The Abolition of Stupidity by Hagbard Celine

Two eminently intelligent men, R. Buckminster Fuller and Werner Erhard have proposed that we can and should abolish starvation by the end of this century.

This goal is rational, practical and desirable; so it is naturally denounced as Utopian, fantastic and absurd.

I wish to propose a similar goal, which is rational, pratical and desirable, and which will also be denounced as Utopian, fantastic, and absurd.

I suggest a worldwide War against Stupidity.

Although the stupid will naturally resent this, I address my ideas here to those who are not totally stupid, or those who are not stupid all the time, i.e., those rare individuals who have occasional lucid comments.

The arguments for this Revoltionary Notion are as follows:

1. Although one sounds like a satirist to say it, this planet does seem to be controlled by and largely populated by persons who are not in all respects reasonable men and women. Voltaire, of course, may have been exaggerating when he said the only way to understand the mathematical concept of infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity; but the situation is almost that bad. To mention just a few examples from my own lifetime: Hitler murdered 6 million Jews for "reasons" that were totally insane; Senator Joe McCarthy led a crazy witchhunt against Communists which ruined many innocent people and never succeeded in unconvering one absolutely definitive real Communist; Anita Bryant is currently waging a crusade right out of the thirteenth century against homosexuals; etc.

It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that millions of humans have been murdered in the course of such irrational scapegoating throughout history. Since each of us belongs to some minority or other, any of us might be one of the targets in the next witch-hunt, and if they burn us there will be nothing left to cryonically preserve.

Nor is stupidity the exclusive trait of the stupid; you do not need a "vocation" for it, as you do for the preisthood. It seems to be a contagious socio-sematic disturbance which afflicts all of us at one time or another. Notorious examples of this can be found in the lives of "the Great" such as Simon Newcombe (the astronomer who discovered Neptune) "proving" mathematically that heavier-than-air flight was impossible, the French Academy refusing to examine the evidence for meteorites in the eighteenth century, etc. (Some might include Einstein's continuous attempts to refute the random factor in quantum mechanics as another example of stupidity in a fine mind.)

More generally, as Thomas Kuhn has shown in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, an exact measurement of the extent of stupidity among the learned is provided by the fact that every scientific revolution seems to take a generation. As Kuhn documents extensively, this one-generation time-lag seems to be caused by the fact that elderly scientists hardly ever accept a new model, however good it is, and the revolution is only fully accomplished when a second generation, with less prejudice, examines both the new and old models objectively and determines that the new is more useful.

But if science, the paradigm of rationality, is infested with enough stupidity to cause this generalised one-generation lag, what can we say of politics, economics and religion? Time-lags of thousands of years seem to be normal in those areas.

Indeed, it was chiefly by contemplating religious history that Voltaire was lead to conclude that human stupidity approximated to the infinite. The study of politics is hardly more inspiring and any examination of economic debate strongly suggests that the theologians of the dark ages are still among us.

Those who are skilled in dialectic will not be fooled by the empty rhetoric of the more vulgar demogogues. Logic protects some of us from the more absurd "intellectual" (or anti-intellectual) fads of the epoch in which we live. Experimental method has shown us how to avoid the pitfalls of purely abstract logic and connect our theorizing with actuality.

Democracy and literacy have made this previous inventions at least potentially available to huge masses rather than to tiny elites, althought it remains true that you can lead the horses' asses to wisdom but you can't make them think. Psychoanalysis has shown us why even the most "rational" can become subject to compulsively irrational thinking. General Semantics has demostrated the neurolinguistic reflexes that make it so difficult for humans to abandon an old model and accept a new one, and offers a few gimmicks that are somewhat helpful in breaking such reflexes.

But psychology has advanced quite a bit since Freud, psycholneurology since Korzybski, and Behavior Mod since Pavlov. We're on the threshhold of a major breakthrough in the war against stupidity, just as surely as we are on the edge of achieving Life Extention and Space Migration. The Intelligence Revolution may even prove to be more wide-ranging in its effects than the quantum jumps to space industry and longevity.

4. Dr. Nathan Kline, who could be called a conservative in the area of neuropharmacology (on a scale in which Dr. Timothy Leary is radical and the U.S. Government reactionary), has predicted in his "Psychotropic Drugs in the Year 2000" that, within 20 years, we will have drugs to improve memory, drugs to erase unpleasant memories, drugs to increase or decrease any emotion, drugs to prolong or shorten childhood, drugs to foster or terminate mothering behavior, etc. It takes no imagination to see that such chemicals will allow us greater control over our own nervous system than was ever possible in the past. Obviously, people will use and abuse these drugs in many ways, desirable and otherwise, but the most intelligent will use them in the most intelligent way, i.e., to increase their own neurological freedom, to deprogram their irrational programs and generally to expand their consciousness and increase their intelligence.

The potential for neurlogical revolution, implicit in such psychopharmocological advances should be quite clear to anybody who has had any acquaintance even with so primitive a psychadelic as LSD. (One of the lease known facts about LSD is that the longest single research project with that chemical in the U.S., at the Spring Grove Hospital in Maryland, showed an average 10% per cent intelligence increase for all subjects; see Stafford, Psychadelics Encylopedia.)

Walter Bowart has documented at length, in his Operation Mind Control, that hypnosis plus neurochemicals is more effective than ordinary hypnosis; that Behavior Mod plus neurochemicals is more effective than ordinary Behavior Mod; and that any mind-altering technique is more effective with neurochemicals than without. Bowart's evidence is all drawn from the misuse or perversion of these techniques, in the Army and CIA research in brainwashing, but there is no reason why libertarian and humane persons cannot use such knowledge to decondition and deprogram rather than merely to recondition and reprogram. Safe and sane principles for such mind-expansion and intelligence-liberation are already given in such books as Dr. John Lilly's Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer, Neuropolitics by Dr. Leary, and LSD: The Problem-Solving Psychadelic by Stafford and Golightly. Please note that these books deal only with mind-liberation via LSD, but we are here talking about chemicals much more precise and predictable. (Please reread the last sentence.)

5. If psychopharmacology is beginning to offer us the chance to program, deprogram, and reprogram ourselves at will, we are entering a new stage of evolution. More than psychoanalysis or General Semantics or Transactional Analysis or whatever mind-altering techniques of the past one may like, neurochemistry represents a real quantum leap to a new level of freedom: the human nervous system studying and improving itself, intelligence studying and improving intelligence.

To be even more specific and definite about this, consider the October 1975 McGraw-Hill poll of scientific opinion about what advances can be expected before 2000. The majority of neuroscientists in that poll predicted specific drugs to permanently increase human intelligence (see No More Dying, by Kurzman and Gordon, p. 4). I have saved this for mention after the more general Kline predictions to avoid the impression that I am talking only about the increase of third-circuit linear I.Q. There are seven other kinds of intelligence.

6. There is a direct feedback loop between psychopharmoacology and the other brain sciences, such as electrical stimulation of the brain (ESB) and biofeedback, etc. As William S. Burroughs says, "Anything that can be done chemically can be done by other means." Jean Millay and others have demonstrated that yoga plus biofeedback produces detachment from imprinted emotional-perceptual sets much quicker than yoga alone. John Lilly has duplicated LSD effects with his isolation tanks. Jose Delgado has produced with ESB many effects previously found only with drugs.

It is commonplace for alarmists to warn us that the full armory of synergetically interacting neurosciences now evolving will allow unscrupulous governments to brainwash whole populations more totally than ever before. We need to realize that the same technology, wisely used by intelligent men and women, can free us from every form of neurotic and irrational rigidity, allow us to dial and focus our nervous systems as easily as we dial or focus a TV set, turning any circuit on or off as we choose.

Why be depressed when you can be happy, dumb when you can be smart, agitated when you can be tranquil? Obviously most people are depressed, dumb and agitated most of the time because they lack the tools to repair and correct damaged, defective circuits in their nervous systems. The Neurological Revolution (chemical, electircal, biofeedback, and other) is giving us those tools. This HEAD Revolution has the Pleasure Principle to fuel it. That is, the more internal freedom you achieve, the more you want it; it is more fun to be happy than sad, more enjoyable to choose your own emotions than to have them inflicted on you by mechanical glandular processes, more pleasurable to solve your problems than to be stuck with them forever.

In other words, Intelligence Increase basically means intelligence-studying-intelligence, and the first thing intelligence-studying-intelligence discovers is that the more intelligent you become, the more fun it is to try to become even more intelligence. (Which is just another way of saying that, neurologically, at least, the more freedom you achieve, the more fun it is to work for even greater freedom.) Nobody is more interesting to anybody than is that mysterious character we all call "me," which is why self-liberation, self-actualization, self-transendence, etc., are the most exciting games in town. This hedonic feedback explains why anybody who has taken even one step down the path toward neurological freedom can never be content to stop there, but is drawn to the next step, and the next, forever-or as long as Life Extension can give us of forever.

7. In summary, Intelligence Increase is desirable, because every single problem confronting humanity is either directly caused or considerably worsened by the prevailing stupidity of the species; it is attainable, because modern advances in chemical, electrical, and other forms of brain change are showing us how to alter any imprinted, conditioned, or learned reflex that previously restricted us; it is hedonic, because the more freedom and intelligence you achieve, the more you see the advantages in seeking even more freedom and even more intelligence. It can accelerate our progress toward Space Migration and Life Extention, and toward any other rational goals, by creating more rationality to work on those goals; and it can give us the wisdom to avoid the "bad" results of Life Extension and Space Migration that conservatives warn us about.

Like death and poverty, stupidity has been around so long that most people cannot imagine human life without it, but it is rapidly becoming obsolete. However many special-interest groups (politicians, clergy, advertisers, etc.) may profit from stupidity, humanity as a whole will profit more from its abolition. From here on, we should measure our progress toward our personal goals, and our contribution to humanity's world-round progress, in terms of how much smarter we have gotten in the last year, the last month, the last week, THE LAST HOUR.

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