10 Weaknesses of Human Intelligence

IF YOU SPEAK GEEK, Steve Pavlina has a list of the 10 Weaknesses of Human Intelligence, which are in many ways similar to the thought-mistakes I'm always hammering on. And he is also making the point that those thought mistakes are the side-effect of our great intelligence. For example, our brains are very good at making generalizations. We can see useful patterns with scant clues. It's a great ability and helps make us smart. But overgeneralizations (a common thought-mistake) are one of the side-effects of that great ability.

Steve's list is written almost tongue-in-cheek because although he is pointing out something significant and important, he is expressing it the way a computer-programmer would. For example, number 9 on Steve's list is:

"Legacy code - System instability often results from running outdated limbic legacy code. An impressive display of human intelligence is to queue up your fight-or-flight response when asking someone out on a date. It’s nice to be prepared just in case she tries to eat you after she rejects you. DOS was great while it lasted, but it won’t help us save Antarctica."

In other words, you have a built-in survival reaction that is outmoded for modern life. You can't change it. The way your brain reacts to stressful circumstances (or even stressful thoughts) is sometimes amazingly fast and surprisingly strong. The part of your brain reacting that way is ancient and primitive.

Luckily, the most recent brain development, the one that gives us humans such a big head (literally and metaphorically), is largely for the purpose of intervening in those old brain-reactions, and if you take the time and use your head, you can really calm your reaction to stressful events.

When something is worrying you or you feel upset (in other words, when you have a fight-or-flight reaction to circumstances), take the time to sit down and do the writing exercise I talked about in Argue On Paper. It doesn't take long and it's not difficult to do. But the process allows your higher brain (cerebral cortex) to intervene and calm down your lower brain (reptilian and mammalian brains). It will help you feel better and deal with the situation more sanely.

And as a special added bonus, you will probably have changed a few key beliefs by doing the exercise so situations like that in the future won't be as upsetting to you.

An excellent resource for dealing with stress is at Check it out: Stress And Anxiety.

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