10 Weaknesses of Human Intelligence

June 25th, 2007 by Steve Pavlina

In the previous article on How Your Mind Really Works, we explored the key strengths of human intelligence, such as our ability to identify invariant patterns and to recognize specific instances of them.  But these strengths don’t come without major drawbacks.  The human mind certainly has its share of weaknesses, gaps, and blind spots.

It’s wise to cultivate an awareness of our inherent mental weaknesses, since then we have a chance to compensate for them.  But if we remain blissfully ignorant of them, they’ll only come back to bite us.

Here are 10 weaknesses of human intelligence:

  1. Faulty hard drive - Witness recall is notoriously inaccurate.  When asked to describe something they just saw, people frequently overlook critically important details, get existing details wrong, and add details that weren’t present at all.  It’s a bad idea to put too much faith in your memories, since they’re likely riddled with errors.  You probably don’t even remember what you’re wearing.
  2. Low RAM – You can only load and process so much complexity in your mind at once.  There’s so much you don’t understand because your mind lacks the capacity to store all the subtleties needed for true comprehension.  Consequently, you’re probably making a total mess of things.
  3. Slow CPU - Let’s just say you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed.
  4. Infinite loops - Once a pattern of thought and behavior has become conditioned, it can be very difficult to reprogram.  This causes bad habits, addictions, and Republicans.
  5. Lack of error correction – Once errors get into the system, they tend to stick around for a while.  One bad decision left uncorrected will soon see more errors piled on top of it.  This is how people sink into debt, put on weight, and get jobs, only to regret it later.  Apparently we’d rather be stupid than appear stupid.
  6. Limited sensory input - Our input channels are restricted to five senses (six for some of us), which all have a limited range of capabilities.  We can’t see what’s behind a wall, we can’t touch people at a distance, and we can’t hear what people in the next building are saying… unless of course we work for the CIA.
  7. Poor networking capabilities – Transferring data between two human minds is slow, tedious, and error-prone, and the protocols are beyond confusing.  It’s a safe bet that Microsoft is involved.
  8. High maintenance costs – Who’d want to use hardware that takes 8 hours to reboot, suffers frequent data loss, and is routinely riddled with viruses?  OK, aside from the Dept of Homeland Security.
  9. 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.
  10. Unreliable hardware – It’s only a matter of time before a critical component suffers an irreparable crash, and then the whole system gets dumped in a human landfill.  You’d think we’d have decent backup options by now, but at least we have the opportunity to sample hundreds of ice cream flavors before we go.  Damned #3.

I’d say we’re long overdue for an upgrade.

By the way, you cheated on #1, didn’t you?

Sorry, Antarctica.


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