Wednesday 23rd May 2012
Anyhoo, I found it amusing, and oh so true in such a lot of ways.
"Thinking should be discouraged for the benefit of the species"
Throughout the natural world, life has been able to survive changes in
climate, largely due to variation. As an example, take the roots of a
plant. In any given environment, there will be an ideal length for its
roots to be. Too short and fewer nutrients will be taken up to convert
into foliage, seeds and pollen. Too long and more energy will be
required to maintain them, leaving less to convert into foliage etc..
The actual length of root found however will vary. Some plants will have
longer roots and some shorter. If we were to measure each plants roots
and plot them graphically, then we would find that we have what is known
as a normal distribution curve. At the centre of this curve, would be
the average length and this is where the majority of plants would lie.
As we get further away from the centre, we would find fewer and fewer
plants at either extreme.
This is due to natural selection. Plants with an ideal root length are
more likely to pass on their genes and so produce more offspring with
ideal root length, and so :-
The average and the ideal are equal.
Over time environments change. Should our plants find themselves
stricken by drought, then those with longer roots, would be more able to
find the nutrients that are necessary for reproduction. Conversely
should the environment become enriched, then those with shorter roots
would take the advantage. Either way, as these plants become more
successful at passing on there genes, more and more offspring will be
produced with this new ideal root length, and some will be produced at
either side of the ideal. Root length will still follow a normal
distribution curve, but the average will have changed. Therefore:-
The equality between the average and the ideal is maintained.
The normal distribution curve is everywhere. It describes the height a
flea can jump and the wingspan of an eagle. All things with any natural
variation adhere to it. Humans are no exception.
People vary in height, from 4 feet to 7 feet. The vast majority of
Europeans are around the average of 5 feet 9 inches. North African
plainsmen tend to be tall and slender, whilst the Eskimo tends to be
short and squat by comparison. A tall slim figure is more able to dispel
heat, whereas a short squat one conserves it. Europeans, Africans and
Eskimos, all vary in body shape within their own respective cultures,
with the average being suited to the environment in which they live. In
each case anyone who is too tall and slender will have difficulty in
maintaining sufficient body heat and anyone too short and squat will be
in danger of over heating. So in any environment:-
People at either extreme, of the normal distribution curve, are equally
So much for root length and body shape. Now let’s move on, to the far
more interesting subject, of human intelligence.
I.Q. tests have been carried out, over many years, on millions of
people. Not surprisingly, the results have followed the normal
distribution curve, with the average I.Q. being 100. Very few people
score below 70 or above 140.
The jury is still out as to a definition of intelligence, or whether it
is really reflected by I.Q. scores, but however it is defined, as long
as it varies between individuals, you can be sure that it will follow
the normal distribution curve.
The important phrase to remember here is "in any given environment". In
an average school, catering for the average pupil, those with a very low
I.Q., will struggle to keep up, whilst those at the other end of the
scale, will tend to become bored. So special schools are set up in order
to cater for these extremes. Even within these schools, there will be
variation, with some pupils being relatively high and others being
relatively low in I.Q..
This form of segregation, tends to continue beyond school years, into
the work place. Very few, if any, work places have the PhD. working
along side the person who goes to adult literacy classes in the
However unlike the North African plainsman and the Eskimo, people of all
levels of intelligence, have to inter-react in the environment we call
Imagine a party. Lots of people. Mostly having a good time. All of
around average in terms of intelligence, except for two. These two, are
at opposite ends, of the intelligence scale. As the conversation turns
to the current plot on Eastenders, one finds the story line far too
complicated to follow, whilst the other has only watched it once and
found it banal, so always watches the documentary on channel 4 instead.
Both are excluded from the conversation and are equally disadvantaged.
Now suppose that the host of this party, makes an effort, to include
these two guests, by turning the conversation to astro-physics, or
suggesting a childish party game. In either case, the rest of the guests
soon lose interest and start to enjoy themselves less. So:-
In order to cater for either extreme, the party as a whole suffers.
This party is analogous with society. Most of us will readily accept, that
those with extremely low intelligence, are in some way detrimental, to
society as a whole. However, and this is the point I wish to bring into
question, we tend to think that people of high intelligence, are an
advantage to society as a whole, even though they are equally distant
from the average, and the average is equal to the ideal.
So is there any evidence to suggest that overly intelligent people are a
burden to society? Well there might be, but it’s not likely to be well
researched. Our first clue comes from the stereotypical image of the
absentminded professor. Whilst being brilliant at his own chosen
subject, he does seem incapable of putting on two socks of the same
colour, or cooking a piece of toast without it boiling over. However we
only need to scratch at the surface, in order to find an overwhelming
abundance of evidence.
About 40,000 years ago, we were hunter-gatherers. There are still a few
remaining hunter-gatherer communities in the world, and research amongst
these suggests that in order to maintain such a lifestyle, each person
would need to work at hunting or gathering, for an average of three
hours a day. Whilst the man would take a stroll through the forest
catching a rabbit or two, his wife would be collecting wild
strawberries. With lunch out of the way, the rest of the day would be
free for dozing in the afternoon sun. This lifestyle had gone on for a
few hundred thousand years. Unfortunately, about 10,000 years ago,
someone, presumably of relatively high intelligence, had a "good" idea.
The idea would have gone something like this.
"Wouldn’t it save us a lot of time and effort, if we were to pen in some
of the wandering herds of buffalo and grow our own crops?" Being a
particularly gifted homo-sapien in the mental department, he was able to
formulate a convincing argument for his cause, and the relatively
gullible masses, fell for it. So we progressed from hunter-gatherer
status, to become farmers, spending a large part of the day tending
these easy to grow crops, and maintaining these labour saving fences. Of
course we did produce a lot more food. We also produced a lot more
people to consume it, and so more of the land needed to be farmed. Some
time later along came another clever person, who designed some clever
labour saving tools, that he’d made from a nice shiny new metal that his
clever brother had discovered. So more people had to be produced, in
order to mine the metals and make the tools. More food had to be
produced to feed the extra people and more land had to be farmed, which
required more tools. Then the clever children of these clever people
invented more clever labour saving devices, and on it’s gone until now.
As a direct result, of thousands of years, spent listening to people of
high intelligence, inventing clever labour saving devices, the average
amount of time we spend working, has increased from three to nine hours
a day. Why do we seem to have this great regard for an extreme that
would be considered freakish in any other variable? The problem is, that
these highly intelligent people have a tendency to formulate convincing
arguments, and the argument that they most love to put forward is that
high intelligence is a good thing. The rest of us being relatively
gullible swallow the whole thing hook, line and sinker.
It’s time to stop.
Thinking should be discouraged for the benefit of the species.
Stop having good ideas.
Should a good idea occur to you suppress it. Self flagellation and
horsehair undergarments come in useful in this regard, that may just be
a personal thing, I don’t know, I try not to think about it too deeply.
Strive to be average.