Are we getting smarter…or has our intellegence made fools of us all?

God he's good!! baby dear, how did it all begin!

God he’s good!!…now baby dear, how did it all begin!

By my own admission I have a love hate relationship with mankind, for as a species I find we are one of the most paradoxical kind that is around. Even by our own admission, ether en masse or individually, we are a complex mixture of the ridiculous and the sublime, and viewed through the eyes and minds of other life around us we must seem, at times, to be a right royal pain up the backside.

Therefore when I saw a recent news item regarding the alleged increase in cleverness of mankind, I fell upon it with some degree of joy. Might it be, I said to myself, that we had crossed  a new threshold of self-awareness, and even better, might it be that evidence was at hand that we, as a species. was once again on the evolutionary move

chartAt first glance it would seem that we are getting cleverer for reasearch has shown, as can be seen by the graph on the left, that IQ levels are on the march in developing countries, and even in the more developed countries IQ Levels are on the rise.

This should give us grounds for cautious celebration, claims the researchers, as it indicates that we maybe are smarter than out grandparents, but what if the reverse is true.

What if the pursuit of knowledge and understanding within ourselves and our species is causing a sad and potentially calamitous divergence from where we need to be in relation to the world around us.

a young girl or an old decide

a young girl or an old lady…you decide


Sounds a bit heavy that last sentence but if you look at the picture on the left of this section you may seem what I mean.

The picture is a classic optical illusion whereby the viewer cam interpret the image in two totally different ways, but, to me, it is also a perfect illustration of a dilemma which has dogged us for thousands of years. We like to think of us an intelligent species, and in many ways that would seem to be na incontrovertible fact. Yet is the acquisition of knowledge , and it’s subsequent transformation into new ideas and awareness always such a good idea.


Hydrothermal vent tubeworms get organic compou...

Hydrothermal vent tubeworms get organic compounds from bacteria that live in their trophosome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take, for example, the recent study and evaluation of deep sea hydrothermal vents. A bunch of clever, or ecologically sound scientists, are studying data which potentially might serve or even save mankind, but despite such noble endeavours, there is an underlying problem.

In order to study such an area samples need to be taken, and for samples need to be taken, something has to be destroyed. Thereby we find ourselves at odd with nature, in the sense that we are once more interfering with natural cycles that might be best left well alone.

It is true that new chemicals and treatments might be sourced from such, and similar sources, and it is equally true that mineral harvesting would result in commercial or resource gain, but at what cost to the living environment as a whole. Already deep ocean mineral mining is on the agenda, and once started, where will such a process end?

intelligence-test-picturesYet this is just one example of what I am talking about for if we step back a little further an even more disturbing picture potentially, and I do stress potentially, comes into view. The fact that the IQ levels of the developing world is now increasingly on a par with developing countries, may well be a agood thing, as in the overall increase in IQ levels. Yet even if IQ is any kind of measure of intelligence, and that is now debatable, what is the use of such increased cognitive reasoning and awareness, it if drives us further away from where we should be.

I maintain that in our all consuming desire for advancement and knowledge acquisition, we are forgetting who we naturally are, and therefore irrevocably damaging our relationship with the very life force that ultimately controls us all.

The way we behave is akin to cutting of our legs so as to prove that they are there. Sure we can build remarkable prosthetic limbs, and by the study of the severed limbs we can evaluate them, and any associated diseases to the full, but have we forgotten why nature attached them to us in the first place? By such a narrow focus have we forgotten the role that they naturally serve?

And so it is that I really do wonder whether in our unending quest for knowledge we have become, as a species, one of natures greatest fools, and in defence of such a statement I would simply say look at the following points below

  1. What do we think of a plant or animal that destroyed it’s own ecosystem?
  2. What would we think of that species if it had the cognitive power see such destruction and act otherwise?
  3. What do we think of a species that  needlessly kills or maims itself by it’s own actions?
  4. What would we think of that species if it do so cognitively and on numerous repetitive occasions, and
  5. What would we think of such a species if we knew it had the cognitive power to live in harmony with everything else around?

That species is us, and if we are not careful, such a list could be laid upon our collective tombstone. Of course there are negating factors to this argument, and even while in the darker regions of my scepticism I accept the incredible advances made by mankind, as well as it’s warmth and at times unparalleled generosity. Yet alarm bells within my mind still ring loudly, severe doubts still rise  bubbling up to the surface, and deep down, I still despair of mankind.

Maybe the answer lies within the field of A.I or artificial intelligence, or maybe not mind you, but that is for another post and another time, but as this quite a serious and dare I say an intelligent post, I end with a moment of comic relief so as to balance the equation

But I’m sorry folks,  I still think intelligence sometimes makes fools of us all



Categories: Reality Checks

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