Why People so Stupid?

In essence isn’t the route of most of the problems we face in the ‘First world’ the fact that we evolved to get our food by impaling what we want to eat on a sharpened stick. We now find our selves in a world where even explaining how the food gets on the table, involves a lot of information: You buy it from the shops. you use money. the money comes from work. you work in a job. you get a job by working for 12 or more years at school. If all those steps go ok you can eat.

As I look at my baby son I want to be able to say: ‘This is your bow, these are your arrows, heres how we make them. Those a antelopes, thats what we eat heres how you hunt them’.

Nothing about my professional life has felt like working in a factory. I feel like for the most part I was given a factory type education.If I am really honest with myself I don’t think sitting in class room rows doing problems from text books prepared me very well for the world I now find myself in. Teachers may disagree, but the humans brain is not just a bin to be filled with facts. If anything it is more like a gps for getting you close enough to an antelope to throw a sharpened stick into it. I think the fact that we have a memory at all is so we can remember which are  the berries that will make you vomit.

Jared Dimond contends westerners are like the domestic version of humanity. Just like domesticated animals that are fatter, less intelligent, and have worse senses than their wild counter parts we humans that live in ‘modernity’ were most problems have been solved before we even get up in the morning are less intelligent than our counterparts who still live in tribal bands.

Adam Smith,  the farther of economics said “The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human to become.”

Wild type dog

Wild type dog

Domestic dog

Domestic dog

 

Us

Us

 

 

 

 

Complexity is our biggest challenge. In every domain the problem is separating the signal from the noise. There are so many conflicting accounts, that is sometimes feels like everyday you have to wake up and start behaving like a scientist. The only weapons I have found that have tended to work for me a keeping records, feedback loops, and patients.

More and more it seems that the best thing to do is treat life like a game of rugby, use the best tactics you can, be tough and accept that at some point you are going to take a few large and unexpected hits.

There is so much about this wold that I can’t wait to experience with my young son. Who knows perhaps he will be able to make more sense of it than I can. If I have one hope  for the future, it is that the world is flattening out. I hope that when my son is 32 years old the high priests of information like doctors, solicitors, Architects etc will all have lost some of their power.At the end of the day, there is no-one alive today who knows more than a smart phone, if that isn’t the greatest equaliser humanity has ever known then what is?

Perhaps the world isn’t full of idiots, it just that we are all made to feel stupid more and more often by the ever advancing complexity of the world we live in. And sometimes it just helps call everyone else a fool.