Opinion: Newt Gingrich and the meaning of smart

As Newt Gingrich has surged in the Republican presidential polls, we’ve heard more and more in the media about his intelligence, about him being a large thinker, the big idea guy in the GOP, says Mike Rose, who is on the faculty of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and is the author of several books, for the Washington Post. This standard description of him has gotten me to think about intelligence, particularly about the ways we commonly ascribe intelligence to others. I remember as a young man watching William F. Buckley on television and being fascinated by the way his eyes would flash and his tongue flick across his lips when he made a point—and the words! The big words. And that accent, that intonation. I didn’t know anyone who sounded like that. Clearly, this guy was smart. Since those days, I’ve taught a lot of people—which enables you to observe thinking in detail—and have studied intelligence, and I’ve spent a good chunk of my professional life in a university, the epicenter of smarts…

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