciate your clear thinking and straight forward presentation. Had never considered this topic before, but having read your post, what you write makes perfect sense to me. There's no getting around having to sow the seeds to yield its harvest. Regardless of how one is feeling or what one's fundamental views of life are.