Saturday, 2 March 2013

Smarter or Dumberer

To the ancients these would represent the four elements: Earth, Water, Wind and Fire.
To me they also represent the four states of matter: Solid, Liquid, Gas and Plasma.
The ancients classified all things by their elements and we can do likewise with the states of matter. Often there is the thought that we are more advanced and more intelligent than those in antiquity. We scoff at the things they believed, their theories of the world, because we know so much better.
I don't think that's the case. Our brains aren't much different than they've ever been, so our potential for creativity and intelligence aren't any greater than the ancients'. I think the difference is our access to shared knowledge. We've never relied on just our own brains to retain all the information necessary to our lives.
We started sharing knowledge with other people: elders, physicians, butchers, etc. We didn't have to know how to set bones or dismember a cow to survive any more. We didn't get dumber. We just turned our minds to new pursuits. Then came text: scrolls, books, the printing press. Our new knowledge could be collected, stored and referenced when needed. And we didn't get dumber. Now technology and the internet has increased the amount of, and our access to, shared knowledge exponentially. We won't get dumber. Our brains are adaptable and creative. Intelligence may look different after the internet revolution, but it will not decrease.
Our ancestors were smart - We are smart - Our descendants will be smart

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