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Signs of Intelligence

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I have to wonder, we have spent a good deal of effort in trying to locate intelligent life elsewhere in our neighborhood, the Milky Way Galaxy. If we assume that intelligent life elsewhere is inquisitive, how likely is it that they also went looking, found us and simply moved on?    

I have been reading up on current events, the latest news about what is going on in the world and I find that my assumptions that humans represent intelligent life are seriously challenged. We seem to represent nothing more than socially challenged, power-hungry, biased, bigoted, fear-oriented monkeys, preying on those who are weaker or more vulnerable, and intent on destroying the very world which gave birth to us. And that is on a good day.

To make it worse there are many who play off of our short-comings as a species to advance their own dubious agendas or personal gratifications, anything for advantage, personal pleasure or power. I went through a period, for a while, where I felt that many of the issues that the world faced were due to a lack of empathy of one group for what another was facing. I was wrong.

There is evil in this world. Evil is not simply a point of view that compares unfavorably to your own. Evil is not simply due to a challenging upbringing, or social and economic disadvantages that one group forces on another. Evil can only be described as an inherent pathology buried in our genetic code. Evil that pits one group against another for personal or tribal gain. It is easy to see how over time legends of “supernatural” evil emerged, but there is nothing “supernatural” about it, it is just us.

I know I am being harsh and I don’t mean to be. There are many good hearted, kind people in this world who help out their fellows without looking for personal gain. But what are we forced to give our attention to and on what does the media tend to focus? The negative extreme of the distribution. The evil that does exist takes the majority of our time, effort and resources to keep it in check. There is some research that points out that humans as a species are “self-domesticating”. That over the long run those who are more collaborative and behave in a more socially desirable fashion have a breeding advantage. Over time those characteristics are becoming more and more dominant and the distribution shifts. But we would seem to have a ways to go before we eliminate evil, if we, without evolving beyond our humanness, ever will.

If we shift our gaze beyond an examination of the negative end of the distribution, perhaps what we will notice is that most of the distribution laying before us is more positive in nature. That most people do not give in or have it inherent within themselves to give way to their baser natures. Existing beyond the extreme negative end of the distribution lies the overwhelming vast majority of us.

Positivism. Most people are good and want to do good things during their time in this world. The care about each other and building a better future, if not for themselves then for their children. They tend to be pragmatic for they know that hardened, intransient positions are an eventual dead-end for everyone. And they are willing to work collaboratively with their fellow humans to achieve improvements.

Is it possible to work collaboratively with all towards a better future? My sense of pragmatism tells me no, with some there is just no point. But I am willing to give it my all to find those who are willing to work for a better future for all of humanity.

© 2014 by Jeffrey M. Saltzman. All rights reserved.

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Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

September 1, 2014 at 9:26 pm

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