I have a good memory for random facts. It's occasionally useful. But what annoys
me about it is that people assume I'm bright based only on my ability to parrot back to them
facts I've picked up. It's not a truly useful addition to my skill set.
But I recall many occasions where in my youth I would spout some factoid and a relative would say
You're so smart!
This would annoy me, because I'd much rather receive a compliment
oriented towards some useful
ability I might have.
I think it's because of a bias towards trivia and memorization in our culture.
Most television game shows that claim to test your intelligence, or require "smarts"
are just quiz shows where the host asks a bunch of trivia questions. Battle of the Child Geniuses,
Who wants to be a Millionaire, and Jeopardy are all shows based upon this premise. In my mind,
genius means the ability to come up with new ideas, not parrot the old ones. But it makes
me good at test taking, because it would seem a good ninety percent of teachers would rather
the students didn't think. Actually, one could probably apply that to most authority figures...