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Author Topic:   What bothers me about the evolution of Man
frako
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Posts: 2681
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 1 of 142 (642854)
12-02-2011 7:48 AM


Even though i do believe in evolution its the only thing that makes sense there is one thing our brain size or our brain power.

How did our brains get so overpowering. Even the brain power of a goldfish is astounding a few cells of brain matter and you can actually train a goldfish. If we go closer to us in evolution and look at some of our living relatives like the chimps their brains are complex and their size is about half of human brains their brainpower is astounding they can communicate with humans via sign language they can grasp mathematics preform complex tasks. Our brains on the other hand go off the charts. Why did we evolve so much brainpower how was such a over boost helpful to a society that used speers and farmed and gathered for food. Why did brains that can understand the basic laws that govern our universe evolve in a society whose basic needs where food sleep and procreate. And their basic understandings where fire hot, speer pointy mammoth food.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Took extra "b" out of "abbout" in topic title.


Christianity, One woman's lie about an affair that got seriously out of hand

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Admin
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Message 2 of 142 (642856)
12-02-2011 8:29 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the What bothers me abbout the evolution of Man thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
Jon
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 3 of 142 (642858)
12-02-2011 8:55 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by frako
12-02-2011 7:48 AM


Even the brain power of a goldfish is astounding a few cells of brain matter and you can actually train a goldfish. If we go closer to us in evolution and look at some of our living relatives like the chimps their brains are complex and their size is about half of human brains their brainpower is astounding they can communicate with humans via sign language they can grasp mathematics preform complex tasks.

I'd be more careful assigning characteristics of higher intelligence to animals. Most of the 'research' done is anything but scientific.

Why did we evolve so much brainpower how was such a over boost helpful to a society that used speers and farmed and gathered for food.

Well, the brainpower evolved long before farming.

Why did brains that can understand the basic laws that govern our universe evolve in a society whose basic needs where food sleep and procreate.

I suppose you could ask that about any creature with some sort of extravagant feature since 'food sleep and procreate' are pretty common characteristics in the animal kingdom.

The benefit of a brain that is better capable of understanding the outside world can hardly be in doubt. In fact, if we look at your previous comment about food gathering, consider how immensely helpful a brain that can remember the location and ripening season of a wide variety of food sources as well as the migratory patterns of delectable critters would be. It's no contest that, other things being relatively equal, the group with a better food procurement capability will outcompete the group with a lesser one.

Now, I am no expert, but what I know is that the issue of brain evolution is rather controversial and far from settled. One can easily come up with a gazillion reasons for how a more powerful brain is a better thing, but it is figuring which reason(s) rest behind the evolutionary push that is a more difficult task. Given the paucity of evidence on that regard, I'd say anyone's guess is as good as anyone else's.

Jon


Love your enemies!

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Larni
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Posts: 3941
From: UK
Joined: 09-16-2005


(2)
Message 4 of 142 (642859)
12-02-2011 8:57 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by frako
12-02-2011 7:48 AM


You get big brains from societal living: the more individuals in the group the bigger the brain required to maintain all the complex hierarchial interactions.

As the brain becomes more complex it becomes more able to model the future and infer causal relationships.

Once an organism can do this it stops simply reacting to stimulous and starts planing for the future.

My guess is that we develped theory of mind as part of more accurately modelling other individulas possible behaviour.

Anyway, once we model the world in our heads and can infer causality that opens up tool use (and we had hands for climbing) so that gave us a good platform to link future modelling of causality into tool use.

When our primative ancestors saw a phenomena their brains were already primed to ask 'how did that happen and how can use that to my advantage?'.

Of course the causality recognition function of our brain is not perfect and we get plenty of false positives (this can be readily seen in superstion and religion [zing!]).

Hows that?


The above ontological example models the zero premise to BB theory. It does so by applying the relative uniformity assumption that the alleged zero event eventually ontologically progressed from the compressed alleged sub-microscopic chaos to bloom/expand into all of the present observable order, more than it models the Biblical record evidence for the existence of Jehovah, the maximal Biblical god designer.
-Attributed to Buzsaw Message 53

Moreover that view is a blatantly anti-relativistic one. I'm rather inclined to think that space being relative to time and time relative to location should make such a naive hankering to pin-point an ultimate origin of anything, an aspiration that is not even wrong.

Well, Larni, let's say I much better know what I don't want to say than how exactly say what I do.


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ProtoTypical
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Posts: 1701
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 5 of 142 (642860)
12-02-2011 9:30 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by frako
12-02-2011 7:48 AM


How did our brains get so overpowering.

Imperfect replication, competition and LOTS of time. Whenever I contemplate how something got to be that way I always come back to considering the span of time. We can easily envision the passage of a hundred yrs. maybe even a thousand. But 10,000? or 100,000 yrs?

Just a mind-numbingly slow accumulation of useful bits.


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Panda
Member (Idle past 1092 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 6 of 142 (642861)
12-02-2011 9:36 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by frako
12-02-2011 7:48 AM


frako writes:

how was such a over boost helpful to a society that used speers and farmed and gathered for food. Why did brains that can understand the basic laws that govern our universe evolve in a society whose basic needs where food sleep and procreate. And their basic understandings where fire hot, speer pointy mammoth food.


Meeting basic needs is the minimum requirement.
Without meeting basic needs you get extinction.

But our brains have allowed us to progress a lot further than simply meeting our basic needs.
Technology (created with our brains) makes us far less susceptible to the vagaries of our environment.
This has, in turn, allowed us to produce more off-spring who survive longer and produce more off-spring and survive longer and... etc.

Brains aren't the only way to increase reproduction and survival, but they are the way that we are currently using.

Edited by Panda, : No reason given.


If I were you
And I wish that I were you
All the things I'd do
To make myself turn blue

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New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11232
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 7 of 142 (642862)
12-02-2011 10:08 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by frako
12-02-2011 7:48 AM


Why did we evolve so much brainpower how was such a over boost helpful to a society that used speers and farmed and gathered for food. Why did brains that can understand the basic laws that govern our universe evolve in a society whose basic needs where food sleep and procreate.

Sometimes unexpected results/outcomes happen when another thing is selected for. Have you heard of that Russian experiment where they tamed silver foxes?

All they did was select the tamest foxes for breeding, that is, the ones that reacted least violently towards people. It lasted like 50 years or so. After many generations, they noticed that not only did the foxes get tamer, but their coats changed to different colors, and there was an increase in Neotony, i.e. barking, etc. (its actually a very interting look into how dogs probably came about from wolves)

The point is that the particular trait you're looking at didn't necessarily have to be the one that was being specifically selected for. Things can "go along for the ride" so to speak.

Another thing that I didn't see brought up yet is sexual selection. Maybe the chicks just dug the guys that exhibited traits that resulted from bigger brains.

It doesn't alway have to be that the particular trait in question shows an obvious advantage and there can even be traits that seem disadvantages that end up getting selected for anyways.


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Replies to this message:
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frako
Member
Posts: 2681
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 8 of 142 (642864)
12-02-2011 10:42 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Jon
12-02-2011 8:55 AM


The benefit of a brain that is better capable of understanding the outside world can hardly be in doubt. In fact, if we look at your previous comment about food gathering, consider how immensely helpful a brain that can remember the location and ripening season of a wide variety of food sources as well as the migratory patterns of delectable critters would be. It's no contest that, other things being relatively equal, the group with a better food procurement capability will outcompete the group with a lesser one.

An elephant has the same capability but it cant understand how gravity works. Our brains are so of the charts compared to the animal kingdom that it begs the question why was so much brainpower needed we could dominate the world with much less brain power.


Christianity, One woman's lie about an affair that got seriously out of hand

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frako
Member
Posts: 2681
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 9 of 142 (642865)
12-02-2011 10:48 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Larni
12-02-2011 8:57 AM


Hows that?

Thats a pretty good explanation, though i think our brain is overpowered even for all the examples you provided we can do so much with our brainpower with a bit of training we can easely remember the positions of each card in a stack of cards, we deduced how the world works to its smallest particles, we are even coming to real models how and why the universe began, and there seems to be no limits to what our brains can do.


Christianity, One woman's lie about an affair that got seriously out of hand

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New Cat's Eye
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Posts: 11232
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 10 of 142 (642866)
12-02-2011 10:48 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by frako
12-02-2011 10:42 AM


Our brains are so of the charts compared to the animal kingdom that it begs the question why was so much brainpower needed we could dominate the world with much less brain power.

Maybe it wasn't needed, see Message 7.


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frako
Member
Posts: 2681
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 11 of 142 (642867)
12-02-2011 10:55 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by New Cat's Eye
12-02-2011 10:08 AM


Another thing that I didn't see brought up yet is sexual selection. Maybe the chicks just dug the guys that exhibited traits that resulted from bigger brains.

This could passably be the best answer probably not the only one, even if the brain power could not be fully utilized, the brain that could come to solutions faster would be the one selected for even though there was not allot of basic knowledge the brain could deduce from like we have in the present. The more "space" the brain had to store real world scenarios, the easier it was to store and more data was available to process.


Christianity, One woman's lie about an affair that got seriously out of hand

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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 142 (642868)
12-02-2011 11:05 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by frako
12-02-2011 10:42 AM


we could dominate the world with much less brain power.

Can we?

And when did world domination become some evolutionary goal?


Love your enemies!

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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 142 (642869)
12-02-2011 11:07 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by New Cat's Eye
12-02-2011 10:08 AM


Another thing that I didn't see brought up yet is sexual selection. Maybe the chicks just dug the guys that exhibited traits that resulted from bigger brains.

Oh yes... all those ladies thinking 'damn... can't wait to squeeze out one of his big-headed babies!'

On a more serious note: What traits do you suppose would have been the selected-for traits that only consequentially led to a more powerful brain?

Jon

Edited by Jon, : No reason given.


Love your enemies!

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frako
Member
Posts: 2681
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 14 of 142 (642870)
12-02-2011 11:21 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Jon
12-02-2011 11:05 AM


And when did world domination become some evolutionary goal?

Well not a goal perse but the "goal" is to be at the top of the food chain or the best survivor and reproducer


Christianity, One woman's lie about an affair that got seriously out of hand

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Rahvin
Member (Idle past 566 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


(2)
Message 15 of 142 (642872)
12-02-2011 11:47 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by frako
12-02-2011 7:48 AM


This was a puzzling question to me as well when I first learned about evolution. I recall an old High School biology teacher telling the class that humans evolved bigger brains "to use our hands," which is patently ridiculous - spiders have miniscule brains but are somehow able to control eight seven-jointed limbs plus pedipalps and spinnerets.

The real answer is that evolution doesn;t have a goal, and while it's tempting, you can;t look for a goal like "to use tools better." You need to look for a relative selection advantage, something that makes a more intelligent person more likely to survive and mate and have more offspring that relatively less intelligent competitors.

We don't need huge brains to fill an environmental niche. You're right - we're astoundingly smarter than any other animal on Earth. Something like 20% of our metabolic energy goes to our brains alone! So how did we get so smart? Typically we'd be talking about slightly more intelligent individuals better surviving some selective pressure, but that just results in a plateau as the immediate selective pressure is overcome.

But there's one possibility that involves an intellectual arms race without limit.

Competition with each other.

The smarter we get, the smarter the competition, and so even smarter individuals still have a selection advantage. It's an evolutionary spiral. Each increment is small, but the selective pressure is never actually overcome because there are always more humans to compete with.

There's a book called Chimpanzee Politics by Desmond Morris that contains an interesting story observed in a group of chimps.

One chimp was attempting to challenge the current dominant of the group. A third chimp gave him assistance - not directly, but by interfering with the current dominant's "allies" in the group and distracting them. The challenger won and became the new dominant. The third chimp then double-crossed the new dominant by joining up with the recently-defeated dominant...and the third chimp became the new dominant of the group.

Chimps engage in that level of political intrigue. Humans take social maneuvering to an entirely different level.

It really is an arms race without limit. From our ape cousins to modern man, higher intelligence relative to the rest of the group has retained a selection advantage. It's not the only pressure, certainly - evolution isn't a single-issue voter. But humans play complex games of intrigue, deception, and struggles for dominance competing with each other than have thus far outstripped the intellectual challenge of any environmental selective pressure.


The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.
- Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers


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