Monday, January 19, 2015

Are Human Beings Intelligent?

“So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.” Bertrand Russell     

Human beings arrogantly assume they are intelligent creatures having compared themselves to "lower" life forms that haven't invented wheels, money, or TV. Well, birds don't need wheels, monkeys barter sex for food, and lizards didn't write those awful final seasons of "Friends.” To be sure, humans do have a knack for turning abstract thoughts into inventions and for synthesizing information to predict the future. But if that’s all our definition of intelligence* entails, then I will retract what I’m about to say about human intelligence; um, that is, that humans are not intelligent. Sure, on occasion, humans do display an ability to reason, which is the other common requisite for intelligence and is the link between abstract thought and invention. But if we’re talking about how often we collectively exercise the ability to reason, especially in our day to day lives, then we don’t seem all that intelligent as a species. It seems that a number of other so-called intelligences take precedence as we go about our lives; interpersonal intelligence and bodily kinesthetic intelligence, for example. While using reason to create tools and predict the future is great, rare is the person who takes reasoning seriously as a tool for running their lives, much less the lives of anyone else.  

[* - I’m discounting our ability to communicate in a variety of ways as a facet of intelligence as many animals can do as much, though not with the same complexity. But I discount the complexity of human language as well because that complexity also drives misunderstandings.]

We are all aware of the headlines that alert us to common acts of stupidity, such as the man who calls police to report the theft of the marijuana he was illegally growing in his attic; as commonly reported by sources such as News of the Weird and the Darwin Awards. More examples of human stupidity include building huge cities in earthquake prone areas. Stupid. Living in a trailer home in Tornado Alley? Stupid. Giving teachers paychecks that are dwarfed by multi-million dollar high school drop-out athletes and rappers because the human need to be entertained is greater than the human need to be skilled or educated? Stupid. Oh, and have you ever heard Celion Dion cover AC/DC? I’m not even kidding! The average human is about as smart as a box of rocks, and that’s probably giving people too much credit as well as being an insult to rocks.

While these sorts of headlines tackle the everyday stupidity of humans, there are far worse examples of humans not exercising their supposed intelligence. Take for example the eagerness of the agriculture industries (BigAg as it is known in the U.S.) who stealthily implements genetically altered foods into our food chain without studying the long term effects these foods might have on us or the environment. Here, the afore mentioned ability to synthesize information in order to predict the future goes right out the window for the sake of the short term monetary gain by a minute handful of people. In this respect, we might also take for example industries that pour their toxic wastes into rivers and oceans and endanger what is arguably our most important resource, water. Moreover, what of energy companies that intentionally suppress the advancement of clean, renewable energy? And what about cloning? International law notwithstanding, surely humans will soon be cloned with regularity. Who will control this technology and for what purposes? Sadly, our ability to create is forever outpacing our ability to philosophically deal with the ‘intelligent’ Dr. Frankenstein within us. So, are we intelligent?

That’s a good question to ask oneself, especially when one believes in a god. Meta-studies appear to indicate a correlation between intelligence levels and strength of faith, where the more education one has appears to lead to a higher percentage of agnostics and non-practicing theists, if not outright atheists. There's a reason why religion is not taught in public school and colleges; it is not compatible with reason. If a theist is to seriously think about human intelligence, they should find themselves asking exactly why any supposedly intelligent creator would create an intelligent species with such an inceredible capacity for stupidity. Why would God create something so dumb that it would proclaim itself, in the face of an entire universe, as the pinnacle of creation? We’re talking about an entire species dedicated to the Black Swan Syndrome; we don’t know of any life as intelligent as humans, so humans must be the most intelligent in all the universe! We can continue to ask these types of questions: Why would a god create humans with such poor reason, who are constantly making choices that endanger their lives or otherwise make themselves unhappy? And why, in the name of all that is holy, would God like to be worshipped by these idiotic creations? Even the robots humans build do not require that the robots worship their creator.

The reasonable answer to these types of questions is that God, were He to exist, is a moron. But we do have to give credit where credit is due, for in a single stroke of cleverness, God gets off the hook for creating such dumb things as people by the virtue of faith. That’s right, faith, the dumbest psychological position a person can commit to; this is what excuses God from having made humans as unintelligent as they are. Human being are so unintelligent that it takes something like a human to create and define the word ‘intelligence,’ assign the word great moral value, and them proclaim itself to be intelligent. In much the same way that God cannot be moral by proclaiming to be the standard of morality, humans cannot be intelligent by proclaiming to be the standard of intelligence.

Naturally, someone is going to disagree with me and say something like, “Well, other animals cannot ask themselves why they exist,” which goes to show you exactly how stupid humans are as the person making this argument obviously hasn’t first asked if their argument is even logical. Humans aren’t intelligent. For every example one could give in favor of human intelligence, ten examples of human stupidity can be given in response. By contrast, humans are far more arrogant than they are intelligent, which would explain why supposed alien abductees claim aliens use people as lab rats. But this merely shows how dumb the aliens are, too. I don’t think they’re going to learn much from us. If they were smart, they’d already know that.

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