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Does intelligence have a point of diminishing returns in evolution?

  1. Jan 13, 2007 #1
    Are intelligent people really happier than less intelligent people? Some people are less aware and more oblivious to what goes on around them and seem quite content with it and living happy lives even though they don't seem to realize or care who or what they perhaps unintentionally hurt. Would more socially and environmentally aware people be happier if they weren't? As they say, ignorance is bliss. I think I was happier as a child when I was less aware of the realities of things and how the world really is.

    Maybe I seem to worry too much. Maybe I try to use reason so much instead of how I feel naturally. Like if I feel a certain way, I question why I feel that and if that is the right way for the better of mankind instead of usually just doing. I seem to stall to much by thinking about the action before hand unless of course, impulsiveness overwhelms me.

    I'm not saying I'm intelligent. Maybe it's a chemical imbalance. But sometimes I wish I could be dumber like some people and not be aware or even give a crap about what happens to the future of mankind or our environment. Is there a point of diminishing returns for intelligence with regard to evolution just as there is with lots of other traits?

    Is there a point where someone is so intelligent that they prosper, maybe being the CEO of a company but not caring if that company hurts the future of mankind? While a more intelligent man is smart enough to know that money is not everything and that being popular and rich will not train him or his offspring for the real world by being spoiled. Maybe you get what I'm saying and maybe you don't. Maybe I'm ignorant in thinking learning more and more leaves you with less and less surprises in the world that it becomes mundane. It's just been my experience.
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  3. Jan 13, 2007 #2


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    I don't think this concerns evolution at all. This is more an existentialist issue.

    I would say that at first you don't know what you don't know, but then you learn a little and you come to know what you don't know, and that point it feels a little depressing, but then you learn a whole lot more and the world starts to make sense and then I don't think it is depressing anymore.

    If the depression comes from the apparent meaningless of it all, learning more can show you that the world had to come out this way, given what it was in the past. There is reason in how people have turned out, and it is unfortunate that we typically can't see it. If we are cogs in a machine, most of us are oblivious to the machine. This has nothing to do with religion, I don't mean that this social machine has some purpose.

    I just think you should continue to learn, especially about the why of things. Knowledge is the way to understanding, and the search is its own reward.
  4. Jan 13, 2007 #3
    This question takes place at the heart of the underlying meaning of "Intelligence". Therefore all depends of what you understand for an intelligent person.

    Trying to clarify this issue, let's take a look at the Free Dictionary:

    In my opinion all these meanings are in no way involved with the "ability" of being happy or unhappy.

    Even if for an intelligent person we think of someone really mature, who knows about life and who is able to handle the sorrow, we must take account that happiness is a complex and vague term. Quoting Wikipedia:

    So I guess the short answer to your question is: No. The fact of being more aware of what happens in your environment seems to be more a question of sensitiveness and attitude rather than intelligence.

    - A.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2007
  5. Jan 13, 2007 #4

    In my opinion, there's no such thing as 'thinking too much.' The only time thinking becomes a negative is when it turns into delusional thinking i.e. conspiracy theorists. Rational thinking on the other hand is always a positive. I've heard this argument before from people I know about impulses and feelings being more important than reasoning and thinking, however I don't buy this one bit. Sure, feelings and sensation are what makes us animals and more specifically, human. But as humans we were blessed with reasoning, thinking, and memory. We can learn from our history unlike any other species living on this planet. And to say you've learned so much that the world becomes mundane is rather depressing. Knowledge is infinite, and I don't think we've even reached the first whole number yet if we're looking at knowledge on a number scale. And even if we have, we're still not any closer to infinite than we were when we were at zero.
  6. Jan 14, 2007 #5
    Why to exist when there is no outcome...
    Why to live when we are just going to die & become a nonexistent...

    I usually have these questions in my mind, But the answers are infinite which are all hypothetical & no satisfying answer is found.

    WE are the ones who make our surrounding environment, which involves happiness and sorrows... which just have no impact on whats going to happen next...

    I say that because I don't believe in free will, To give a simple reason; I am writing this post because you had previously started the thread, You started the thread due to what you were thinking about, You were thinking on this issue due to some reason, that reason had another reason and so on... An infinte string of events is what you get. If the reason for the reason of the other reason of another reason (which can even conclude to the main point where existence began) had never occured I wouldnt be writing this post now.

    As an answer to what you are talking about, No matter if someone is intelligent or not, Happy or sad, sensitive or not, Whats going to happen will happen, as a natural reaction to this infinitely long string of events.

    This is just what I have concluded due to whatever I have experienced in my life, Maybe true maybe not but what I like about this string is that I've always observed as being concious, What ever happened to me even if it was a horrible disaster for me, It had good effects in my life in the long distant future.

    I'll be glad to know your comments...
  7. Jan 14, 2007 #6
    ^ RE: "why to exist"

    Well, for one, you seem to enjoy discussing philosophy and hearing what others have to say. So, enjoyment seems like a reason.

    Interesting comment about free will. Realistically, though, I don't think what you're thinking about is will at all. I think it's more an observation of cause-and-effect relationships. So I'd have to ask, what do you think free will is?
  8. Jan 15, 2007 #7
    Well, I don't really think that enjoyment is a sufficient reason, Simply whats the reason for enjoyment... If you just start it you'll get a complete string which once again leads to an infinite number of why questions & as long as we are not sufficiently knowledged about the universe, I don't really understand the way to answer this question...
    But excellent work in figuring out :" you seem to enjoy discussing philosophy and hearing what others have to say" thats absolutely true :biggrin:

    As far as the definition of free will is concerned, I'll have to say its different from person to person... Each person defines it upto a certain extend & this is what makes different people to have different opinions on the topic... To me it's exactly what determinism suggests, & I believe the the will is a Consequence of the events taken place in past. As you mentioned, cause-and-effect relationships are directly dependent to the topic of free will...
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2007
  9. Jan 15, 2007 #8
    ^ What I meant is that I see cause-and-effect as something completely distinct from free will.

    I believe they are separate because we cannot determine the effects of an action with 100% certainty. This is why you cannot plot out the chain of any of your future actions.

    If you think your existence is pointless, and the indulgement of learning science and speaking about philosophy and general enjoyment is not enough to make you content, then why do you continue to exist?

    It doesn't make sense to ask why one should live when he or she knows he or she will eventually die, when there is at least part of the answer all around you.
  10. Jan 15, 2007 #9
    Why shouldn't we be able to do so? Why not predict everything with 100% certainity?
    If you are talking about Heisenberg's principle of uncertainity or Quantum mechanics, lets not forget the 'Hidden Variable Theories' which were first proposed by Einstein & later developed to EPR paradox which entails that beneath the probabilities of quantum mechanics there are fixed variables.

    Even if we look at the researches done by a different number of biologists, But to me Benjamin Libet's work & its outcomes are really intresting;

    (This is a quote from wikipedia.com)
    Later Ammon & Gandevia found out that neurostimulations could effect the outcomes :surprised

    As a result; Why can't we conclude human brain as a natural reaction calculator which uses past & present events to calculate what to do next.

    There are a many other such reasonings when I look at the scientific observations with respect to my point of view...


    When it comes to the point of existence, I never said its pointless, Because if there was just no reason then whats it all about...? I do believe in a reason behind the whole of this system but to me the reason is yet far away from human understanding...

    Each comunity has a specific answer to this question but non of them proved correct. Atleast upto this date.


    Maybe our concept of being dead is really wrong and it doesn't means becoming a nonexistent... Like what many of the religions suggest...
  11. Jan 15, 2007 #10
    I don't have time now to read the entirety of your reply but for now:

    Before we get into the ability to predict the future, let's define it.
    Are you saying that you can determine down to the second what and when will occur in the future? Or just generally that some things will happen.

    Upon your idea of supreme cause-and-effect we cannot predict everything with certainty because we don't have the computational abilities, and because you don't know for certain that something won't change between now and the proposed time of the event.
  12. Jan 16, 2007 #11
    Just that we can't do it doesn't means its totally imposible...
    Centuries ago no one could even imagine what a Black Hole is or what the singularities are...

    Future is a product of past & present events combined with laws of nature...
    (from my point of view)
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