Tag Archives | Intelligence

A five-step guide to not being stupid

Still from Stupidity

Still from Stupidity

David Robson Via BBC:

If you ever doubt the idea that the very clever can also be very silly, just remember the time the smartest man in America tried to electrocute a turkey. Benjamin Franklin had been attempting to capture “electrical fire” in glass jars as a primitive battery. Having succeeded, he thought it’d be impressive to use the discharge to kill and roast his dinner. Soon it became a regular party trick, as he wowed guests with his magical ability to command this strange force.

During one of these demonstrations, however, Franklin became distracted, and made an elementary mistake – he touched one of the live jars while holding a metal chain in the other hand. “The company present… say that the flash was very great and the crack as loud as a pistol,” he later wrote. “I then felt what I know not how well to describe; a universal blow thro’out my whole body from head to foot which seem’d within as well as without; after which the first thing I took notice of was a violent quick shaking of my body.”

Clearly, intelligence doesn’t mean that you are more rational or sensible – a fact that we’ve explored before on BBC Future.

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Study: Internet Searches Causing Us to Think We’re Smarter Than We Really Are

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Andrew Moran via Career Addict:

The next time you perform a web search on Google or Yahoo be sure to remember that you’re not actually as smart as you think you are. Internet searches are convincing us that we’re smarter than we are, says a new study by Yale University psychologists.

According to the latest study, surfing the Internet for various tidbits of information gives people the false impression, or “widely inaccurate view,” that they’re intelligent. The experts warn this could generate over-confidence and a false sense of self-esteem, which could then lead to the bad decisions down the line.

The Google Generation

Researchers came to this conclusion when they performed a series of experiments on study participants. More than 1,000 students had taken part in the research study. In one test, an Internet group had been provided with a link to a website that explains “how does a zip work?” and the other group was given a print-out sheet with the same information.

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Are you afraid of technology? You shouldn’t be

Many people fear technology, and have great reservations about kids using smartphones and computers. Anthony Kelly/Flickr, CC BY

Many people fear technology, and have great reservations about kids using smartphones and computers. Anthony Kelly/Flickr, CC BY

Nary a week goes by that doesn’t see a new mainstream media story on the dangers of technology use. Just the other day I spotted one talking about how smartphones are making us dumber.

Yet the original study cited in the news story is actually more about how mobile phones help us to be more intuitive than analytical, and stop us from “overthinking”. But it’s particularly interesting that this study, like many others, gets framed up as a “fear of technology”.

It makes me wonder why many people appear to be so afraid of technology? To answer this question, we need to consider motivations, and perhaps even look at where this argument tends to appear the most, which is in reference to children and education.

Think of the children

The ABC caused some controversy in the mainstream media a couple of years ago when an episode of Play School showed a presenter using a toy computer to send e-mails and a toy smartphone to “tweet” his friends.… Read the rest

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Failure Is Success: How American Intelligence Works in the Twenty-First Century

514zcaXr01LTom Engelhardt’s new book “Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World” is now out!

via Tom Dispatch:

What are the odds? You put about $68 billion annually into a maze of 17 major intelligence outfits. You build them glorious headquarters.  You create a global surveillance state for the ages. You listen in on your citizenry and gather their communications in staggering quantities.  Your employees even morph into avatars and enter video-game landscapes, lest any Americans betray a penchant for evil deeds while in entertainment mode. You collect information on visits to porn sites just in case, one day, blackmail might be useful. You pass around naked photos of them just for… well, the salacious hell of it.  Your employees even use aspects of the system you’ve created to stalk former lovers and, within your arcane world, that act of “spycraft” gains its own name: LOVEINT.

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Fish Found To Equal Chimpanzees In Intelligence Test

Who knew that trout were so smart? A new study finds that coral trout actively seek hunting help from moray eels and collaborate to catch their prey, reports Wired:

Certain forms of collaboration are supposed to be so sophisticated that only the smartest creatures—namely humans and perhaps a few close relatives—are capable of them. Yet this exclusive club has a new and unexpected member: a species of fish, a class of animals seldom associated with high-level intelligence.

As demonstrated in a series of experiments published today in Current Biology, coral trout not only solicit the help of moray eels when they hunt, but also pick their hunting partners wisely. They know when they need help, and quickly learn which eels best provide it. It’s a seemingly simple yet surprisingly sophisticated cognitive trick.

Plectropomus leopardus 1

“Prior to our study, chimpanzees and humans were the only species known to possess both of these abilities,” said zoologist Alex Vail of England’s University of Cambridge.

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Slime Mold Colony Intelligence Explored In New Documentary ‘The Creeping Garden’

“A real life science fiction movie exploring a world creeping right beneath our feet, where time and space are magnified and intelligence redefined.

The Creeping Garden is a feature length creative documentary exploring the work of fringe scientists, mycologists and artists, and their relationship with the extraordinary plasmodial slime mould.”

The Creeping Garden – Trailer 2014 from cinema iloobia on Vimeo.

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Rats Can Feel Regret, Says Scientists

"I regret nothing." (Pic-Joanna Servaes.)

“I regret nothing.” (Pic-Joanna Servaes cc)

Sounds like it’s about time we get an apology for bubonic plague, then.

New research from the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota reveals that rats show regret, a cognitive behavior once thought to be uniquely and fundamentally human.

Research findings were recently published in Nature Neuroscience.

To measure the cognitive behavior of regret, A. David Redish, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience in the University of Minnesota Department of Neuroscience, and Adam Steiner, a graduate student in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience, who led the study, started from the definitions of regret that economists and psychologists have identified in the past.

“Regret is the recognition that you made a mistake, that if you had done something else, you would have been better off,” said Redish. “The difficult part of this study was separating regret from disappointment, which is when things aren’t as good as you would have hoped.

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Modern Human Evolution: Is It Working Against Us?

i-8c66c4d51330345ea25f9764619ec10e-human-evolutionIn the vein of discussion recently on disinfo regarding how politically correct (or morally obligative) it is to address a person’s stupidity, Nicholas Wade writes a challenging and frank article for Time.com to promote his book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes Race and Human History.

…Racism and discrimination are wrong as a matter of principle, not of science. That said, it is hard to see anything in the new understanding of race that gives ammunition to racists. The reverse is the case. Exploration of the genome has shown that all humans, whatever their race, share the same set of genes. Each gene exists in a variety of alternative forms known as alleles, so one might suppose that races have distinguishing alleles, but even this is not the case. A few alleles have highly skewed distributions but these do not suffice to explain the difference between races. The difference between races seems to rest on the subtle matter of relative allele frequencies.

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The Taboo of IQ

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Michael Pineda (36) (5709266340)

Michael Pineda

Why We Sidestep Stupidity, and Why We Sometimes Shouldn’t

In the 2nd inning of his fourth start of the 2014 baseball season, New York Yankees’ pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected, and subsequently suspended, for using pine tar on his pitching hand.

Though technically an illegal substance, pine tar’s use is an open secret due to the offsetting advantages it affords adversaries. In raw, cold conditions such as those endured that April evening in Boston, pine tar provides pitchers with a more reliable grip on a baseball while having little, if any, effect on its flight. The pitcher gains a grasp more in line with warmer weather and, in return, the batter is less likely to be summarily plunked by a runaway 95-mph fastball. In exchange for no harm, no foul is called so long as the rule is bent with gentlemanly discretion.

Michael Pineda displayed no such guile. Instead, he smeared a generous glob of the shiny, sticky stuff on his naked upper neck.… Read the rest

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Trace Amounts of Arsenic In Drinking Water Can Make You Stupid

PIC: Aramgutang (PD)

PIC: Aramgutang (PD)

According to researchers at Columbia University, even small amounts of arsenic in your drinking water can lower children’s IQ. If you’re wondering if your local water supply has arsenic in it, then wonder no more: Just about every water system – private or public – does. The study suggests that 5 or more parts per billion can impact children’s cognitive abilities. The EPA standard for acceptable arsenic levels is 10 parts per billion or less.

Via Press Herald:

Scientists from Columbia University and the University of New Hampshire recently completed a five-year study of 272 schoolchildren in Maine who had been exposed to arsenic in well water. They found that even at low levels, 5 or more parts per billion, the exposure could correlate to lower intelligence, as much as five to six points on IQ tests.

“Everyone was a little taken aback by that,” said professor Amy Schwartz of the University of New Hampshire, who coordinated the testing of Maine children.

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