Intelligence (Social)

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Survival / Intelligence /

Once upon a time the bible thrilled me with its allegation that man was made in God’s image. I thought God’s image was a good thing: I thought man was a good thing.

As an adult Carl Sagan thrilled me with his assertions that man was the universe’s way to become sentient, to know what was what. Ah, someone else says what I say: someone who, unlike me, people listen to. The other night though, watching Timothy Ferris’s excellent film Life Beyond Earth, Ferris saying much the same thing made me snort.

“We call ourselves Homo sapiens,” Ferris continued, imagining himself addressing an alien civilization, “by which we mean that we have mathematics, science …”

That’s just it. That’s it exactly. “We call ourselves …” I’d feel better if the alien civilization called us Homo sapiens. I’d feel better if a real god would step forward and identify us.

Theoretically, an isolated opinion could be true. Assessments we regard as true generally began their life alone, isolated, despised by the group. Yet human intelligence is a group phenomenon, science is a group activity … so is religion … What science has, deeply, in common with religion is a mythology / history of minority views that came to prevail: Noah, Moses, Jesus … on the one hand; Democritus, Galileo, Einstein … on the other.

I’ve already pointed out at Knatz.com, more than once, that some scientists, recently, have argued that big brains seem to go with social mammals which manifest complex mating procedures: man, dolphins, elephants … Certainly intelligence seems to be related to accurate map making, to mental model conceptualization, where the map or model works … But that latter tie is weak, very iffy, compared to the complex mating business.

I’d like to see a science fiction novel which imagined a non-social intelligence. If I still wasted my time writing novels, I’d like to write such a novel myself. I fear though that I’d sit in front of a blank screen for a long time. Can you, gentle visitor, imagine a solitary intelligence? I don’t mean a human hermit living in a cave; such a hermit is still a man and man is a social species. Can you imagine a wild child choosing to be a hermit? Having no language, how would he “choose”?

pk’s intelligence for example started social (first religious-social, then science-social), then, given exposure, actual experience with society, anti-social. Note: anti-social is still social! I’m not a solitary spider however much I might sometimes wish I were. Indeed, my anti-social evolvement is a social construct. It makes sense given my experience. I don’t exist in a vacuum: with no context.


Don’t for a moment think I’m saying that the above doesn’t apply to me. Of course it does. People seldom admit their guilt, parade their crimes, their mistakes, their oversights (unless they expect some immediate return: alchies at AA, born-agains at the altar, plea bargainers … (in which case you still can’t believe them)).


Dr. Picione was treating me with no respect. Finally, uncharacteristically, I blurted straight at him: I invented the internet!” (You cretin!) “Oh,” he said with a fabulously insincere smile, “Good for you!” and refused to treat either me or then ninety-five year old Catherine: wouldn’t renew my prescription for hypertension, wouldn’t even look at her. How shall we interpret that? Was this licensed healer saying, You lunatic, that can’t be true! You’re dreaming! (The state declares me a scientist: I’m a professional by state fiat: so I don’t have to seek any evidence: one way or the other)? Or was he saying, We’re kleptocrats. We steal everything. Why should I care what we’ve stolen from you? I’m glad we stole from you! Our victims have the fewest rights of all!?

Intelligence is relative; not absolute.
Nearly everyone is intelligent; Absolutely everyone is stupid.

@ K. 2004 01 22

Intelligence is also discussed among my Thinking Tools

Intelligence Scrapbook

Only intelligent creatures can be fooled.

Lewis Thomas, doctor and great science writer, had a marvelous essay on evolutionary adaptations depending on fallibility. Progress depends on error, not on perfection. “My cat,” he wrote, “never makes a mistake.”

“Stupidity” module coming

Social Survival

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
This entry was posted in pk Teaching, social survival, society. Bookmark the permalink.

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