have little to lose more precious
than your brains!
- Dumbing-down. Orwell's 1984 has diverted
attention away from the sources of mental control today, Greedy
Uncle as much as Big Brother. A population kept as silly as possible
is more docile than one controlled by thought police and prison
camps. The intelligence of the people is being wasted by default.
- 'Raising intelligence' is a favourite topic for
educational research, but opposed by arguments that only a minority
elite need to develop their potential or there will be a shortage of
unskilled labor and more clever criminals, the already privileged
will face competition, and 'improving intelligence' in any case is
academic and elitist.
The most effective way to increase the available
natural resources is to reduce waste - up to 25% for food and energy
sources. Our major natural resource is human intelligence, defined
as 'the ability to work out what to do in a situation', including the
ability to work out what to do in IQ tests and problem-solving in the
real world, with the abilities that standard intelligence tests try
to measure - practical and verbal reasoning, comprehension and
judgement of situations, speed of mental operations, memory,
vocabulary, sequencing, conceptual range, ability to learn,
curiosity, alertness, attention to detail, attention span,
persistence, abstraction, analysis and synthesis. These abilities can
be stunted or developed, and require more than the 'speed with which
information travels through the nervous system'.
Waste of intelligence means waste of human lives, less effective
democracy, and fewer solutions for our social, political, and
Causes of Waste of People that can be
- Waste in the social order.The greatest waste
of resources of intelligence has always been through caste systems
enforcing servility on women and the masses.
- Famine, disease, war, poverty and struggle for mere
survival. Malnutrition stunts children's development and saps
adults' mental energy, increasing the menace of irrational fanatic
violence. Richer countries have children with junk-fed minds.
- Premature and handicapped babies' intensive medical care
contrasts with our tolerance of the social and environmental
factors that increase such births.
- Insults to the brain. Popular concern for physical health
still neglects the physical well-being of the brain. Ignorance allows
shaking babies, boxing ears, prolonged exposure to loud noise and
epileptigenic lights. Knowing the miracle of
construction within every human mind might temper the casual violence
we commit against our most precious brains. Brain injuries in
accidents should get media headlines as worse than death tolls in
- Research on risks to the brain. Some innovations may be
regarded as risky to mental functioning until proven innocent by
research. e.g. an excess of fast-moving meaningless visuals on TV,
and pop noise inflicted far beyond willng listeners may stupefy
intellectual abilities as well as deafen - and increase desire for
physical sensation at the expense of mental effort. There may be
It should be not be socially acceptable to be
'mind-shattered', 'zonked', 'stoned out', 'blind drunk', 'out of
one's mind,' 'brain-bombed', brain-blown', with the intentional loss
of control of mental faculties. Cannabis is promoted as 'only
affecting the highest centres of the brain' , but these may be most
delicate, vulnerable and precious, although effects may be difficult
to assess, since they appear in the quality of daily thought, work,
motivation, and concern for others, rather than in scores on
blunt-edged tests. Fuller conscious awareness reveals more wonder and
expands minds more than chemical compounds that distort experience.
- Active intelligence is a form of mental energy and elan
vitale. Thinking and reflecting are enjoyable and often hard
sports. People who think actively get senile less quickly. Brains
need not rust. Cultures vary in encouragement and respect for
intelligence. If thinking became popularly rated as socially
desirable, ordinary people could enjoy operating at the top end of
their intelligence, whatever it may be.
- Adolescents need cultural ways to prove youthful heroism
and independence other than blind-drinking, bombing out, shooting up,
vandalism or dangerous driving. Courage is facing problems rather
than shutting down or numbing minds.
- Children's intelligence may be stunted when adults regard
child-care as menial and physical, and rotting parents' brains.
Disturbed homes disturb children, and development of language,
knowledge, understanding and curiosity can be handicapped without
songs, stories, lullabies, or welcome place in adult company.
Childcare-centres should never be like left-luggage
centres, or give constant meaningless over-stimulation, with few
chances to develop thinking, imagination, problem-solving,
concentration and longterm relationships with loyal carers.
Good schooling and first-class teachers are still a matter
of luck for most children, regardless of what type of school they
attend. Educators can underrate the value of accumulated automated
organised knowledge which is not just 'isolated facts' as a base for
higher-order thinking. Knowledge is still power and can't be acquired
just by looking up data-bases. Practical and technologically-directed
intelligence requries workshop opportunities at home or school, to
become thinking handymen. Literacy teaching requires breakthroughs -
the task itself needs remediation.
Some educational philosophies 'start where the children
are', but can leave them there. 'Discovery learning' should not
means pupils must rediscover all wheels and repeat the old mistakes.
A generation that does not know the achievements of the past cannot
stand on its shoulders to reach still further.
Books can encourage or discourage intelligent curiosity,
wonder and intiative, and give vicarious experience, with messages
about what the world is like and how to behave in it, what needs to
be changed and how it might be changed.
- TV now provides universal education yet it models
destruction, consuming, emotional instability, intelligence directed
to criminal activities, and introduces babies to accepting a
meaningless world. Much film drama now consists of fast action
without explanation The innate human desire to find meaning can be
lost by experiences of no meaning.
Yet video and TV could demonstrate
brilliant teaching. A whole free-to-air Channel for Open Primary
School, Open Secondary School, Open Technical School at prime times,
not just school hours. TV was thought, sixty years ago, to offer the
possibility of civilising the whole world.
- Reason may be blamed for the world's state, but peace
requires thinking as well as listening to the heart. The great danger
is access by men of passion, impulse and ignorance to the megakill
inventions of men of too-focussed intelligence. Someone who operates
primarily on feelings is not a full human being any more than a
completely intellectualising person.
- Waste of people in society, waste of people in work,
'psychological poverty' - all can be set and reversed.
This account is trying to direct attention to what we may all know
- in a way - but do not realise is so urgent.
The most serious energy crisis ahead is
the crisis of human energy.
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