When trying to pinpoint the root accomplishment of human intelligence, we are frequently tempted to use our inquisitive nature as an explanation. The relentless “why?” of a five-year-old seems to be as good an indicator and instigator of intellectual progress as any. We humans are intelligent because we want to find out.
Nice theory. Only it’s not true. We ask why? to determine causality. We have this notion that for something to be, something else has to have made it that way. Why is the sky blue? Because scattering of light favors high-energy photons, and blue light is at the high energy end of the spectrum. First, the spectrum. Then, scattering and back-reflected color.
It is true that the researching the causality behind observation is how we figure out a lot of things. But it’s not a unique achievement of human intelligence.
As is proven by my crafty cat, Shasta. Shasta has an eating disorder, a strange form of bulimia. She will overeat from the food bowl and then vomit all the food. I am not very happy about that, since cleaning the daily puddle of puke is not anyone’s favorite chore. It is also something she understandably doesn’t like. So, after eating any food and puking it out for a while, she decides the food causes the vomit and she refuses to eat it any longer.