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Old 08-13-2010, 04:05 PM
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Default Comic: Civilization=smaller brain?

While this is a comic only:
The Far Left Side • The Cerebral Web Comic • 8-13-2010 • The Comic For Small Minds • New Cartoons Monday, Wednesday and Friday!

Intersting was the subtext in the lower part of the comic page "We've also domesticated ourselves, just as we domesticated wild animals, which also results in tinier craniums."

The basics seem to be based on facts:
Replica of big skull from 28,000 years ago suggests human brains have started to shrink | Mail Online
(Interestingly these authors propose however that the brains of modern humans are smaller because they became more efficient though - maybe that is another word for shedding "wild" traits and "instincts" that are not needed anymore in modern civilization? For sure, we cannot be dumber than our ancestors, that would be ludicrous - or would it?)
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:08 PM
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Interesting.
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Old 08-13-2010, 07:23 PM
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Makes sense to me..
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:02 PM
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Copy pasted from AF. Because the troll circle looks like they've got their claws into that topic there.



"We're approaching the point where we can artificially increase our mental capacities if we wish it. So our brains sizing down isn't that big of an issue.


Also, does it say that our intellect is decreasing, or just the size? Could it simple be it growing more compact and efficient as we use it more?"
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Old 08-14-2010, 02:17 PM
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That is the theory in the second link. That the brain is getting more efficient and compact "like computer chips getting smaller". I do not see that this is comparable though. The size of neural cells is already optimal - it evolved over hunderds of millions of years. So the only thing that can be optimized it the setup of the neural network or the removal of parts that are not required. The first of this would mean a changed way of how the brain processes and stores information, the second would mean that the brain adapts to the new situation. The decrease in some abilities would not even be observed, as for example a person in a town of herdsmen and farmers does not need the ability to hunt (maybe a bad example, but many abilities of aboriginal people would not even be preceived as missing while living as we do now).

It may be possible with beochemical means or even silicon technology means to expand brain capacity further, yes. That has happened before in a way. By the invention of division of work, written language, books, libraries, calculators and so on - humans have been relieved of the need for some abilities - maybe this indeed caused the brain size to go smaller. Hmm - what may happen if we use new means to go further into that direction...

I guess it is a bit the usual problem that a perceived lack of something or scarecity leads people to not check for the reason of that scarecity, but to "fix it" - in history, this mostly lead to a pendulum effect, as the source was never adressed and the reasons for the scarcity continued to grow while the means of fixing them also grew. The danger in that is, that if the fix fails for some reason or the other, there is serious trouble ahead.

Anyways - I'd be interested to hear more on that topic - like how can the brain actually increase efficiency and keep all its abilities while getting smaller - I guess it is quite possible, maybe someone has good articles? What strikes me as interesting is however that the development started at the time of domestication of animals and later agriculture, while for the time before, size increased (though there was also some variability involved)
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"Humans are storytellers. These stories then can become our reality. Only when we loose ourselves in the stories they have the power to control us. Our culture got lost in the wrong story, a story of death and defeat, of opression and control, of separation and competition. We need a new story!"

Last edited by auroraglacialis; 08-14-2010 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 08-14-2010, 04:03 PM
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Then we'll only loose what we don't need.
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Old 08-14-2010, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auroraglacialis View Post
maybe that is another word for shedding "wild" traits and "instincts" that are not needed anymore in modern civilization? For sure, we cannot be dumber than our ancestors, that would be ludicrous - or would it?)
I hope we are not losing what we need to survive w/o technology. Because that would make us very vulnerable and dependent on it. Civilization is a fragile thing and could collapse, leaving us without our wheelchairs and crutches.

Doomsday Clock Overview | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Famed Social Sciences Author Jared Diamond Predicts 49 Percent Chance of Civilization Collapse

The Coming Collapse: civilization on the brink

Fortunately, there are ways we can be prepared:

http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandsci...r_what_sho.php

http://survivalblog.com/

http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/content/view/1514/81/

Last edited by joeylovesgaia; 08-14-2010 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 08-14-2010, 08:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeylovesgaia View Post
I hope we are not losing what we need to survive w/o technology. Because that would make us very vulnerable and dependent on it. Civilization is a fragile thing and could collapse, leaving us without our wheelchairs and crutches.
That's a really scary thought. I mean, look at the combine advisors from Half Life 2. They were dependent on technology for so long that they basically evolved into giant slugs because most bodily functions like movement, nourishment, and reproduction were done by machines. Also in the movie Wall-E, (I know, cheesy) if you notice the captains' portraits on the wall of the bridge, they slowly get less and less fit due to the robots on the Axiom taking care of them too much and lower gravity; and the people on the ship become more and more oblivious to their environment after spending ~750 years in space.
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:57 PM
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Comic is so much win
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