Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

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Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Superlnfinity on February 8th, 2011, 7:36 pm 

Human civilization is ruining the planet. What they are doing now with bioengineering could destroy all of us permanently.

Many thousands of years ago, Humans and had a much bigger brain even more so when you take the difference of body size into account. They were a lot smarter than we are now. Some paleoanthologists and scientists try to twist this way and that to get out of this allegedly surprising fact, making up far-fetched theories about metabolism and climate change, but the fact remains... they had a bigger brain that us and a small body. Their "EQ" or Encephalization Quotient was significantly larger.

And the reason these people try to twist and turn every way to get out of it is because they can't take the fact that no, we are NOT the smartest species that was ever in existence. Civilization is a ridiculous fraud, it has destroyed our life expectency (a common myth is that civilization increased the life expectency, this is absolute nonsense... in perfect conditions in the wild humans would live in perfect health because they would be living as they were evolved to live, it's only when civilization first came about that the life expectency plummted), it has destroyed our food... and is permanently destroyed our food, it has destroyed our health, it is destroyed the entire planet....

So could it be that these beings who were so much smarter than us, invented language and invented many of the basic things we take for granted, and then after that was done we all got dumber and dumber and that is why so many people do not have the intelligence or wisdom to see what we are doing to the planet?
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Paralith on February 8th, 2011, 7:58 pm 

Superinfinity, I'm going to ask you for some references for some of your statements.

What fossils show humans with larger brains than modern humans? In particular, brain sizes outside of the range of variation exhibited by humans today. Living humans show a fair amount of variation in brain size, though tests of intelligence have shown that this variation in brain size doesn't appear to cause any actual differences in intelligence. I would also like to know exactly what the relative brain size estimates for the relevant fossils are, because early humans and other hominins like neandertals were more robust with heavier bones and bodies, so I would hope any estimates of relative brain size take this into account. I believe neandertals had absolutely bigger brains than us, but the size difference was not so great relatively.

Also, humans living in small scale societies like hunter-gatherers and hunter-horticulturalists do not have longer life expectancy from birth than we do. This is in particular because of infant and child mortality, which is very high in these groups. Yes, if you survive to maturity, even people in these groups can live to 65 or 75. But the child death rate is quite high compared to industrialized populations with modern medicine and hygiene. So when you average ALL the lifespans of people in the population, those many very short lifespans of babies and children that died bring down the average lifespan. I've included a link to a paper that shows survivorship of several hunter-gatherer groups. (And in fact, the first real big population booms in modern times were from that sudden drop in infant and child mortality.) Do you have another source that contradicts this?

Kaplan, H., Hill, K., Lancaster, J. & Hurtado, A.M. A theory of human life history evolution: diet, intelligence, and longevity. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews 9, 156–185 (2000).

On page three you will see a table of probability of surviving to age 15 for different groups. You will see that in some cases as many as 45% of children who are born don't make it to age 15.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Forest_Dump on February 8th, 2011, 10:43 pm 

My guess is that if you get anything more on this, it will just be a link to a scientology web site.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Superlnfinity on February 9th, 2011, 12:47 am 

I appear to have made a couple of syntax/spelling errors in the original post, whoops. I can't edit it now.

Paralith wrote:Superinfinity, I'm going to ask you for some references for some of your statements.

What fossils show humans with larger brains than modern humans? In particular, brain sizes outside of the range of variation exhibited by humans today.


AVERAGE Neanderthal brain sizes were in excess of 1600cc, which is above the range of ANY human brains found today. Note also that Neanderthals were slightly lighter than Humans, that would raise their Encephalization Quotient even more. Any increase in height has a large increase in weight, body mass index has it proportional to the square of the height (bah, you know what I mean).

http://www.cerebromente.org.br/n12/ment ... n04_i.html

Image

Notice the "early homo sapiens" also, the white box, which has an average that's significantly above the average of today. Hell, there was a period of time there when over half the many species of hominids on the planet were significantly above today's average male brain size.


The evolution of homo sapiens over the past two million years has been marked by a steady increase in brain size, but much of it can be accounted for by corresponding increases in body size.[5] There are, however, many departures from the trend that are difficult to explain in a systematic way: in particular, the appearance of modern man about 100,000 years ago was marked by a decrease in body size at the same time as an increase in brain size. Even so, it is notorious that Neanderthals, which went extinct about 40,000 years ago, had larger brains than modern homo sapiens.[6]

Paralith wrote:Living humans show a fair amount of variation in brain size, though tests of intelligence have shown that this variation in brain size doesn't appear to cause any actual differences in intelligence.


This is untrue.

Studies have tended to indicate small to moderate correlations (averaging around 0.3 to 0.4) between brain volume and IQ. The most consistent associations are observed within the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes, the hippocampus, and the cerebellum, but only account for a relatively small amount of variance in IQ, which itself only shows a partial relationship to the general concept of intelligence and real-world performance.[17][18] In addition, brain volumes do not correlate strongly with other and more specific cognitive measures.[10] In men, IQ correlates more with gray matter volume in the frontal lobe and parietal lobe, whereas in women it correlates with gray matter volume in the frontal lobe and Broca's area, which is involved in language.[9]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_size#Intelligence

You might also want to consider that some people may want to play down the association as much as possible because for example black people have a slightly smaller brain size to white people on average (who have a slightly smaller one to Asians relative to weight).

Not all investigators are happy with the amount of attention that has been paid to brain size. Roth and Dicke, for example, have argued that factors other than size are more highly correlated with intelligence, such as the number of cortical neurons and the speed of their connections.[7] Moreover they point out that intelligence depends not just on the amount of brain tissue, but on the details of how it is structured.


FWIW, I think their heart is in the right place. The worst scenario would be where they started screening kids for brain size like they test them on IQ now.

Paralith wrote:I would also like to know exactly what the relative brain size estimates for the relevant fossils are, because early humans and other hominins like neandertals were more robust with heavier bones and bodies, so I would hope any estimates of relative brain size take this into account. I believe neandertals had absolutely bigger brains than us, but the size difference was not so great relatively.


The Neanderthals were a bit more stocky than us, but were also significantly shorter. They were about the same weight, slightly less. Considering that Encephalization Quotient works pretty well for animals from the size of mice to elephants, I doubt it makes that much difference that they were of a slightly different build to us. What matters is that they were about the same weight and had on average a significantly higher Encephalization Quotient.

Paralith wrote:Also, humans living in small scale societies like hunter-gatherers and hunter-horticulturalists do not have longer life expectancy from birth than we do. This is in particular because of infant and child mortality, which is very high in these groups. Yes, if you survive to maturity, even people in these groups can live to 65 or 75. But the child death rate is quite high compared to industrialized populations with modern medicine and hygiene. So when you average ALL the lifespans of people in the population, those many very short lifespans of babies and children that died bring down the average lifespan. I've included a link to a paper that shows survivorship of several hunter-gatherer groups. (And in fact, the first real big population booms in modern times were from that sudden drop in infant and child mortality.) Do you have another source that contradicts this?


Yes, well... miscarriages are commonly seen in many species. They could be a way of nature ensuring that only the strongest survive. Personally, I am unsure whether we should try and stop miscarriages from occuring. I personally don't see miscarriages as a bad thing.

Paralith wrote:On page three you will see a table of probability of surviving to age 15 for different groups. You will see that in some cases as many as 45% of children who are born don't make it to age 15.


Well, humans are perfectly evolved to live in the savannahs in southern Africa. Just because a group is a hunter gatherer one doesn't mean they are living in these conditions... I think even groups living in South America who are hunting with bows and arrows are living unnaturally. They aren't as removed from their natural habitat as westerners are , but they are still removed from their natural habitat so I wouldn't vouch for their health. But yes a lot of them do still live really well until they are old.

Forest_Dump wrote:My guess is that if you get anything more on this, it will just be a link to a scientology web site.


Ah yes, the common expression of dissent online. When you don't like what a person is saying but can't find fault with it, attack the person and their motives rather than the argument itself. I don't believe in or like "scientology" at all and agree with almost nothing in it..
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Last edited by Superlnfinity on February 9th, 2011, 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Paralith on February 9th, 2011, 1:08 am 

You seem to be mis-representing your own sources. This chart of brain sizes shows only absolute sizes; you seem sure that relative size will tell the same story, but you don't provide any body mass estimates. And this is stated by the author of that web page where the chart comes from:

The brains of Neanderthals were larger than those of modern humans (average of 1,500 cc), but this is argued to be the result of a larger body mass.


And, from later on in the wiki page you linked to, a concern that I mentioned earlier:

Not all investigators are happy with the amount of attention that has been paid to brain size. Roth and Dicke, for example, have argued that factors other than size are more highly correlated with intelligence, such as the number of cortical neurons and the speed of their connections.[7] Moreover they point out that intelligence depends not just on the amount of brain tissue, but on the details of how it is structured.


I might also note that neandertals were, largely, a separate culture and group from modern humans. There is currently evidence of some interbreeding with modern humans, which is not surprising, but little evidence that they were a fully integrated society with free interbreeding between them. I am not aware of any fossil assemblages where neandertals and modern humans are found in apparent association. There is also a great deal of debate as to the intelligence and cognitive complexity of neandertals (which, hopefully, the recent genetic evidence may one day speak to).

In regards to lifespan, I specifically referred to infant and child mortality, and the percentage of children born who die before the age of 15. These figures are unrelated to miscarriages of unborn children (though current studies do suggest humans have a remarkably high rate of natural miscarriage). And, if you are convinced that all known humans today are not living in their natural habitat, how do you know what the "natural" habitat is and how well humans living in it fared? What you are saying may very well be true, and is an opinion shared by several scientists, but it remains an opinion. No paleontological or archeological evidence, that I am aware of, provides strong evidence for a markedly different "natural" habitat for early Homo sapiens. All animals with a juvenile stage in their growth tend to experience very large mortality rates in that stage. Juveniles are smaller, weaker, and less experienced than their adult counterparts. And this can be found in many animals today living in their natural habitat. This makes me inclined to believe that this was also true of our human ancestors, though again there is no direct support for this in the human record.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Superlnfinity on February 9th, 2011, 1:14 am 

Paralith wrote:You seem to be mis-representing your own sources.


Excuse me, I am not mis-representing my own sources. Why are you accusing me of not being forthright and honest in what I'm saying? I didn't read all of that webpage, why do you have to jump at me immediately like that?

I know for a fact anyway that Neanderthals were about the same weight as humans and did have a higher encephalization quotient anyway. Even if that author is saying about how it's argued that it was due to more body mass.... their encephalization quotient was higher.

I didn't say "it says on this webpage that their mass was about equal or lighter". So I was NOT mis-representing my own sources and didn't intend to.

I'm unsure how to respond to the rest of your post right now.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Paralith on February 9th, 2011, 1:23 am 

If you know it for a fact, you must have gotten your facts from somewhere, or else analyzed a neandertal skeleton yourself and estimated its body weight and compared it to the average body weight of a modern human (though picking which modern human might be quite a task - a hunter gatherer? A westerner from a well fed and very healthy industrialized country?). You are saying the story is clear that neandertals had bigger relative brain sizes, and were therefore much more intelligent than humans, and therefore lead the way for our current society. You have yet to show conclusive proof that their relative brain size was indeed larger, let alone that any average differences in brain size between neandertals and humans represented an actual, significant, and indeed large difference in intelligence. Perhaps you did not mean to misrepresent your sources, but they certainly do not provide the evidence that I was asking for.

If you have a scientific idea, it must be born out in evidence. That is also the standard we hold to in this forum. I mean nothing against you personally. But this is how science works.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Lincoln on February 9th, 2011, 10:11 am 

Superlnfinity wrote:I didn't read all of that webpage,

And this strikes you as acceptable? To cherry pick sources without even reading enough to understand in context?
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Iolo on February 9th, 2011, 12:39 pm 

Once upon a time the wife of a friend of mine told me that she always obeyed her husband because he had a bigger brain. 'So has an elephant', I replied. Perhaps she works in a zoo nowadays: certainly he wasn't a shining mental light in this dark world of ours. I think this approach is like little boys comparing other bits of the organism for size!
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Eclogite on February 9th, 2011, 1:05 pm 

Superlnfinity wrote:Human civilization is ruining the planet. What they are doing now with bioengineering could destroy all of us permanently.

These are interesting observations, with which many would agree, but they are opinions. You have offered no substantive evidence to support your claims.

I could readily make the counter claim that bioengineering would allow us to produce better quality food, using fewer resources of land and water, in larger quantities, so that more land could be returned to its natural state. At the same time bioengineering could alleviate much disease and illness, raising the quality of life for billions.

Superlnfinity wrote:Many thousands of years ago, Humans and had a much bigger brain even more so when you take the difference of body size into account.
In your discussion with Paralith you have frequently commented on Neanderthals. Since they are not an ancestral species I am not clear why their brain size or intellect is relevant. (I seem to recall there is some evidence from brain casts that their brain structure may have been simpler, so that they may have been less intelligent. The simplicity of their tools and 'art objects' would tend to support that view.)


Superlnfinity wrote:And the reason these people try to twist and turn every way to get out of it is because they can't take the fact that no, we are NOT the smartest species that was ever in existence.

I cannot speak with authority for those others, but on the face of it your suggestion seems extreme and unlikley. The evidence suggests homo sapiens is the smartest, but if we are not, so what? I - and I am sure many others - would be delighted to discover that dolphins, say, were more intelligent than ourselves. Instead of waiting for SETI to yield results we could speak to an alien species here on our home world. I can see that some small minded indivduals (pun intended) might react to second place, but they would be - in my informed opinion - a minority.

Superlnfinity wrote: Civilization is a ridiculous fraud, it has destroyed our life expectency (a common myth is that civilization increased the life expectency, this is absolute nonsense
Paralith has offered specific evidence to counter your claim. You have offered only an emotive expression of opinion. At the moment Paralith’s approach wins hands down.

In your discussion with Paralith I was disturbed that you chose to attack a strawman of miscarriages. Paralith said nothing about miscarriages. You completely ignored the matter of infant deaths. This disturbed me because it smacked of intellectual dishonesty.

The alternative is that you had paid little attention to Paralith’s argument. That would be consistent with your utterly bizarre observation that you had not read all of a web page you were offering in support of your argument. That smacks of intellectual laziness.

If you wish to persuade others of the validity of your argument you will need to counter such impressions. You need not only to be honest, but to be seen to be honest. You need not only be intellectually rigorous, but be seen to be so.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Fuqin on February 9th, 2011, 1:37 pm 

Well i think there is a paradox in Superlnfinity’s idea’s here I think I read somewhere ,and others might know , that Neanderthal man was a settler and homo sapiens were nomadic ergo possible reason for extinction being localized resource depletion, the other I read was physical ability , we simply had better dexterity , so brains aside , nature favors those with the sharpest claws , so as to speak, but either way one theory supports stagnation as an extinction scenario as the OP suggested , and we are infact doing this, but it would seem that Neanderthal man was no better, in fact more prone to bioregional wastage than us! And at least philosophically we attempt to perpetuate flow over pooling, eco frekco issues could be solve be population control but there is no species currently up for the top of the food chain scenario , in any case Neanderthal man lost the right to change the world , I personally think smarts or not success = growth and growth can be paradoxically detrimental.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Paralith on February 9th, 2011, 1:48 pm 

I don't think the archeaological record is conclusive enough to say whether or not neandertals or even early modern humans were settlers or nomads. Modern hunter-gatherers alive today do not have permanent residences but will make camps that they'll stay in for a period of time before moving on later. That subsistence style is thought to be the most likely way of life that neandertals and our ancestors had as well (or at least, modern hunter-gatherers are the closest living analog that we have). Forest can probably speak more on the details.

As I mentioned before, there is a huge amount of debate over exactly how intelligent neandertals were and how exactly their behavior and lifestyle differed from ours. (Thus why I have been asking superinfinity for sources supporting his certainty that they were indeed so much smarter than we are.) The same goes for ideas about why they went extinct and we did not. (Indeed, why a whole tree of hominin ancestors and relatives vanished to leave only us.) Forest and I had a conversation some time ago where I mentioned a hypothesis related to population growth. If neandertals and humans ate similar foods, and if humans had slightly higher population growth rates (human woman could give birth to a greater number of children who survive to adulthood than neandertal women), then it could be as simple as we started monopolozing all the food resources, our populations kept growing and growing and eventually just pushed the neandertals out. This doesn't necessarily require any significant differences in intelligence or behavior, but subtle shifts in how you grow up and/or take care of your offspring.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Natural ChemE on February 9th, 2011, 1:49 pm 

The OP's primary argument is that a prehistoric people were smarter and didn't live in civilization so civilization must be stupid. Even if we accept both of the claims, the conclusion doesn't follow.

The rest of the post is a series of non-sequitur red herrings. These red herrings appear to be attempts at bogging readers down in pointless side debates. It's a masterwork troll piece, complete with poor grammar and conspiracy theory.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Forest_Dump on February 9th, 2011, 2:12 pm 

Paralith wrote:I don't think the archeaological record is conclusive enough to say whether or not neandertals or even early modern humans were settlers or nomads.


I would agree with this to a very limited extent, depending on definition. None were sedentary in any real sense but both appear to have had base camps that were returned to. The Binford/Bordes debate revolved around the Neanderthal cave sites that had evidence of long term, repeated occupations. Upper Paleolithic H.s. sites should be well enough known. Neanderthals also certainly had formal shelters, organized cooperative hunting, some ritualistic behavior, etc.

Paralith wrote:Modern hunter-gatherers alive today do not have permanent residences but will make camps that they'll stay in for a period of time before moving on later.


There are some cases of sedentary hunter-gatherers in the Holocene, however, not all of which adopted necessarily horticulture. I might mention the northwest coast of North America but then again they did practice seasonal relocation. Some groups in Florida, however, do appear to have been sedentary hunter-gatherers and other cases can be cited. But this is much more recent than the Pleistocene.

Paralith wrote:As I mentioned before, there is a huge amount of debate over exactly how intelligent neanderthals were and how exactly their behavior and lifestyle differed from ours.


Indeed and this is becoming more so since it is becoming clear that we can't really distinguish archaeological sites occupied by one or the other on the basis of tools alone unless you also have the bones. In the not too distant past, people were assuming one or the other on the basis of technology, etc., but it is now becoming clear that for the later times of the Neanderthal, they were adopting the same tools and technologies as anatomically modern Homo sapiens.

Paralith wrote:The same goes for ideas about why they went extinct and we did not.


Indeed. While in western Asia and eastern Europe, Neanderthals and a.m.H.s may well have come into contact, there is increasing evidence that in western and perhaps northern Europe, they never met. Last I heard, Clive Finlayson was arguing that there may even have been a hiatus between the two of thousands of years between when the last Neanderthals went extinct and when the first a.m.H.s. appeared. However, in the context of the times, I would say it is equivocal about who was smarter and that would depend on you were to define that. I might give a slight edge to a.m.H.s. but wouldn't place too much (or any) money on that. Bottom line, I am not convinced there is any solid argument for a.m.H.s. being any more well-adapted, smarter, etc., and lean towards "pure chance" as much as anything. Not that appeals to authority should count but my impression is that people like Finalyson are fairly solid on that point and I suspect Trinkaus is leaning that way but am not 100% sure.
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Re: Is civilization the result of Idiocracy?

Postby Daisy on March 2nd, 2011, 9:45 pm 

An arguement for genetic engineering not being appreciated enough could also be titled Blablblablab Idiocracy.
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