Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

There is no intelligence without human brains

A daring blog post title. Especially considering the 90-minute lecture series on YouTube where the smartest and most knowledgeable among us claim the surprising opposite. So, are they on to nothing? Not exactly. But, what they discuss is instincts without brains. Striking enough as it is.

Instincts give biological creatures a set of options that help their overall survival. The difference with human intelligence is that that gives creativity that is not limited to a very small choice of alternatives.

Inanimate things don’t have opportunities. They react quite passively to their environment. Which doesn’t say that that can’t be impressive.

Lower animals, starting from single creatures, may move away or close up when threat or poison is detected, or get closer when favorable conditions or food are sensed. The system can be fooled though. That’s how we catch flies. Humans also have such stuff. When we eat poison, we may end up throwing up, without our stomach being very intelligent.

Higher animals can even learn instincts. This is called conditioning.

These things are all available to human beings. But at the end of the day, we have an intelligence that can let us choose based on principles and ideas besides on just feelings. An animal has a hard time choosing life when its set reaction or conditioning says not to do so.

But, humans can opt for long-term considerations, sacrificing to help others, moral arguments, doing unhelpful things as a deep scream for emotional help, experimenting to learn, training themselves to get good at something, beauty over success, etc., rather than just doing what is comfortable or feels nice in the short run or simply pro-survival.

Plus, moral victories seem only possible for humans. There are rumors that machines (computers) can be as intuitive and creative as humans. But they can’t train themselves to go against their comfort (computers have no feelings) and meritoriously opt for what is morally superior.

With doesn’t mean that the most successful people are the most intelligent or the other way around. The smartest humans seem rather socially very handicapped but they give us an inkling about how much intelligence stays untapped in most of us.

Poisoning may greatly hinder our flexible intelligence. Desperation to address past emotional hurt may strongly motivate us to ignore all other considerations. Habit and strong feelings may hinder us from becoming our best. But, we all tend to move to greater freedom, intelligence, creativity, no matter what. Until physical injury of the brain hinders that.

Telling people that we are mere animals hampers the belief in and use of our higher mental functions and options.

You’re not a realist if you’re not chronically totally amazed and deeply respectful of every human’s brains and all of nature’s ingeniousness.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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