By Gregory Mitchell
Sternberg said that stupidity is not the bottom end of the IQ scale, but a separate cognitive factor that could be isolated and measured. Even high IQ people can be stupid, in which case, they have Negative Intelligence.
A major cause of Negative Intelligence is an inability to throw away false or out of date information, and continuing to hold on to steps of reasoning that have ceased to serve a purpose once conclusions have been reached. This type of information causes mental clutter, thus overloading Working Memory. It is called Exformation.
A person with high Negative Intelligence would typically have a high IQ but also a low Rationality Quotient. Rationality in this sense is the capacity to reflect, thus overcoming the need for impulsive closure. In other words, logic leads and then emotion follows should it be warranted, retaining the capacity to introspect.
Remember, Hitler had an IQ of 165, but also a high level of Negative Intelligence. High IQ and high Negative Intelligence is the most dangerous: a person who is high on the scale of destructivity.
Otto Fenichal maintained that “People become stupid ad hoc, that is, when they do not want to understand, where understanding would cause anxiety or guilt feeling, or would endanger an existing neurotic equilibrium.” This is called Cognitive Dissonance.
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” ―Albert Einstein
Confirmation bias apparently affects all of us. Simply put, we tend to first form an opinion, and then look at the evidence supporting that opinion. If evidence to the contrary is presented, we either downplay it or outright ignore it.
Negative intelligence or stupidity is the opposite of ontological Intelligence. With a high level of Negative Intelligence a person has a poor model of what exists; in other words, his map does not reflect the territory.
Stupidity and intelligence are not two ends of a continuum, they are two independent dimensions. It is possible to have a high IQ and be stupid or ignorantly blind at the same time. This is Negative Intelligence.
A person with a high score in Negative Intelligence often has social interest, but is socially Inept. A criminal can be charming when he is getting what he wants, he has the social skills - witness the con man - but he can just as quickly turn nasty when his needs are not being met. A person with high Negative Intelligence lacks the intuitive ability to pick up subtle cues in social situations, so he is experienced as a boor. Negative intelligence is a consequence of bad parenting and an even worse educational system that undervalues intuition and creativity. Negative Intelligence is not a conscious choice, it is something a person is stuck with, unless appropriate interventions are made. In a specialized professional situation that requires reflective thought, a person with high Negative Intelligence may acquit himself quite well, but in novel situations and in situations where he operates pre-reflectively, things can go very wrong. He is not very creative in a useful way.
There are two types of ignorance, negative ignorance and positive ignorance. Negative ignorance is when you think you know it all but don’t. Positive ignorance is when you know you don’t know it all. You can move forward from the latter.
Self-deception is a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument. It has been argued that humans are, without exception, highly susceptible to self-deception, as everyone has emotional attachments to beliefs, which in some cases may be irrational. Some evolutionary biologists, such as Robert Trivers, have even suggested that, because deception is such an important part of human behaviour (and animal behaviour generally), an instinct for self-deception can give a person a selective advantage: if someone can believe their own “lie” (i.e., their presentation that is biased toward their own self-interest), the theory goes, they will consequently be better able to persuade others of its “truth.”
This notion is based on the following logic. In humans, awareness of the fact that one is acting deceptively often leads to tell-tale signs of deception. Therefore, if self-deception enables someone to believe their distortions, they will not present such signs of deception and will therefore appear to be telling the truth.
It may also be argued that the ability to deceive, or self-deceive, is not the selected trait but a by-product of a more primary trait that is selected. Abstract thinking allows many evolutionary advantages such as more flexible, adaptive behaviors and innovation. Since a lie is an abstraction, the mental process of creating a lie can only occur in animals with enough brain complexity to permit abstract thinking.
Otherwise intelligent individuals may also become stupid when their rational thought is derailed by strong opinions or rigid beliefs. In this case the victim falls into confirmation bias and begins selecting data: becoming intentionally blind and deaf to contrary evidence, while at the same time collecting evidence which supports the beliefs. Rather than being based on low intelligence or missing knowledge, this is the stupidity of closed-mindedness and willful ignorance. Note that modern science specifically evolved to combat this form of stupidity. During scientific thought, we constantly criticize our own beliefs and assumptions (attempt to disprove hypotheses), while also using humility and extreme self-honesty to reduce our ego-based biases.
A saying attributed to Albert Einstein is “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Stupidity may be more accurately viewed not as the opposite of intelligence but as a kind of flawed intelligence, the darkness that makes the light of true intelligence visible. Contrasted with ignorance, which is the lack of knowledge, not the lack of intelligence.
Ancestral knowledge is a notable passive skill that grants additional intelligence by drawing on the implicit knowledge stored in our unconscious. Our personal ancestry story begins with the shared story of our human ancestry. Access to ancestral knowledge makes knowledge and intelligence depend on wisdom. Ancestral knowledge uses nature and the wilderness as its classroom, in order to learn the ancient skills of our past. The intelligence attribute is a measure of a character’s knowledge and mental acuity. Additionally, real intelligence eventually compels one beyond the ‘how and now’ and into the ‘why’, by linking the past to the future. Intelligence is order, and how you take a picture of order, then it allows you to stop thinking about it, motivation will become more elaborate with the rise of intelligence.
There is something of a paradox confounding intelligence and knowledge, we have also been delinquent and incorrect in rejecting the distinction between knowledge-how and knowledge-that. But in truth, both intelligence and the two types of knowledge aforementioned are part and parcel of one another. This new intelligence and knowledge will manifest under stresses, such as major disasters including war, and the solution to novel problems. These experiences will frequently form much of your character. This will give you confidence in yourself, then no voice but your own will speak to you from the depths, and no influence but your own will raise you in time of peace and time of war. You will hear all, but attend only to that which concerns you.
How can knowledge about our ancestors empower us in the present? A number of studies have shown that thinking or writing about their recent or distant ancestors has led students to actually perform better on a range of intelligence tests, including verbal and spatial tasks. Students who traced their personal family trees from parents to grandparents and distant ancestors raised their IQ by an average of 14 points. An empowering reminder about our ancestors can significantly increase intellectual performance.
Should you believe that your ability to learn in a particular domain is fixed, a destined fate of your genes or IQ? Or should you believe that you can improve? Interestingly, there’s research on this too. Carol Dweck has studied people across many dimensions on whether they have what she terms a “fixed mindset” or a “growth mindset”. The difference is striking—those that follow a growth mindset outperform those with a fixed mindset in almost every case.
As an example of confirming evidence within my own experience, I was recently told by a Baroness, who currently has to work for a living, because the family fortune was spent, that the difference between the Aristocracy and the Upper Middle Class was not so much a matter of a difference in IQ. It was often high, but at most was less than 10 points higher as a result of their upbringing and their cultural niche, and sometimes less than nothing; less than that of the Liberal Professions by a long way. However, many members of the Aristocracy also knew their family history for several hundred years back, whereas most people did not. This knowledge gave them a foundation, from which they gained more confidence than most people: They felt much more certainty in their identity and the goals they sought. Much more than money, this family history contributed to the longevity of their line, and their ability in many cases to climb back from relative poverty to the status of their parents or grandparents. The researchers above call this process, having a “promotion orientation”. They show our present day thinking needs to be inclusive of the legacy of our ancestors, such as what skills they had and what they knew, much of which now has become lost technology.
Why, then, should we be interested in our ancestors? What is the logic of family pride or a family name? The question of ancestry has been of human concern in virtually all cultures and over all times of which we have any knowledge. For example, knitting is an expression of creativity, intelligence, and wisdom for Wayu culture. It’s also a way of recovering their ancestral knowledge. When we have curiosity about our family history, we understand ourselves better if we know our ancestors, then we, within ourselves, reflect properties that have come to us by an unbroken line from past generations. Also the knowledge about the personal characteristics of ancestors who have never directly entered into our lives is relevant to our own formation. An indifference, however, to ancestry is sometimes taken as a rejection of one’s “real” identity, even of “self-hatred.”
During the 18th, 19th and early 20th century both our familial ancestors and our ancestors in general had knowledge, practical skills for survival and types of intelligence. “Normally, our ancestors managed to overcome a multitude of personal and society problems, such as severe illnesses, wars, loss of loved ones or severe economic declines,” the researchers said. “So, when we think about them, we are reminded that humans who are genetically similar to us can successfully overcome a multitude of problems and adversities. So we are reminded that humans who are genetically similar to us can successfully overcome a multitude of problems and adversities. For the most part because we have relied too much on others to supply our needs, and we have been too protected, especially from reality. Most have little knowledge of the real world, most of their knowledge is comprised of the opinions of others, many other aspects of life, including our capacity for personal interactions have changed for the worse. We have only this now as a foundation. These are examples of the ultimate irony of only having a personal history, starting with your birth: much wisdom has been lost.
Moreover, this lost knowledge, when regained, is not simply arising from our conscious knowledge about those ancestors who possessed it, but from a deeper source, our genetic inheritance, which also would operate to form us in part in the “Now”, and transforming ourselves in the future irrespective of our consciousness of the past. The consciousness of being a member of any genetically related group somehow tells us something fundamental about who we really are, about the solution to our quest for self-knowledge. It requires that one actively embraces that “ancestry,” and that one could and should learn about it, then fashion oneself according to its cultural principles, by taking the best, then rejecting the rest, thereby transforming ancestry into an authentic identity or self-hood.
Intelligence is our ability to recognize the significance in what we know, and to understand, reason and learn. Collective intelligence, gained from knowing our family for several generations back, strongly contributes to the formation of this intelligence and to a positive shift in knowledge and power. A shared history makes us “proud.” Preening ourselves before the glass of history seems less egotistical than inspecting our images in the glass of fashion, and more conducive to the development of intelligence and wisdom. These cultural teachings are passed on to us from our ancestors.
It has been argued that human evolution was accelerated because we are in possession of “genes for high intelligence” - vital duplicate genes, which are believed to have driven intelligences that were latent, until there is an external trigger for their manifestation. New types of intelligence may well have been manifested when there were extreme challenges, resulting from sudden changes in the environment, especially when these new forms of intelligence were demanded to solve the twin problems of new stresses and the problems of survival. Vital duplicate genes, which are believed to have driven intelligence, have become latent and part of our genome for a long time. Our development of intelligence genes “probably occurred in a world where every individual was exposed to nature’s raw selective mechanisms on a daily basis.” The pressure of others’ intelligence drove our minds in a forward spiral.
We gained advantages for ourselves and our children. But the same pressures do not apply today. Intelligence and the capacity for abstract thought evolved in our prehistoric ancestors living in Africa between 50,000 and 500,000 years ago, but humans probably reached a peak of intelligence more than 2,000 years ago and perhaps reached a peak as long as 6,000 years ago. Intelligence possibly started to decrease for the intelligentsia of that time because of the invention of writing, that downgraded the importance of memory, much in the same way that calculators have destroyed the ability of people under fifty to do mental arithmetic, in the current day. I don’t think the Ancient Greeks or Romans were any more stupid than we are today, within the limits of their culture and availability of resources, indeed the Romans invented concrete more than a thousand years before we did. It has even been suggested that the Ancient Greeks could have gone to the Moon by 1500 at the latest had there not been a break in cultural continuity. Just look at what they did 2,500 years ago, then extrapolate from they had already done to what they could have done.
We are not more publicly intelligent than our ancestors - we are much less so. The “Flynn Effect” is a fiction in the European Culture. It’s not yet settled whether this corresponds to real gains in important intellectual functions, and it probably only applies only to developing cultures, if it applies at all. Intelligence levels have probably been on a plateau, or very slowly falling over several thousand years. In the 19th century many ordinary people would attend scientific lectures - the lecture halls were packed. There were no cinemas until the end of that century, there was neither pop music as we experience it today nor was there television, “The Idiots Lantern” as both Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells said. Computers were just a theory of Babbage and the symbolic logic needed to go with them was just a book written by Boole, which, at that time had but little practical application. There was little in the way of distraction.
Over the last 80 to 100 years, however, intelligence levels have been falling more and more rapidly. This seems recently to be happening even among highly educated people. There has been a break in cultural continuity since the “Generation Gap” was invented by the Americans at the end of the 1940s. This was done as part of the “Dumbing Down Process” prevalent in all European types of society, even in Albania, a Muslim country. This has been done largely by the Americans whose goal is the Americanization of as much of the world as possible, in order to make young people conform in their tastes for mass produced products, because the young, by and large, have the most disposable income. A new market, has been created; a market of ‘sheeple.’
Positive Intelligence doesn’t play a very significant a role in our present society, as lust, cunning, and consumerism have taken much of its place. There are more and more sheeple with every passing year, and more than some of whom have a significant degree of Negative Intelligence. This is an ability to make bigger and better mistakes more rapidly. In short, destructivity rather than creativity.
This sociological research echoes concerns Einstein had when he supposedly said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
Much can be done to reverse this process by studying primitive peoples, such as the Aborigines in Australia, and the Negroes in Africa, who still live, as they have done for thousands of years. These peoples still possess talents, skills and types of intelligence that for all practical purposes ceased to exist in European cultures. Meditating on these abilities, in conjunction with intense practice, will start to awaken these capacities again.
The first Homo Sapiens on this Earth were black. The Aborigines in Australia and the Negroes in Africa split about 50,000 years ago; they are all our cousins and distant ancestors, so we still carry latent genes, which if awakened would give us many of the special abilities that we no longer have. Some of these are described by Howard Gardner as Naturalist Intelligence (“Nature Smart”), which designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural world; and Spiritual Intelligence, which may be defined as the ability to act with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the circumstances. There are many different facets of intelligence that all make up your mind and being.
We may well need these special abilities in the future soon to come, as natural conditions are less favorable than they were for our ancestors - for example if the most easily exploitable coal, oil, and mineral resources have been depleted. After all, many of us want very much not to die (at least not yet) and to have the chance of becoming post-humans. Tune into your ancestral wisdom, an often silent history and find your way through the labyrinth of your own ancestral legacy... These ghosts of a distant past can extend beyond our remembered family and into the psychological histories of our ancestral memory, our far-reaching gene pool. Psychologists make their bread and butter from family of origins issues. Forgetting our ancestral legacy is way to repeat the mistakes of history, yet despite this, remembering can help us move freely forward. They are all an important part of our “Ancestral Heritage.”