I was just sent this link. It deals with how man has developed over the centuries. Where once survival depended on hunting skills, and now brain power is the tool that feeds and earns.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Brains, Bucks and Bolshevism
“Marcus: Every year you’re worse. Every year, less reliable. More booze, more bullshit, more butt-fucking.
Willie: Sure, the 3 B’s.”
- Dialogue between a black midget and a white degenerate in the comedy film, Bad Santa.
This is about economic success, what creates it and how societies can self-organise to attain more of it.
Now, I’m going to go against my male instincts here, and take brains as the primary point of consideration. For any examination of human society, intelligence is a great start. After all, smarts are what make us people, not simply beasts. Without intellect we wouldn’t even have modern society, much less the wealth it brings. Of course, we might still have Communism…
Early “humans” evolved disproportionately large heads, packed with mystery meat, for one reason only: survival. Any species which took a slow, weak and vulnerable form such as ours, without the compensating intelligence, would be long extinct. As it happened, humans bodies increasingly traded speed, strength and protection for ever more complex minds. The power of intelligence is such that, even without sharp fangs and an extra set of legs, humans rule the world.
Undeniably, early man could not have learned to control fire or make tools without his exceptional brainpower. Likewise, the cooperation and weaponry necessary for hunting were a product of rising intelligence, and also a source thereof. Better hunters lived longer, and were sexually selected for by cave-babes eager for their meat.
Critically, the rich nutrition afforded us by hunting animals for flesh allowed for ever bigger and energy-hungry brains. Meat’s richness also freed time for thinking; an hour spent catching prey yielding more nutrition than many hours spent plant-gathering. That’s only true if prey is caught though, making risk and reward ever close to the male heart. Successful hunters enjoyed leisure, indulging arts and crafts hobbies like cave-painting and tool-making, or disporting themselves at hunting practice.
Such things allowed us to craft better tools and weapons, more effectively cooperate and communicate, as well as form larger tribes.
These developments made us even better hunters, genetic and environmental interaction forming a feedback loop. One fed largely by meat, as it lifted us from dull, subsisting herbivores to bright, successful omnivores.
For this reason, I see meat as the first form of wealth. The fruit and veg early man survived on is comparable to the portion of modern man’s salary going to monthly expenses. Anything above that is meat; wealth allowing him to thrive while enriching his family and tribe. This link between food and money is a primal one, apparent in expressions like “bringing home the bacon.” And “bucks.”
So, given that intelligence was so critical to developing the combination of ideas, technology and organisation we call culture, is it not reasonable to expect a link even today between intelligence and culture? All agree early man couldn’t have mastered fire, tools and language without rising significantly above other primates in intelligence. Could modern man have mastered atomic energy, synthetic materials and complex literature without so rising above early man? And if early intelligence was so important in hunting for meat, is it not equally important today in acquiring wealth? For the answers, we turn our attention to Africa.
Today the most widely-held theory on human evolution is that we first migrated from East Africa about 90,000 to 100,000 years ago. New environments exerted new pressures on natural and sexual selection. For example, the influence of colder climes cannot be overstated. Icy winters selected for those who could skilfully craft clothing and shelter. Similarly, scarcity of edible plants would have made effective hunting vital. Storage and rationing of food, a mentally taxing exercise, was necessary. Even childbirth would have to be more strategic, demanding fewer mouths to feed. That would have placed more emphasis on nurturing, to ensure those precious few children survive and learn these survival skills. Less babies would also have increased breeding competition, demanding a higher understanding of others. And so on…
Remember, the above factors and the greater intelligence they favoured are only the effect of a single environmental variable, cold. We might talk endlessly of the other challenges rewarding higher brainpower, settled versus migratory lifestyles for instance. As it is, we can see the environmental pressures, that first led to humans developing intelligence, only increased out of Africa. Necessity is the mother of invention and the resultant early “sciences” were: physics related to climate and tools, biology related to plants and animals and psychology related to cooperation and competition. The greater cultural complexity necessitated by such advancements would also have spurred “the arts,” that is linguistic and symbolic development.
All the above, and more, formed a growth spiral, the end result of which was the evolution of higher intelligence and other adaptations in non-Africans. Survival in the African environment did not demand intelligence to the same degree, and it’s possible Africans culture did not much select for it either. We find adaptations to cold, such as intelligence, to particular degree in the people today known as East Asians, who faced more and harsher climes. I defy anyone to disprove these assertions.
Of course, degrees of average intelligence aren’t the only differentiation found in modern populations. There is plenty of other evidence of adaptation by groups to their geographic environment. We’ll maintain our focus on intelligence, as the factor most relevant to cultural development and success however. After all, complex culture of the type that leads to a consistent surplus of resources can’t exist without high intelligence, no matter what other physiological or behavioural traits might be present. If cultural success was independent of intelligence, we’d see dogs playing poker for real. Though it’s tempting to gauge intelligence on culture alone, as we might surmise chimps to be very smart beasties due to their social complexity and limited tool-use, we need more accurate measures for both culture and cleverness.
I subscribe to the informed consensus that IQ testing is a perfectly valid way to measure intelligence, indeed the best way yet devised. Forget the orthodox view, and related gushing over pseudo-scientific drivel like EQ; a poll of 600 experts on modern psychology, across such fields as child development, educational psychology, behavioural genetics and psychometrics, found:
- 99.3% agreed IQ measures the ability to think abstractly,
- 97.7% agreed IQ measures problem-solving,
- 96% agreed IQ measured the ability to learn,
- 100% agreement was reached that IQ measured one or more of these capacities.
In fact, with the exception of certain politically-motivated social scientists virtually synonymous with Marxism and non-empirical studies, those who criticize IQ testing are almost always laypeople lacking any training in the psychological or scientific disciplines.
Further, IQ is designed to be culturally neutral. It is in no way biased towards European Caucasians, as evidenced by the fact that several unrelated groups outperform them on the test. In fact, the Nazis banned IQ tests specifically because Jews outperformed native Germans. Hitler wanted Germans to be equal above all others, you see. As an aside, Stalin, a far worse tyrant in terms of death-toll, also banned IQ as he wanted everyone to be equal under Stalin.