True Intelligence

Intelligence isn't the ability to store knowledge, repeat facts, or search for things on Google.

It's not something we're necessarily born with either.

Instead, our level of Intelligence can be determined by our level of flexibility.  How much we can adapt to the ever changing dynamic world.  How much we can listen and openly process new information without being clouded by expectations, biases, egos, tribes, etc.

Intelligence is dynamic mobility.  Ignorance is rigid stasis.

This is why the Dude always kept his mind "limber". 

cognitive flexibility really ties the room together ( image source )

cognitive flexibility really ties the room together (image source)

Flexible Intelligence

Research is starting to bring evidence to this conventional wisdom.

"General intelligence requires both the ability to flexibly reach nearby, easy-to-access states -- to support crystallized intelligence -- but also the ability to adapt and reach difficult-to-access states -- to support fluid intelligence...What my colleagues and I have come to realize is that general intelligence does not originate from a single brain region or network. Emerging neuroscience evidence instead suggests that intelligence reflects the ability to flexibly transition between network states."  -Aron Barbey

Cognitive scientist, Marvin Minsky, has discussed this concept in the context of Artificial Intelligence many times.

“We get resourcefulness from having many resources. Not from having one very smart one.” -Marvin Minsky

Social Media's Stiffness

If intelligence is the flexibility to adapt to different states, then our we may be losing it by using social media and superficial google searches.

These "environments" have organized algorithms that bring confirmation biased stories into our feeds that limit our ability to see new things with an open perspective.

Our minds won't get stretched in situations where someone else is dictating what we see and don't see

Without an open, free environment, the crystallized intelligence would become more like fossilized intelligence.  Rigid thoughts and biased arguments would persist.  Novel paradigms and new ideas would be perceived with resistance.  And separation, tribes, and intolerance would be strengthened.

What to Do

Beyond a deep introspective practice to realize and assess our own thoughts, there are some simple things we can do to keep our minds limber:

  • Seek out new experiences
  • Use unbiased news (for example BBC or Reuters instead of Fox or CNN)
  • Stay away from negative people/resources
  • Avoid clickbait
  • Realize social media is curated by an algorithm and not a good representation of the world
  • Try novel things without any expectations
  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable
  • Spend more time in nature
  • Stay away from screens
  • Try new movements, exercises, and physical activity (body state = mental state)
  • Talk to people who have different experiences/opinions than us (and actually listen to what they say instead of waiting to prove our point)
  • Do more than just a 1st page google search to confirm our bias
  • Ask more questions

"The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences." -Seng-T'san

Keep it Flexible

On December 14th there is a vote on Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality allows for freedom of the internet.  It's online equality.

"Net Neutrality means an internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that ISPs should provide us with open networks — and shouldn’t block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company shouldn’t decide who you call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn’t interfere with the content you view or post online."

Allowing corporations to dictate what we see is a scary thought.  If intelligence if flexibility, then killing net neutrality would lead to domestic stupidity.  Or worse, an authoritarian society.

Don't let them buy away our freedom.

Vote.  Call congress.  Write letters to representatives.  Spread the word.

Here's a website to help us take action.

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