Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cheers to our stupidity!

We are the most intelligent species on earth, at least that’s what we think. Religious faiths have considered humanity as the greatest creation of god, while scientists have made it a point that we remain the greatest creation of evolution. The irony is that, though both consider humanity as the greatest form of life, they fight with each other to defend their reason for our greatness. Fighting is a sure proof of our intelligence. Stay with me, i will prove that you are stupid!





We are so intelligent that now we are very close to the creation of artificial intelligence. There are lots of things I do not understand, but what I fail to understand the most is the word ‘artificial’. It is defined as something produced by human being that is not natural, but contrived or false. So the house you make is contrived, but the house a bird makes is natural. That would mean that we are not part of nature. Aren’t we? How can we be, we are more intelligent.

We are yet to reach a consensus on the definition of intelligence. Vaguely, intelligence is defined as abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving. However, none of those qualities are unique to us. But that does not mean that we are not intelligent, it only means that we are yet to find the right definition.

We do not need a proper definition to distinguish between intelligent and stupid people. It’s obvious. Your ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend is stupid, you boss is always stupid, a person whose ideas does not match with you is a stupid, the looser you see on the roadside is stupid. Einstein is a benchmark for intelligence, even though he was so blinded by his faith that he did not accept his own theory and wasted the last half of his life. I am not saying here that these people are stupid or intelligent, but are we intelligent enough to judge? Isn’t our judgement of intelligence always biased by the way we think? Why do we always try to judge a person by our biased mind? Do not tell me that IQ tests can prove intelligence, they are biased themselves.


Our biasness about the superiority of our intelligence is like the Ptolemy’s self-congratulatory geocentric model. To Baba Ramdev’s fans he is intelligent because he knows the truth of life. Baba Ramdev thinks he is intelligent because he can fool a major chunk of people and become rich and famous. To a terrorist, he is intelligent because he is fooling the security and attacking the enemies of his faith. The mastermind of the attack thinks he is intelligent because he can easily fool few target people to believe that they are fighting a religious battle, while the truth is just dirty politics. While to others, all these people are just plain stupid.

By the simplest definition, intelligence should be something that will make us successful as an individual and as a group. Surprisingly, by that simplest definition human beings fail to qualify as intelligent. There is no direct correlation between success and intelligence. Some studies claim that in success less than 20% is contributed by intelligence. Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Fooled by Randomness wrote that major part of success is luck (without divine intervention). I would also like to add hard work and perseverance.

Now let’s see how intelligently we behave as a group. Let’s consider a group party where everyone is going to share the total cost equally. People’s intelligence makes them realize that they have to eat more so that they do not end up paying more that what they ate. Inevitably the total cost increases. Even though each and every individual behaved in a rationally intelligent way, as a group their behaviour was stupid because all of them ended up paying more. That is how mankind has behaved over and over again creating an exploitation pyramid described in my post Epilogue of Blood Barrels and Blood series. In our greed to get more than required we destroyed the balance of nature, resulting in inequality. To sustain civilization that inequality has to be sustained, thus was created the 'sense of separation' in terms to status, religion, patriotism, democracy, skin-colour, caste etc. This sense of separation helps in exploiting people so that some people become rich at the cost of others. It is ultimately responsible for all our troubles, from pickpockets to World Wars.


You might argue that, me being able to write about our lack of intelligence from my laptop over the internet, is a proof of our intelligence. Is it? According to David Landes book The Wealth and Poverty of Nation, while 250 years ago the difference of income per head between the richest and poorest was just 5 to 1, now it is over 400 to 1. Planes, internet, nuclear arms are not signs of progress as long as one-fifth of the world’s current population of around 6.4 billion people is undernourished. Mac D, KFC, Coke, Pepsi is useless as long as 20 million infants born per year are underweight, and more than 5 million of them die of hunger at a rate of one child every 5 seconds (read more).

Extracting more resource from earth cannot solve the inequality. All resources are limited, and the by-products of civilization will only end up polluting the environment further. This will ultimately reduce agricultural land. Our history proves our stupidity. We are driving the sixth mass extinction at a rate faster than species can evolve (read more). 

Life is not about intelligence or superiority. It is about surviving. I am not saying we are the most stupid species; we aren’t the most intelligent either. We are just a part of nature, we cannot survive alone. The earlier we understand the better. Or may be, it’s all insignificant from the perspective of universe, and our destiny might well be predestined.  We are here just to increase the randomness till it all ends. The truth we might never know with the flawed structure of our brain, but one thing is easy to understand, intelligence is realizing how stupid we are. 

Cheers to our stupidity!


You React:

34 comments:

  1. Insightful, I guess I will go for brain-storming session with few 'intelligent people' ( Those who go to IIMs and IITs) to dwell on this topic further. INTELLIGENT POST:)

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  2. Very intelligent post. And as usual, food for thought. 

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  3. Thanks for your comments Saru...

    lol...I know these  'intelligent people' of the IITs...

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  4. Cheers indeed! I thought that was the best until now

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  5. this link is going straight to my  facebook wall.... :) 

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  6. Well Sub intelligence is a relative concept. When man discovered the wheel it was the most intelligent thing he did because that was the need of the hour that revolutionalized everything. Today it is more than a wheel that he discovers. But again as you say is not really specific to the human race ( though we may like to think so). Birds and animals are equally intelligent. Intelligence is natural and cannot be artificially created. Good reflections!!!

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  7. thanks Meera...
    yes, it is relative...wheel was a great achievement for humanity...but it only meant that human beings went on to dominate the world...a bad news for other forms of life.......its like the group party example...at the end we are suffering from the disbalance of the ecosystem....its just my perspective....

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  8. this post made me realize( as it always does in some or the other way :P ) that majority of us are way more than stupids(have a high rank in stupidity) and I agree that intelligence is grossly biased......... the fact is, it is damn hard to digest that your friend or someone like friend is more intelligent(as per this post Stupid) than u :D  and u end up wasting most of our energy(which again proves stupidity) in just proving that ........... He is less stupid(intelligent).

    The line b/w stupidity n intelligence is very thing....... Its a fact that we call "intelligent" one among us as " pagal hai yaar " Eg: Einstein :)

    Intelligent(stupid) post :P

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  9. lol...true...why waste time and energy to prove you are stupid (intelligent) when there are better things to do...

    thanks Jyoti...

    Cheers!
    SUB

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  10. Excellent, Excellent post! Man, how do you come up with such topics and put it in words... Well, as far as the topic is concerned, I couldn't agree more. Once I finished reading, it made me wonder how Stupid I am... (not that I haven't been thinking about it till now.. :) ) But, on the whole well written. It also reminded me about the movie "Avatar". There are certain aspects which are quiet close to what you have mentioned here.

    keep writing.. 

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  11. Thanks Sunil...I am glad you liked it...

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  12. Perfectly summarized!! Intelligence is realizing how stupid we are!!

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  13. It sure is an interesting perspective and looking at the recent events and happenings I think our intelligence is hyped...In fact at times we behave like morons. The topic is vast and needs greater discussion because intelligence can be relative.

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  14. thanks Alka...
    yes, it is relative...each of us has our own criteria and standards for intelligence...

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  15. Brilliant post, gives a lot to ponder about...immaculately presented!

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  16. Alarming! I mean you have raised such a critical issue, but in such an interesting way. Kudos to you. I like the last line.....intelligence is realizing how stupid we are.Now that's something worth a discussion on the dinner table. Very well written indeed. Following your blog. You may like to follow mine. 
    Barkha Dhar
    http://dharbarkha.blogspot.com/2011/07/if-education-was.html

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  17. I am fast becoming a great admirer of your thoughts.. My son usually says things you have mentioned here. It is scary... the human intelligence is really scary unlike the intelligence of dolphins or eagles...

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  18. I like the way in which intelligence & stupidity are co-related in this piece! A really cool blog. Loved reading it! :) 

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  19. Thanks Priyanka...gald u liked it :-)

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  20. thanks for your comments Farida...good to know that my thoughts matches your your son's..

    cannot say about dolphins or eagles, but definitely human intelligence is scary...

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  21. Thanks for your comment Barkha....Welcome to Khoj...

    that's gonna be a long dinner....

    i already have followed yours.....

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  22. I am proud to be a stupid....Totally loved this post and agreed to all the points! 

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  23. So am I....Thanks a lot Gargi...

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  24. Well written. You have been able to explain complex points with simple example. Also the conclusion that you draw follows naturally.

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  25. Hi subhrashis - enjoyed this post.  We are all endowed with so-called intelligence but unless we use it to understand ourselves and seek the well-being of those around us.. we are no better than other species on this earth.

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  26. wow another stupid post no i mean intelligent post no i mean an intelligent post on stupidity

    the term stupidity is different for different cultures and not just biased on our thinking along of coz our mind defined who is stupid who is intelligent......

    I feel if we can survive in this world itself is a big smart thing to happen to you

    anyways a very good post

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  27. thanks Bhavna...

    if its just about surviving then bacteria's are much much more intelligent then us

    depends on what you call surviving...we are causing a mass extinction...and have already engendered our life....and we haven't been here for long...:)

    Cheers!
    SUB

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