Is human intelligence a parasitic life-form?

I started a response to Mark – Helsinki  on the article “The Academic Ape: Instinctive aggression and boundary enforcing behaviour in academia” and it prompted me to think of a long forgotten idea about human intelligence which “I” thought worth recording.

We are all used to the idea that humans are “alive” in the normal sense that any animal is alive. We know that all (not dead) animals are “alive”, so are plants and bacteria, but the definition of “life” becomes someone blurred when we start to consider “lifeforms” like virus which are almost entirely DNA. This DNA does not itself “live” instead it does nothing except invade a host and cause it to reproduce the same DNA (with the odd error).

But then, what is DNA, except pure information! Information which we are now just(?) capable of translating into numbers, sending those numbers across the internet and then recreating at the other end as DNA.

But if we take the idea that DNA is a “lifeform”, then why not any other piece of information? What is the criteria of “living”. If it is reproduction, then not only are viruses alive, but by the same definition wouldn’t ideas that we have in our brain be alive? Because they can be transmitted like a virus.

Take for example this very idea that ideas are a living organism. If you then accept that as a result of reading this blog, then like the virus being transmitted over the internet, then this idea has gone through the internet, lodged in your brain and is now resident there and (in the right conditions of a suitable host) can be able to reproduce yet again by being spread to another person.

So, ideas can behave in some senses like a living organism – at least as much alive as any virus.

Mark’s comments were that:

Success is sought within that lifetime, rather than a search for truth which may have to be handed on generation after generation, history shows us scientists who operated in this way, the giants we stand on the shoulders of, giants that are far and few between in modern times.

This is what triggered me to think of this, because here, the ideas that constitute “science” are a body of information, that like human DNA is handed down from generation to generation. Indeed, we may consider the evolution of ideas to be like the recombination of virus information, except in the case of human ideas, the information content can be increased from knowledge/ideas formed from the real world.

So, unlike human DNA this body of information can mutate within a generation generating new ideas, but otherwise the information of “ideas” and the information of DNA in a virus are very similar: both do not live themselves, but instead they require a host organism to do the work to enable them to spread between us.

But now we run into the big problem, because what really constitutes “us” may not be our human bodies, but the thoughts that inhabit our brains. That is to say, the real “us” is not our physical selves, which may be considered an empty receptacle  – but instead “us” may be the  collection of largely foreign ideas that like an alien species invades our brains and there lives off our bodies using us like a parasitic virus to transmit itself to a new host.

And, unlike our physical bodies which are born and die and there is only one of them, the “dna” of ideas can spread from one person to another much like a virus, so that ideas are a life form largely free from physical constraint.

As such, rather than “scientists … [being] the giants we stand on the shoulders of, giants“, we may need to see the mere human body as an unintelligent receptacle for the ideas of which we call one science. And that in a sense science develops as a separate living entity evolving in a parasitism way using the human body to live.

But if so, intelligence itself may also be largely parasitic, so rather than “science” being a parasite on “us”, what constitutes “us” are the ideas that use our bodies for sustenance. As such “science” may not be a parasite on “us”, but instead the ideas of science and the ideas that constitute what we consider “us”, may be co-existing parasites on our poor dumb thought free bodies.

As such, when science develops, it is not so much because we humans develop ideas, but because ideas gain a fertile human on which they can feed and grow.

This entry was posted in Climate. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Is human intelligence a parasitic life-form?

  1. Stephanie Willetts says:

    Substitute ‘religion ‘for ‘science’..and bingo! Ideas are parasites!
    Isn’t what you just described similar to meme theory?
    Alternatively a good analogy for any kind of dogma.. Just started to read ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari…

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      Yes, it’s similar, but what I suggesting which I think is new is that consciousness is a parasitic entity that takes over the body. And that thinks like “science” are akin to living creatures that are parasitic on a number of human hosts.

      And of course, ideas are not necessarily beneficial to the “host” – as for example “global warming”.

  2. mark - Helsinki says:

    I would consider it the reverse. Rather than ideas being a parasite in concept, that choose a host, ideas program said brain.

    We can train a dog to be any way we wish, aggressive submissive.

    We can train a human to be the same.

    Experience and environmental information and programmed knowledge

    With a human we program information to be repeated. In times past this information would be subject to challenges as it is filtered by different parts of the brain that create the appearance of consciousness.

    A child who grows up with wolves will think he is a wolf, a dog who grows up with humans thinks they are a human, or part of the pack of humans, no biological distinction is made, especially if that dog never encountered another dog, it sees no difference.

    A human may notice the physical difference after living with wolves since birth but will never really consider those differences.

    We have reached an age of learn reproduce. This is education, indoctrination, be it intentional or not.

    No longer to we program young people with the tools to learn and create information, and assess it, we just program in the final product, which is why most scientists are copy cats that literally do not know what they are doing, the end is the driver, publish, professorship and tenure. Reward!

    We have become the donkey chasing the carrot thanks to dogmatic rinse repeat learn regurgitate.

    I dont think like most people, something I am neither proud or not proud of, I find it irrelevant, but it is certainly due to self education since puberty, I left school and am self educated (I did not leave school for those reasons, but other reasons outside of my control, it was not a conscious decision on my part)

    Important bit here I think
    So as such I see the world differently, and as a result I lack pre programed dogmatic thinking, I lack instilled ideas put into my head by a formal education, and as a result I feel no need to defend anything as a result, I lack many instilled core beliefs put there by a formal education, as such everything I think I “know” is entirely open to rediscovery.

    This is in my opinion why people like Freeman Dyson and other gentlemen scientists were the great scientists, they were free from dogma Einstein was a patent clerk not an academic.

    Thinkers, that is the key, there is too much time today spent by academics attempting to prove their intellectual prowess rather than thinking.

    as such, logic and philosophy would be made available to all children before they enter further education, rather than the rise repeat model we now see.

    Children should not start school at 4, but 7 or 8 years old to allow them to freely develop more rather than being programmed with “beliefs”, and let them experience the world through their own eyes and this encourages more “thinking” as a result.

    Education as it stands is one of the biggest limitations on human “intelligence”

    I consider human intelligence the ability to work out what is currently unknown, and not repeating what is known and adding to it, because dogma breeds dogma.

    • mark - Helsinki says:

      The result of avoiding said rinse repeat education is one avoids filter bubbles and group think (but you have to actively resist such things and be aware”

      Awareness, education does not teach it. It should, awareness is consistently brought to students in education, to be able to see outside of one’s own position, psychologists would be out of work.

      Critical skills and cognitive ability are being eradicated by modern education except for the wealthy who are free to follow such pursuits, where as economics prevent the masses from doing the same, you cant feed yourself with thinking after all.

    • mark - Helsinki says:

      Thinking and expression of thought is a battle of different parts of the brain, awareness can allow one to combine the benefits of those different elements of our minds, the computational and the artistic can create amazing things, and even the emotional, but all of it must be examined with critical skills, and one must always be aware of how we express what we think

    • mark - Helsinki says:

      Often I feel, especially on social media, everyone is not really listening, but waiting for their turn to talk, ego driven, primitive.

      If we are to evolve for the better we must be able to self examine to a high degree, and education does not aid this process at all, in fact it limits it

  3. mark - Helsinki says:

    *”Awareness is consistently brought to students in education” should be “awareness should be”

  4. mark - Helsinki says:

    I do yammer on :D My brain is always running 1000 miles an hour and I cant stop it HELP hehe

  5. mark - Helsinki says:

    Re DNA, I always considered it a construction manual, and the more specific that manual is, the less it changes over time compared to more simpler DNA manuals, in my uneducated opinion obviously.

    Simpler constructions are more inter operable and open to adaption, and more advanced detailed constructions are less able to adapt, virus has a simpler DNA manual compared to a human and can adapt much quicker as a result than humans can to a Virus, over time.

  6. mark - Helsinki says:

    Great blog by the way, very interesting subjects, the Hasler gap pulled me in, I consider the next freeze a certainty and the consequences you laid out are valid concerns worth much consideration

  7. Dodgy Geezer says:

    …But if so, intelligence itself may also be largely parasitic, so rather than “science” being a parasite on “us”, what constitutes “us” are the ideas that use our bodies for sustenance….

    A topic covered fairly comprehensively by Colin Wilson in his 1967 book, “The Mind Parasites”….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>