Untelligence

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An Ununtelligent Person

Disclaimer

There have been many attempts to convince the more gullible members of humanity that there are powers of perception, cognition and communication beyond those which can be publicly demonstrated. This is yet another one. Impressionable readers are advised to leave the page as they may wake up one morning convinced that they are untelligent.

edit Definition

What, you may well ask while staring vacantly at this computer screen, has been the secret of our success as a species? The stock reply to this burning question has traditionally been Intelligence. Upon receipt of such an answer, many people think that Intelligence is the ability to recall who won the Battle of the Bulge or how far it is from Guayaquil to Ulan Bator. Apart from the extremely improbable event of hooking up with some airhead at a party who is so impressed by factoids that she is willing to bear your child, these abilities are not likely to increase the chances of your genes surviving in another incarnation. They are merely the flickering lights on the Xmas tree of intelligence, not the presents beneath.

No, intelligence is useful insofar as it allows us to make a good guess about what is going to happen next. Can I kill that beast over there or will it kill me? Is this a good time to plant the crops? Will that airhead over there be sufficiently impressed by factoids to put out? Yes, that good old ability to get ahead, often known as Wisdom. All that accumulated Progress that allows you to have enough spare time to waste reading articles like this.

Perhaps, like so many of the kindred spirits who are unable to understand survival, you are troubled by your apparently meaningless existence. This used to be a crucial part of natural selection, for when a supposedly intelligent animal became obsessed with the meaning of life, that animal had a much better chance of becoming food before its time. Since your ancestors have built the great juggernaut of human society for you to coast down the road to extinction, you may well be able to survive for a considerable length of time before the wheels fall off. What is the answer to this Damoclean sword of intelligence that allows us to slash through the problems of survival, then cuts off our motivation as soon as we get comfortable?

The answer is Untelligence, which in very simple terms is the ability to identify bullshit.

edit The Underlying Problem

Only bullshit

The Problem

The problem with intelligence is that it tends to remove us from reality. This is due largely to the fact that reality is not a gentle, forgiving environment, right from the microscopic things that think you are an enormous lump of food to the very, very large black holes that think everything should be in them. Intelligence, very sensibly, does its best to get us out of that sort of reality. What it gets us into is clearly not the ordinary reality that less intelligent things have to endure.

While this is a good thing for our immediate survival and comfort, our intelligence tends to run off the rails. Because we start to think of this reduced reality as real reality, our intelligence does what it is good at, namely trying to guess what is going to happen next. For some people who guess that there will be a market for shiny new toys that will entertain, this makes for a pretty handsome short term profit. For some people who guess that they can just do away with the remaining bits of reality, it makes for the as-yet-undescribed mental illness of ataurofecesgnosia, which is the inability to recognize bullshit.

edit Why Untelligence Can Help

The problem with intelligence arises when it assumes that whatever it can think up can just be. At this point, intelligence starts producing bullshit. Untelligence allows us to recognize these ideas and statements for what they are. It enables us to consider assertions that life has an intrinsic meaning or herbal tea is good to drink and think, "That is bullshit". Sure, we can make life mean whatever we want and some people really do like herbal tea, but as universal verities, these assertions are sadly lacking. Untelligence helps us to keep in mind all those smelly, annoying and potentially fatal bits of reality that we have so far managed to keep outside the house.

edit Acquiring untelligence

Seek that reality that you don't have to experience. Get out that shovel, scoop up some of the problems and see what you can do with them. Is untelligence being nourished in schools? Not in the sanitized eco-learning growth environments that spring up in schools in which arithmetic stops when you run out of fingers. Take the kids with you, they may well thank you someday when reality gets back into the house.

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