An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of May 19, 2008
Written   in the community of 28 de Junio and issued from a ciber
10 kms to the west in Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, MÉXICO

INTELLIGENCE

My very smart friend Louise in the Yucatan sent me an article from the New York Times exploring in a tongue-in-cheek manner whether intelligence is all it's cracked up to be. Among other things the article points to a study of fruit flies indicating that smarter fruit flies live shorter lives, possibly confirming the suspicion that "dimmer bulbs burn longer."

The author says that intelligence "takes more upkeep, burns more fuel and is slow off the starting line because it depends on learning — a gradual process — instead of instinct. Plenty of other species are able to learn, and one of the things they’ve apparently learned is when to stop."

In my own life I've known plenty of times when I made things more complicated and hurtful than they needed to be because I thought about them too much.

On the other hand, maybe you remember my "Six Miracles of Nature," still archived online at http://www.backyardnature.net/j/6/

I think it's miraculous....

Therefore, the abilities to learn and to reflect are miraculous manifestations. Through untold billions of years Nature evolved the Universe, pulling stuff together into forms and shapes that evolved, first physically, then biologically, and now intelligently.

My reading of the matter is that evolution is headed toward something unimaginably splendid, maybe Miracle #7.

But, before #7 can come about, we need to finish with #6. Most of humanity still spends most of its time dealing with its animal nature and blindly fulfilling dictums of genetic and social programming.

The Sixth Miracle, the emergence of intelligence, is still a miracle in the process of coming about.

Whenever one of us does something creative transcending mere biology and programming, the Sixth Miracle ignites like a firefly alone in a big field at night.

The dim bulb may burn longer, but the flow of evolution has always trended toward light, and more light.

At the very least this indicates to me that we need to treasure what little brains we have, do what we can to keep ourselves alert, keep learning enough about the world around us to stay in awe, and to always be imagining new beginnings.