Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Of Apes and Men

You'll know *from last time* that, in discussing Isaac Asimov's and Robert Silverberg's “Nightfall”, I began speaking of how your teachers at school likely told you how the Human on this planet (earth) came to be.

Only in the last 10,000 years did the Human, by taking up farming, begin to separate himself definitively from the Ape because the Ape didn't have the brainpower to farm. And it's only in the last 100 years that the Human was able to come up with electricity, the Ford motor car, the 747 jet aeroplane, the laptop computer, the atomic bomb, the cell-phone, and the digital TV. But this required brainpower far greater than the Human needed to survive only 10,000 years ago.

So the question is: when did the Human develop this extraordinary brainpower? Did he already have it 200,000 years ago when he first appeared, and was living as primitively as the Ape? If the Human did already have this extraordinary brainpower, how did it evolve? You see, when your teachers in school told you about evolution, they would have told you that evolution in any species is only in response to external changes that threaten the survival of that species.

Hence the brainpower of your average Ape of today is no greater than the brainpower of your average Ape of 200,000 years ago because evolving more brainpower wasn't necessary for the Ape to survive as an Ape. For all you know, there's the occasional very clever Ape that could, under the right conditions, compose music on the order of Ludwig van's Glorious Ninth, or easily learn trigonometry (a random mutation). But that very clever Ape is no more likely spread his genes than any one of the overwhelming majority of ordinary run-of-the-mill Apes, that can do no more than swing from trees and eat bananas.

If the female Ape is anything like the female Human, she's infinitely more attracted to the male Ape that only swings from trees and eats bananas, than to the male Ape that can compose music like Ludwig van's Glorious Ninth, or who likes trigonometry. Hence the very clever male Ape won't likely spread his genes. The future Ape, then, will continue to be as....well..... Ape-like, as he has always been.

I'll continue this next time.......

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