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Author Topic:   A question of intelligence Great debate with NYCboy,Mike the Wiz and NosyNed
NewYorkCityBoy
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 16 (361681)
11-04-2006 9:52 PM


Why are humans the only really intelligent beings on the planet Earth capable of creating citys,technology,etc.

(please dont say that chimps,apes,dolphins,parrots,dogs,cats,etc are intelligent. Because yes they are very smart, but im talking about a very highly developed language, very highly developed tools, math,science,etc. Because yes i know that dolphins can communicate with their sonar and chimps can learn a few hundred words in sign language and parrots can learn a few hundred words, but im talkin about a highly developed language such as english. And i know that chimps can use twigs to stick in ant piles, and leafs to soak up water, but im talkin about sophisticated tools. And please dont say that they would never need math or science to survive, but if you use that logic and you belive in evolution then you would relize that humans do not need math or science to survie and catch food it just helps and makes life easier. If animals could use math and science then they would have developed it just like humans did.


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by jar, posted 11-04-2006 10:01 PM NewYorkCityBoy has taken no action
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 Message 4 by mike the wiz, posted 11-05-2006 10:24 AM NewYorkCityBoy has replied

  
jar
Member
Posts: 33891
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 2 of 16 (361684)
11-04-2006 10:01 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by NewYorkCityBoy
11-04-2006 9:52 PM


This Great Debate is a discussion limited to NYCBoy, Mike the Wiz, and NosyNed


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

This message is a reply to:
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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8968
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 3 of 16 (361782)
11-05-2006 3:50 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by NewYorkCityBoy
11-04-2006 9:52 PM


A darned good question.
This is actually a darned good question. But there are a colossal number of similar questions we can ask:
Why can squids change their skin color in such amazing patterns. They make our blushing 'pale' by comparison.
Why are some whales so darned huge?
Why can a peregrine falcon reach 200 miles an hour but an ostrich can't fly at all?
Why can a cheetah run 70 miles an hour but my cat just lays there?

There is a huge amount behind an answer to this question so we either give you a quick summary and leave you hungry for more or we leave the answer until you understand how the evolutionary model of life's development is stated to work.

I'll have a quick go now. It may take a few passes.

There are a huge number of different niches for an animal to fit into. If the shuffling of mutations and the selection of some individuals happens to tune one animal to fill a niche very well then it offers significant competition to any one that might follow along.

All of the traits I mentioned in the questions above are amazing things. No less amazing than what our brains are capable of.

The simple answer as to why they are there at all is that they work. They happen to work for the animals that are alive today (us included). Once they arise if they work they hang around for awhile.

So that is why we have brains - they were helpful to our grandparents many times removed. There are lots and lots of suggestions for why ours got so darned big and it will probably be difficult to pick the 'right' one. However, while we might not be sure of the why we are starting to get a good idea of the how. That is we are learning what changed in our genes to allow for our big, fat brains. But the simple answer remains: some of our grandfathers did a bit better than the neighbors because they had bigger brains.

Now why does only H. sapiens (that's us) have such a ridiculously over done brain?

One reason is obvious from history. Both very, very long ago history and recent history. We were not once the only animals with pretty good brains. At various times our very great grandparents had to compete with a number of animals with brains of comparable size. And recently (very recently actually) some close cousins (but NOT us) had brains a bit bigger.

So why only us now?

Well, give a thought to very recent history. The last 3000 years will do nicely. What do you think we would have done over that time if there had been a bunch of land-grabbing,resource-using intelligent birds that were just as smart as us?

We know exactly what we would do. We'd do what we did to members of our own species who dared to be in our way. We killed 'em. And we probably killed our cousins H. neanderthalis too. There is clearly only room for one hyper-trophied brainiac species on the planet. The niche is full.


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mike the wiz
Member (Idle past 252 days)
Posts: 4718
From: u.k
Joined: 05-24-2003


Message 4 of 16 (361807)
11-05-2006 10:24 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by NewYorkCityBoy
11-04-2006 9:52 PM


Amazing Traits
Ned knows more than I, but I shall give my take on it, as I have learned a bit from hom and others/resources.

Why are humans the only really intelligent beings on the planet Earth capable of creating citys,technology,etc

First of all, I don't think we are the only intelligent beings. I think we are the only ones with human intelligence. But why can only termites build these:

Nevertheless, the human being is unique in many ways, only I don't think it's intelligence alone, but just our unique evolutionary trajectory.

I would say there are two very reasonable posibilities here. And a third posibility is that both of these scenarios are true.

1. Our line of evolutionary descent was a one-off occurence of evolution that led to us being able to create technology, as we had the time to do it. Unlike wild animals, we don't have to survive within the food chain of our niche, we only have to survive within the human niche.

To expand on this approach: we slowly, over time, evolved a bigger brain, and the more we communicated, the better for our survival it was. This is why bigger brains with communicative skills, progressed. Social communication in groups enables them to be somewhat like an efficient team. Almost like a squad, protecting one another. Slowly, through time, natural selection acting on random mutations, led to us developing better and more intelligent complete sentience.
So it might be that things like technology, are only able to happen because of those combination of specific evolutionary events. This would mean that our type of intelligence would not be possible in other animals. The question might be meaningless because it could be like asking why aliens don't have eyeballs. It's because their specific evolutionary lineage was different from animals' on earth.

You raise good points, animals have technology and human qualities etc.. hardly in an abundance, but rather at some rudimentary levels. they're still clever, like with the termite mound, it just depends whether it can be said that humans are unique amongst the unique, which is another topic.

2. The spiritual explanation; that it's because we have souls implanted by God.

I believe 1 and 2. I don't believe it's our intelligence that makes us different. I believe it's because only persons, (like God,) are this way. If we are personas like God, but animals aren't, then this would explain why animals aren't persons.

If animals could use math and science then they would have developed it just like humans did.

They can, to a degree, on a rudimentary level, use math and science. They perhaps don't use this as it is not useful for their survival. Many human tribes will use math and science to the same degree as animals, or only slightly more, because they have to concentrate on survival more than those in comfortable developed technological areas, who have the time to take math class.

You don't have to respond to this post in full, just feel free to ask any questions. Scientific questions would be answered better by NosyNed .:)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by NewYorkCityBoy, posted 11-04-2006 9:52 PM NewYorkCityBoy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by NewYorkCityBoy, posted 11-05-2006 1:18 PM mike the wiz has replied

  
NewYorkCityBoy
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 16 (361839)
11-05-2006 1:18 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by mike the wiz
11-05-2006 10:24 AM


Re: Amazing Traits
"First of all, I don't think we are the only intelligent beings. I think we are the only ones with human intelligence. But why can only termites build these":

i think that a human could build that they just would not want to. thats not a unique building designed by an arquitect its a dirt mound made by natural instincts.

"To expand on this approach: we slowly, over time, evolved a bigger brain, and the more we communicated, the better for our survival it was. This is why bigger brains with communicative skills, progressed. Social communication in groups enables them to be somewhat like an efficient team. Almost like a squad, protecting one another. Slowly, through time, natural selection acting on random mutations, led to us developing better and more intelligent complete sentience."

dolphins have even bigger brains than humans and they use sonnar to communicate. they also travel in pods and protect one another. most parts of their brains r just as developed as humans brains and in some parts like the cerebellum is 40% bigger than a humans and much more highly developed, and yet there still not nearly as smart as humans. why not?

Edited by NewYorkCityBoy, : spelling


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by mike the wiz, posted 11-05-2006 10:24 AM mike the wiz has replied

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mike the wiz
Member (Idle past 252 days)
Posts: 4718
From: u.k
Joined: 05-24-2003


Message 6 of 16 (361967)
11-05-2006 5:31 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by NewYorkCityBoy
11-05-2006 1:18 PM


Re: Amazing Traits
. thats not a unique building designed by an arquitect its a dirt mound made by natural instincts

It's a complex mound full of areodynamic tunnels that act to cool the centre.

dolphins have even bigger brains than humans and they use sonnar to communicate. they also travel in pods and protect one another. most parts of their brains r just as developed as humans brains and in some parts like the cerebellum is 40% bigger than a humans and much more highly developed, and yet there still not nearly as smart as humans. why not?

We can't know for sure that they're not as smart, it's that they cannot communicate it. They are limited, it's not like they can do sign language.

I think you're thinking in terms of intelligence rather than conscious persona if you like, that we have.

What is your answer to all fo this? What do you think?


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8968
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 7 of 16 (362006)
11-05-2006 7:41 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by NewYorkCityBoy
11-05-2006 1:18 PM


The relevance?
Why is it important to know these details?

Dophins may be "different" smart is all. Why is technology the only measure of how smart an animal is?

This business of picking a viewpoint that is totally biased to human qualities is called "anthropocentrism". Google it.

Being smart has proven to be a pretty good survival trick for as much as a couple of million years and as little as 10,000. The jury is (as it is with all adaptations) still out. There are signs that we are either too smart or not smart enough for our own good. If this is true we will, like the vast majority of animals become extinct.

As a species we are pretty well certain (but technology might have an override on this) going to be extinct sometime. The only question that is interesting evolotionarily is while we have decendant species or not.

This is, I thought, supposed to be about evolutionary models. The reasons why dolphins are or are not as smart as we are is probably part of neurophysiology. We don't know enough about their brain or ours to say yet. What does that have to do with biological evolution?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by NewYorkCityBoy, posted 11-05-2006 1:18 PM NewYorkCityBoy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by NewYorkCityBoy, posted 11-05-2006 8:04 PM NosyNed has replied

  
NewYorkCityBoy
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 16 (362009)
11-05-2006 8:04 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by NosyNed
11-05-2006 7:41 PM


Re: The relevance?
There are signs that we are either too smart or not smart enough for our own good.

by this do mean that we are smart enough to as "why"? but not smart enough to answer it, for the big questions at least?

As a species we are pretty well certain (but technology might have an override on this) going to be extinct sometime. The only question that is interesting evolotionarily is while we have decendant species or not.

did u mean the only question is "will" we have decendant species? and if that is wat u meant, and evolution is true, wouldnt it be near immposible for humans to evolve since there are no longer a truley completly isolated group of humans that still need to use most of there time looking for food. and we r already at the top of the food chain and there really is no more evolving we could do since life for the most part is no longer hard for us.


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 Message 7 by NosyNed, posted 11-05-2006 7:41 PM NosyNed has replied

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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8968
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 9 of 16 (362020)
11-05-2006 8:47 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by NewYorkCityBoy
11-05-2006 8:04 PM


Why and wherefore...
by this do mean that we are smart enough to as "why"? but not smart enough to answer it, for the big questions at least?

Yes, we may well run into questions we can never answer. We are doing very darned well so far. And we've really only been working effectively at it for maybe 500 years.

did u mean the only question is "will" we have decendant species? and if that is wat u meant, and evolution is true, wouldnt it be near immposible for humans to evolve since there are no longer a truley completly isolated group of humans that still need to use most of there time looking for food. and we r already at the top of the food chain and there really is no more evolving we could do since life for the most part is no longer hard for us.

Sorry yes I mean "will". It is true that with such a large population and broad interbreeding there may not be any speciation by the splitting off of a population. This is called allopatric speciation.

However, over a very long time -- a small number of millions of years the the gene pool could still wander especially if there are changing selective pressures (I'm not sure if this is sympatric speciation or not). In that time it could be that the population as a whole would or could not breed with current humans. We would, as a species, have become extinct.

Again, so what? What does this have to do with anything?


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AdminJar
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 16 (362027)
11-05-2006 9:06 PM


Question on the topic.
Back in the Original Post, the question was asked:

Why are humans the only really intelligent beings on the planet Earth capable of creating citys, technology, etc.

So far the question of what is needed for technology hasn't really been addressed. For example, could a creature without grasping appendages have technology? How are cities different than Prairie Dog villages?

Where is the line on technology? Is chipping flint considered technology? If so, would the Bonobo nut breaking rock and anvil qualify as technology since they bring tools (rocks suitable for them to use) to the much larger anvil rock?


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8968
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 11 of 16 (362036)
11-05-2006 10:03 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by AdminJar
11-05-2006 9:06 PM


Re: Question on the topic.
NYC will have to tell us what he means and why it matters.

From a biological perspective the interesting questions are how such levels of intelligence can be selected for; what genetics is involved and from that how the full range of intelligence can be explained.

Unlike NYC I don't see any magic dividing line between us and other animals. More and more we see our capabilities in them; just at a much lower level. No different than a minke whale having less pure size than a blue whale.

Of course, we are particularly interested in NYC's questions for at least three reasons:

1) it's us!! Vain we are.

2) The nature of our intelligence and how it can arise from the nature of our brain is a VERY hard question. So it is fun to tackle.

3) Understanding ourselves at a very deep level may help us from a health perspective (both mental and physical).

Edited by NosyNed, : spelling again


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NewYorkCityBoy
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 16 (362039)
11-05-2006 10:16 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by AdminJar
11-05-2006 9:06 PM


Re: Question on the topic.
yeah i probably dont know enough about the subject to really "debate" it, without looking like an idiot at least, but i just wanted to hear some smart people try and answer that question.

So far the question of what is needed for technology hasn't really been addressed. For example, could a creature without grasping appendages have technology? How are cities different than Prairie Dog villages?

anyways its very hard to compare dolphins to humans brains since they have a very different brain structure. but i heard that if dolphins and whales had hands then they would have under water civilizations. i dont know if this theory is true r not since buildin underwater civilization would be much diff than a land one, cause of diff resources, not as much gravity,etc.
i think that prarie dog villages, although massive and impressive r nothing commpared to a human city, like for example Nyc, which has much more developed arquetecture,sewage system,electronic technology,etc. but it probably is more comparable to a termite mound, or a bees nest

Where is the line on technology? Is chipping flint considered technology? If so, would the Bonobo nut breaking rock and anvil qualify as technology since they bring tools (rocks suitable for them to use) to the much larger anvil rock?

i think that chipping flint is considered primative technology yes.
when they use the rocks to crack nuts, they dont really "make" the tool they only "use" the tool so i wouldnt consider it as remarkable as chipping flint, which im not sure but ive never really heard of a chimp or a bonbo doing.


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8968
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 13 of 16 (362049)
11-05-2006 11:39 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by NewYorkCityBoy
11-05-2006 10:16 PM


Tool making
from: http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2023558

quote:
A long-term collaborative study by palaeolithic archaeologists and cognitive psychologists has continued in its investigations into the stone tool-making and tool-using abilities of a captive bonobo (a 180 pound male, named Kanzi, aged 12 years at the time of experiments reported here). A major focus of this study has been examination of the lithic reduction strategy over time and detailed analysis of the artefacts Kanzi has produced in 2 years of experimentation since our original report. Kanzi has exhibited marked improvement in his stone-working skills, although to date the artefacts he has produced still contrast with early hominid-produced artefacts in a number of attributes. Statistical analysis revealed that Kanzi is clearly preferentially selecting larger, heavier pieces of debitage (flakes and fragments) for use as tools.

From: Tool Making

quote:
The chimpanzee of all other living species is our closest relation, with whom we last shared a common ancestor about five million years ago. These African apes make and use a rich and varied kit of tools, and of the primates they are the only consistent and habitual tool-users and tool-makers. Chimpanzees meet the criteria of a culture as originally defined for human beings by socio-cultural anthropologists. They show sex differences in using tools to obtain and to process a variety of plant and animal foods. The technological gap between chimpanzees and human societies that live by foraging (hunter-gatherers) is surprisingly narrow at least for food-getting. Different communities of wild chimpanzees have different tool-kits and not all of this regional and local variation can be explained by the demands of the physical and biotic environments in which they live. Some differences are likely to be customs based on socially derived and symbolically encoded traditions. This book describes and analyzes the tool-use of humankind's nearest living relation. It focuses on field studies of these apes across Africa, comparing their customs to see if they can justifiably be termed cultural. It makes direct comparisons with the material culture of human foraging peoples. The book evaluates the chimpanzee as an evolutionary model, showing that chimpanzee behavior helps us to infer the origins of technology in human prehistory.

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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8968
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 14 of 16 (363059)
11-10-2006 12:19 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by NosyNed
11-05-2006 11:39 PM


Bump for NYC
Did NYC lose interest?

This message is a reply to:
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NewYorkCityBoy
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 16 (363330)
11-12-2006 12:34 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by NosyNed
11-10-2006 12:19 PM


Re: Bump for NYC
nope, just havent been on for a couple of days.

anyways if yall dont care, i wanted to know if yall wanted to discuss some other stuff on this thread. I saw a special on the discovery channel bout Noah's Ark, and this is what is was about...

New scientific studies have shown that if you dont take the bible in its "literalle" meaning then the Great Flood very likely happened. Every thousand years the Mesopotamia valley inbetween the tigris and the eufrates river floods. (and there is geological evidence to prove this.) Once a millinea the rains come to this desert and it rains for weeks and months. Now there are theories that Noah was a acutally a rich merchant that had many boats.(of coarse none as big as in the Bible, because supposidely a ship that big made out of wood would leak alot and then fail, and break under the great weight and pressure.) But when the floods came he gathered all of his family and all the animals he could find. He would have tied all of his many small boats together to make an average sized boat.(probably 20-40ft long) and when the mesopotamia valley flooded it would have looked like the earth flooded to the people living there since they would not have been able to see land. Then he would have probably have floated into the persian gulf and then onto an african island where him and his family would live out the rest of there lives. Ancient scribes would have written about this great flood and Noah, and it would probably be Exaggerated a little each time it was told or rewritten. Once it was written into the bible it was different than the original story, but the moral is the same.

What do yall think about this? u think it could be true?

Edited by AdminPD, : Paragraphs


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