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Evolutionary equivalents of human intelligence - Comments

Bigtimedwarfer's Avatar Comment 1 by Bigtimedwarfer

I would reccomend chapter nine of Nick Lane's book Life Ascending where he deals with theories regarding the emergence of "consciousness".

I'm also no more than an interested layperson but I think the answer is that nobody really knows but there is reason to believe that an equivalent if less developed intelligence does exist elswhere in the animal kingdom.

Neanderthals are also considered to have had language and an "imagination" by some scientists I believe.

Lane goes so far as to suggest that the basic requirements for consciousness exist in honey bees!

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 11:51:33 UTC | #936652

sheepcat's Avatar Comment 2 by sheepcat

You aren't showing any ignorance at all in posting this question.

Most evolutionary adaptations are a trade off. It seems obvious that our type of intelligence is useful in terms of survival but try to imagine early stone age man with limited technology coping with child birth, no pain relief, no way to deal with maternal birth trauma, how many mothers would just bleed to death?

Our enlarged skulls are a real pain!

We are much weaker, slower and require far more food to survive than our primate cousins.

One on one being clever is not likely to save you from a lion, being fast might.

So you have to think of how natural selection works, remember the selection part! And this salutory lesson.

Two documentary film makers are observing lions in Africa when a large male starts to become agitated and start to behave aggresively towards the men. They get scared and one of them slips some running shoes out of his back pack and puts them on.

The other man laughs, "Don't bother you will never out run that lion" he says

"I don't have to outrun the Lion" he replies, " just you".

Any adaptation has to confer an advantage immediately to be the product of natural selection, so while being smarter may be great in the long term adaptations which are instantly helpful are more common, just like being a little bit faster than your contemporaries.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 14:43:17 UTC | #936698

godzillatemple's Avatar Comment 3 by godzillatemple

Thanks for the comments, and I think I understand the points being made. Being a self-aware "intelligent" animal, I happen to think that intelligence is pretty darn neat and something any species would benefit from. If we look at intelligence as just one possible adaptation to the problem of survival, however, I guess it's not necessarily better than any other adaptation that allows species to survive.

A species of primate in the jungle could certainly avoid being eaten by evolving the intelligence required to create tools, make clothing, build shelter, etc. But I suppose it could also survive equally well by developing a thicker fur coat, sharper teeth and more powerful muscles, at least in the short run.

In the long term, I think our intelligence has certainly proved to be a better survival mechanism (especially as we end up wiping out most of the competing species one at a time). So perhaps, over time, we will eventually see other species follow our path. Of course, it's also possible that our intelligence will eventually lead us to wipe ourselves out completely, thereby proving it wasn't such a great adaptation after all...

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 15:32:56 UTC | #936709

ccw95005's Avatar Comment 4 by ccw95005

Remember that evolution doesn't automatically result in greater complexity or move us toward what we might consider a more exalted plane - more beautiful, smarter, more athletic, and so on. Its only driving forces are survival and reproduction of the genetic blueprint. And intelligence of the human variety must have been so complicated to develop that luck may have been involved in its emergence. Except for a chance combination of a large number of mutations that resulted in our language skills and self-awareness and ability to reason and contemplate, it may not have come about. In other words, particular characteristics may not be ineveitable and may happen only once in a blue moon, by chance. Or maybe some other species in the past was on its way to developing human-level intelligence, but then the ice age or some infectious catastrophe happened - or some other species, dumber but stronger, killed them off. Who knows what the Neanderthals would have become, had they survived? Also, the fact that only one species has our kind of intelligence may be more of a timing thing. Somebody's got to be first, right? Maybe a hundred thousand years from now, there will be others. In fact, maybe we'll be extinct and some other species will carry the torch of intelligence higher than we with our pea brains ever could have.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 17:54:18 UTC | #936748

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 5 by Jos Gibbons

As far as I understand it eyes have evolved once, but complex eyes have evolved from ancestral ones dozens of times. Anyway, this phenomenon, wherein similar or identical adaptations evolve under similar or identical selective pressures, is called convergent evolution. Essentially, your question is whether human-style intelligence could be a product of convergent evolution. Needless to say, for that to be so it would have to happen at least twice. As far as we know from testing animals across the world, no other species are quite as smart as us. Admittedly "high", if not human, intelligence has come from convergent evolution quite a bit. Compare non-human primates, cetaceans, Corvidae (the smartest birds; their brains are proportionally at least as large as in everything other than humans, and they're not far behind us), cephalopods, eusocial insects and even some single-celled life such as the slime mold P polycephalum. I haven't got links to all the "wow, they can do that?" examples to hand, but ... they're all impressive to human provincialists. As to how many of you "human-like" criteria each one achieves, we're still working on it.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 20:53:24 UTC | #936803

raytoman's Avatar Comment 6 by raytoman

There have been about 18 homo species of ape of which we are the most recent. Neandrathals even had religion though they evolved 1-3 hundred thousand years before us and were arguably more intelligent and stronger but shorter and less agressive than us.

Where we went wrong was being arrogant enough to think there was some purpose to our lives. The only purpose is that which individual humans decide. We are just a unique collection of genes that replicates itself.

Some of these genes are the same as those that existed in the earliest life forms (yes, billions of years old) and of course we share genes with all other lifeforms, 98% or more in the case of the other living apes.

Thinking, erroneously, we were special, we invented religion before the scientific method so currently 6 billion or more of us believe we were created by some super being who lives in the sky. Individuals invented all sorts of deities and religions to enable them to exercise power and control and those who questioned were culled and therefore, typically, our brightest and best were removed from the gene pool.

It's only in the past 500 or so years that science has enabled us to establish where we live and what we are. Unfortunately, very few bother to find out and so we are still gradually becoming dumber.

I suspect that instead of other species evolving to be brighter than us, we will become dumber than them (unless we succeed in killing them all first). My personal view is that we will kill ourselves off first and all that will be left is the possibility of life emerging from the sea again to give the planet another shot. Just think, cetaceans walking on earth again.

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 22:48:30 UTC | #936832

sheepcat's Avatar Comment 7 by sheepcat

Thinking, erroneously, we were special, we invented religion before the scientific method so currently 6 billion or more of us believe we were created by some super being who lives in the sky. Individuals invented all sorts of deities and religions to enable them to exercise power and control and those who questioned were culled and therefore, typically, our brightest and best were removed from the gene pool.

This is a bit of a gloomy outlook, religion wasn't really invented but was initially the result of early attempts to explain our existence. The people who came up with religious ideas were almost certainly our "best and brightest" at the time. Proto humans didn't have a lot of information to go on to construct a useful view of the world, several things were "obvious", the world was flat, the sun and moon went around it, the world appeared very well designed to meet our needs.

Even into the last couple of hundred years religious men were often our best and brightest, Issac Newton, Gregor Mendel, in fact no other lifestyle offered the chance to entirely devote ones life to study.

It is only really after the publication of the Origin of species that there existed a well thought out theory that explained all of lifes diversity without reference to an outside influence. So it is only really after this point that it starts to become a little odd to continue claiming God made everything.

Religion (in my opinion) is an inevitable stage in any evolving intelligence getting to know the universe, it wasn't created with the purpose of controlling people it just happens to be a very useful tool if you do want to control people.

Oh, and we are "special" we are as far as we know unique in the universe in recognising the very mechanism by which we came into being, meaning that it is possible for us to escape from the ramifications of existing just to survive.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 09:02:28 UTC | #936954

UncleVanya's Avatar Comment 8 by UncleVanya

It's also important to remember that adaptations need to generate an immediate pay-off in order to be reinforced, and that evolution does not operate with any long-term "goals" in mind. The level of intelligence we enjoy now may seem pretty great, but the blind forces of evolution could not look ahead and work towards this level - each gradual increase in intelligence had to be beneficial at the time.

With this in mind, I often think it's helpful to look at other relatively intelligent creatures like us, i.e. the other great apes. Interesting though they are, they are not obvious evolutionary success stories - chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas are wasting away in the corners of woods and jungles, and often make appearances on the endangered species lists, while ants and termites take over the world. On this showing, there may be an argument that a modest increase in intelligence doesn't provide many advantages. The massive advantages we enjoy may only materialise when the increase passes a threshold, and an increase to, say, 50% of this level of intelligence could confer much less than 50% of these advantages.

There is also an argument that a bit of luck is needed for the advantages to accrue even when a decent level of intelligence has been achieved. Many of the advantages we enjoy have arisen from a very long and incremental cultural process, and could not have been achieved (or anything like them) by a small group in a short time, however intelligent the members of that group were. Perhaps it takes a bit of luck for a species to have the time and circumstances to allow these advantages to come about. The cavemen may have had brains that were effectively indistinguishable from ours, but they were illiterate, scratched around in the dirt and were at the mercy of many predators. I expect they had no access to the great things we're talking about, and that had nothing to do with any lack of intelligence on their part...

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 11:43:52 UTC | #936979

Bigtimedwarfer's Avatar Comment 9 by Bigtimedwarfer

Comment 8 by UncleVanya :

It's also important to remember that adaptations need to generate an immediate pay-off in order to be reinforced,

It that strictly true? I thought that neutral adaptations have been collecting in the genome ever since complex cells came into existence.

If anything I’d have thought that the onus on selection is a negative one. For an adaptation to be removed it would have to confer a significant enough phenotypic disadvantage on the organism by comparison the baseline genome to remove the new gene from the future gene pool.

Or am I missing something?

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 12:13:39 UTC | #936984

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 10 by AtheistEgbert

I am a confirmed skeptic, a dyed-in-the-wool atheist and a firm believer in the scientific method.

There is something somewhat contradictory and ironic in labeling yourself a skeptic and a believer in the same sentence, but I understand what you mean, as I'm much the same.

To be clear, science and scepticism are the same thing, or at least scepticism is part of the methodology of science, but also can be applied to all areas of knowledge.

Given that human-style intelligence seems to be such an amazingly useful adaptation, I have to wonder why we don't see any analogs to it with other species? In other words, why are we the only species to have developed it (or something similar)?

It's a good point, but aren't we making a bit of an assumption about just how intelligent we are? And human intelligence is not necessarily good for our survival, it may actually hinder it.

Something we are neglecting, which is the elephant in the room, is just what is consciousness? It seems to me that evolution does not explain consciousness, it only makes use of it like a resource.

I think a good explanation is that consciousness yields extraordinary energy benefits compared to purely linearly processing of information.

All species most probably make use of consciousness at some level, but it's about energy consumption. Having a big brain to body size which has no survival benefit is an incredible waste of resources. Human brains, for whatever reason, are large and consume lots of energy, but must yield an important enough advantage over other species for us to have filled a niche, which we've exploited.

Many species are unique precisely because they have found a niche to exploit, and by exploiting that niche, they prevent other species from adapting toward it, as it's already taken up.

I think that's a good explanation, but explanations are not truths, of course.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:09:11 UTC | #936999

UncleVanya's Avatar Comment 11 by UncleVanya

Comment 9 by Bigtimedwarfer:

It that strictly true? I thought that neutral adaptations have been collecting in the genome ever since complex cells came into existence.

Yes - I should have been a bit more specific. While neutral adaptations may collect in the genome, there won't be a drift in the population as a whole towards higher frequencies of the genes in question unless the adaptation confers some advantage. So, some variation in intelligence may build up in the population even if the difference in intelligence makes no real difference to survival (i.e. a neutral adaptation). However, a steady increase in the frequency of the genes leading to higher intelligence will not happen unless the more intelligent individuals have an advantage.

My point was that, for the steady increase to happen, those individuals have to have an advantage there and then, and evolution won't favour them or give them an easy ride in the hope of advantages later on.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 15:22:29 UTC | #937014

godzillatemple's Avatar Comment 12 by godzillatemple

There is something somewhat contradictory and ironic in labeling yourself a skeptic and a believer in the same sentence, but I understand what you mean, as I'm much the same.

Sorry, first time poster here. I just wanted to emphasize that I was not trying to argue that human intelligence was evidence of a divine creator or anything like that. And yes, I understand that skepticism is a vital part of the scientific method. Thank you for understanding what I meant to say, though.

Something we are neglecting, which is the elephant in the room, is just what is consciousness? It seems to me that evolution does not explain consciousness, it only makes use of it like a resource.

If not evolution, what other mechanism could possibly explain consciousness? I agree that we don't currently know precisely what causes it or how it works, but I remain confident that it arose through the same process as every other aspect of life, namely evolution. I suppose one could argue that it is an essential property of matter and drag quantum mechanics into the discussion, but that seems needlessly messy.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 16:04:41 UTC | #937024

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 13 by AtheistEgbert

I agree that we don't currently know precisely what causes it or how it works, but I remain confident that it arose through the same process as every other aspect of life, namely evolution.

Something I learned from somewhere (sorry forget where) was that colour developed in two stages separated by a long period of time. And so we have two colour systems in our brains, that shows how this aspect of consciousness was 'discovered' rather than developed. It means that consciousness is not something that gradually becomes more complex, rather, evolution stumbled upon these mechanisms by accident. Who knows what other types of conscious still exists? Maybe evolution won't ever find them, but it remains interesting to me how the brain evolved, and its connection with the mind.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 20:22:05 UTC | #937074

Bigtimedwarfer's Avatar Comment 14 by Bigtimedwarfer

Comment 13 by AtheistEgbert :

evolution stumbled upon these mechanisms by accident.

Evolution stumbles upon every phenotype by accident. Its still evolution and consciousness is still in all likelihood a product of this process.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 21:50:02 UTC | #937087

ccw95005's Avatar Comment 15 by ccw95005

Comment 14 by Bigtimedwarfer

Evolution stumbles upon every phenotype by accident. Its still evolution and consciousness is still in all likelihood a product of this process.

I agree. I believe that consciousness did become more and more complex through evolution. Some variety of it is present in other animals but we are number one in the consciousness sweepstakes. I suspect that the development of language was what allowed us to hold internal conversations with ourselves and develop complex ideas, including self-awareness.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 07:08:20 UTC | #937145

gordon's Avatar Comment 16 by gordon

Sheepcat.

Agreed our brains give us big skulls but a gorrila has a huge skull with a massive ridge to anchor the muscles for masticating huge amounts of food. Bigger skull but smaller brain. Surely their birth is greater risk than ours. Do they also not eat much more?

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 09:11:23 UTC | #937158

bobSkit's Avatar Comment 17 by bobSkit

Communication avails social intelligence. The advantage apparent in our species. Our ability to employ technology as a vital cultural distinction. Dogs, preternatural wolves, exhibit social group communication out of context within the human setting. The benefit of this adaptation, becomng domesticated, has had huge benefits for the dog.

The wolf, whilst employing complex communication structures to select and collaboratively hunt down prey are efficient hunters; able to prey on large and dangerous herbivores. An example of 'awareness of others' social behaviour (like us, having dreams; modelling 'social decodes' employed during conscious interaction).

The dog however has re tuned such communication (albeit by chance and our, not insignificant, involvement in selection!) to the extent they never (in many 1st world homes) have to think about food provision, shelter and even get free healthcare.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 20:32:14 UTC | #937326

Roedy's Avatar Comment 18 by Roedy

I spent some time working with communication with dolphins with Dr. John Lilly. I hold dolphins in higher esteem than humans. I did a Gandhi style fast to the death to try to protect some whales and just got arrested.

see http://mindprod.com/animalrights/intel.html for some stories of my experiences.

At one point I asked Dr. Lilly what he thought dolphins did with their huge brains. He said "Something else". I asked is there any way I could get a glimpse of what that something else is? He said "Yes, swim with them".

Anyone who has not even swum with dolphins who pontificates on their intelligence is like a child who pontificates on sex.

Read up on elephant communication. They have quite a complex set of sounds that have been cataloged.

Thu, 26 Apr 2012 17:40:05 UTC | #937515

raytoman's Avatar Comment 19 by raytoman

Comment 7 by sheepcat

Religion (in my opinion) is an inevitable stage in any evolving intelligence getting to know the universe, it wasn't created with the purpose of controlling people it just happens to be a very useful tool if you do want to control people.

Sigh!

The first rule (paraphrasing) of almost all religions - only our god is the right one and if you worship another (whatever obscene punishment those religious leaders decide).

Early hominoids invented explainations to establish leadership and to access power and control over their tribes. The invention of gods and other crap was because tribe members were prepared to take on ferocious and deadly carnivores and other food animals that could easily main ot kill them, including other hominoids. You can't frighten people like that without inventing invisible and cruel gods/spirits and this was embellished with eternal reward or punishment to give the inventers total control. Kept the earth flat until recently and people today will still kill and die to remain slaves to the parasite that is religion. Religion is responsible for most of the atrocities, genocides and wars we have inflicted on our selves, either in the name of religion/gods or using this primal fear based control to turn ordinary people into mindless hating and killing machines.

And what makes you think that the thinkers were religious? If they didn't do it for the power and control, they would have had to do it to simply survive. Early Scientists were either religious or dead.

I suspect intelligent species in the universe would agree we were sentient, but intelligent?. We were dumb enough to invent and then continue religion - currently 6 billion, still controlling and killing.

Thu, 26 Apr 2012 23:16:05 UTC | #937574

raytoman's Avatar Comment 20 by raytoman

Comment 12 by godzillatemple

Sorry, first time poster here. I just wanted to emphasize that I was not trying to argue that human intelligence was evidence of a divine creator or anything like that. And yes, I understand that skepticism is a vital part of the scientific method. Thank you for understanding what I meant to say, though.

Something we are neglecting, which is the elephant in the room, is just what is consciousness? It seems to me that evolution does not explain consciousness, it only makes use of it like a resource.

Our billion brain cells can have up to a trillion (synapses) links between them. Synapses grow as we age and learn and some individuals will have relatively few (if all you know is religion and ignore all else, very few) with only the Rutherfords, Darwins , Newtons and Einsteins having the many hundreds of billions.

As our brain evolved (similar genetically to other brains) the particular genes will have adapted to the stage where synapses were being established to state where our consciousness was aware of our consciousness and how it changed.

Current studies into intelligence seem to be moving from a "brain as a computer" to "intelligence as determined by study that encompasses all intelligence and how it world, animal and mineral (computers).

I can't understand why they are not specifically studying living brains and how synapses develop. Maybe they are but they mainly seem to be focussed on thinking rather than studying the chemistry, architecture and continuance of actual "minds" as they grow. Not easy of course, if even possible, but trying to understand the philosophising and abstract thinking just hurts my brain.

Mind is physical (brain cells, neurons, chemical and electrical reactions) and the underlying inner cell mechanisms and DNA structures and replication mechanics that are US.

Thu, 26 Apr 2012 23:31:21 UTC | #937579

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 21 by Helga Vieirch

I think intelligence different from ours but of a similar potential has already evolved on this planet. Look at dolphins and ravens and octopi. I agree with Jos Gibbons, there are other species out there that have had some parallel selection for intelligence occurring.

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 01:54:58 UTC | #937601

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 22 by Helga Vieirch

By the way, you might find some evidence of almost human-like intelligence in the following species.

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 05:04:05 UTC | #937618

ccw95005's Avatar Comment 23 by ccw95005

It's fun to think that other species are nearly as smart as us, but that's silliness, unless your criterion is how well their brains are adapted to their environments. What we have that no other species has is language. Without language you can't have an internal conversation with yourself, and you can't develop complex ideas; even if you did, you couldn't communicate those ideas to others. It seems logical that once we or our immediate ancestors developed an improved ability to speak, language followed, and further evolution made use of our ability to speak, developing new mental capabilities, followed by better speaking capabilities, each feeding on the other in driving evolutionary change. Probably there was a great leap forward in intelligence at that point, leaving all other species behind.

That's not to say that other species don't have capabilities, including certain mental capabilities, that we don't have. And I see endearing human qualities in our dogs and many other animals. A two year old child can seem bright and will surprise us with his intelligence, as some animals do, but he and those animals can't do physics and they can't write a great novel. So let's not get carried away.

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 05:57:29 UTC | #937621

sheepcat's Avatar Comment 24 by sheepcat

Early hominoids invented explainations to establish leadership and to access power and control over their tribes. The invention of gods and other crap was because tribe members were prepared to take on ferocious and deadly carnivores and other food animals that could easily main ot kill them, including other hominoids. You can't frighten people like that without inventing invisible and cruel gods/spirits and this was embellished with eternal reward or punishment to give the inventers total control

This seems astonishingly unlikely, a couple of early humans sat down together and said "I know how to get the other members of the tribe to do everything we want, we will say there is a big guy in the sky who runs the show".

For a long time proposing a God was a perfectly reasonable way to explain the universe, there were Gods for thousands of years before there was organised religion.

Religion (ironic thought it may be) wasn't invented, it evolved slowly over long periods of history to become one of the most powerful forces in the political sphere.

This is why Darwins, Origin of Species was so important, before it there is no way to explain the diversity of life on earth, after it there is. Before Origin God created every living thing, after origin if he created anything it was a process of organic heredity that led to life, easier to say he did nothing and isn't there.

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 10:53:47 UTC | #937664

Extreme-Madness's Avatar Comment 25 by Extreme-Madness

Comment 23 by ccw95005 :

That's not to say that other species don't have capabilities, including certain mental capabilities, that we don't have. And I see endearing human qualities in our dogs and many other animals. A two year old child can seem bright and will surprise us with his intelligence, as some animals do, but he and those animals can't do physics and they can't write a great novel. So let's not get carried away.

Can you be a physicist or write a great novel, does that mean that you are less intelligent?

Anyway, I think it is proven that apes, dolphins and several species of parrots and crows have the intelligence of at least three years to five years of a child from 3-5 years old (so we are not so isolated from other species)

Why is always assumed that other species must interact in the same way as humans, other species communicate and transmit information in a variety of complex ways (dolphins, whales, elephants) and not necessarily with the help of sounds (cephalopods, particularly octopuses and cuttlefish have komleksnu communication with changing shades of color).

I do not know about you but as far as I saw in nature there is a large range in the amount of intelligence of animals (eg visible difference between the pigeon and crow). It is very anthropocentric to work the line between humans and other species and advance conclusions without evidence that all animals are equally unintelligent (we have not reached the high intelligence of a sudden in one day).

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 16:48:29 UTC | #937768

raytoman's Avatar Comment 26 by raytoman

Comment 24 by sheepcat

Religion (ironic thought it may be) wasn't invented, it evolved slowly over long periods of history to >>become one of the most powerful forces in the political sphere.

Sigh!

The first burial that included personal effects for the afterlife (by Neandrathals and possible over 300,000 years ago) is the first evidence of religion. Belief in the irrational rather than searching for truth is superstition/religion, not science.

Long before this people were hunter gatherers and learnt by t4rial and error, teaching/learing from typically parents and by searching. You follow the prey and detect habits to ensure the best chance to eat. You search for locations of fruit/nuts/seeds/tubers, etc and observe changes over time (seasons) and alter your journeys to ensure something edible is always available (just following prey is a good way - they can typically eat what we eat (also a good guide) for us.

It was issues of leadership and status that led to the invention of religion andv other superstituions and not by discussiobn, Typically Shamen were loners (still are) and their only route to power was through knowledge (often invented) and fear (because of the invented knowledge (or actual in the case of poisons)).

The meme of course evolved into the 9000 versions of shite we have today, the majority of those the Jewish Religions, including the thousands of Christain Sects and the more recent Muslim Sects.

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 23:59:08 UTC | #937858

Helga Vieirch's Avatar Comment 27 by Helga Vieirch

As to the question of the origins of shamanistic traditions, you might find the following talk fairly instructive. There is also evidence that levels of Vitamin D, if insufficient in fetal life, might lead to a higher incidence of schizophrenia in later life. As humans moved out of Africa, they may have encounters conditions of lower sunlight, or climates where temperatures required more covering of bare skin. Until the selection for mutations lightening skin colour developed, a higher proportion of Vitamin D deficiency might have led to a lot more young adults who suddenly started hearing voices or seeing visions. This might explain the burst of such stories throughout the history of human kind, specially in later periods following the neolithic revolution, when full dress codes for women became more extreme.

Sat, 28 Apr 2012 04:20:12 UTC | #937892

raytoman's Avatar Comment 28 by raytoman

Helga, you're far too sensible.

Shamen today are still inventing (processed limbs and other body parts from albinos are great medicine). This results today, in Africa, in people attacking albinos and severing limbs to use, in conjunction with the shaman/medicine man/witch doctor, to cast spells and such.

I believe that atheists today pay far too much respect to the parasite that is religion and try to find excuses to justify their tolerance. That's why I am a seven. I find no conclusive evidence that religion evolved to spread good but plenty to prove it is an excellent and well abused power and control mechanism.

More religions (especially christian sects of the jewish religion) are invented every day to enable individuals to seperate out their own flock to fleece. Some are attacked by other jewish sects as cults (especially where their sole aim seems to be male domination and systemic sexual abuse (typically multiple young wives with the leader(s) deciding who mates with whom and how many). The opposition by the other sects is to try and prove they are better (or sour grapes because they did not think of it first (wasn't that the mormons?)).

Anyway, most atheists seem to think that the bible is religion, rather than a very recent group of associated religions, some invented as long as 6,000 years ago. True, they leveraged existing religions but their creationist ideas must seem very silly given they date their creation to about 6000 years (does this actually mean their adam and eve invented religion? No!). Eve was around (in Africa) tens of millennia before that and Neandrathals already had religion. before that

I'm waffling now but I still hate religion and would like to help those infected. This could be done in a generation or two if atheists had, and spread, the right message - common sense and non fiction.

Sun, 29 Apr 2012 00:55:46 UTC | #938074

raytoman's Avatar Comment 29 by raytoman

Comment 21 by Helga Vierich

I think intelligence different from ours but of a similar potential has already evolved on this planet. Look at >>dolphins and ravens and octopi. I agree with Jos Gibbons, there are other species out there that have had >>some parallel selection for intelligence occurring.

I suspect you will find that genes involved in intelligence will be common across species and include some that are in birds, octopi and cetaceans and other mammals. I suspect you will also find that synapses in their brains (with albiet fewer brain cells than our species) connote intelligence and learning.

Our intelligence studiers are thinking/hypothesing too much and not doing enough experimenting, expecially with genes, brain cells and synapses. There is no god or seperate mind in there, just electrochemical, biological and mechanical functions. Heck, even our brain cells contain lifeforms (bacteria) that are needed to ingest food and elimate waste from the cell. Just another single-cell creature in the specific colony that is our body.

We may get to the unified field theory before we isolate the colony of cells that is the mind part of the brain but it's science, not superstition.

Sun, 29 Apr 2012 01:11:25 UTC | #938078

GreatWhiteShark's Avatar Comment 30 by GreatWhiteShark

I think these kinds of questions are the most important to ask, because they help shape a complete understanding of evolutionary biology.

You are correct to point out that the eye has evolved in different ways, from the human eye to the compound eyes of insects we can observe many different forms.

Cephalization is the name given to the localization of nerves in one place, generally denoted as a head. Flatworms, members of the Platyhelminthes phylum, were arguably some of the first organisms to exhibit cephalization and it is seen in varying degrees across phyla since its evolution. Sensory receptors are forms of nerves, each having evloved in relation to some environmental factor, such as sound, chemistry, or light. Light receptors (photoreceptors) are the first evolutionary step toward an eye, which is simply an arrangement of these specialised nerve cells. Once photoreceptors had evolved the numerous forms of the 'eye' we see today were somewhat inevitable.

Human intelligence is of great interest to me, not as much in its neurological functionality, but more how it differentiates us from the rest of biodiversity in terms of ecological behaviour. But to suggest it stands alone as some special adaptation, worthy of note above others is I think wrong. Sharks have the ampullae of lorenzini and birds have the wing, human intelligence is not unique because intelligence is not unique, other organisms demonstrate various levels of it all the time. Whats unique about us, in my opinion, is the level of awareness we have achieved, and how that awareness has aided our understanding and shaped our intelliegence.

We can see an increased level of awreness evolving through the animal kingdom, beginnning with awareness of the self, then awareness of the environment and how to mainupalate it (tools), and finally awareness of death and its subsequent appreciation of life. But just because we appear to have evolved the most hightened form of awareness first, does not mean we are destined to champion that quality for all time. The first organisms that evolved a functional wing, are all extinct.

regards Rich

Sun, 29 Apr 2012 13:51:55 UTC | #938148