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writing for godot

Re the Rapidly Shrinking Human Brain: Can We De-Evolve Fast Enough to Save Our Planet?

Written by Brendan Maloney   
Sunday, 28 June 2015 05:30
Just a fun little philosophical exercise to "stimulate the little gray cells," as Hercule Poirot says, my friends:

“Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eyeblink,” [professor John Hawks] says. “This happened in China, Europe, Africa—everywhere we look.” If our brain keeps dwindling at that rate over the next 20,000 years, it will start to approach the size of that found in Homo erectus, a relative that lived half a million years ago and had a brain volume of only 1,100 cc.” -From the very interesting Discover magazine article below.

The scientific field of human epigenetics – environmental factors that, via snippets of broken DNA chains that comprise 98% of our DNA, act as switches that activate or deactivate our genes throughout our lifetimes – is so new that speculation by both amateurs and professionals can bear fruit, I believe. IMHO, the best crash course in the radical effects of genes and epigenetic switches on the human brain is contained in the last 1/2-hour of this truly wonderful 2-hour episode of PBS NOVA: “What Darwin Never Knew.” The whole program is great, but re our unique brain, if you fast-forward to 1 hour and 31 minutes and watch until the end, even neophytes will learn enough to become quite conversant, and thus able to intelligently speculate on those topics.

A quick shortcut or addendum would be to scan (without exploring long video/article links) my earlier Godot essay, "Brain Catastrophes by the Numbers," here:

Okay, the bright-eyed and brilliant researchers in the PBS NOVA program above clearly believe that our huge, complex brain is way cool, since it has made us masters of our planet. But I believe that our huge, complex brain is NOT way cool because we masters of the planet are clearly insane. Evidence: we are so rapidly trashing our planet, the only one we have, and turning it into Mars! Intelligence and egotism are not wisdom. Our big, prone-to-insanity brain has philosophically, but most certainly not physically, detached us from the realm of species / animal kingdom; and since we exist on a physical plane and not an imaginary one, therein lies the the huge and monstrous problem.

Here is the good news re our rapidly shrinking brain: The small-brained Homo erectus mentioned at the beginning here was by far the longest lived and most successful hominid species, in balance with nature rather than in opposition to it BECAUSE he/she was small brained! This illustration shows Homo erectus' longevity, in strong contrast to our own, to date:

I humbly propose that the best thing that could happen to our beautiful blue water planet and it's inhabitants would be for the entire human race to step into Mr. Peabody's “Wayback Machine” and set the dial to about 1.6 million years ago. Thus paradoxically, perhaps, the best way forward is the way back, my friends.

Check out this insightful artist's rendering of a large group of Homo erectus titled, “Atapuerca Family Portrait,” by Mauricio Anton. Unlike 99% of illustrations of early humans that depict them and their lives as being “nasty, brutish and short,” Anton endows them with unique personalities that they most certainly had... have fun finding yourselves in this family portrait! your social media marketing partner
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