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Chapter 3 - The Brain - Man's Master Tool. Print

III. The Brain – Man’s Master Tool.

Dear Reader,

Here you will first find a new and more concentrated version. Six or seven pages below, you will find a former outline, which will partly be taken away and partly added. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Astuteness or intelligence is man’s master tool. Nature has given man a high degree of inequality in IQ. It is thanks to this tool that man, for a time, has been able to subdue the rest of nature, thereby giving life to his children.

                                                                                                                        

1. Not miracle but intelligence.

“Not miracle, miracle, but astuteness, astuteness, you should say.”

((“Non ‘miracolo, miracolo’, ma ‘astuzia, astuzia’ dovete dire!” in my Italian edition.))

One of history’s most enduring love tragedies is the Babylonian one of Pyramus and Thisbe. The families didn’t permit them to marry. Pyramus, finding her bloody veil under the mulberry tree where they should have met, thought Thisbe had been devoured by a lion and killed himself. Thisbe, who had fled, was alive and well, found his body and went the same way. The mulberry tree was so moved by the blood of the two lovers that it changed its white fruit into red.

Half a millennium ago, we have three famous variations of this story, the Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare and a somewhat less well known by Cervantes.[1] 

Basilio and Chiteria had loved each other from youth and promised each other eternal faithfulness. But the family forces Chiteria to get engaged with the richest youngster of the land, Camaccio. At the exquisitely voluptuous marriage party, where Don Chisciotte plays an important role and Sancio Panza fills his stomach. Basilio appears just when the priest is to unite the hands of Chiteria and Camaccio.

Basilio accuses Chiteria of having betrayed their love. She becomes pale, and paler yet when Basilio throws himself on his sword and falls down in a flood of blood.

Dying, Basilio pleads, please, let me die happily, o priest, and give me the hand of Chiteria in marriage before I die.

This is where Don Chisciotte, who, like many “ignoranti”, was eager to solve all conflicts and said: Why not?! Let them be married. It will not cost much to Camaccio. In a very short while he can marry the still immaculate widow! All the guests agree, the priest obliges and marries the once lovely couple.

The act, however, has such a strong effect that the dying Basilio rises up and regains his strength in full vigour. The wedding guests start crying “miracle, miracle”.

To which the clever Basilio answers, “no, no, not miracle but astuteness”, and draws his sword out of the pierced but hidden sheath, which had been filled with blood.

However rich Camaccio was, he was defeated by the cleverness of Basilio.

This is a famous literary example of the fact that nature often discriminates in favour of the clever and intelligent ones.

2. Grows of man’s brain.

  

The second most important fact that makes man different from the rest of the animal kingdom, is the growth of his brain. What do we know about that?

We know that some three million years, at point B in my figure, our forefathers still had about the same brain volume as our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. Both had about 400 cubic centimetres.

Today the size of man’s brain is on the average more than three times bigger. Figures normally given lie around 1320 to 1350 cubic centimetres.

It follows that in between these two points in time our brains have, as an average, grown by two to five cubic centimetres per ten thousand years. Those of the chimps remain around 400.

We do know the brain volume. But what has happened inside that growing volume, about that we know much less. We have the scull, but not its grey matter.

In fact, the idea that enlarged brains are useful has until recently lacked firm empirical evidence. But in 2005 an article was published, clearly showing that “avian species with larger brains, relative to their body mass, tend to be more successful at establishing themselves in novel environments”.

Such avian larger brains seem to enhance their innovative capacity and provides “strong evidence for the hypothesis that enlarged brains function, and hence may have evolved, to deal with changes in the environment.”[2]

Isn’t that also an utterly probable hypothesis explaining the enlargement of the human brain during the latest three million years?

And why shouldn’t it be true, as well, for my “co-thinking Superbrains”?

3. The greatest complexity.

Our human brains have not only increased in size but surely also in complexity.

The content of the brain are the brain cells, the neurons. The number of such neurons is estimated to about one hundred billion.

All neurons are connected to others by things named synapses, dendrites and axons. The number of such connections has been estimated to about one million billion.

These incomprehensibly big numbers are often written as 1011 and 1015,  that is a one followed by 11 or 15 zeroes.

However you write it, specialists tell us that the human brain is the most complicated system that exists, much more complicated than all the stars in the universe. Their behaviour can be explained by four simple laws, that of your wife by no laws.

Such complicated systems are bound to give rise to problems.

The first is intelligence. Because the brain is where the specific human intelligence is to be found, the one that has given us power over nature and the rest of the animal kingdom, a power that now seems to be abused.

And this is also where man’s second big conflict arises. The first is that between life and death under precariousness. The second is that between our three basic needs and our capacity to dream utterly unrealistic dreams. I write this problem as:  “3B vs. 1015”.

4. The arms race.

The concept of an “arms race” can now be found throughout biological studies. It takes place between bacteria inside our bodies as well as between neurons in our brains and between sperm cells, fighting to be the first to fertilize the egg.

A classical study was published over thirty years ago by an author who, typically, was employed by a spying organization, OSS, out of which later CIA was born.

Harry J. Jerison, showed that in the animal kingdom an arms race had existed between predators and ungulates since over sixty million years[3]. Like humans, but on a much smaller level, both groups had had a growth in their brain volume and thus, presumably, also in their animal intelligence.

All the time, however, the predators had a somewhat bigger brain than the ungulates, their prey.

Conclusion? Bigger brains eat smaller brains!

Already in primitive pre-human existence, nature discriminates on the basis of brain size. Isn’t that equally true today? We’ll come back to that in part III.

5. Tool making.

If you are involved in a six million year long struggle for survival under extremely precarious conditions you surely want the best tools or, at least, tools that are better then your closest competitor or enemy. This desire may be conscious or unconscious, blindly selected for in the eternal struggles.

What the growing brain gives us, however, is the ability to develop external tools, to prolong our arms and eyes, to sharpen our nails and teeth into ever stronger tools and weapons. This gives us ever more power over other animals and perhaps ever more ambitious dreams of getting global almightiness.

Modern archaeology has shown that it was not so long after the brain started to grow that we developed the first stone tools. But it started very slowly. Living in essentially the same way, in essentially the same environment, with essentially the same enemies, Homo erectus invented a stone axe that, essentially unchanged, served our forefathers for about one million years.

6. The ability to dream.

Man’s specific intelligence is, as I said, in my thinking the second most important difference between us and the other animals.

Animals, too, have dreams. That has been shown in the laboratories. The brain of all other animals however, are, I believe, essentially concentrating on our three basic needs.

The hermaphrodites, like the Caenorhabditis elegans with its only 302 neurons, - we have about one hundred billion of them - is most likely only preoccupied with getting the daily bread. Those of us who started to replicate with meiosis some 600 million years may already then have got dreams about sex with a good mate. In herd animals the dreams may also be about how to become Number One or, at least, to belong to, or to be close to Number One.

The more we have left the chimp-sized brain and the closer it has come to the copious number of connections inside our brains today, the greater has become our capacity to dream about things, also about things far removed from the reality of our three basic needs. We can also dream both asleep and awake.

We have got an increasing capacity to dream about peaceful paradises, equipped with cornucopias, streaming with exquisite food and wine and an infinite number of delightful maidens, only for us. Or about perfectly just and equal communist societies, with no “gender differences” whatsoever, so wonderful that any amount of violence to realize these dreams seem justified.

We have also got a growing capacity to dream about infinite power.

Men can imagine our tribal power turned into global power, making us into almighty Gods, ruling the globe with feudal rights of jus primae noctis to all its virgins or, at the other extreme, of getting rid of all hierarchies in a stateless utopia.

Women can, for instance, dream of taking over almightiness from men as well as of other impossible things. A nice example comes from the famous Scum Manifesto, in which Valerie Solanas tell us that “All diseases are curable, and the aging process and death are due to disease; it is possible, therefore, never to age and to live forever.”

Only the stupidity of men stand in the way of eternal life for all.

This capacity to dream, also conflicting dreams, is, of course, also the basis for our will to die for religious and ideological convictions. It is hardly necessary to add that it is also the foundation for art, literature, music and much else that makes life worth living.

7. 3B vs. 1015 – a troublesome conflict.

May this excessive dreaming capacity not be one of the best ultimate explanations for the many proximate problems with the present globalization process?

In fact, I am tempted to consider the difference between the “3B”, the three basic human needs, for food-cum-sex and power, in contrast to man’s capacity to dream about perfect satisfaction of all three, as the most dangerous conflict for our survival in today’s world.

The combination of an eternal Darwinian struggle for power in a given Mendelian materiall with an unlimited capacity to dream about how to win in that struggle and then create a perfectly just world, this is what can lead us into truly difficult complications. The Cold War was, to a large extent, a result of such a conflict. And so are today’s West Asian struggles.

We can dream about almighty Gods, about perfect societies, about an ideally just and equal distribution of gold and material goods and, for instance, about a life without suffering.

But do we have the capacity to be realistic, to dream dreams that really do help us to satisfy our three basic needs?

Some do, for some time.

Because also technological advance is to a large extent a result of dreams, of laboratory dreams of better solutions to technological problems, which will give more food for us and our growing number of children. It may also give the inventor a step up in the career ladder, closer to the most powerful. But as that often is a just another step in an arms race, in which actions and reactions seem to continue in eternity, what is best today is second best tomorrow, robbing the inventor of his satisfaction.

This process has, so far, no end in sight. For 30 years[4] I have termed it “Karlsson’s law of constant dissatisfaction”. In 2003 Richard Easterlin was selected to the National Academy of Sciences in the United States because he had collected a vast amount of material proving the truth of that law, showing that the Americans had not become more happy even when they had trebled their economic wellbeing[5].

 Lucretius, who said that “a little is never lacking”, knew this truth even 2000 years ago.

Man’s material progress is not a miracle; it is the result of his dreaming capacity modulated by his intelligence, his astuteness, as Basilio said.

But because nature discriminates between different levels of intelligence, because big brains eat smaller brains, the law of constant dissatisfaction, based upon the will to be Number One, prevents man from being truly happy.

And thus the blind human circus continues.


[1] Book II, chapter XXI, p. 769 I italienska upplagan.

[2] Daniel Sol et.al., “Big brains, enhanced cognition, and response of birds to novel environments.” PNAS, April 12, 2005, p. 5460.

[3] H.J. Jerison, Evolution  of the Brain and Intelligence. Academic Press 1973, see p. 315.

[4] See my Lärobok för 80-talet, Stockholm 1975, p. ……

[5] Easterlin in PNAS……

 

 


 

Astuteness or intelligence is man’s master tool. Nature has given man a high degree of inequality in IQ. It is thanks to this tool that man, for a time, has been able to subdue the rest of nature, thereby giving life to his children.

                                                                                                                        

1. Not miracle but intelligence.

“Not miracle, miracle, but astuteness, astuteness, you should say.”

((“Non ‘miracolo, miracolo’, ma ‘astuzia, astuzia’ dovete dire!” in my Italian edition.))

One of history’s most enduring love tragedies is the Babylonian one of Pyramus and Thisbe. The families didn’t permit them to marry. Pyramus, finding her bloody veil under the mulberry tree where they should have met, thought Thisbe had been devoured by a lion and killed himself. Thisbe, who had fled, was alive and well, found his body and went the same way. The mulberry tree was so moved by the blood of the two lovers that it changed its white fruit into red.

Half a millennium ago, we have three famous variations of this story, the Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare and a somewhat less well known by Cervantes.[1] 

Basilio and Chiteria had loved each other from youth and promised each other eternal faithfulness. But the family forces Chiteria to get engaged with the richest youngster of the land, Camaccio. At the exquisitely voluptuous marriage party, where Don Chisciotte plays an important role and Sancio Panza fills his stomach. Basilio appears just when the priest is to unite the hands of Chiteria and Camaccio.

Basilio accuses Chiteria of having betrayed their love. She becomes pale, and paler yet when Basilio throws himself on his sword and falls down in a flood of blood.

Dying, Basilio pleads, please, let me die happily, o priest, and give me the hand of Chiteria in marriage before I die.

This is where Don Chisciotte, who, like many “ignoranti”, was eager to solve all conflicts and said: Why not?! Let them be married. It will not cost much to Camaccio. In a very short while he can marry the still immaculate widow! All the guests agree, the priest obliges and marries the once lovely couple.

The act, however, has such a strong effect that the dying Basilio rises up and regains his strength in full vigour. The wedding guests start crying “miracle, miracle”.

To which the clever Basilio answers, “no, no, not miracle but astuteness”, and draws his sword out of the pierced but hidden sheath, which had been filled with blood.

However rich Camaccio was, he was defeated by the cleverness of Basilio.

This is a famous literary example of the fact that nature often discriminates in favour of the clever and intelligent ones.

2. Grows of man’s brain.

  

The second most important fact that makes man different from the rest of the animal kingdom, is the growth of his brain. What do we know about that?

We know that some three million years, at point B in my figure, our forefathers still had about the same brain volume as our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. Both had about 400 cubic centimetres.

Today the size of man’s brain is on the average more than three times bigger. Figures normally given lie around 1320 to 1350 cubic centimetres.

It follows that in between these two points in time our brains have, as an average, grown by two to five cubic centimetres per ten thousand years. Those of the chimps remain around 400.

We do know the brain volume. But what has happened inside that growing volume, about that we know much less. We have the scull, but not its grey matter.

In fact, the idea that enlarged brains are useful has until recently lacked firm empirical evidence. But in 2005 an article was published, clearly showing that “avian species with larger brains, relative to their body mass, tend to be more successful at establishing themselves in novel environments”.

Such avian larger brains seem to enhance their innovative capacity and provides “strong evidence for the hypothesis that enlarged brains function, and hence may have evolved, to deal with changes in the environment.”[2]

Isn’t that also an utterly probable hypothesis explaining the enlargement of the human brain during the latest three million years?

And why shouldn’t it be true, as well, for my “co-thinking Superbrains”?

3. The greatest complexity.

Our human brains have not only increased in size but surely also in complexity.

The content of the brain are the brain cells, the neurons. The number of such neurons is estimated to about one hundred billion.

All neurons are connected to others by things named synapses, dendrites and axons. The number of such connections has been estimated to about one million billion.

These incomprehensibly big numbers are often written as 1011 and 1015,  that is a one followed by 11 or 15 zeroes.

However you write it, specialists tell us that the human brain is the most complicated system that exists, much more complicated than all the stars in the universe. Their behaviour can be explained by four simple laws, that of your wife by no laws.

Such complicated systems are bound to give rise to problems.

The first is intelligence. Because the brain is where the specific human intelligence is to be found, the one that has given us power over nature and the rest of the animal kingdom, a power that now seems to be abused.

And this is also where man’s second big conflict arises. The first is that between life and death under precariousness. The second is that between our three basic needs and our capacity to dream utterly unrealistic dreams. I write this problem as:  “3B vs. 1015”.

4. The arms race.

The concept of an “arms race” can now be found throughout biological studies. It takes place between bacteria inside our bodies as well as between neurons in our brains and between sperm cells, fighting to be the first to fertilize the egg.

A classical study was published over thirty years ago by an author who, typically, was employed by a spying organization, OSS, out of which later CIA was born.

Harry J. Jerison, showed that in the animal kingdom an arms race had existed between predators and ungulates since over sixty million years[3]. Like humans, but on a much smaller level, both groups had had a growth in their brain volume and thus, presumably, also in their animal intelligence.

All the time, however, the predators had a somewhat bigger brain than the ungulates, their prey.

Conclusion? Bigger brains eat smaller brains!

Already in primitive pre-human existence, nature discriminates on the basis of brain size. Isn’t that equally true today? We’ll come back to that in part III.

5. Tool making.

If you are involved in a six million year long struggle for survival under extremely precarious conditions you surely want the best tools or, at least, tools that are better then your closest competitor or enemy. This desire may be conscious or unconscious, blindly selected for in the eternal struggles.

What the growing brain gives us, however, is the ability to develop external tools, to prolong our arms and eyes, to sharpen our nails and teeth into ever stronger tools and weapons. This gives us ever more power over other animals and perhaps ever more ambitious dreams of getting global almightiness.

Modern archaeology has shown that it was not so long after the brain started to grow that we developed the first stone tools. But it started very slowly. Living in essentially the same way, in essentially the same environment, with essentially the same enemies, Homo erectus invented a stone axe that, essentially unchanged, served our forefathers for about one million years.

6. The ability to dream.

Man’s specific intelligence is, as I said, in my thinking the second most important difference between us and the other animals.

Animals, too, have dreams. That has been shown in the laboratories. The brain of all other animals however, are, I believe, essentially concentrating on our three basic needs.

The hermaphrodites, like the Caenorhabditis elegans with its only 302 neurons, - we have about one hundred billion of them - is most likely only preoccupied with getting the daily bread. Those of us who started to replicate with meiosis some 600 million years may already then have got dreams about sex with a good mate. In herd animals the dreams may also be about how to become Number One or, at least, to belong to, or to be close to Number One.

The more we have left the chimp-sized brain and the closer it has come to the copious number of connections inside our brains today, the greater has become our capacity to dream about things, also about things far removed from the reality of our three basic needs. We can also dream both asleep and awake.

We have got an increasing capacity to dream about peaceful paradises, equipped with cornucopias, streaming with exquisite food and wine and an infinite number of delightful maidens, only for us. Or about perfectly just and equal communist societies, with no “gender differences” whatsoever, so wonderful that any amount of violence to realize these dreams seem justified.

We have also got a growing capacity to dream about infinite power.

Men can imagine our tribal power turned into global power, making us into almighty Gods, ruling the globe with feudal rights of jus primae noctis to all its virgins or, at the other extreme, of getting rid of all hierarchies in a stateless utopia.

Women can, for instance, dream of taking over almightiness from men as well as of other impossible things. A nice example comes from the famous Scum Manifesto, in which Valerie Solanas tell us that “All diseases are curable, and the aging process and death are due to disease; it is possible, therefore, never to age and to live forever.”

Only the stupidity of men stand in the way of eternal life for all.

This capacity to dream, also conflicting dreams, is, of course, also the basis for our will to die for religious and ideological convictions. It is hardly necessary to add that it is also the foundation for art, literature, music and much else that makes life worth living.

7. 3B vs. 1015 – a troublesome conflict.

May this excessive dreaming capacity not be one of the best ultimate explanations for the many proximate problems with the present globalization process?

In fact, I am tempted to consider the difference between the “3B”, the three basic human needs, for food-cum-sex and power, in contrast to man’s capacity to dream about perfect satisfaction of all three, as the most dangerous conflict for our survival in today’s world.

The combination of an eternal Darwinian struggle for power in a given Mendelian materiall with an unlimited capacity to dream about how to win in that struggle and then create a perfectly just world, this is what can lead us into truly difficult complications. The Cold War was, to a large extent, a result of such a conflict. And so are today’s West Asian struggles.

We can dream about almighty Gods, about perfect societies, about an ideally just and equal distribution of gold and material goods and, for instance, about a life without suffering.

But do we have the capacity to be realistic, to dream dreams that really do help us to satisfy our three basic needs?

Some do, for some time.

Because also technological advance is to a large extent a result of dreams, of laboratory dreams of better solutions to technological problems, which will give more food for us and our growing number of children. It may also give the inventor a step up in the career ladder, closer to the most powerful. But as that often is a just another step in an arms race, in which actions and reactions seem to continue in eternity, what is best today is second best tomorrow, robbing the inventor of his satisfaction.

This process has, so far, no end in sight. For 30 years[4] I have termed it “Karlsson’s law of constant dissatisfaction”. In 2003 Richard Easterlin was selected to the National Academy of Sciences in the United States because he had collected a vast amount of material proving the truth of that law, showing that the Americans had not become more happy even when they had trebled their economic wellbeing[5].

 Lucretius, who said that “a little is never lacking”, knew this truth even 2000 years ago.

Man’s material progress is not a miracle; it is the result of his dreaming capacity modulated by his intelligence, his astuteness, as Basilio said.

But because nature discriminates between different levels of intelligence, because big brains eat smaller brains, the law of constant dissatisfaction, based upon the will to be Number One, prevents man from being truly happy.

And thus the blind human circus continues.


[1] Book II, chapter XXI, p. 769 I italienska upplagan.

[2] Daniel Sol et.al., “Big brains, enhanced cognition, and response of birds to novel environments.” PNAS, April 12, 2005, p. 5460.

[3] H.J. Jerison, Evolution  of the Brain and Intelligence. Academic Press 1973, see p. 315.

[4] See my Lärobok för 80-talet, Stockholm 1975, p. ……

[5] Easterlin in PNAS……

 


 
Here is where the old material comes back:

III:1. Making special.

 

What, more than anything else, makes man special in the rest of the animal kingdom, is his brain. What do we know about it?

We know that some three million years, at point B in my figure, our forefathers still had about the same brain volume as our brothers, the chimpanzees, about 400 cubic centimetres.

We know that today man has a brain size that as an average is more than three times bigger. The figures given lie around 1320 to 1350 cubic centimetres.

In between these two points in time, we also know, our brains have, as an average, grown by two to five cubic centimetres per ten thousand years. Those of the chimps remain around 400.

We do know the brain volume. But what has happened inside that growing volume, about that we know much less. We do know, however, that our human brain has not only increased in volume but also in complexity.

The content of the brain are the brain cells, the neurons. The number of such neurons is estimated to about one hundred billion. All of them are connected to many of the others by things named synapses, dendrites and axons. The number of such connections has been estimated to about one million billion.

These incomprehensibly big numbers are often written as 1011 and 1015, that is a one followed by 11 or 15 zeroes.

However you write it, the specialists tell us, the human brain is the most complicated system that exists, much more complicated than all the stars in all the universe.

Such complicated systems are bound to give rise to problems.

The first is our intelligence. Because this is where the specific human intelligence is to be found, the one that has given us power over the rest of the animal kingdom.

And this is also where man’s second big conflict arises. The first is that between life and death under precariousness. The second is that between our three basic needs and our capacity to dream, given us by this one million billion connections inside the brain. I write this problem as: “3B vs. 1015”.

III:2. Benefits and Dangers of a Big Brain.

One million billion of brain connections can surely be useful. That number is, of course, the end result of three million years of growth inside our skulls.

It isn’t, however, the absolute size of the brain, but the relative one, that in a given condition, matters the most. The brain that is only a little bit bigger than that of its closest competitor can be a big advantage in life, for instance as a tool in the arms race, of astuteness, and in the ability to dream.

III:2:a. The arms race.

The concept of an “arms race” can now be found throughout biological studies, between bacteria, neurons and sperm cells. A famous one was made thirty years ago by an author who, typically, was employed by a spying organization.

Harry J. Jerison, showed that an arms race had existed between predators and ungulates since over sixty million years[1]. Like humans, but on a much smaller level, both groups had had a growth in their brain volume and thus, presumably, also in their animal intelligence.

The predators, however, had all the time had a somewhat bigger brain than the ungulates, their prey.

Conclusion? Bigger brains eat smaller brains!

That is, as I will show later, true also for modern Superbrains.

III:2:b. Astuteness.

Even if you are the President of Harvard University you are bound to get into trouble with the “politically correct” whenever you mention differences in human intelligence.

For the “correct” ones, as for many, intelligence is evidently a highly positively loaded concept, something inherently good. As a tool for living well, so it is. But from a moral point of view, it surely isn’t. Intelligence can as well be seen as a synonym for the morally more questionable concept of astuteness.

To be able to control ones primitive instincts, ones passions, with intelligence is good. So is the ability to foresee the results of your actions and the reactions of others to yours. As is the ability to fool the others into stupid behaviour when you are hungry, for food or for power.

We should know that, as least since Machiavelli.

III:2c Tool making.

The dreams of dead forefathers cannot be seen and studied. About them we can only speculate.

What the growing brain surely gives us, however, is its ability to develop external tools, giving us ever more power over other animals and perhaps ever more ambitious dreams of getting global almightiness.

By evolutionary standards, it was not so long after our brains started to grow that we developed the first stone tools, axes and knives. That has been shown by modern archaeology.

Living in essentially the same way, in essentially the same environment, with essentially the same enemies, the beginning of the tool making process was slow with essentially the same axe serving our forefathers for about one million years.

It is not until we leave Africa, some 60,000 years ago, that we start to speed it up transforming it into our present hectic arms race in technological and scientific innovations.

The ultimate explanation for the Noble Prized ones, I want to suggest, is that first, infinitely important enlargement of the chimp brain some three million years ago.

III:2d. The ability to dream.

Man’s specific intelligence is, in my thinking, the most important difference between us and the other animals.

Animals, too, have dreams. That has been shown in the laboratories. The brain of the other animals however, are, I believe, essentially concentrating on our three basic needs.

The hermaphrodites, like the Caenorhabditis elegans with its only 302 neurons, - we have about one hundred billion of them - is most likely only preoccupied with getting the daily bread. Those of us who started to replicate with meiosis some 600 million years may already then have got dreams about a good mate. In herd animals the dreams may also be about how to become Number One or, at least, to belong to, or to be close to Number One.

The more we have left the chimp-sized brain and the closer it has come to the copious number of connections inside our brains today, the greater has become our capacity to dream about things far removed from the reality of our three basic needs, both asleep and awake.

We have got an increasing capacity to dream about peaceful paradises, equipped with cornucopias, streaming with exquisite food and wine and an infinite number of delightful maidens, only for us. Or about perfectly just and equal communist societies, with no “gender differences” whatsoever, so wonderful that any amount of violence to realize these dreams seem justified.

We have also got a growing capacity to dream about infinite power. Men can imagine our tribal power turned into global power, making us into almighty Gods, ruling the globe with feudal rights of jus primae noctis to all its virgins or, at the other extreme, of getting rid of all hierarchies in a stateless utopia. Women can, for instance, dream of taking over almightiness from men as well as of other impossible things. A nice example comes from the famous Scum Manifesto, in which Valerie Solanas tell us that “All diseases are curable, and the aging process and death are due to disease; it is possible, therefore, never to age and to live forever.” Only the stupidity of men stand in the way of eternal life for all.

May this excessive dreaming capacity not be one, perhaps the, ultimate explanation for the many proximate problems with the present globalization process?

This capacity to dream is, of course, the basis for much of our religious and ideological wars. And it is hardly necessary to add that it is also the foundation for art, literature, music and much else.

I leave it to the reader to chose – and gladly to communicate – his most beautiful dreams. Here I will continue with the problems to which dreaming can give rise.

III:2e. 3B vs. 1015 – a troublesome conflict.

In fact, I am tempted to consider the difference between the “3B”, the three basic human needs, and man’s capacity to dream about perfect satisfaction of all three, and perfect solutions to all other problems as well, as the most dangerous conflict for our survival.

The combination of an eternal Darwinian struggle for power with an unlimited capacity to dream about how to win it can lead us into truly difficult complications.

We can dream about almighty Gods, about perfect societies, about a perfectly equal distribution of gold and material goods and, for instance, about a life without suffering. But do we have the capacity to be realistic, to dream dreams that really do help us to satisfy our three basic needs?

Some do, for some time. Because also technological advance is to a large extent a result of dreams, of laboratory dreams of better solutions to technological problems which will give us more food for us and our growing number of children. It may also give the inventor a step up in the career ladder, closer to the most powerful. But as that often also is a step in an arms race, in which actions and reactions seem to continue in eternity, what is best today is second best tomorrow, robbing the inventor of his satisfaction. This process has, so far, no end in sight. I have for 25 years termed it “Karlsson’s law of constant dissatisfaction”.

III:2f. “Profiteers of suffering”.

Our capacity to dream, and to persuade others that our dreams can become true, becomes especially dangerous when highly intelligent and astute individuals become “profiteers of suffering”. To win in the race for arms and power they start to exploit the dreaming capacity of the less clever into buying too much fattening chocolate or into making violent communist revolutions. Or they may lead their flocks into political or religious fanaticism, telling them, for instance, that they belong to a superior white race or are God’s chosen people.

An excellent study of such religious dreams, which may have highly dangerous results for our societies and for the present world situation, is Anthony D. Smith’s Chosen Peoples.[2] Earlier result of such dreams can be found in James H. Billingtons’s equally excellent Fire in the Minds of Men.[3] 

Smith ends his book with the many monuments we have erected to the memory of horrors such as Auschwitz and Hiroshima, hoping that they “will reveal the futility of national wars and of the martial heroism on which they have fed so long”. But if those founding myth are indoctrinated in the next generation together with the horrors sufferred, saying “never forget and never forgive”, we are still forced to doubt the many cries like the one, for instance, by Nelson Mandela: “We cannot afford to fail. Violence must end. Let peace prevail.”[4]

Our big brain is not only something beneficial. It can thus be dangerous, very dangerous, too.

If it takes the arms race too far into weapons of mass destruction, such as miniaturized atomic nanobombs and DNA-manipulated viruses, worse than any natural ones, and puts these WMD into the hands of political or religious fanatics, our big brains, our so-called intelligence, our capacity to dream any dreams, may even become the cause of our extinction.

So far, however, it has been a good help for us, who still exist. But let us now take the next step forward, towards point C in my figure.

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III:3. The denial of innate intelligence.

Let me here, between point B and C in my picture, insert a deep top-actual ideological question, which will become central in the second part of this book.

The growth in volume of man’s brain and with that also his intelligence is, without much doubt, the basic reason for why we have been able to develop ever more murderous weapons and, with them, to win the evolutionary struggle with all other, even with the most ferocious animals.

If this great difference in the ability for abstract thinking is the most important tool for man, also smaller differences in intelligence may be of importance. They may, indeed, have large consequences for the daily struggle for success or failure not only between men and other animals but also between man and man, woman and woman, as well as between men and women.

If such differences in intelligence are genetically based the chances for success in life, in a given culture, can for the less clever, from birth, be equally grand as winning an Olympic medal in 110 hurdle for a genetically obese youngster.

For those who have a deep fear that they will never become Number One, that they might be treated like Abel, that they will never get power enough for reproductive success, that they are doomed to failure, this is, of course a hateful conclusion.

Since a couple of hundred years it has been countered by a firm belief in potential equality, reinforced by a denial of all inborn (IQ-) differences as well as of any genetically given human nature. With the help of 1015 brain connections, all obvious differences are explained away as results of some not biological but “social constructions”.

This has been a much beloved mental escape from reality. This escape is still extremely strong. It tends to muffle or to dominate all serious attempts to understand the deeper causes for differences between the two sexes as well as between “races” and class relations.

Later I will illustrate this with three recent debates from 2005. The first is the ostracism of Lawrence Summers, the President of Harvard University in the United States, when he said that women may not be equally gifted by nature to come into the faculties of mathematics.[5] In the Swedish much smaller duck pond a similar debate showed how those feminists who deny reality can get power and come close to dangerous fanatics.[6] Both these items concerned inherited “gender” differences. A second illustration concerns the existence of genetic differences legitimating the concept of “race”.[7] And the third is the almost non-existing tabu debate about if innate IQ-differences can help to understand differences in income and, for instance, in sickness and health,[8] between the “classes” in a modern democratic society in which all, by assumption, are equally gifted.

At the moment my intention is just to point out one most serious consequence of this denial of innate “cognitive” – this is the word many scientists use when they want to escape the ideologically dangerous concept of intelligence - human differences.

We can say that all are born equal with an equal capacity for success in life. Or we can say that all are born unequal, some with high, others with a low probability for success in life. Which of these two you believe in may have an influence on your way of looking at the issue of responsibility for your fellowman and –woman.

How they will make you look upon your responsibility is, however, not given. Moral conclusions do not follow from biological facts, it has for long been said (even if it may not be true).

If all are born equal, success in life can, by those who get it, easily be seen as a desert that they deserve while they will see failure as something that can be blamed only upon the failures themselves. And how can the failures see it otherwise?

If it is realized that inequality in much capacity is inborn and “unjustly” distributed by nature one of two basic attitudes can easily follow.

The oldest is the justification of superiority of those who believe that they belong to some by a God or by nature “chosen” ones, giving them the right, even the duty, to grab power and rule over all others or even, at the extremes of Inquisition, Communist, or Nazi extremes, to kill heretics, apostates, capitalists, Jews or other “Untermenschen”.

Somewhat younger, from the New Testament, is the Christian attitude saying that the one who has been lucky – implicitly recognizing the differences - should become a good and responsible shepherd for their given flocks.

Which of these two attitudes that will be chosen if it is recognized that evolutions most important gift to man, his intelligence, is differently distributed by nature, is surely not given.

Behind the attacks on Summers, Leroi, Arthur Jensen, Chris Brandt, Charles Murray and many others is surely the fear, not least among Jewish participants in the debate, that the Nazi chosen superman attitude will get the upper hand. This fear is, to say the least, historically well justified.

However, if our grwoing Mendelian knowledge of genetic differences, at the moment some fifteen million SNIPs, now almost daily makes it ever more probable that such differences do exist, how do we handle that knowledge?

Is it really wise to suppress and deny this research and the truth about genetic differences? Sooner or later the scientific truth will come through and throw out the “social construct”- school. Then those will-meaning people who have denied reality will be in a much worse situation and the cruel ones may say: “we were right” on this issue, as on all others”.

What mankind need now, it seems to me, is a very serious debate on how to handle reality if it cannot be denied that the chances of success in the game of life is highly unjustly skewed from birth. If that is the case, as we daily get more ground for believing, how do we create a society which can handle those differences in, let me say, the least inhuman way?

This question is at the heart of much present differences between the United States and Europe.

To answer it, however, is not easy. It requires that we take into consideration not only the 99,99 percent primitive savage nature also of modern man, as well as things like the distribution of IQ and the skewness of chances for success in a modern integrated society. I will tackle those problems when time is ripe.

Well, now let us have a look at some historical facts about our “racial origin”.


[1] H.J. Jerison, Evolution of the Brain and Intelligence. Academic Press 1973, see p. 315.

[2] A. D. Smith, Chosen Peoples. Sacred Sources of National Identity. Oxford University Press 2003, p. 253.

[3]  J.A. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men. Origins of the Revolutionary Faith. Basic Books, New York 1980.

[4]  Nelson Mandela, In His Own Words. Little Brown, 2004, (Jan 1990)

[5]  On the Lawrence Summer debate, see for instance IHT 050120, p. 2, on its origin and IHT 050317, p. 5, tellings us that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, with 218 votes agains 185 no and 18 abstentions, approved a resolution expressing a lack of confidence in the leadership of the universitiy’s president, Lawrence Summers, citing “longstanding dissatisfaction” and “his remarks ((on “intrinsic aptitude”))in January about women in math and science.” The resolution had been introduced by professor of anthropology and African and African-American studies, Lorand Matory.

 

[6]  Letter No 2002/03:140 from the Swedish Government to the Swedish Parliament, stating that the Government considers all “gender differences” are nothing but social constructions! Biology is out!

[7]  Armand Marie Leroi, “Genes rebuild our ideas about race.” IHT 2005-03-15, p. 6; interview with Marcello Buiatti, la Repubblica, 2005-03-23, p. 41.

[8]  Linda S. Gottfredson, “Intelligence: Is it the Epidemiologists’ Elusive ‘Fundamental Cause’ of Social Class Inequalities in Health?”, APA, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 86, No.1, 2004, p. 174.

[9] David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor. Little, Brown 1998.

[10]  Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death. A Comparative Study. Harvard University Press 1982.

[11] Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Simon & Schuster 1966.

[12] As I write this, March 5-6,  2005, IHTreports that “China’s military budget to grow 12.6 % this year”. The text tells us that it will arrive to 30 b dollars, half of Japan’s and a less than a tenth of the U.S. one with about 400 b dollars for 2005. A serious quarrel is also on between the United States and Europe about the export of weapons to China.

[13] The best discussion now available of these issues are to be found in a Supplement to Nature Genetics, Nov. 2004, Vol. 36, No. 11s. Can be downloaded from http:www.nature.com/ng/journal/v36/n11s/index.html 

[14] L.Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi and Alberto Piazza, History and Geography of Human Genes.Princeton University Press, 1994.

[15] Princeton University Press 2002.

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Chapter III. The Brain – Man’s Master Tool.

  1. Not miracle but intelligence.

  2. Growth of man’s brain.

  3. The greatest complexity

  4. The arms race.

  5. Tool making.

  6. The ability to dream.

  7. 3B vs 1015 – a troublesome conflict.

OLD MATERIAL THAT WILL BE

WORKED IN OR OUT

III:1. Making special.

III:2. Benefits and dangers of a Big Brain.

III:2a. The arms race.

III:2b. Astuteness.

III:2c. Tool making.

III:2d. The ability to dream.

III:2e.  3B vs 1015 – a troublesome conflict.

III:2f.  “Profiteers of suffering.”

III:3 The denial of innate intelligence.

 

Chapter III. The Brain – Man’s Master Tool.

  1. Not miracle but intelligence.

  2. Growth of man’s brain.

  3. The greatest complexity

  4. The arms race.

  5. Tool making.

  6. The ability to dream.

  7. 3B vs 1015 – a troublesome conflict.

OLD MATERIAL THAT WILL BE

WORKED IN OR OUT

III:1. Making special.

III:2. Benefits and dangers of a Big Brain.

III:2a. The arms race.

III:2b. Astuteness.

III:2c. Tool making.

III:2d. The ability to dream.

III:2e.  3B vs 1015 – a troublesome conflict.

III:2f.  “Profiteers of suffering.”

III:3 The denial of innate intelligence.

 

 

 
 


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