Man is not intelligent enough to find what is good for him, but as men, they however do.
I think we can safely say, the more intelligent one is, the lesser, the quantum of errors committed. In that case, can’t how often we err, become a measure of IQ? It seems so, since the popular definition of intelligence takes into account both the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations (Merriam Webster), and the distinctions one is aware of about a given concept. Other definitions, like “the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations” and “the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria.” also support such a view. This is true even when we observe other areas or aspects of our lives that are distinctly human, such as leadership intelligence, social intelligence, emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence, spiritual intelligence, and positive intelligence, where, to be free of error can be thought to be as a sign of intelligence. Also, none of the commonly occurring sub-domains of intelligence, namely, Visual-spatial Intelligence, Verbal-linguistic Intelligence, Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence, Logical-mathematical Intelligence, Interpersonal Intelligence, Musical Intelligence, Intrapersonal Intelligence, as well as Naturalistic Intelligence.
And we say, to err is human. (The best selling writing implements at Amazon, are those with eraser attached!) But not to err is something associated with all other forms of life. Does this imply that those are more intelligent than humans?
To answer this question, let us re-examine in earnest, the whole gamut of life and living, both for humans and for all other forms of life. In fact we can safely reduce this rather wide area of search, to just two aspects of living. One, how good or effective is their approach as far as comfort and longevity of life, and two, what is going to be the load on environment and how much of resources get depleted in each generation that can be a measure of the longtime survivability of species.
Now when I look at our life and living, a good bunch of contradictions arise.
Steven Pinker’s bestseller ‘How the Mind Works’ opens with an interesting observation, “animals do not ill treat humans, even when humans are on the wrong side”. On top of it they have to put up with unspeakable aggression from humans, even when they are not on the wrong side. Why don’t we accept the possibility that it is so because animals are more civilized? Just like among us, the more civilized we are, the more accommodating our nature. (We are ready to put up with more assault!)
Or, take child birth. More and more importance is being attributed to unassisted childbirth, both for the comfort of the mother and for containing the trauma. But all other forms of life already are following this latest finding.
Humans do everything they can to save them from the damage done by natural calamities as well as forms of extreme violence but follow everything in their life style that can harm them. Whereas all other forms of life show a rather resigned approach when it comes to the inevitable but, scrupulously avoid anything and everything except those well established as part of their diet and life style.
During my younger years, both as a student and while employed, I have always noticed a striking alacrity, in each and every one of us towards solving others’ problem. The capacity to solve such issues used to be taken as a desired talent and the more incapable one was in doing own job, the keener, the urge shown to correct others. (This urge many a time brought the imaginative in us, to fore. Each of us used to be having quite a good amount of responsibilities on our head, at least some of those which needing urgent attention. All but the essential ones we postpone. And the ones which happened to get served would be in receipt of our attention, till we find an excuse for not continuing with the attempt!)
In short, though no human can look after himself, all humans look after others and hence they survive well, as a species.
This in fact is a good description of human nature. As individuals, we bother about other individuals and, as a group we are worried about other groups, and as a country we are always concerned about other countries. All these either end in close cooperation or result in horrible fight, both of which we do remarkably well, but when it comes to anything in between, we always are found wanting. We are severely error prone, whenever we are left to ourselves.
Can we say, man is not intelligent, but men are?