Human beings are often touted as being the most intelligent species known. How do we measure this?
Sharks have lived on earth for more than 420 million years. Crocodiles and alligators have been around almost as long. But homo sapiens is young, and not as evolved. Yes, humans have awareness, but is that the only measure of intelligence? What about an ability to use that awareness to not extinguish ourselves, or other organisms?
Can a species that creates war, or trash, really be considered very intelligent?
The real meaning of intelligence is proven by those organisms, or systems, which have endured millions, or even billions, of years. Natural selection has enabled them to adapt to constantly changing environments. One working definition of intelligence is simply “that which endures”. Perhaps the Universe itself, having evolved beings which rose to high levels of consciousness, can be said to be the highest intelligence of all.
When human beings are tested for “intelligence” they are being evaluated on a very narrow band of their functioning. How one might solve a puzzle, or find a pattern is measured. Emotional intelligence, sensate intelligence, and intuitive instinct are not measured with these tests. How we use all incoming data, not just auditory or visual, but from what Ecopsychologists have identified as fifty-three senses, has not been calculated or measured so far. These other senses are something that humanity is slipping away from as we grow more and more alienated from the Natural world.
Intelligence tests are also flawed in that many people will have thousands of reasons why they do not perform well in their results. A minor brain or physical ailment, or being from a differing ethnic background can result in differences that skew results. So anything from vocabulary to examination anxiety, or even a broken toe, will affect one’s score on an intelligence (IQ) test. Or what if someone just lost a job, or is depressed? All these things will skew results of any intelligence tests that center on problem solving alone.
Except for when he was a small child and did not have “normal “ language skills, Einstein would do well on almost any measure of intelligence, surely. Yet what really sets him apart was his deep understanding that Natural laws are run by a kind of intelligence that is far beyond our limited range. He understood that how we are able to function and preserve balance is more crucial than that we are just smarter about how to kill everything, or everyone else. The next guy with an even more pointed spear, or robotic drone, may have more of one measure of a narrow intelligence, but is that all we want to define?
There are almost seven billion of us, very intelligent creatures, but in learning to apply, function, balance, and even measure that intelligence, we still have much to learn.