I’ve awoken with the realisation that animal instinct is no more than a set of highly developed pattern recognition skills, making us humans supernally dumb because we place importance over our social interactions with one another instead of being attuned to the naturally occurring patterns all around us, unlike most other creatures on this planet.
I believe intelligence is measured by how advanced a person’s pattern recognition skills are, except we don’t generally acknowledge that that is the defining guideline, even though, that is generally what an IQ test is testing for. We place much weight on quantity and type of knowledge amongst our normal social circles in defining human intelligence, instead of how we might have arrived at our assumptions, and so we naturally assume that because we have an evolved speech and are able to wax lyrical about what we know, that we necessarily ‘know’ more than the average animal. It’s just not true. It means we are specialists in one thing: Being chatty humans.
Sure, our specific brand of intelligence allows us to achieve things that perhaps other animals have not. We build tall structures and make things, and we can tell a story unlike any other creature on this planet, but we seem to be incapable of reading one another or our environments, or even ourselves without the use of fancy tools or encyclopaedias amassed from centuries of stilted knowledge, which for the most part keeps us in the dark rather than informing us of a better approach to our own continued survival and the survival of many other species of animal that we have been directly instrumental in diminishing. If we were better able to be attuned to our instincts, I believe things would be very different for us. Better, in fact.
I think animals are able to read their environment much like a human Synaesthete interprets sensory data in a multi-sensory way. And because there is a very complex and intricate order within the construct of our physical universe (this is already widely accepted by the scientific and academic community, by the way), most animals are able to recognise those patterns and interpret them into information that is then directly applicable to their survival. Hell, even plants are able to do that!
We humans on the other hand, have evolved so that our natural pattern recognition skills are greatly dampened, making us incapable of even detecting things like storms, for example, with any kind of natural ability. Animals, mammals, birds, insects alike will take shelter and scatter when they sense a storm coming, often long before it arrives. We humans have to check our phone apps, or the vibrancy of our local crickets (in the case of the bush people of Australia – not that I’m casting aspersions on the bush people of Australia per se) to tell us when a storm might happen. The crickets already knew…!
Not all of us are so instinctually challenged however, but even the brightest of us can’t outsmart a chimp when it comes to instinctive pattern recognition skills. If you’ve ever watched the video of the chimp in the Japanese laboratory detecting the random, shifting positions of a set of dots on a computer screen, at impossible break-neck speeds I might add, then you’ll know what I mean. Yet, interestingly we respond to patterns with an innate sense of joy. Why? You work it out, genius. No seriously, maybe it’s because that’s how we are actually wired to respond to stimuli. There have been plenty of studies in social semiotics over the past 70 years that can attest to that, not to mention the advances in our understanding of human neurochemistry.
I believe that the dumbness is an affliction that also affects domesticated animals, though to a seemingly lesser extent than us humans, although we too are technically domesticated – oh wait… we invented the term! The overarching effect of our diminished instinctual awareness makes us clumsy, insensitive, arrogant and dangerous to both ourselves and all else around us, because it makes us feel separate and disconnected from one another and the world we live in, and to that extent, superior which makes us an instant threat to EVERYTHING. Our inability to assess that which should be instinctive to us makes us overly cautious and superstitious, and actually diminishes our reasoning capabilities, rather than increasing them. In that way, I really do think we are unique, but that could just be the arrogant human in me talking…who’s to say?
We overcompensate for our lack of instinct by creating our own patterns of behaviour that have almost nothing to do with our natural world or our need to physically survive and stay healthy within it, but that have everything to do with ensuring our own social survival, which tends to be hierarchical in structure, and again based on a perceived threat of exclusion. And although those social hierarchies and threats exist in other animal species, we humans have taken it to a whole new level because of this sense of superiority that we have adopted. It’s a very superficial set of choices we make owing to our diminished instinctive awareness and therefore, acceptance, of how we are connected and indeed are an integral part of the universe we inhabit.
Without our innate sense of awareness of the order of things, we put ourselves and others at immense risk, which adversely, is something we seem to be proud of. It means however, that we are incapable of reading one another or our environment with any kind of efficacy, if efficacy were to equate to good health and a sense of balanced coexistence. Yet, when we happen to meet those for whom their instinct is increased, we assume they are being foolish or have some kind of mental defect or ability that either affects or enhances their reasoning capabilities beyond that which is considered normal. Worst still, we assume they might be magicians or demons! We never assume that we might just be dumber than the average animal. It’s kinda sad really. But there it is: Humanity in a nutshell. I’m not proud.
And now to do some more painting. Even an elephant can do that.
We humans are either really wonderful or really demented. I’m not sure which anymore.