The Curse of Intelligence

“Ignorance is bliss” ~ Thomas Gray

Intellectual capabilities are by far the greatest of gifts that a human being can possess. No matter what your personal flaws may be, the ability to be analytical, creative, rational, logical, and to see through what is arbitrary and trivial about human behavior and society is more valuable than any material possession, bar none. In many ways, possessing intelligence is true freedom. However, it may be a curse in many ways as well.

Almost everyone considers themselves to be “intelligent”- nobody likes to feel or be called unintelligent, but there is a clear distinction between people who “have it,” and those who “don’t.” I consider myself to be an intelligent and articulate individual. By no means does that mean that I am a genius. Nor do I hold the arrogant notion that people who view the world differently are somehow less (or more) intellectually capable than I. But, like everything else in life, there is no true equality. Some people are taller, some are shorter, some are smarter and some are, well, dumber. And there are many others who are less astute and unable to rationalize or articulate their thoughts.

Have you ever spoken with someone and almost immediately you didn’t want to deal with that individual? Of course you have. We have all had that experience. Someone who possesses low intelligence – or at least intelligence noticeably lower than you – is usually someone you can’t wait to get away from. With some people, based upon their behavior and actions, you just intuitively (sometimes obviously) know that they are not at your level. In the dating scene, when someone says, “She’s out of your league,” dealing with someone less intelligent than you can bring out the same instinctual feeling of superiority. Lets be honest, there is nothing attractive or desirable about someone who is an idiot. However the spectrum of intelligence is not black and white. For example: I have no idea how to do quantum physics, but I can spend hours in absolute awe listening to someone like Neil deGrasse Tyson or Lawrence Krause talk about the universe. I grasp what they are saying. I understand them. Some people will never understand, no matter how much the information is simplified or broken down to them. They just don’t “have it,” for whatever reason. And more times than not, many people compensate for having limited mental abilities by focusing solely on their physical appearance or material possessions.

Here is where the “curse” of intelligence comes into play.

People who are intelligent – those who are “deep thinkers” – usually find themselves outside of the “social norm.” While they are creative and think outside the box, many have trouble making friends. When people are not at the same mental level, it is extremely difficult to relate in any way. Intelligent people see the world for what it really is and not what society tells them it is. They see past arbitrary laws and trivial rules. They don’t concern themselves with petty nonsense like social trends. They see past people’s petty flaws and accept them for who they are, unless they are malicious and malevolent.

Intelligent people are the ones who society overlooks because they aren’t a marketable demographic. Sure, universities and corporations hire or even exploit them for their intellectual abilities, but they aren’t revered as heroes as those in sports or the noise entertainment industry (formerly known as the Music industry). Someone who is an intellectual with average looks and no real stand out physical features is completely ignored when standing next to someone who is physically attractive and possesses nowhere near the same level of mental capabilities. There are many primal, psychological reasons as to why this is, but nonetheless it’s difficult not to notice the strange irony that the very people capable of providing the tools, inventions, and education needed to advance society aren’t held in the same light as a simpleton with large silicone breasts and perfectly shaped figure or a meat-head who has a knack for scoring points with an air-filled, leather ball.

Dont get me wrong; in no way am I saying that there aren’t physically attractive smart people or average looking dumb people. The point I’m getting at is this: if a person is smart, their brains are usually the last thing they are admired for in a society driven largely by image and materialism.

When it comes to being rational, not very many people can intelligently look at life and all of life’s complexities objectively. There are just too many social barriers that people, for whatever reason, are afraid to break down. And those who can view the world objectively often find themselves hopelessly outnumbered and fighting a never-ending, losing battle with those who can’t. One of the most difficult realities of an intelligent person to face is the group or “mob” mindset. It is that strange switch in everyone’s brain that when flicked “on” it can make normally rational human beings do incredibly irrational things, all because they were blindly following a group. The instinctive trait for the mob mentality may just be mankind’s Achilles heel, but it is not the only flaw we as humans have.

Religion and moral codes are probably by far the most insidious and detrimental anchors holding mankind back. And ironically those who are among the least intelligent have a tendency to cling to religion and moral codes more than one with greater intellectual capabilities. An intelligent person doesn’t need a moral system to decipher right from wrong. An intelligent person analyzes and comes to a conclusion based on factors. For example: The Bible, Qur’an and other holy texts say “Don’t steal.” If a desperate person steals food, an unintelligent person may refer to his/her moral code system and react accordingly. An intelligent person will see tattered clothes, an unclean appearance and a skinny figure and, more than likely, realize the dire situation of this fellow human being and not have an immediate desire to see judgment and punishment befall this individual. An intelligent person may even offer to help in a small way by paying for whatever that person was going to break the law for. This is a very minor and hypothetical example. Here is a realistic scenario. In most states, marijuana is still illegal. Marijuana causes no harm to anyone. Yet the very fact that it is illegal is enough for someone who is not intelligent to take a stand and make sure this trivial violation of the law does not go unpunished. An intelligent person who sees someone smoking or possessing marijuana will automatically know that this individual isn’t harming anyone and that by calling the police on this person could potentially mean:

a) bodily harm or death (if the arresting officer(s) is overzealous).
b) a life long criminal record that will affect this individual’s ability to secure employment.
c) a life long brand that will affect this individual’s ability to rent or own a place to live.
d) jail or prison time taking away this individual’s freedoms and basic civil liberties – over something that is hurting no one.

We’ve all dealt with “those people” who are morally righteous. And quite honestly they are some of the most vindictive and mean-spirited people you will ever know. No matter what you say or do, they will always be “better” than you because they are “justified” by their moral code and YOU arent. The naivety, lack of empathy, and ruthless arrogance of people like this is repulsive, but most importantly, it’s a sign of being intellectually inept. And it is a problem for those who have the ability to see how flawed and naive these people are and have to be judged by them. My own view on morals is simply this: Treat people as I would like to be treated. Isn’t that easy? Isn’t that much better than a “holy” rulebook or philosophical code of guidelines that must be followed to the letter, lest you suffer eternal damnation?

I’ve said it in other essays I’ve written and I’ll say it again now: Idiocracy was a prophecy. If being a shallow idiot remains fashionable the way it is today in America, we are doomed to reach a societal peak when the numbers of “the dumb” overwhelmingly tip the population scales. I’m not being cynical or condescending; it’s just a blunt fact. The more we as a society tolerate stupidity in any form, be it socially, politically, or academically, the more people will remain intellectually lazy and comfortable with not advancing original ideas and astute observations that others miss. It’s far too easy to go with the flow and never rock any boats when the majority is on your side. It’s much more difficult to tell people, “You’re wrong and here’s my proof,” especially when you are alone and your opposition is fanatical in their cause.

I’ll end it with this… if there’s anything to take away from this, let it be the following: If you are and always will be an idiot, at least make an attempt to be a kind and well-meaning idiot, as opposed to a closed-minded, vindictive demon in human flesh who breeds little demons just as despicably closed-minded and wretched in their thoughts. No human is “better” than another just because they don’t abide by what some deem to be “morally pure.” And the sooner people grasp this concept, the sooner living in the modern-day wont be such a headache to intelligent people who have to listen to the endless stupidity in the media, political arena and religion as well as a society who regurgitates what they hear from these institutions without even bothering to look into how factual the information is.


Author: John Smith is a 6 year Coast Guard veteran who has a love for personal freedom, esoteric/occult studies, offensive and intellectual comedy, and music.

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