A look at the dark side of intelligence

I am writing this as a bird, not an insect, using the telescope and not the microscope. So try not to find faults with my logic; the “holes” are there, but the substance also.

In a way the man in the street understand what intelligence is, at least until he has to define it. Definitions are not only hard, they are often more delimiting than really clarifying. They might clarify the borders of the playing field, but not the game itself. A definition can be as much disservice as service.

So what follows will be un-scientific, non-microscopic utterances.

Without making a definition I will still try to see which elements are more or less always present in intelligence.

As I see it, intelligence is generally

  • solitary (my intelligence against yours),
  • partisan (one aim against another),
  • and competitive

In intelligence there is usually a winner and one or more losers. “The winner takes all” is not only true of poker and win-lose can be a very intelligent (if not wise) thing.

All of these points actually say the same thing: that intelligence is not a WE. Or if it is, then it is a We-Them thing.


You might object that there are different kinds of intelligences. There is also emotional intelligence (EQ) and Gardners seven or eight intelligences. Some people speak of holistic intelligence, spiritual intelligence, etc.

We have a whole palette of intelligences in plural, no longer are we limited to the narrow kind of the old intelligence tests.

What I term INTERLIGENCE however I see as different from both EQ and Gardner’s different types.

Let us today try to understand it by seeing what it is NOT. Next time by what it IS. ornament5b

Intelligence, due to its closeness to competition, partisanship and win-lose models, is quite naturally employed in situations of exclusion and elimination. In more concrete terms, in situations of strife and war.

War can be bloody or stylized (like a game of chess or ice hockey). In the latter case we have the seed, in the former the full bloody flower. (And in football hooliganism both seed and flower.)

The point is that intelligence is bedfellow (perhaps strange, perhaps not) with conflict and strife.  To go further, it is no stranger to advertising, PR, manipulation, oppression and tyranny. It has been known to cohabitate with cruelty of the worst kind.

It is in other words no angel.

Well, nobody said it was, you reply.

But we still look up to intelligent people!? Even though, with a bit of reflection, we know that they can be competitive, bragging, oppressive, and lending their competence to very evil goals. We often admire their talents not just for being smart, but for being outsmart, for fooling others.

I can feel this impulse myself, of course. Watching a movie and see the hero outwit the bad guys, there is a certain enjoyment in this.

Also when we outsmart others. The competition impulse is human, we need not be ashamed of it. Neither need we feel proud of it. When we outsmart somebody we can shake paws with the fox; he does the same thing. Only he probably does it in self-defense, or to get food, while we humans do it for “fun”, sometimes torturous fun.

Sure, we can call ourselves “foxy” and joke about it. From another viewpoint acting like an animal is not very funny.


So, seen from the bird´s view intelligence is close to competition, and thereby to strife, battle, oppression, manipulation and war.

Is there a vaccine against its malignant facets, a way to remove or at least lessen its warlike, competitive, manipulative aspects?

That is what this whole project is about. Next time I will try to explain interligence in more positive terms. That will actually be a relief, like leaving a battle-field for a concert hall….

Intelligence is not enough
Intelligence is not enough

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