Friday, February 10, 2012

What if...

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What if humans could be made twice as intelligent?

Neuroscientist foresees more solutions to global ills, 

but little change in social skills

Image: Brain

An actual human brain is displayed inside a glass box as part of an interactive exhibition titled "Brain: A World Inside Your Head."

You might someday be much, much smarter than you are now. At least that's the hope of neuroscientists focused on understanding the basis of intelligence.
They have discovered that the brains of people with high IQs tend to be highly integrated, with neural paths connecting distant brain regions, while less intelligent people's brains build simpler, shorter routes. But no one knows why some brains construct much longer-range connections than others.
"When the brain mechanisms that underlie intelligence are understood, it is theoretically possible that those mechanisms can be tweaked to increase IQ," said Richard Haier, a neuroscientist and professor emeritus at the University of California at Irvine who studies intelligence. For the first time in human history, he said, "the concept that intelligence can be increased is reasonable."
It's a titillating thought but, considering the aphorism "ignorance is bliss," one might wonder: Would it really be better to be brainier? What would life and society be like if we all suddenly became, say, twice as intelligent?
For simplicity, imagine that instead of our current mean IQ score of 100, humans had an average score of 200. (Experts say this isn't a true "doubling" of intelligence because the IQ scale doesn't start at zero — and furthermore, the test isn't actually designed to yield a score as high as 200 — but we will set aside these qualifications for the purpose of argument.)
According to Earl Hunt, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington and president of the International Society for Intelligence Research, approximately one person in 10 billion would have an IQ of 200. With a current world population of 7 billion, there may or may not be one such person alive today, and in any case, his or her identity is unknown. However, the 17th-century genius Isaac Newton, discoverer of gravity, calculus and more, is sometimes estimated to have had an IQ of 200 (though he never took an IQ test).
Using him as an archetype, what if we were all a bunch of Newtons? Would the world be much more advanced than it is today?


Haier believes greater intelligence, which he defines as the ability to learn faster and remember more, would be highly advantageous on an individual scale.
"Experiencing the world with a higher IQ might be more interesting for most people. They might enjoy reading more, might have a greater depth of appreciation for certain things and more insight into life," he told Life's Little Mysteries.
Furthermore, IQs of 200 would allow us to pursue activities and careers that most interest us, not just those we're mentally capable of, Haier said. We could master new languages in a few weeks, for example, or become brain surgeons.
Smarter humans would also be healthier and longer-living, the scientists said, because they'd have a better grasp of what behavior leads to these attributes.
"Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and even more, managing a chronic illness such as diabetes, can be quite cognitively challenging. That's the sort of challenge intelligent people can meet… by definition," Hunt wrote in an email.

Social skills 

Society would not benefit quite as much as individuals from a mass intelligence boost. Although people like to blame social problems on human ignorance and stupidity, the scientists say removing these factors would not lead to the emergence of a harmonious Utopia. Greater intelligence does not come hand-in-hand with a greater ability to cooperate.
"Intelligence is independent of personality and emotion, so you can have very intelligent people who are also just kind of crazy people," Haier said. "Even if everyone had an IQ of 200, you'd have exactly the same range of personalities as you have now, and because that's a determining factor in how good your society is, you won't necessarily have a better society."
Again, consider Isaac Newton: Along with his off-the-charts smarts, he was also a notorious misanthrope.
While petty-crime rates would fall in a society of Newtons, Hunt speculated that white-collar crimes, such as banking scams and cover-ups by pharmaceutical companies, might increase and even grow more sophisticated. On the other hand, so would crime-fighting. "The evil corporate villains would be smarter than ever, but so would the government officials who were writing and enforcing the safety regulations! Who would win? Who knows?" he wrote.
Despite these issues, there's a very good chance that higher-functioning brains would help us invent technologies to fix some of our bigger problems. Haier explained that just as a team of 100 engineers is more likely to come up with a remarkable innovation than a team of 10 engineers (because there's more total brainpower working on the job), having 7 billion "geniuses" on Earth would likely lead to solutions to some currently intractable issues. We might figure out a hyper-efficient way to desalinate saltwater, for example, or tap into a limitless alternative-energy source.
Because both those advances would produce a greater abundance of resources, they would likely minimize societal conflict — despite some humans being just as nasty as ever.

Loss of faith 

According to Hunt, there's evidence to suggest that many humans, if significantly smarter, would lose their belief in God
"There is a small tendency for people with high scores to be more liberal in their social attitudes and less likely to accept strong religious beliefs. This makes sense; we can know things by reasoning or we can accept something on faith. If we all became very good reasoners, there would probably be a small shift to preferring reasoned over faith-based explanations of the phenomenon of life," he wrote.
Some people would undoubtedly continue to accept faith-based cosmologies, however, as there have been many examples in history of highly intelligent and religious people, Hunt noted.

Looking smart 

Confounding the stereotype of the nerdy brainiac with suspenders and thick glasses, Hunt mentioned one other change that would be expected to occur if we all became smarter. "People would be better looking!" he wrote. A study from Harvard University found a significant correlation between peoples' test scores and how physically attractive other people rate them to be, he explained, and extrapolating the finding up to people with IQs of 200 implies that, in our world of super geniuses, an "average-looking person" would move up to the top 15th percentile on our current scale of looks.
Even if the extrapolation isn't quite accurate — if the correlation between intelligence and attractiveness breaks down past a certain range — humanity might at least be better at things like exercising and grooming.
"I think what would happen is that there would be fewer homely-looking people; especially people who are unattractive because they are slovenly," he explained. "Intelligent people are aware that looking badly is a handicap in getting jobs, being invited to parties, etc."
One final thought: Even when scientists finally do discover the mechanism for ramping up intelligence, it is highly improbable that everyone would be given an immediate IQ boost. The "haves" would surely benefit from the neuroscience research more than the "have-nots," and this invites a further line of inquiry. As Hunt put it, "Suppose that in some future society, part of the population, say 10 percent, became hugely intelligent, while the rest stayed where we are now or even dropped behind a bit. What would that do to society? 

Image and text via MSNBC Science

In answer to the question above, read 

by Aldous Huxley - Nealbo

Now, let's look at the opposite side of the coin. In the real world, a shitload of dunderheads surround us, using words incorrectly or using the wrong words entirely. They're everywhere - except for you and me, of course - but sometimes, 

I do wonder about you...

Remember, it's not the heat that gets you; 

it's the humility! - Nealbo

Eight Commonly Misused Words

8 Commonly Misused Words (Slideshow)
People stray from the dictionary definition of words all the time. Myself included! Misusing words doesn’t say much about our intelligence, though! More likely, what these misused words exemplify is how language evolves and adapts over time.


How it’s commonly used: to casually read, skim over.
What it actually means: to read thoroughly.
The dictionary definition of peruse is almost the opposite of common usage. Well, that’s ironic! (Or is it?! More on irony later…) You don’t peruse a magazine at the beach, salon or doctor’s office. Rather, to peruse is to carefully consider a piece of writing.


How it’s commonly used: overbearing mature child
What it actually means: unusually mature in development.
People often understand precociousness to be a negative trait in a child. Really, though, to be precocious is to be mature for one’s age.


How it’s commonly used: an important event in the past.
What it actually means: an event in the past.
The invention of the printing press and the last time you went to the grocery store are both historical events. The former, however, is the historic event of the pair.


How it’s commonly used: to have a lot of something.
What it actually means: to have an excess/overabundance of something.
This one’s interesting — somewhere along the way, plethora lost its negative connotation. English-language speakers, we sure do love our junk!


How it’s commonly used: enormous in size.
What it actually means: outrageous or heinous character; atrociousness.
You are awed by a mansion’s enormousness, not enormity. Enormity is reserved for the absolute worst situations and people, like, say, if aliens were colonizing the earth.


How it’s commonly used: uncommon.
What it actually means: unparalleled.
For something to be unique, it has to be one-of-a-kind. Rough example: a painting is unique; a photograph isn’t.


How it’s commonly used: odd coincidence
What it actually means: 
“an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.”
You knew this was coming! Irony is misused because, well, what exactly constitutes irony is confusing. Alanis Morrisette’s song “Ironic” famously contains no actual examples of ironic situations. But, the fact that a song about irony doesn’t actually use accurate examples of irony, that’s ironic!


How it’s commonly used: for emphasis.
What it actually means: In a literal or strict sense.
I swear I hear someone say this every ten seconds. I don’t hear it literally every ten seconds though, because that’s an exaggeration. Another example: ”he’s such a liar, his pants are literally on fire” is also inaccurate. Why? Well, unless you need to dial 911, his pants are figuratively on fire. If it’s not actually happening, it’s not literally happening.                               Text and images via Care2

Yes, you CAN tickle YOURSELF!  

But the only place you can tickle yourself is the roof 

of your mouth. TRY IT.

The sensation of tickling is important to have. It's similar to the feeling of having bugs or spiders crawling on you. The reaction you have to being tickled is important to keep those kind of animals from crawling on you.
You tickle mostly because of surprise. Even if you know you're about to be tickled, you don't necessarily know where, so you react by being ticklish. When you try to tickle yourself, it usually doesn't work because your brain already knows how you're going to do it. You can't tickle yourself because you can't surprise yourself.
Possibly because the roof of your mouth isn't used to being touched like that, it still tickles if you touch the roof of your mouth.   Text and image via OMG Facts

What lies beneath...

'Woolly mammoth' spotted in Siberia!

Siberian 'woolly mammoth' in river

Shock footage ... 

'woolly mammoth' crossing river 

Barcroft Media
Published: 8th February 2012
A BEAST lurches through icy waters in a sighting a paranormal investigator thinks could prove woolly mammoths are not extinct after all.
The animal – thought to have mostly died out roughly 4,000 years ago – was apparently filmed wading through a river in the freezing wilds of Siberia.
The jaw-dropping footage was caught by a government-employed engineer last summer in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug region of Siberia, it is claimed.

Video: The 'woolly mammoth' alive


ANIMAL previously thought extinct apparently filmed crossing icy river

He filmed the elephant-sized creature as it struggled against the racing water. Its hair matches samples recovered from mammoth remains regularly dug up from the permafrost in frozen Russia. The official was reportedly in the area surveying for a planned road.
Paranormal writer Michael Cohen said: "Rumours of a handful of mammoths still kicking around in the vast wilderness of Siberia have been circulating for decades and occasionally sightings by locals have occurred. "Siberia is an enormous territory and much of it remains completely unexplored and untouched by humans."
Woolly mammoths roamed the Earth 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. A small pocket remained on and around Wrangel Island, off the coast of Siberia, and these did not die out until 3,500 years ago. Mr Cohen, 41, added: "It is highly possible that a number of species, extinct elsewhere, survive in the area. "If surviving woolly mammoths were found in Siberia, it could run against Russia's plans to further develop and exploit the area's considerable resources. "It would be potentially one of the greatest discoveries ever."
But viewers are divided on the nature of the animal seen in the video. Some have dismissed it as a hoax while others reckon it is an elephant lost in the Siberian wilderness. The third theory is the sighting shows a bear eating a huge fish. 
...That's what it looks like to me. What do you think? 
Text and images via The Sun 
(Britain's answer to The National Enquirer)

Spoooky Reading 

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