The Minds' Big Bang
- Primitive man kept making the same tools for 1.5 MY which indicates a mental template for what the tool looked like and it's usefulness.
- 6 MYA human evolution began - hominids separated from other primates
- 4 MYA descended from trees
- 2.5 MYA modified hand allowed development of stone tools
- 2 MYA began leaving Africa but most or all became extinct
- 60 KMY early humans left Africa
- 40 KYA dramatic change in behaviour - fully modern humans
- If remove a baby from its culture at birth and place in different culture, it will learn the language etc. of the new culture. Indicates that language evolved before cultural differences.
- Beads and ornaments do not contribute to survival - evidence that humans were able to think about other things. Some beads were mass produced which shows that some value was placed on culture because that time could have been spent on survival activities. Ornamentation shows the beginnings of social order.
- As they expanded out of Africa, humans met Neanderthals. Humans demonstrated superiority in burial rituals and in the fact that tool making was taught and improved upon from one generation to the next. 100 KYA tools were all the same but 50 KYA there were improvements made with time. Art (painting and carving) was exchanged and used for communication with other groups of humans. Music was made by tapping hollow bones on stalagmites. Neanderthals had no such society. They lived in small, isolated groups.
- These changes occurred rapidly, but how? Genetic change? A series of many small changes?
- Chimps must use force or threat of force to change the behavior of another individual. Humans can use subtle techniques like looks or language.
- To age 3, humans are unable to ascribe actions, motives, or beliefs to others. By age 5 they can do that. e.g., A skit where one doll places a marble in a container and covers it up and then leaves. A second doll enters and hides the marble in another container. When the first doll returns the child is asked where the doll will look for the marble. To age 3 the child will indicate the second container. At age 4 or 5 the child will indicate the first container because can see things from the perspective of others (in this case, the doll who believes the marble is in the first container).
- Language window is open until age 7 and then begins to close slowly until puberty.
- Language needs community and desire to share. 50 KYA the development of social structure began to create the need for language. The success of language was a huge advantage. What was the evolutionary advantage of language? Most (about 2/3) of conversation is about social gossip so language would select for those with the best social skills. They could capitalize on social information and can learn about events that they did not witness. Language is also usefull for passing technical or procedural information about tool making or trade etc..
- Memes are passed from person to person just as genes. They shape minds and culture and compete just a genes do. They change must faster than genes, leading to cultural and social evolution.
- The change in lifestyle over the last 50,000 years was not due to biological change but to the build up, retention and improvement of ideas. We've reached the point of overpowering biological evolution by eliminating disease. This is not really against evolution because humans have always used the brain to survive. It does not contribute to the build up of the best genes. e.g., birth control - as education increases, the number of children a person has decreases so the best genes are not passed on.