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Memories of the 28th Century

Regarding Stupidity and Homelessness

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A few days ago I started a thoughtful and detailed blog on the problem of homelessness in the U.S.A., its causes, and suggestions for correcting the problem. After considering the matter more carefully, I realized that I was wasting my time, because the fundamental problem is stupidity, plain and simple. I realize that this is somewhat oversimplified, but when we get down to the nitty-gritty thatís whatís there. But I will admit to over-generalizing. I am somewhat familiar with the homeless population in Western Massachusetts, and I realize that the populations are somewhat different in other places.

Within the homeless population there are two general types: those who are homeless due to economic reasons, and those who are homeless because they are incapable of making a home for themselves. Those of the first type make up about a third of the population, and they usually remain homeless for a few years, and these people may not even be noticed, because they look and act like ordinary people.

The second type, in most cases, has been homeless for decades, and few of them will leave homelessness except for short periods of time. This second type is composed of the homeless people who are seen begging or loafing on the streets. These people include many who have been in jail, including those who, due to criminal histories, cannot find rental housing; these include arsonists and sex offenders. There are also people who are clearly insane among this group, but the most common factor among them is low intelligence. I canít find statistics that support my assertions (although there are many sources for data relating IQ and wealth), but I have observed that many of the people who are homeless have problems understanding anything. In some cases they can read what a form says, but they fail to comprehend what those words mean. And many have such poor memories that they the same bus schedule every day to get the same datum, and memory is an essential part of what makes up intelligence.

The low level of intelligence is often shown in their criminal activities. Some seem to be incapable of understanding that the police know who they are and what they are doing, so they are caught for similar offenses multiple times. And some donít seem to understand that committing offenses in the public view will often result in police action. Recently some people were shooed away from an area, but they returned there within a few days, as if they had forgotten their recent experience. I have noticed similarly poor memories in many homeless people, especially those who are drunks. Because they are drunks it is impossible to tell which was the cause, low intelligence shown through a poor memory, or if the memory deteriorated from alcoholism.

Another effect of low intelligence that can lead to homelessness is that such people sometimes have very strange beliefs about the world around them. I had never met anyone who took any of the popular conspiracy theories seriously until I met homeless people who believed all sorts of conspiracies. I am sure that there are other people who believe things like the idea of the lizard-human hybrids and so on, but I have never met them. Some of those ideas can lead to inability to operate in other spheres of activity, and they can appear to be delusions caused by psychological problems, and there may be some cross over with psychological problems, and problems in brain chemistry could cause both. But low intelligence and/or inadequate education alone can explain beliefs that are far from actual fact (this came to mind because I just remembered being told that Genghis Khan was killed by the Romans; I didn't bother arguing).

It would be nice to cure homelessness in the U.S.A., but there is a core group who don't seem to be capable of getting out of that situation. Some have gotten disability benefits, subsidized housing, and other benefits, but they can't make it work, because they drink up all of their benefits, leaving nothing for food or housing. Even those who are not so trapped by addiction may be trapped by the inability to read or even to be able to learn to read, and without basic literacy there are very few jobs available.

The cure for homelessness might be to backtrack a few decades and reopen state schools for the mentally retarded and state mental hospitals. If there were a non-intoxicating replacement for alcohol, then more could be helped, but no one has come up with that, yet.

I have cut out the details, but there is plenty online about the relationship between intelligence and wealth, between alcohol use and mental illness, between mental illness and homelessness, and so on. The one striking correlation that I have noticed has been the negative correlation between intelligence and belief in conspiracy theories.