Based on my experience and observational research, I have come to value the intellectual caliber of a person based on how they measure up on the product of three dimensions:
Intellectual Caliber =
Intellectual Strength x Intellectual Integrity x Intellectual Humility
Descriptions of what is meant by each of these dimensions are provided below. They are not meant to be exhaustive, but sufficient to illustrate the spirit and substance of the dimension being described.
The strength of a person’s intellect is a function of: how learned the individual is; how current their knowledge is; their powers of reasoning; and so on. How the person conducts their learning (e.g., formal education, school of hard knocks, some combination thereof; etc.) is irrelevant.
A person’s intellectual integrity is a function of: their acceptance and proper use of facts; their ability to discern the difference between facts and opinions/beliefs; their reasoning is consistent and is based on sound principles and values, rather than varying based on convenience and situation; their recognition of the “soft spots” in their own thinking, and their recognition of the “strong points” in someone’s opposing view; their personal behavior and decision making is consistent with that which they espouse; and so on.
A person’s intellectual humility is a function of: how open they are to new information; they are as open to persuasion as they are ready to persuade; their willingness to recast their opinion/position/belief based on new information and/or compelling arguments, and they are not one of those people who may not always be right but is always certain; and so on. The intellectually humble person doubts a little of their own infallibility.
The Multiplication Signs
The multiplication signs are there to remind us that anything times zero is zero.