This is the Blue Belt of Mixed Mental Arts:
- Humanity’s Superpower is social learning. Humans have the ability to learn from each other faster than any other creature on Earth.
- The emotion of awe is how humans download culture. It can cause us to worship people and make us perceive them as larger than life. Most people never meet the heroes outside their Dunbar Number and the spell is never broken.
- People of the past, including pharaohs, kings, emperors, and popes have all used awe to convince people to follow them. Modern day celebrities and advertisers also use–and sometimes hijack–awe to gain followers.
- Taking a closer look at our heroes and geniuses reveals that they are no better or worse than us.
If you give a chimp, an orangutan, and a human toddler an intelligence test, here’s what you get.
However, the idea that human intelligence is collective is NOT the story we’ve been told. We’ve been taught to believe in the myth of genius. Special people like Mozart, Newton, Edison, Einstein, Michael Jackson, and Steve Jobs were all somehow blessed with some magical talent. The “magic” is that they used Humanity’s Superpower to build on the successes of others around them. They merely stood on the shoulders of hobbits.
The blue belt is the study of these genius myths and how we blind copy our heros. It’s the culmination of the previous belts: white for realizing you’re in a culture, yellow for culture binds and blinds, orange for the Dunbar Number, and green for Descartes’ Error.
Once upon a time, humans believed that gods walked among them. Some of these gods were mythological creatures like Zeus, Thor, Horus, and Vishnu. And some of these “gods” were real live humans who portrayed themselves as deities so the people would blindly follow them.
Pharaohs claimed to be Gods.
Roman Emperors claimed to be Gods.
Chinese Emperors claimed to have the Mandate of Heaven.
King James I claimed to rule by Divine Right.
The Incan Emperors claimed they communicated directly with the Sun God.
The Popes…well…pretty much the same idea.
People see the adulation these models get and so they try to blind copy their heroes and often hurt their bodies, their relationships, and their health trying to achieve these images. Now that you’ve got your green belt, you know how powerfully these deeply felt emotional experiences can drive our thinking. Your understanding the Dunbar Number means that while we will never know most celebrities (or most humans) it can feeeeeeel like we do because we know so many details about their lives. But we only know what they want us to know: the carefully curated images that fit the public persona they’re trying to create.
And that brings us to that other Kim: Kim Jong-Un. Officially, he’s never pooped. Nor had his father Kim Jong-Il. According to them anyway.
But the more closely you look at geniuses in any field the more closely you’ll understand why Einstein said:
“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
And why Steve Jobs said that the greatest day of your life is the day you realize that the world was built by people no smarter than you.
“… Everthing around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter then you. And you can change it, can influence it… once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
In practice, once you understand blind copying, you can actually use it as a tool for super speedy learning by deliberately putting yourself in a state of awe around people you want to learn from quickly. Having blindly copied them, you can then slow think about what you want to keep and what you don’t. In general, this is something we all need to know how to do because many of the intuitions we blindly copied from our cultures evolved for very different environments from the ones we find ourselves in now.