Lately I’d been doing a lot of reading on “Theory of Mind” for school, and for whatever reason it got me thinking about a popular trend in science fiction stories. Whenever characters are supposed to be of higher intelligence, it’s suggested that in trade they give up empathy and in extreme examples lack emotion altogether. Take for example, Vulcans in Star Trek, the Observers in Fringe, there was an episode in the last season of Eureka where Jack is given an “intelligence serum” by Kevin, and as his intelligence grew, his emotional capacity shrank until all he cared about was being smart.
The reason I got to thinking about this in conjunction with my Theory of Mind readings is because their storylines are contradictory to everything people actual science, particularly social science, are proposing in regards to cognitive thought. Emotion and being able to empathize with others is considered to be a process of higher thought, not lower. an ability to think about others emotional states and to read others emotions and respond accordingly, to see others as comprehending beings is a sign of heightened intelligence.
I guess I don’t understand why the opposite is taken as truth in science fiction — aside from Vulcans becoming the standard model for a higher race of intellectual beings.