Loft of an Eldritch Metaphor

herd intelligence

Posted on 20 Feb 2015

“How is it feel being smart? Being the crème de la crème?”

“Do you want my honest opinion?”

“Lunch is on me. Satiate my curiosity. Blunt as hammer, burning as volcano.”

“It feels like farting. I mean, there is a hall, with no windows, with the air conditioners turned on. Approximately 20 people are inside the hall right now, chatting, mumbling. You fart. The first fart is like a banging boom, the ceiling shatters. And then short sibilant farts like barrages of rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) are launched from an artillery cannon, ricocheting and then explode, and smoke is filling the room.”

“I… I don’t get what you mean.”

“You become the epicenter of attention. You fart. That feeling when you fart, it is soothingly relieving. But the more you fart, you gradually feel uneasy. You’ve drawn attention from people around you, they lock their eyes on you. All the jaws are agape in surprise with the feat that you’ve just performed, but they shut their nose tight. I don’t know what that means, but the point here is you don’t like it being smart. Alone.”

“What you suggest?”

“All should fart, altogether, in unison, like a cacophony of poorly tuned big-ass piano. Different people have different fat-to-meat ratio, that means all farts are not created equal, but complementary to each other. That sounds fun. Do you think it is fun? Because I think it is.”


Several hundred years ago, being polymath was a norm. The scholars were all-in-one, they had knowledge in everything. The father of optics, Alhazen, was a scholar in many different fields, most notably his works were on optics, astronomy, mathematics, meteorology, and visual perception. He was the architect of scientific methods, and he insisted upon the repeatability and the replication of results, among other things.

Being polymath was a norm. Let’s take a look at a different angle. The size of human population globe wide was relatively small back then. In today’s settings, technologies being constantly on the edge to be made available for humanity to reap the benefit. The size of population has grown rapidly post-world war 2. To compensate the size of ever increasing human population, more scholars must be born.

The sum of knowledge right now is the function of previous works done by scholars plus the current research in various fields, multiplied by the number of practicing scholars. The problem here is the last element of the aforementioned equation: the number of practicing scholars. How to define a practicing scholar? If you asked me, I would say “these guys are always breaking the mold, restructuring it, stitching it back to a new form, and teaching people how to do it. These guys have no other motive other than enjoying themselves disseminating the knowledge on how to do things, feeling so contented when seeing the rate of herd intelligence increasing as close as possible to 100%, a literate society they dub it.”

The sum of knowledge in society works like cumulative grade point average (CGPA), that is the function of A (4.00 point) density per total credits. The higher the A density per total credits, the higher CGPA. The sum of knowledge in society is the function of intelligence density (calculated as how many practicing scholars exist) per total people in the said population. A high density of intelligence provides herd intelligence.

The heart of a practicing scholar is continuously chanting the mantra “there’s always a room to educate the uneducated, and we are all uneducated by default.” Steve Jobs said “stay hungry, stay foolish”.