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This chapter presents an augmented theory of successful intelligence. Successful intelligence is (1) the ability to formulate, strive for, and, to the extent possible, achieve one’s goals in life, given one’s sociocultural context, (2) by capitalizing on strengths and correcting or compensating for weaknesses (3) in order to adapt to, shape, and select environments (4) through a combination of analytical, creative, and practical abilities. People who are successfully intelligent figure out what life opportunities are available or they can create, and then proceed to optimize on those opportunities. Successfully intelligent people figure out their strengths and weaknesses and then capitalize on the strengths and correct or compensate for their weaknesses.
In this chapter, I review the history of psychological accounts of intelligence in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I open with an account of the thinking of Galton and Binet. Although Binet is often viewed as atheoretical, I show this not to be the case at all. I then discuss some of their successors, including Spearman, Thomson, Holzinger, Thurstone, Guilford, Guttman, Burt, Vernon, Cattell, Carroll, and Johnson and Bouchard.
Contemporary politics provides numerous examples in which people fail to use critical thinking skills. There are many obstacles to critical thinking including, overconfidence, obsession with fantasies, and disregard for the truth, among others. To help students develop their critical thinking skills, universities need to be sure that critical thinking is being taught and that it is valued. Instructors need to use real-life examples that are relevant to their students’ lives, and teach students to recognize and overcome the many obstacles to critical thinking. Individuals can improve how they think about political issues by listening to diverse viewpoints, becoming informed about political issues, rewarding politicians who compromise to reach a goal, breaking down echo chambers, and valuing evidence-based thinking.