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12-06-2013, 06:25 PM (This post was last modified: 12-06-2013 06:59 PM by evenheathen.)
Top of the heap.
So here's a question that I've had since, well, since I can remember. When I was a believer the faulty answer was actually one of the stronger arguments for god's existence in my mind. Now that the god answer is no longer satisfactory, I've been thinking about it again. Maybe some of you smartypants college edumecated types can help me.

How is it that humans' brains evolved so much more rapidly than other animals? What exactly were the evolutionary mechanisms that allowed for such a rapid leap in brain size and function from our earlier ancestors? It seems to be a Cambrian explosion of sorts, but just for our line of species.

I am under no delusion that we are the only highly intelligent animals on the earth. However I dare say there is a substantial gap between our intelligence and even that of our closest relatives.

I know that philosophers have probably been hammering away at this for ages, but I'm more interested in the hard science. The how, not the why. Are there any solid theories as to what circumstances moved this along?

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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12-06-2013, 06:29 PM
RE: Top of the heap.
(12-06-2013 06:25 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  So here's a question that I've had since, well, since I can remember. When I was a believer the faulty answer was actually one of the stronger arguments for god's existence in my mind. Now that the god answer is no longer satisfactory, I've been thinking about it again. Maybe some of you smartypants college edumecated types can help me.

How is it that humans' brains evolved so much more rapidly than other animals? What exactly were the evolutionary mechanisms that allowed for such a rapid leap in brain size and function from our earlier ancestors? It seems to be a Cambrian explosion of sorts, but just for our line of species.

I am under no delusion that we are the only highly intelligent animals on the earth. However I dare say there is a substantial gap between our intelligence and even that of our closest relatives.

I know that philosophers have probably been hammering away at this for ages, but I'm more interested in the hard science. The how, not the why. Are there any sold theories as to what circumstances moved this along?

The difference may be remarkable, but is it really that large?

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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12-06-2013, 06:38 PM
RE: Top of the heap.
Crap that immediately came into my head as I contemplated your question, I apologize in advance.

I can imagine a pod of dolphins talking amogst themselves and pondering why it is that only they developed such amazing echolocation, speed, beauty and intelligence.

Or a pod of whales thinking that they must be the most special in all the seas because of their great size, echolocation, endurance and intelligence.

Sorry evenh, that's what popped into my large (and confused) brain. Blink

I'll go sit in the corner now.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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12-06-2013, 06:49 PM
RE: Top of the heap.
(12-06-2013 06:29 PM)Chas Wrote:  The difference may be remarkable, but is it really that large?

Good question. To my mind it is at first glance. To compare our accomplishments in understanding what we do of the world and implementing that knowledge into useful technologies to that of any other species seems astounding.

I do agree that say, dolphins are incredibly intelligent. Do you suppose it is simply the environment that they adapted to is what prevents them from being more like humans?
(that was for you too, FC)

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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12-06-2013, 07:07 PM
RE: Top of the heap.
I suppose "more like humans" wasn't exactly what I meant, but kinda. Is it the lack of, say hands that are holding them back from using or making tools? A more relevant comparison would be chimpanzees or other apes with obviously similar physical capabilities.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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12-06-2013, 07:10 PM
RE: Top of the heap.
(12-06-2013 06:29 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(12-06-2013 06:25 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  So here's a question that I've had since, well, since I can remember. When I was a believer the faulty answer was actually one of the stronger arguments for god's existence in my mind. Now that the god answer is no longer satisfactory, I've been thinking about it again. Maybe some of you smartypants college edumecated types can help me.

How is it that humans' brains evolved so much more rapidly than other animals? What exactly were the evolutionary mechanisms that allowed for such a rapid leap in brain size and function from our earlier ancestors? It seems to be a Cambrian explosion of sorts, but just for our line of species.

I am under no delusion that we are the only highly intelligent animals on the earth. However I dare say there is a substantial gap between our intelligence and even that of our closest relatives.

I know that philosophers have probably been hammering away at this for ages, but I'm more interested in the hard science. The how, not the why. Are there any sold theories as to what circumstances moved this along?

The difference may be remarkable, but is it really that large?

I tried that that line with a girlfriend once. Didn't go over as well as hoped.

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
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12-06-2013, 07:13 PM
RE: Top of the heap.
(12-06-2013 07:07 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  I suppose "more like humans" wasn't exactly what I meant, but kinda. Is it the lack of, say hands that are holding them back from using or making tools? A more relevant comparison would be chimpanzees or other apes with obviously similar physical capabilities.

The real difference in humans seems to be mind module(s) that provide a level of consciousness, foresight, and language. Our minds can hold and manipulate ideas and communicate them.

Memetics. Our minds are meme farms.

Other animals seem to have bits and pieces of these, but not to the degree or in the combination that we do. That, I think, is what makes us unique.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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12-06-2013, 07:19 PM
RE: Top of the heap.
(12-06-2013 07:13 PM)Chas Wrote:  The real difference in humans seems to be mind module(s) that provide a level of consciousness, foresight, and language. Our minds can hold and manipulate ideas and communicate them.

Memetics. Our minds are meme farms.

Other animals seem to have bits and pieces of these, but not to the degree or in the combination that we do. That, I think, is what makes us unique.

Exactly. So why only us? More to the original point, how? What was the unique difference in our evolutionary process that other species missed out on?

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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12-06-2013, 07:19 PM
RE: Top of the heap.
(12-06-2013 06:49 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  
(12-06-2013 06:29 PM)Chas Wrote:  The difference may be remarkable, but is it really that large?

Good question. To my mind it is at first glance. To compare our accomplishments in understanding what we do of the world and implementing that knowledge into useful technologies to that of any other species seems astounding.

I do agree that say, dolphins are incredibly intelligent. Do you suppose it is simply the environment that they adapted to is what prevents them from being more like humans?
(that was for you too, FC)

Its a good question and I would have to do research...(did you hear that tbblanch777? Fucking research! Yeah bro, open a goddamn book every now and then...fucking lazy ass bastard ignoramus).

Er, where were we? Oh yeah, dolphins don't have opposable thumbs! Thumbsup
But the great apes do Consider

I have to say I don't have anything worthwhile to contribute at the moment, couldn't you tell? Big Grin

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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12-06-2013, 07:24 PM
RE: Top of the heap.
(12-06-2013 07:19 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  Its a good question and I would have to do research...(did you hear that tbblanch777? Fucking research! Yeah bro, open a goddamn book every now and then...fucking lazy ass bastard ignoramus).

Ha! Look at my lazy ignoramus ass here to make someone else answer my question. Tongue

I figure someone here can point out some good theories on it.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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