ERIC MICHAEL JOHNSON
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"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."
- Charles Darwin
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Aug 15, 2007

What is your evolutionary question?

The Future is You



The Primate Diaries has explored some of the most fundamental issues in human evolution. From morality to menopause and from spite to sexual desire. From the search for primate rights to the search for intelligent life in the universe. Now the person of the hour is you.

What questions do you have about our evolution? What direction would you like to see this blog go? If you are already satisfied then thank you for your readership and I'll continue in the best way I know how.

As always, the Dude abides.

What is your evolutionary question?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

7 comments:

Vince said...

As long as you don't start playing Eagles music. I hate the F&*%!ng Eagles man!

Seriously, Great blog keep up the good work I enjoy reading it!

Take it easy Dude, I know that you will.

etbnc said...

Howdy,

I've read some of the books you mention in your Blogger profile. A couple of them are even in my profile.

I have a question in mind, but I should probably read more of your earlier blog entries before I formulate it. Thanks for asking!

As far as music commentary, it seems to me that Eagles Live has their best stuff. The other recordings, not so much....

Cheers

etbnc said...

Okay, I'm back, and I'm curious about a hypothesis. I'll write it sort of tongue in cheek because it looks kind of stark on the screen, otherwise. But to me there's a serious element to it.

So: There's this primate species called homo sapiens. I'm sure you know them. It's my understanding this species lived in relatively small social groups (of a few dozen) for at least 95% of its existence as a species. For the last 5% of its history these homo sapiens have been trying to live in increasingly large social groups, as much as 6 or 7 orders of magnitude larger. Since homo sapiens is known to be able to modify its behavior patterns in, um, "interesting" ways, such discontinuity isn't that remarkable. But here's the thing:

I suspect the template, the instincts or the genetic program or whatever, I suspect that default behavior pattern still exists within the brains of homo sapiens. I'm pretty sure I've observed some homo sapiens exhibit that original small-group behavior, most notably when the external reinforcement for very-large-scale behavior is disrupted.

My hypothesis is that small social groups are still the default behavior for the species homo sapiens.

Does that seem like a reasonable hypothesis to you? I've been trying to gather evidence, but it's a challenge because of the near saturation of external reinforcement for behemoth group behavior.

I dunno know about you, but I have considerable personal investment in the behavior patterns of homo sapiens. I'm pretty sure I would be better off if the species homo sapiens would seriously consider more human-scale behavior. It depresses me to think that something that worked just fine for most of our history might be gone. I prefer to think we still have now what worked for us then.

Thoughts? Suggestions for gathering evidence?

Thanks for your time and consideration. Cheers

Paul said...

You have an excellent blog. It's on my daily read list. Thank you so much for the work and effort you put into it!

Paul said...

Here are my suggestions for future topics:

I seem to recall an observation made by someone that certain aspects of brain size in primates (it could be the ratio of neocortex to the rest of the brain) correlates nicely with the typical size of the group a primate species lives in. In line with that, the ratio in humans suggests we evolved to live in groups not much larger than 150 individuals. Last, some people have looked at that correlation and hypothesized that what drove human brain growth was the increasing size of our ancestor's social groups, rather than tool use or some other factor.

I'm curious what, if anything, you make of all that.

Second, I was wondering what you make of the relatively new hypothesis that we lost our fur largely because those of us who had less fur had fewer parasites, and hence, fewer illnesses.

Last, could you address how humans select their leaders? I'm especially interested in that question applied to small groups.

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