Perverted uses of intelligence

© August 2015 Paul Cooijmans


Human intelligence, however valuable a trait, can also be put to bad use by persons thus disposed. There unmistakably exist classes of individuals who elect to utilize their portion of g in mistaken, perverted, evil ways. Hereafter we illustrate by example what we consider good and bad modes of applying mental ability, and speculate on an explanation as to how it is possible that the most adaptive trait in evolution is so obviously misplaced in some specimens of Homo sapiens.

Examples of good and bad uses of intelligence

These lists are not necessarily complete, and there may be overlap between the elements of a list:



A possible cause of the misdirection of intelligence

Although occasional instances of bad use may not harm society at large and are perhaps inevitable, an increase of these perversions will eventually bring a civilization down. It is an interesting exercise to consider, through a psychometric eye, how such a development could take place.

First, it can be observed that certain classes of people are more inclined toward the perverted uses of intelligence than others. To avoid stigmatization one does not want to name them (about three at least can be identified) but their commonality seems to be relatively lower visual-spatial ability combined with relatively higher verbal ability, in some cases also combined with relatively higher numerical ability. This suggests that a decrease of visual-spatial ability in an intelligent population would increase the perverted uses.

Then, we reiterate our view on the origin of intelligence leading to civilization: Intelligence develops as an adaptation to survive in relatively cold climatic conditions. This original intelligence is heavily loaded on visual-spatial, performance-type abilities. When conditions become milder or one moves to more moderate areas, the acquired intelligence gives rise to civilization: cities, agriculture, technology, administration, and so forth. In this process, verbal and numerical ability increase, are built on the fundament of visual-spatial ability. The raw performance-type abilities become, as it were, invested and crystallized into culture.

As high civilization and wealth are attained, selection pressures drop, and migration streams from less developed parts of the world are attracted. This starts a dysgenic trend of slowly decreasing intelligence, and the fundament of raw visual-spatial ability is the first to erode (because its adaptive value has gone down compared to the pre-civilizational era, in favour of verbal and numerical ability). Here we have the situation meant a few paragraphs ago: decreasing visual-spatial ability in a population with high verbal and numerical ability. The building tilts as its fundament sinks, and verbal and numerical ability — the higher floors — become misdirected, put to perverted uses. While this mechanism is not fully explained and understood presently, we have tried to make clear how the increase of perverted uses can be understood as part of a degeneration process. The decreasing intelligence and/or changing aptitude profile somehow damage people's sense of value, of what is true and ethical.