An American archeologist by the name of John Hoffecker has written a book about the evolution of the human mind. Mentions of the research have been popping up all over the place lately, and I like it.
This theory of his is that the 2.5 million years old discovery that we could express our complex internal thoughts led to a collective human super-brain, which allowed for creativity in tool making and communication, eventually leading to language and art. These factors then lead to the explosion of population that made us the planet Earth’s dominant species in less than 75 thousand years.
I am yet to read the book in which all this is outlined. I very much want to. There is an idea discussed that I find most intriguing: that the hierarchical organisations within nations after the collapse of some empire after 1200AD lead to a limitation of the human super-brain. Information that was once spread to all individuals became limited to just a few key members of the group/society, which may have served as something of a castration to the huge potential of human creativity.
Isn’t it funny that when you look back on the development of society the way that you would look back on your youth, one experiences the same sort of embarrassment at the immaturity one displayed at a younger age? Like in this instance, I’m picturing a kingly type, looking down at the peasants slaving in the fields from his castle, thinking to himself: “Yes, these workers have no need for reading or writing, for then they will be distracted, and not place all of their energy in to working the land so that I can have feasts of swine and geese every evening.” Ohhhhh, what a spoilt little child.
AND THE CHURCH! What a bunch of bratty pricks they were. Same deal as the king, only they fucked with people’s heads way more. Like the bitchy 13 year old girl that calls late one night to tell you that her boyfriend broke up with her because he likes you, but really she’s teasing you, and actually has him silent on the other line, listening to your reaction. Yes, that really happened to me, and yes, the Catholic church in the Middle Ages were just as bad as Ashley Connelly was in high school: cruel, greedy and terrified of not being popular. They stunted the emotional and intellectual growth of human society for centuries. Sure, things were being invented and created, but it wasn’t too often, and it became about pleasing patrons rather than expressing one’s self and sharing ideas just for the sake of knowledge. In reality, society was based around creating hoards of people to do all the unskilled labour that would help improve the wealth of those with money, influence and literacy.
Once science happened, religion became a whole lot easier to refute and ignore. Thanks to severely decreasing the influence of religion, modern society has matured enough to allow the invention of mass communication tools to spread information between people more freely. Slowly but surely, the super-brain is beginning to re-emerge, with most of the world’s population now able to communicate in real time, with text, audio and visuals, whenever they want, however they want, about whatever they want. Ideas and creations are easily spread for free, so no one is left out unless they choose to be.
As a result of this information sharing and increased understanding, possible flaws in contemporary western society have become glaringly obvious, out dated ways of thinking left over from a time before mass communication empowered the average person- especially in terms of the way we are educating our children and teenagers. It’s a serious problem that deserves more awareness: we’re trying to prepare them to enter a world that is changing much faster than bureaucracy can keep up with, with a style of education that sets them up for failure, when it really doesn’t have to be that way.
But anyway, back to the book, apparently Hoffecker goes on to explore the idea of artificial intelligence, and a mind without biology as an evolution of what humans are creating now. There are some theories as to whether or not this is possible, and after skimming the surface with research… I’ve decided I need to do a whole lot of research. Like, study biology for 3 years kind of research, before I can even start to summarise it for you. So I won’t even bother. If you’re interested, look it up yourself.
As always, I’m all worked up about my dissatisfaction with society, and how silly everything seems, but this research somehow makes me feel slightly more at ease. I realised that if information sharing grows exponentially, then so would mind expansion. And if more people’s minds are expanded, then the more the governments and rich families who run governments would have to cater to the needs and desires of the knowledgeable if they want to remain in power. In fact, I think I’m feeling my revolutionary spirit creep back. Fuck it, if enough people are learning new things every day, and are gaining a better understanding of the world they live in, steps can eventually be taken to reclaim this planet as our own beautiful garden again, instead of the overworked farm it has been for thousands of years. It doesn’t have to be anymore!
It’s pretty nice being a left wing nut job. I think I probably smile far more freely than a right wing douchebag.