Speaking of being smart and being brilliant, most of the remarkable (in a good sense) people who managed to leave a lasting impression in my mind are surprisingly taciturn. The only times I have seen their brilliance sparkle was when they were involved in some serious discussion. In my observation, the process of disciplined and fruitful personal thinking is something that develops through time and needs a lot of practice. I have seen kids having exceptional ready wit and ending up being rather insignificant while the odd one who used to spend a lot of time to finish normal activities becoming extraordinary.
Is ready wit really worth bragging?
While parents and adults adore kids who talk taller than their age (as it seems rather cute) or teenagers who retort back with slapstick answers, correct and disciplined thinking needs a lot of time and nurturing. A person who thinks deeply can also handle more trains of thoughts in their mind than quick thinkers. Think of chess players. Strong Blitz players make occasional mistakes like novices but strong Standard players are less prone to those kind of mistakes.
In my case, I seldom give the expected answers to verbal questions immediately. In many instances I request others for some time and I get back with more clarification or correctness within an hour. The reason is that my mind is always pre-occupied and asynchronous questions seldom register so fast. And this experience is not only related to technicalities, it also happens often in daily life. For example, when someone asks me the time or when the bus conductor asks me my destination or a quick question-answer session. While it definitely appears I am slow, the reason is that my mind is already working on something which in most cases is much more important than the time on my watch.
Logical thinking takes time because it takes care of many aspects – facts, reasons, the conclusion, any possible gotchas, any possible counter arguments and so on. And note that the threads run more or less simultaneously towards the end. Let’s take an example. What’s the answer to – What’s heavier? 1KG iron or 1KG cotton? A smart guy will readily answer – both weigh same. Now let’s consider a guy who is really strong in Physics. His train of thought might be – 1KG cotton will occupy more volume and acceleration due to gravity will decrease with height. Definitely in its normal form a ball of cotton will be much larger in volume than equal mass of iron… and so on… He is taking care of the facts. He is trying to be accurate! Trying to make sense of a seemingly trivial question!
As a matter of fact, great innovations and discoveries in the history of human civilization were not results of fast developments (even if the inception was) but were results of meticulous research that took time. Quickies don’t really count.