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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/5/13

"The dulling of humanity: Humans aren't getting smarter, they say. We're getting stupider.

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From Livescience.com, "In November 2012, Stanford University School of Medicine researcher Gerald Crabtree published two papers in the journal Trends in Genetics suggesting that humanity's intelligence peaked between 2,000 and 6,000 years ago.

  Crabtree based this assertion on genetics. About 2,000 to 5,000 genes control human intelligence, he estimated. At the rate at which genetic mutations accumulate, Crabtree calculated that within the last 3,000 years, all of humanity has sustained at least two mutations harmful to these intellect-determining genes (and will sustain a couple more in another 3,000 years). Not every mutation will cause harm -- genes come in pairs, and some weaknesses caused by mutation can be covered for by the healthy half of the pair, Crabtree wrote; but the calculation suggests that intelligence is more fragile than it seems."

Add to this that Swiss psychotherapist and psychiatrist, Carl Jung, believed people who are successfully adjusted to "normal" social standards can still be suffering if those "normal" social standards are neurotic. He once said, "I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life." Our world is, so to speak, dissociated like a neurotic"

Could a drop in IQ and neurotic social standards, be what French essayist, Henry de Montherlant, was talking about when he said, "Stupidity does not consist in being without ideas human stupidity consists in having lots of ideas, but stupid ones."  

In other words, even if we're not very smart and are well-adjusted to a neurotic world, we still have ideas? Let's see:

Bring your guns (symbols of violence) to church (place of peace).   Add more instruments of violence (guns) to curb gun violence. Vote for the candidates who run the most malicious attack ads and don't explain what they will do in office. Declare war on every social ill in our society as though it has nothing to do with a failing society. Reduce funding for the education of the children who are the future of the country, but keep building more tanks and airplanes even though we already have more military equipment than the next 12 countries combined. Remove barriers to special interest influences in our elections while the electorate is clamoring for more controls. Gerrymander voting districts to distort the results of elections and call it democracy.  

I happen to think that these are just plain "stupid ideas". But we all know there are those who are well adjusted to them and will argue in their favor.

Here's some questions for you to consider: Do we have too many people with stupid ideas arguing with other people about their stupid ideas? Does our freedom of expression trump the need to validate our ideas, stupid or not.  

I know, by now you think I'm an intellectual elitist.   Too bad, because I'm simply arguing for the injection of rational thinking and validation into our public discourse. And you don't have to be an intellectual to think rationally and validate your assessments.

But as we've learned from our recent economic collapse, Adam Smith's, concept of the "rational actor" in economic theory, is just not true.  

People cannot be expected to act, of for that matter, think rationally.   We are influenced, nudged, convinced by all kinds of other factors that we aren't aware of at a conscious level.   But that said, we often think that these stupid ideas are our own.   Well, they are   not.   Most of them come from our crazy world.

In order to think rationally and validate our ideas, we need to ground our own positions before we begin using our freedom to express ourselves.   How many of us can really validate our ideas on solid grounding?   I don't mean use a quote from some bloviator to prove our point.   I mean really think about whether our point of view makes sense in the larger context.  

Until we begin to do this, we will drown in stupid ideas. And please don't think I'm just criticizing others, I have a few stupid ideas of my own.  

Robert DeFilippis       



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Author, columnist, and blogger with a long career in business management, management consulting and executive coaching. I've authored and published eight books: "You, Your Self and the 21st Century,"The Flowers Are Talking to Me," and "Faith (more...)

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