A while back, cleaning his paddock with my younger brother, Scott, we had an amusing exchange about smarts. He was aware I usually avoid horses for the same reasons I'm not drawn to crowds of Humans. Horses and people are similar in that if there's anything worse than a dumb one -- and Lordy, do they know dumb -- it's an 'intelligent' one. Stay clear of 'em, I say. He told me this, about an endurance ride he'd competed in: An off-course turn took him and his mount up a very narrow trail, cliffs up on the left, down on the right, leaving no room to dismount or make a mounted u-turn. Rounding a bend, they were blocked by a tree down over the trail, hanging precarious. Scott said after a very few minutes of, 'Now what...,' and swiveling ears, the horse did something unhorselike. He stood up on his back feet with Scott aboard, turned around in the trail, and went back to all fours headed safer back downhill. Scott said, 'Tell me they're not intelligent,' speaking for his horses. I said, 'Yeah. And likewise, just because you can pronounce the word intelligence does not mean you have some, or would know where to find any, or would recognize it if it served you at McDonald's.' We laughed.
It's our very Distinguishing Characteristic, which no one seems to think is funny. Look around you anywhere; distinguished? How? Where?
There's a positive overdose blizzard of chaff marked 'intelligence,' and little more in evidence behind the label. Distinguished by what, 'we-need-a-flood-of-good-clean-ideas-and-here-comes-a-smarts-drought?' Tried to think and nothing happened? Bushels of intelligence and most of it 'secret?' This is an intelligence apparatus made almost entirely of open circuits, with not a glimmer at the bulb or a quiver on the needle.
While you look around for some positive evidence of intelligence at work in your world, consider this: Everyone (EVERYBODY) knows the words politician and crook are almost synonymous, near interchangeable, for very good and very old reasons. Yet, a good number of otherwise normal-looking People, when elections creep up and campaigns start flinging 'product,' will actually engage in long, bitter arguments, debating back and forth, but seriously, which of the lying, thieving, murdering dogs among the candidates is the more believable. Seriously. Slim pickin's in the smarts department around election time, no doubt whatever. Maybe in November, the smarter cells are hibernating, leaving the rest to sort among the evils for a 'lesser?'
Intelligence is so highly valued, and so often-cited a factor in skills for survival (to hear the survivors tell it), you'd think there'd be more visible exercise of it. Maybe we shouldn't expect so much. We've got by on so little, so far so good, right? Right?
And the Official Intelligence Expert with an entire briefcase full of Intelligence does not have to show you anything, because you're just a cannon-fodder corrections-grist tax-cattle civilian mooing about intelligence and you don't even have a security clearance. And more often than not, the briefcase holds only an underwear change, a few viagra, some outdated but hopeful condoms, and some worn porn. A walking intelligence bonanza. With a real, live Rolex. It's too bleak to speak.
If you're all hopeful, convinced that some real intelligence needs to spring forth to our rescue, beware: intelligence hasn't really played that big a role positively, so far. And there are many things labeled 'intelligence' and convincingly packaged and all...that open up empty, or worse. A spontaneous taxyak upwising seems unlikely...
Ask an intelligence expert for examples of smarts operating successfully as a survival mechanism, and you'll find you're in the wrong building, Elvis. The densest, most industrial-strength concentrations of deliberate ignorance and intentional stupidity are consistently exhibited by those known as intelligence experts. We've come a long way, baby, on this brand of intelligence. So does it look like it's going well? Ask SETI, maybe.
Succeeding in your quest for intelligence, like any other search, depends largely on where you look. The official Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence is looking everywhere but this planet in accord with their title. Does that mean they've given up looking around here? What, exactly, are their search parameters? Would they know intelligence in the highly unlikely event they should run across it? If they were to find intelligence out there, would SETI's response be the same as the intelligent response?
Here on terra infirma we've a vast surplus of those who claim the gift of intelligence. Some of these are documented with degrees, diplomas, citations, clearances, folksy memoirs, and more; others simply proclaim their smarts all unabashed, and recognize no intelligence whatever in those who disagree with them in this or any question. (The old 'I'm smart, and you're not' deal that used to whirl across the schoolyard leaving a whiff of idiocy in its wake.) Both these categories, claimants to be entitled, 'intelligent,' seem unmotivated to practice any of their art but bragging about it. Long intel-drought there, too.
There are legions of those in official capacity who claim possession of intelligence in two ways, for starters:
1. A claim of intelligence as a personal faculty with which they are blessed as individuals, having it in their possession and control, they say, with charts.
2. A claim of proprietary rights to way too much unspecified intelligence -- rights not found in Law -- including spurious rights to hide intelligence, or classify it.
Why would a sworn and well-fed public servant want to hide important information by classification?
Good intelligence or Bad intelligence, wouldn't it serve the Public, US, better to be wised up? Isn't that kind of like the democratic approach?
Whose Little Intel Is This?
- Who's PAYING for this intelligence, and paying and paying and...?
- Whose security is supposed to depend on this intelligence, emphatically?
- Who gets selected NOT to take part in this intelligence 'for their own good,' unless it goes bad (unclassified), uncovering the rot, the crimes, the lives ruined and lost and stolen? Time. After. Time.
- Who gets to clean up this horror?
- Who gets to pay again and pay again, and so on...?
- Who never gives themselves credit where they won it?
- Who takes a screwin' and keeps on mooin'?
Us, us, us, us, us, us, and us, respectively
Long time lucky thing for us self-appointed intelligent beings, thanks to Murphy and to God and all her little Helpers, there's way more to this smarts deal than you would think.