Intelligence = memory?

All the truly intelligent people I’ve known have had very good memories. All of them. Some have selective memory, but I don’t know any smart people who can’t remember stuff that’s important to what they’re interested in.
There is that stereotype of the absent-minded professor (Einstein, et al), but if these folks truly had lousy memories they wouldn’t be able to recall formulas or other resources they need to do whatever it is they do.
So, is it that simple? A good memory enables intelligence?

Not exactly. People have excellent memories for what their good at. Sports fans, even those considered by all reasonable definitions to be stupid, can usually rattle off tons of information about sports rules and stats. Chess masters have an excellent memory for legal set ups of a chess board. History buffs can remember all those damned names and dates.

Intelligent people (by most reasonable definitions of intelligence) are going to be able to get pretty good at what ever they’re interested in. Thus if they have a very broad range of interests they’ll have lots of areas in which their memories are very good.

So intelligence enables a good memory in some respects.

Isn’t part of it linking what you know?
I know that being stabbed can lead to death
I know that all death comes from lack of oxygen to the brain

So why can being stabbed kill you?

The knife punctures your body, resulting in blood loss, resulting in not enough oxygen going round the body and therefore to the brain

One of the dumbest guys I know[sup]*[/sup] can remember any phone number that someone mumbled to him while he was drunk and not paying attention 10 years ago. So while intelligence may equal memory, memory definately doesn’t indicate intelligence.

[sup]* I’m not saying this to be mean, the guy is a really good friend of mine, he’s just really not that smart at all. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade and he can barely read or write. Definately a mind-blowing memory though.

The absent-minded professor stereotype has to do with someone with an IQ of 200 not being able to remember where their socks are. The point is that they don’t focus on everyday trival, uninteresting things, but on what interests them e.g. mathematics, history, etc. and are able to retain that knowledge, and recall it at will. For most of us, its shuttled off to our subconscious in a short time, where it becomes harder to access. The most intelligent people I know are not only able to remember lots of facts (mostly because they are interested in lots of subjects), but are able to somehow connect these facts in a new way that the rest of us wouldn’t think of. I don’t think that intelligence however endows one with great spiritual knowledge necessarily. It seems to be largely a left-brain function.

Sure, I know plenty of people with good memories who wouldn’t be considered to be very intelligent. What I’m asking is, can one be highly intelligent without having a good memory?
I’m pretty good at problem solving, but I need to consult materials (manuals, etc.) to do what I do. I grasp concepts pretty easily, but need to prod my memory for the details. So I don’t consider myself to be highly intelligent. Some of the people I work with can do the same level of problem solving as I do, but without the need to look anything up. They remember. They do tend to be less inventive, but I still think of them as being more intelligent.
Anyway, I’m talking mostly about exceptional intelligence, not smartness, or common sense.

Memory and intelligence are seperate functions, by good definitions of intelligence. You can have damaged memory capacities and still measure up intellectually.

Integrating information and having that information stored are two different things. In general integrating the information leads to it being vailable later. If you are highly intelligent you’ll probably proccess things to a degree that they’ll be well remembered later. There is no assurance that this will happen though.

I can see why the two are equated. It is advantageous in general to not have to look up what’s needed for solving problems. Thus a good enough memory can start making up for differences in intelligence.

Not that intelligence should be defined as “what intelligence tests measure,” but I though you might be interested to know that most tests of general intelligence include sections that are heavily dependent on memory (like vocab words and facts) but also include sections in which the person has to figure something out that he or she is unlikely to have seen before, therefore minimizing the effect of memory. For example, the most widely used intelligence test has pictures that one must put in order to make a story. Others have tests of reasoning ability.

That case would be me.

I have a diagnosed learning disability that effects short-term memory. Most people can hold about seven data in their short-term memory. The digits in a phone number or a short grocery list are both good examples. For me the limit is three.

This really caused problems for me in public school as a child. The entire curriculum is based on memorization and regurgitation. I was limped along and was passed through the grades mostly because they were really reluctant to fail anybody. In high school I was put into “special” classes where they decided to do the usual battery of tests. They were a bit surprised when the IQ score came back at 149.

Anyway I am the example of a terrible memory, not just lazy but actually impaired, coexisting with a higher than average level of intelligence.

I found it interesting that several of the earlier posts referred to “linking what you know” as being a more accurate measure of intelligence than simply a good memory. That is in fact the compensation I have developed for my poor memory. When I get a new piece of information I "tie” it to as many other things in my mind as I can. The result is a complex mental web with everything “linked” to everything else.

This has proven to not only an effective way to deal with a deficit in memory but also an astounding way to relate information. I have come up with associations between things because of this way of processing information that have truly startled people.

But tell me to get milk, diapers, aspirin and toilet paper from the store and I’ll only bring back three of the four.

(Actually I would make a list, but you get the idea.)

I know exactly what you are saying, Degrance. I too came in the 140’s in an IQ test. I also can use the linking method you speak of, but it is a lot of extra trouble, isn’t it. In most things I’m simply too lazy.
If I have to remember an item, I put my car keys on top of it so I can’t leave without it. Even then I often forget my keys, but at least I can come back in and get them. I also have a magnetic clip on my front door to which I clip papers and such. No way could I go shopping for specific items without my lists, which go on the above mentioned clip. Oh yeah, autodial on my phone is a great help, at least when I’m at home.
On the plus side, I have a ready excuse for not doing some things I don’t really want to do. My family and friends are used to hearing me say “I forgot”. :wink: