Waste of people


Think! You 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.

Towards solutions

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 economic problems.

Causes of Waste of People that can be stopped

- 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 long-term consequences.

- 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 future lawsuits.

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.