The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Most Intelligent Species Does the Most Harm

An aerial photo shows Kuchinoerabu-jima which is one of the Satsunan Islands in Yakushima Town, Kagoshima Prefecture, western Japan and Kyusyu region, on December 11, 2021. Kuchinoerabu Island erupted in 2015, and the regulations around the crater of eruption alert level 2 has continued. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun )

Humans are the most intelligent species on the planet. Why then are we also the most injurious to ourselves, to all other species, and to the planet we live on? How come our superior intellect concocts plans that are supposed to improve our situation, but always end up making it worse? The answer is simple: Our minds are great, but our hearts are polluted with so much malice that they corrupt the way we think, and our corrupt thoughts create a polluted and corrupt world that reflects the malevolence in our hearts.

It’s not enough for each of us to try to be a better person. Our social environment is stronger than we are and will impel us to behave like everyone else. In order to succeed, we must make a concerted effort.

Every plan we draw, we base it on the failure of previous plans, or we would not need to draw new ones. But since we haven’t corrected the root that causes all the failures — our corrupt hearts — we draw new plans with the same foul mindset with which we drew the previous one, but with an intention to “speed up” the correction. The result, therefore, will be an acceleration of the corruption of our world.

If there is any benefit in the plans we draw today, it is that they will expose our incompetence. Because of our corrupt hearts that seek to exploit everything and everyone, our intellects devise plans that have nothing but the destruction of others and the advancement of ourselves as their goal. Since this is the nature of all humans, to varying extents, our plans collide with one another and destroy everything — the ground we stand on, the plants and animals that nourish us, and ultimately us. An ego-based civilization can’t help but cause destruction.

The fundamental difference between humankind and all other species is that they want to survive, while we want to defeat. This is why we developed our intellect: to surpass and displace others, to deny others glory, subsistence, and to either enslave or destroy them.

The only way to save our planet and ourselves, then, is to use our superior intellect to change our hearts so that our intellect serves our true interests rather than our selfish hearts. We can do this by learning to think of one another, by learning to value those who are considerate rather than those who promote only themselves.

It may feel unnatural, but our own nature is clearly leading us nowhere. So it is time we put our minds to work for something that actually benefits us.

It’s not enough for each of us to try to be a better person. Our social environment is stronger than we are and will impel us to behave like everyone else. In order to succeed, we must make a concerted effort.

There is nothing we cannot achieve if we work together. Even the obstinate human nature is no match for our collective power. If we understand the significance of consideration and empathy not only for our society, but to our very lives, we can move mountains.

PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah. MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute.