Intelligence: Novel Enterprise & Life Outcomes

Intelligence should be reconsidered. Adaptability should be the measure of value.

“….more intelligent individuals are more likely than less intelligent individuals to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel preferences and values that did not exist in the ancestral environment and thus our ancestors did not have, but general intelligence has no effect on the acquisition and espousal of evolutionarily familiar preferences and values that existed in the ancestral environment.”     -Satoshi Kanazawa, The Hypothesis from The Scientific Fundamentalist: A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature

According to the Savanna Principle, The human brain has difficulty comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment. As a result, “more intelligent individuals should be better able to comprehend and deal with evolutionarily novel (but not evolutionarily familiar) entities and situations than less intelligent individuals.” According to The Hypothesis, the most intelligent among us should be most apt to engage in experience and adapt to entities that yield novel insight. To reiterate: this doesn’t mean they are best suited for dealing with the familiar entities that shaped them in past history, but that they are more capable of dealing with novel contemporary entities. That is, they are able to comprehend and deal with new challenges previously unpresented.

Fascinating really. Darwin said in one word or another:

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

I believe intelligence should be reconsidered. Adaptability should be the central measure of value. Call it intelligence, but being able to respond to change should be the hallmark for mental progress.

I just read the article titled Why Intelligent People Use More Drugs posted in this series. Their conclusion:

People – scientists and civilians alike – often associate intelligence with positive life outcomes.  The fact that more intelligent individuals are more likely to consume alcohol, tobacco, and psychoactive drugs tampers this universally positive view of intelligence and intelligent individuals.  Intelligent people don’t always do the right thing, only the evolutionarily novel thing.

The safe bet isn’t always the best bet, which is why people of stellar intelligence take risks. They push boundaries and explore the unknown. They are curious and desire to understand the farthest frontiers of experience. In this way they are more prepared for the changes to come.

More thoughts later.