Tuesday, March 17, 2020

835: Are we the smartest species perhaps...?

So here we are, Homo sapiens, the product of a brutal and lengthy process of struggle, pain and suffering. 
A lot of species are extinct, but we are still here. We have conquered the world.
But why us? You would say: our genes are the most selfish of all. 
In 1976 Richard Dawkins, a British ethologist, published "The Selfish Gene", in which he explains the crucial role of our genes in the evolution.
-QUOTE-The argument of this book is that we, and all other animals, are machines created by our genes. 
Like successful Chicago gangsters, our genes have survived, in some cases for millions of years, in a highly competitive world. 
This entitles us to expect certain qualities in our genes. I shall argue that a predominant quality to be expected in a successful gene is ruthless selfishness. 
This gene selfishness will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behaviour. (...)
Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, 
you can expect little help from biological nature. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. -END QUOTE-
If we may believe Dawkins we are strong, smart, crafty and mean machines. Yet there is something strange going on. 
To begin with, we are not that strong. A chimpanzee will beat us up with ease. A bull will string us on his horns just like this. 
People are weak, slow and cannot even climb trees well. We are even completely helpless at birth. Do we have the right of the smartest? 
At first glance, that may seem so. Homo sapiens has a big brain. Our brain weighs only 2 percent of our body weight, but consumes 20 percent of the calories we consume. 
But is man really that genius? When we make a difficult sum or a beautiful drawing, we usually have learned this from someone else. 
For example, I can count to ten. Very clever, but I doubt if I ever would come up with a numerical system myself. 
Scientists have researched the question, which animal is the smartest. In a comparison among primates chimpanzees are as smart as toddlers.
It gets even worse. Our memory and speed of processing information is seen as the building blocks of our intelligence.
In an experiment chimpanzees demonstrated to be much better than humans in memorizing the location of numbers on a screen and retrieving them.
When you look at raw brain power, we don't seem to be the smartest species by definition. What next?
Maybe we are more cunning. Some claim that we outsmart other primates, because we are so good in lying, cheating and deceiving.
However, research has shown, that chimps are better than we in these skills. In fact we are lousy liars.
And there is more. Best tactics of a cheater is to keep a poker face. Don't be ashamed, go for it, win.
However, if the most shameless types eventually win, how is it that man is the only species in the entire animal kingdom that blushes?
In 1872 Darwin himself called it "the strangest and most human of all expressions". This expression must be an indication, why we are who we are.
Maybe Dawkins was wrong ....maybe our biological nature has been of some help yet....
Thank you for your attention again .....

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rutger Bregman, "De meeste mensen deugen",, 2019

The Discussion

[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Well chimps might blush as well but because they have fur we can't see it
[13:22] herman Bergson: Seems not to be the case, Bejiita
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): our brain needs to consume more calories!!! to help the rest of us
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but why are we the only ones building machines? what we lack in speed and strength we instead do with machines, bicycles, cars train planes
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): chimps use tools too
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and we use hydraulics for lifting heavy things with matches like forklifts and similar
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): machines
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): why are we the olny  race capable of making such things?
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and computers
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): good thing
[13:24] herman Bergson: Indeed Bejiita.....good question....what made us who we are....
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): birds use tools
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): some that is
[13:24] herman Bergson: I'll try to tell you next lecture....
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): chimps may make simple tools but nothing like we doo
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): CNC machines and stuff like that
[13:25] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe bacuase we have more imagination?
[13:25] herman Bergson: yes a number of animals use toos
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): maybe
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): 3D printers
[13:26] herman Bergson: Keep it simple, Bejiita...there isn't any anymal that can write :-)
[13:26] herman Bergson: Complex enough....
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):  \o/
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):    ||   Hoooo!
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):   / \
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats also true, we are the only ones having a true language as well while other animals dont, dogs go woof woof, apes go HOOOH, one single sound
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): hmmm
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): however still they somehow can communicate
[13:27] herman Bergson: Dawkins claimed int the 70s that we are who we are because of our selfish genes, which produced our selfish nature....
[13:28] CB Axel: If you believe Dawkins you might be more of a pessimist than you think you are. :)
[13:28] herman Bergson: a questionable point of view...and he questioned it himself some decades later :-)
[13:28] Lente (lentelies.anatine) is offline.
[13:29] herman Bergson: Indeed CB...a lot of people felt pessimistic after reading Dawkins
[13:29] CB Axel: If selfishness is in our genes, maybe we can use Crispr to remove that section of our genome.
[13:29] herman Bergson: But we are searching for the answer.....are most people OK?
[13:29] herman Bergson: There is a problem here CB....
[13:30] CB Axel: If everyone is selfish then selfishness is OK.
[13:30] herman Bergson: Selfishness is a psychological concept....I still don't understand how you can appluy it to molecules constituing a gene
[13:30] CB Axel: Dawkins apparently did.
[13:31] herman Bergson: And recused himself later :-)
[13:31] herman Bergson: Is that the term?
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): never heard it
[13:31] CB Axel: reversed would be a better word, I think.
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): was thinking
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): recuse mean step back from the issue at all
[13:32] CB Axel: Recused is more about removing oneself from something.
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes he reviewed his claims and became more modest...
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right
[13:32] CB Axel: So less selfish
[13:32] CB Axel: :)
[13:32] herman Bergson: But the timeframe was right...1976....greed greed greed was the catch word
[13:32] herman Bergson: in those days
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): hmmmm
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): seems like there is a lot in the past few years
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): in some issues
[13:33] herman Bergson: greed, you mean, Gemma?
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:34] herman Bergson: people look for security and safety, certainty......so they focus on assembling as much money as possible
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is true
[13:35] herman Bergson: There is more uncertainty and fear these days. I'd say
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i was thinking of the heads of corporations
[13:35] oola Neruda: like people dealing in drilling and selling oil and gas,,,, they do not care what happens to the environment
[13:35] CB Axel: I think that started in the 50's after the war.
[13:35] CB Axel: The greed, that is.
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed oola
[13:35] oola Neruda: war... a way to make money
[13:35] herman Bergson: In the 70s in Europe...in the US with `reagan....UK..Thatcher...
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): one thing good at this time..... coal run energy is getting more expensive than wind and solar
[13:36] oola Neruda: yes
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Thats a good thing
[13:37] herman Bergson: Just imagine what will happen when oil isn't the primary source of energy anymore....
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): hopes we live to see it
[13:37] herman Bergson: Middle East and Russia would be beggars
[13:37] oola Neruda: yes Gemma
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and electriic cars
[13:38] herman Bergson: The whole balance in world politics will change...and China is already anticipating on that
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): true
[13:38] herman Bergson: But the issue still remains that most people are OK :-)
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it will change for sure
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[13:38] herman Bergson: That we have to keep in mind
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): just complainers
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed thats true
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hahaha
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we are ok people liking to complain?
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): haha
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[13:39] oola Neruda: 3rd world people are not going to be ok
[13:39] herman Bergson: Dont forget...if you look at the world today....
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): but the 3rd world is changing too
[13:39] herman Bergson: for most people it hasn't ever been a better place than today for them
[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): going in right direction in general
[13:40] CB Axel: That's not what he means by ok, oola. He means people are good and not evil.
[13:40] oola Neruda: there are so many migrants and people fleeing situations... they are already not ok... living outdoors or in tents... etc....
[13:40] herman Bergson: Ahh thnx CB....indeed....
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is true
[13:40] oola Neruda: ahhh good point
[13:40] herman Bergson: Because that is the topic of our project at the moment
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): maybe where they run from will get better too tho
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): so they can go back
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:41] herman Bergson: So...let's stay optimistic for the coming weekend ^_^
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): YAY! (yay!)
[13:41] herman Bergson: Thank you all again :-)
[13:42] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thank you Herman and class!
[13:42] CB Axel: Thank you, Bergie! We did look good that day, didn't we?
[13:42] herman Bergson: Unless you have that game changing question still....class dismissed :-)
[13:43] CB Axel: I'll see you all Tuesday.
[13:43] CB Axel: Bye.
[13:43] herman Bergson: That's a cool picture Bergie!!!!
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:43] CB Axel: And thank you, Herman. :)
[13:43] herman Bergson: You're  welcome, CB
[13:43] bergfrau Apfelbaum: lol yes we looked wonderful!
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats perfect!
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): danke bergie:))
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok!!
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): shall see you all soon
[13:43] bergfrau Apfelbaum: see you next week
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu then
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:44] herman Bergson: Happy Sweden Bejiita :-)

[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

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