I write this, it is not such a pagany topic because it is something that effects all humans of every race, religion, and creed. Even people with no religion, have trouble not looking down on peeps sometimes. I just wanted to make this topic because when it’s discussed, it is usually not backed in data all the way. But I also want to point out why it’s extremely flawed logic.
First, I am going to lay down the Dunning-Kruger effect right here, for y’all. It’s best known as illusory Superiority. Where one doesn’t just think they’re better than other people, but that they also fail to recognize skills in others. For our topic, we’re going to specifically concentrate on the people who believe they are more intelligent than other people, which the effect has a lot to say about.
These people can be atheists, but I have seen this permeate through pagan reconstructionist movements, first hand, as backlash against the mainstream paganism that is far less history oriented and academically based. It doesn’t stop there, it really can be anyone who gains some knowledge that begets their foolish notions of superiority. They can have a religion or none at all. (Trust me, there is plenty of condescending Christians out there!) It matters naught. All that matters is there is some sort of condescending attitude that really, fails, to recognize your fellow human beings as equals.
So, now, let’s talk about tribal people. Many civilized people love to think they’re superior to tribal people. They’re an easy target, I mean, why are they so lacking in technological developments?! They’re superstitious, generally, and just all around backwards compared to us civilized folk, right? They may be violent or have weird rituals even! Obviously, we are more intelligent than them.
Well, er, not exactly. You see, people are not uncivilized for the reasons that others usually think of. Lemme start from the beginning… Homo sapiens are the only human species left on the earth. Nobody on this vast planet of ours, has been isolated long enough, to evolve into another species of human yet. Evolution takes millions of years. It’s slow. What does this mean? They have the same intelligence we do.
Another way of looking at it, is that even though we live in a modern world of tech convenience, not everyone individually knows how all the tech we utilize works. All the intrinsic details. We’re essentially going off other peoples’ ideas and works, in the innovations that allowed us to advance faster via civilization. Sure, people have specialties and may know how one or more areas work, but not everything.
Tribes don’t always exist on this level, since their lives are generally less complex in the tool spheres than ours. But they do know how to survive in dastardly and hostile environmental conditions without modern technology; a skill many civilized people have since lost. This means, that the reasons that they never developed civilization has nothing to do with intelligence, in the first place.
Basically put, if you have all your resources met on a continuous basis, enough to make a permanent settlement, you are not spending your time surviving the wilds, you can develop the art, civilization, philosophy, and later science! Geographic location plays a humongous role in this, and explains why places, such as remote Amazon jungles, do not have civilization. If you look at this in the modern civilized stance, this explains why poor people have so many educational problems. It’s hard to take care of your education when you’re struggling to live.
For example, let’s look at the cradle of civilization; Mesopotamia and the Middle East. Climate change, the end of the Ice Age, played a role in food production. Local environments in that region began to become rich in resources. Foragers were able sedentism, or sedentary (settled) life in villages. Eventually, mankind was able to domesticate animals and plants, after inventing agriculture. More food production, especially a steady amount, meant more population.
It was a very gradual change from foraging to food production. These happened globally and some independently of each other. You will also note that many took place near rivers or large bodies of fresh water; Yangtze River for Ancient China, Tigris Euphrates for Mesopotamia, and Lake Texcoco for the Aztecs.
Sum it up:
- Intelligence has nothing to do with race, culture, gender, tribe or civilization. In on a smaller scale, this could include religion or not.
- People are still tribal in certain areas of the world, this is largely due to resources and geography.
- You have been born in a life of privilege reading this on tech. If you were born in a tribe, you would be the same as them.
- Homo sapiens have not been isolated enough to evolve into another species of humans.
- People have a variety of skills and knowledge, you don’t have, even if they only have a tribal background.
- The brain is a muscle, this muscle can be exercised.
- Being more civilized or less religious does not equate intelligence.
Now, for the fun part. Some great quotes by super, famous sciencey people about knowledge and superiority!
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”
“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”
Anthropology: Appreciating Human Diversity by Kottak (4th edition)