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Author Topic:   What bothers me about the evolution of Man
Tangle
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Message 34 of 142 (643063)
12-04-2011 1:53 PM


One theory is that the brain evolved alongside language - but it's inconclusive. Certainly once whatever it was that first caused the growth in brain size and function we can assume that it had significant competitive advantage because it just got bigger and bigger for millions of years.

Why it only happened once in all of the animal kingdom is a little surprising too.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

Replies to this message:
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Tangle
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Message 37 of 142 (643067)
12-04-2011 2:29 PM


A related puzzle, or maybe more evidence of how valuable our brains are, is the fact that having such a large brain is a very distinct reproductive disadvantage. The babies brain is so large that it doesn't fit easily in the birth canal and without medical intervention a very large number of mothers and babies simply die in childbirth.

Then the baby has to be born whilst it's still immature because if it carried on growing to the physical maturity of most mammals at birth, the head would be so large that it simply couldn't emerge from the mother. This means that the mother has to invest many years of full time nurturing inorder to get her offspring to the point were it can survive on its own.

Quite a puzzle (or maybe a possible reason why our kind of conscious intelligence is as rare as rocking horse droppings.)


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
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Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 46 of 142 (643166)
12-05-2011 1:27 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by New Cat's Eye
12-05-2011 10:35 AM


Catholic Scientist writes:


There have been multiple species in the Homo genus that were fairly intelligent and not our ancestors. It happened more than once.

Well maybe, but I'm not sure that we know that all/any other Homo were conscious beings - which I'd say was the break through.

But if we could show that other Homos were big brained and conscious or even just very intelligent I'd still say that it has only happened once.

There are no other examples of real intelligence in the animal kingdom - either now or before. But we know that other massively useful adaptions have evolved several times in several groups - eyes, flight etc.

I'm not arguing against the proposition that our brain evolved, I'm simply saying that it's interesting that such a useful thing isn't more widespread.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
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Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 49 of 142 (643178)
12-05-2011 2:24 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by Panda
12-05-2011 1:42 PM


You could maybe argue that mankind is the most intelligent - but it would be wrong to claim that there are no other intelligent animals.
If we claim to be 10 (on a 1-10 scale of intelligence) then that is simply because someone has to be.
But that ignores all of the 9.9's, 9.8's.

i would strongly argue that on a scale of 1 to 10 where we are 10, the next highest qualifying intelligence would be less than 1 by a long, long way. And until you can find an example of a species using any form of technolgy cleverer than a pointy stick and/or language higher than a few grunts, shreaks and pings, i'd say nothing even approaches the scale.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
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Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 51 of 142 (643188)
12-05-2011 3:29 PM
Reply to: Message 48 by New Cat's Eye
12-05-2011 1:49 PM


Catholic Scientist writes:

Neandertals were pretty sophisticated

Yup - they had fire and everything. But they evolved from the same line as us, so I'll stick with what I said, our level of intelligence and sentience/consciousness has only evolved once.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
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Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 56 of 142 (643207)
12-05-2011 4:31 PM
Reply to: Message 52 by New Cat's Eye
12-05-2011 3:44 PM


But now your claim is vacuous

I'm sorry, I not used to discussing at this level of pedantry. Please try to accept a general, high level point when you come across one.

If you know of any non-ape descended animal that has developed anything even approaching our level of intelligence or consciousness (or bloody sentience if you prefer), please name it.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
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Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 66 of 142 (643295)
12-06-2011 3:42 AM
Reply to: Message 61 by Panda
12-05-2011 6:07 PM


panda writes:

But I doubt if you want technology to be a measurement of intelligence - unless you want to claim that these people are less intelligent...

Technology is an excellent measure of intelligence - obviously. Ask SETI.
The guys in your picture use technology extensively, from their manufacture of weapons, cooking equipment, clothing, jewellry, housing, agrictulture, music etc. They have advanced language and communications, a theory of mind, can plan ahead, imagine their own deaths and work in groups.

But my main objection is to the claim that ("real") intelligence has not developed elsewhere in nature.

You can't name a single species that comes even close to their level of intelligence. Prove me wrong.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
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Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 68 of 142 (643298)
12-06-2011 4:38 AM
Reply to: Message 67 by Larni
12-06-2011 4:19 AM


larni writes:

That's a very narrow definition of intelligence you have, mate.

i'll happily accept whatever mainstream definition of intelligence you prefer. Then all you have to do is find an animal that comes even close to H.sapiens.

Good luck


Life, don't talk to me about life.

This message is a reply to:
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Tangle
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Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 77 of 142 (643339)
12-06-2011 11:41 AM
Reply to: Message 70 by Larni
12-06-2011 4:43 AM


larni writes:

Are you talking about processing power or skills on an IQ test?

As I said. I'll happily accept whatever mainstream definition of intelligence you prefer. If you can get a dolphin or a crow to even take an IQ test I'll happily concede my point. (btw, getting peanuts out of jars with stick and similar fascinating but relatively trivial tasks that smart animals can master is not what I mean.)

Your claim that "Real" intelligence has not occurred elsewhere in nature is false. Changing it to "Close to human intelligence" does not make it true.
Anywho...
Us being the most intelligent species only makes other animals less intelligent. But they are not non-intelligent.
Real intelligence has evolved throughout nature.

My claim is that our kind of conscious intelligence has only evolved once. I am not claiming that other animals don't display some degree of intelligence, they obviously do. But it's equally obvious that their intelligence is not of the same order as ours. Not even close.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 81 of 142 (643363)
12-06-2011 12:46 PM
Reply to: Message 79 by New Cat's Eye
12-06-2011 11:55 AM


Catholic Scientist writes:

Which is wrong... unless you beg the question by dscounting extinct species

I've said this at least three times now. I'm not excluding extinct species except ape descendants - for the obvious reason that we are ape descendants ourselves and are therefore likely to have the same brain. (Unless you can show that an extinct line independently came up with an analogue to our brain - then fine, but good luck with that too.)

or define intelligence a way that suit your claim.

I've said this twice now - I'll accept any mainstream definition.


Our kind of bipedalism equally only evolved once. So what?

So it's very interesting and it's useful to ask the question "why?" It's what science does I believe.

One view is that bipedalism, brain size and hair-loss are all related developments. They allowed us to leave the forests for the open savannahs - bi-pedalism and hair-loss allowed us to run long distances without boiling over and our brains helped us organise in groups make weapons and hunt down faster animals (and avoid predation). It's a good story anyhow.

Can you think of any other single adaptation that delivers so much competitive advantage that only exists in a single species? It's seems that H. sapiens has at least two.

cf feathers, flight, gills, lungs, quadruped locomotion, exoskeletons, taste, touch, hearing sight, radar, scales, hooves, fingers, tails, blood circulation, warm-bloodedness, stomachs, vivipary,........a very long list.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 84 of 142 (643368)
12-06-2011 1:22 PM
Reply to: Message 82 by Panda
12-06-2011 12:55 PM


panda writes:


Real intelligence has evolved in nature countless times.

So I'll ask for one final time to give me a single example, using any kind of mainstream definition that you like, of another species, living or dead, that even approximates to our own level of intelligence and consciousness. Even a very distant miss would do.

ps, if it helps you at all in guaging the level of attainment you need to demonstrate in your dolphin, elephant, jay or chimp, I'm writing this with an iPad from the other side of the world to a machine I've never seen, by radio. So yes, technology is one method of establishing the intelligence of a species and yes, I do think that magnitude is a major differentiator and yes I do think consciousness is also vital and no I've never claimed that 'intelligence' itself, no matteer how lowly, is unique to us, that was a straw man.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
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Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 85 of 142 (643371)
12-06-2011 1:28 PM
Reply to: Message 83 by New Cat's Eye
12-06-2011 1:20 PM


CS writes:

But this is getting pretty ridiculous.

For a while there I thought there was nothing we were going to agree about.

You genuinely think that our intelligence is no different than that of other sprecies? I mean really?


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 87 of 142 (643379)
12-06-2011 2:40 PM
Reply to: Message 86 by New Cat's Eye
12-06-2011 1:55 PM


CS writes:

Of course its different. But its different by degree, not by kind.

I claim that it's different by both degree and kind.

I believe that the degree is uncontestable (a statement of the blindingly obvious, the degree of difference is so large that no other animal intelligence would get onto the same scale.)

The kind is more contentious and not being a neuroscientist, I can't easily defend it - but I have develeoped an amateur interest in it.

Many/most/all animals have something normally called a brain. The major difference in humans from any other animal, including modern apes and extinct hominids, is the massive over-development of the prefrontal cortex and the functions it performs. This part of the brain is responsible for our recently developed ability to reason and calculate - it's the functions developed in this are that are used to govern more ancient functions like morals and emotions.

We are only just beginning to understand how our brain actually works, it's really only since funtional MRI scanners became available that we've been able to begin to get a basic understanding of it.

There's a rather outragious quote from Professor Cohen, from the Study of Brain, Mind and Behaviour at Princeton University that puts the human brain in context (i can hardly wait to hear the pedantic, nit-picking objections from several here, but as they say, fuck it.)

"There are more synapses in the brain than stars in the galaxy," Cohen notes. "We are studying the most complex device in the known universe."

There's a thread on the human brain and morality called is Biology Destiny here on this forum here, if you're interested:

http://www.evcforum.net/dm.php?control=page&t=16015&mpp=1...

Edited by Tangle, : Added link to Is Biology Destiny forum


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 90 of 142 (643500)
12-07-2011 2:21 PM
Reply to: Message 89 by Panda
12-06-2011 8:00 PM


Irritating
Panda writes:

This would mean that since Aristotle never used an iPad he is therefore less intelligent than you.

This sort of remark really doesn't help. I mean there's so many fallacies jemmied into that sentence that it makes me feel really tired - but I'll try to explain myself.

Aristotle, is likely to be more inteligent than both you and me added together. Just because he lived a long time ago or if he had lived today in a primitive environment like the tribal photo shown earlier - he, and all his society, would still be described, without dispute, as being intelligent, really intelligent. Not the minimalist intelligence of a parrot or even an ape.

He lived in an immensely sophisticated society with buildings constructed with advanced mathematics and organised building skills - masonry, carpentry, painters, gardeners, mosaic makers etc. He could build a fire and cook, plan and run an agricultural economy and trade. He could travel in ships to other continents using astronomical navigation or on land in horse drawn carts on roads built from fashioned stones. He could read and write, teach and pass on those teaching using libraries. He thought deeply and planned ahead. He imagined the future and invented believed in gods and practiced philosophical thought processes that considered the minds of others.

In short he had real intelligence that would be recognised by a visiting alien. Name me another species that could pass that test. I'm still waiting.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8203
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 91 of 142 (643503)
12-07-2011 2:34 PM
Reply to: Message 88 by New Cat's Eye
12-06-2011 3:08 PM


Area 10
CS writes:

Its a difference of degree, not kind.

and yet your googled paper actually says the opposite

Area 10 in the human brain is larger relative to the rest of the brain than it is in the apes, and its supragranular layers have more space available for connections with other higher-order association areas. This suggests that the neural substrates supporting cognitive functions associated with this part of the cortex enlarged and became specialized during hominid evolution

Specialisation is a difference in 'kind' imho

and

Area 10 in the human brain appears to be specialized in size and organization, which suggests that functions associated with this part of the cortex have become particularly important during hominid evolution. Planning of future actions and the undertaking of initiatives are hallmarks of human behavior, and although present to some extent in other hominoids and possibly other primates, they became fully expressed in the Plio-Pleistocene hominids.

That study physically sectioned the brain of various apes and measured the thickness of a specific part of the prefrontal cortex (Area 10) and counted neurones in it. It's damned crude and shows how little we actually know about even the physical structure of the brain let alone its functions.

They had to assume that the area of the brain sectioned perform similar tasks in all their subjects but they actually have no idea whether that is true. It does, however, tell us that the total neurones in Area 10 for humans is 254m, whilst the next nearest in a chimp is 64m. Interestingly a gibbon has only 8. [btw Area 10 is only one part of one bit (the Broddman Areas) of the brain that is associated with executive functioning and stuff like theory of mind, planning, learning etc in humans]

It's no surprise that apes have bits of the brain that look like ours and it's also no surprise that the parts that in humans do some of the things that we call intelligence - cognitive and executive functioning - are very much bigger, rather differently organised and connected.

We don't know whether the regions of the prefrontal cortex that humans use for what we call intelligence are the same as those in other apes because the only tools we have for assessing it are functional MRI scanners (or similar) and non-human apes do not have the intelligence to understand either the need to keep still whilst being scanned and are incapable of understanding the tasks they'd have to perform if they could.

But it's all jolly interesting.


Life, don't talk to me about life.

This message is a reply to:
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