How Smart Is Too Smart?

Eddysun

In his article today, Carl Zimmer quotes a fly intelligence researcher:

“If you’re using your intelligence to outsmart your group, then there’s an arms race,” Dr. Kawecki said. “So there’s no absolute optimal level. You just have to be smarter than the others.”

At his blog, Zimmer adds:

Scientists and the rest of us are obsessed with intelligence--not just the intelligence of our own species, but any glimmer of intelligence in other animals. I've written plenty of stories myself on this research, from the social brilliance of hyenas to the foresight of birds. But if these faculties are so great, then why aren't more animals smart? The answer, experiments suggest, is that learning and memory have nasty side-effects. They can even shorten your life (at least if you're a fly).

Beagles have it all figured out: get someone to look after you, eat, chase a few squirrels, and nap.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

Just In