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The evolution of intelligent life

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The evolution of intelligent life
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MyrtonosPosts: 86Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:23 am Gender: Male

Post The evolution of intelligent life

The first humans were a radical departure from how a lot of flesh-and-blood beings lived. It seems that sapiens, with their jumbo brains, hands, ability to use tools, and ability to co-operate in unbelievably large groups with unbelievable flexibility, and further powers gained by our own kind, changed virtually the whole environment and ecosystem.

First was the evolution of the ability to stand and walk upright on two feet, which first of all made it easier to scan for enemies and game in the wild. Also, two of the feet became hands for other purposes, instead of being organs of propulsion, they were organs of manipulation. They could produce and use tools more sophisticated than those the great apes have been observed to use. Apparently, all Gorillas and Chimps have shorter thumbs than us because they still walk on their knuckles.

Having the ability to perform very intricate tasks with hands, such as making and using very sophisticated tools, they could then domesticate fire, first making occasional use of it, then coming to use it on a daily basis. The power of all other animals is contained within the biological properties of their bodies, such as the strength of their muscles, the size of their teeth and the breadth of wings of flying animals. They may harness natural forces but don't have the hands or tools to control them.
For example, Eagles can identify thermal vents, spread their wings, the hot air lifting them off the ground, but they cannot control the location of them. And their airborne carrying capacity is limited by their wingspan. But we as human beings can control where to start a fire and where to spread it, and the power of fire is much greater than the that of the human body. It takes just a single person with a flint stick to burn down an entire forest in less than a day. Fire was a source of heat and light and a very effective weapon against predators, and could also cook.

Also, some animals eat plants, some animals eat other animals and others even eat both. But they all basically stuff their mouths with biomass as is and chew on it and digest it. Sometimes it can be hard to digest, and each chimpanzee can spent as long as five hours a day chewing raw food. Raw food is sometimes infested with parasites and germs. With cooking, what we ate was not exactly the biomass itself but but some product of greatly heating that biomass. Humans who cooked could also eat food we cannot digest in its raw form, like wheat, rice, potatoes and many kinds of bean.
This enabled a reduction in jaw size and shortening of the intestines. Shorter intestines consume less energy and so made way for bigger brains, as more energy could run the brain instead of going into digesting food.

As the brain got bigger, the neocortex could get larger without the rest of the brain getting smaller. And this increased the size of a human band where all humans know each other and humans could also live in tribes, where tribal members still all know each other, these all being larger than any chimpanzee band. This allowed humans to co-operate in larger groups, and with no less flexibility. And they could also co-operate more effectively with strangers.
Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:19 pm
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:17 pm
psikhrangkurPosts: 148Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:30 pm Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Are you trying to assert that evolution is some kind of biological ladder with humans being the top rung, or am I reading too much into this?
Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:33 pm
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

psikhrangkur wrote:Are you trying to assert that evolution is some kind of biological ladder with humans being the top rung, or am I reading too much into this?



This post hoc ergo propter hoc evolutionary narrative certainly makes human development look goal-driven, but I doubt it's the intent here.

I think it would be stellar if Myrtonos would cite their source because I see both sentences and fragments of sentence there with different dictions and styles. If a student handed in the above as part of a paper, I'd be rather suspicious.

Aside from that, I am not sure quite what it's got to do with the evolution of intelligent life which conservatively happened hundreds of millions of year before the advent of humanity.

And there's the 'point' thing as in the other thread. Is this a Public Service Announcement?
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:14 am
MyrtonosPosts: 86Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:23 am Gender: Male

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Simple facts:
*Sapiens have the biggest brains and greatest intelligence of anything animate.
*Specimens of homo sapiens have two hands each and can use very sophisticated tools.
*Sapiens can also co-operate with greater flexibility than any other social animal and with countless strangers.

Clearly the evolution of all these traits was a radical departure for how every other species in kingdom animalia has ever lived.
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:31 am
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Myrtonos wrote:Simple facts:
*Sapiens have the biggest brains and greatest intelligence of anything animate.


Physeter macrocephalus wants a word with Homo sapiens regarding your puny sac of grey matter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sperm_whale#Brain


As for intelligence. What scale are we using? Oh our own that's used to measure intelligence according to what we consider to be intelligent and just so happens to be intelligent just like our intelligence. Seems redundant, doesn't it?


Myrtonos wrote:Specimens of homo sapiens have two hands each and can use very sophisticated tools.


And water is wet. All primates have two hands and can use very sophisticated tools, plus they can also grasp with their feet meaning they have double the number of appendages they can employ for tool use.


Myrtonos wrote:Sapiens can also co-operate with greater flexibility than any other social animal and with countless strangers.


Lepisiota canescens and Linepithema humile want a word with Homo sapiens regarding your puny social groups.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC122904/
https://naturalsciences.org/calendar/ne ... -invasion/


Myrtonos wrote:Clearly the evolution of all these traits was a radical departure for how every other species in kingdom animalia has ever lived.


One of those intriguing quantities of life is how rarely that which is obvious turns out either to be true, or worth noting.


Simple facts:
Wandering albatrosses have the biggest wingspan and can fly the furthest and longest without landing.
A single flap of their wings can allow them to coast for hundreds of miles presenting perhaps the most efficient method of transportation in any animal ever.
Wandering albatrosses pair-bond for life but will also freely engage in intercourse while bonded, and these lifetime bonds are often homosexual.

Clearly the evolution of all these traits was a radical departure for how every other species in kingdom animalia has ever lived.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:30 pm
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 3209Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Greetings,

Sparhafoc wrote:
Myrtonos wrote:Specimens of homo sapiens have two hands each and can use very sophisticated tools.

And water is wet. All primates have two hands and can use very sophisticated tools, plus they can also grasp with their feet meaning they have double the number of appendages they can employ for tool use.

Not to mention arboreal monkeys with prehensile tails, such as Spider monkeys, who use them as a extra "hand".

Kindest regards,

James
Image
"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:20 pm
MyrtonosPosts: 86Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:23 am Gender: Male

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Sparhafoc wrote:Physeter macrocephalus wants a word with Homo sapiens regarding your puny sac of grey matter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sperm_whale#Brain


As for intelligence. What scale are we using? Oh our own that's used to measure intelligence according to what we consider to be intelligent and just so happens to be intelligent just like our intelligence. Seems redundant, doesn't it?

Let me make it clearer, sperm whales may have the largest brains in absolute size, but the human brain is indeed the largest relative to lean body mass.

Sparhafoc wrote:And water is wet. All primates have two hands and can use very sophisticated tools, plus they can also grasp with their feet meaning they have double the number of appendages they can employ for tool use.

What has water to do with it? As I noted, the human thumb is longer, which makes our hand more effective at manipulation that those of other primates.

Sparhafoc wrote:Lepisiota canescens and Linepithema humile want a word with Homo sapiens regarding your puny social groups.

These are ants, they can co-operate in larger groups than any non-human vertebrates, but not even as flexibly as social mammals like not only apes but elephants, wolves, whales and dolphins. Social mammals can co-operate more flexibly than ants, but even the ones mentioned in the previous sentence cannot co-operate as flexibly as sapiens, and their co-operation is based on intimate familiarity of all herd/band members. And the maximum number of gorillas or chimpanzees that intimately know each other is less than the the maximum for sapiens.

Sparhafoc wrote:Wandering albatrosses have the biggest wingspan and can fly the furthest and longest without landing.
A single flap of their wings can allow them to coast for hundreds of miles presenting perhaps the most efficient method of transportation in any animal ever.
Wandering albatrosses pair-bond for life but will also freely engage in intercourse while bonded, and these lifetime bonds are often homosexual.

A pair bond is not mass co-operation at all. While these are the largest extant flying birds today. Mind you there are bats, yes, mammals capable of powered flight, that also do pair bonding.

And neither of these are physically capable of using tools that sapiens can, and they are almost certainly nowhere near as intelligent. And finally, the carrying capacity of birds and bats is obviously limited by wingspan.

Clearly the evolution of all these traits was a radical departure for how every other species in kingdom animalia has ever lived.

And surely none of these even use fire, and they most certainly stuff their mouths with biomass as is, without fire, there is no other way. Let me clarify the radical departure for how a lot of creatures lived:

*Evolution of the ability to stand and walk upright on only two feet, with two hands being free for other things, like tool use. And yes, able to make and use tools more sophisticated than those made or used by any other animal.
*Domestication of fire, giving humans greater power than what is contained in the biological properties of human bodies. It takes a single person with a flint stick to burn down a whole forest in less than a day. Although other primates do use tools to some extent, they don't seem to light or even control fires.
*Adaption to eating food made out of biomass by cooking it over a fire, spending less time chewing it than previously spent chewing raw food, with a reduction in jaw size and intestine length and so evolution of a bigger brain (in relative size) and along with it, greater intelligence than any other animal. This lead to the ability to co-operate, both in larger groups and more flexibly than any other animal ever could.
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:06 pm
psikhrangkurPosts: 148Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:30 pm Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Myrtonos wrote:What has water to do with it?


The idea behind Sparhafoc's comment is that the things you state are quite banal.

To put it another way, "Okay, I'll grant that that previous statement is true. So what? Why should I care?"

Myrtonos wrote:And surely none of these even use fire, and they most certainly stuff their mouths with biomass as is, without fire, there is no other way.


I think you've misunderstood Sparhafoc's reference to the albatross. The point being made here is that your decision to place homo sapiens on a pedestal in this manner is rather arbitrary.

You can continue to try and explain why our species is such a departure from everything before it, but I imagine that Sparhafoc would only do the same in the case of the albatross until you either understood the underlying motivations of his response or you began to try and dismiss his example out of frustration.
Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:05 pm
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Myrtonos wrote:Let me make it clearer, sperm whales may have the largest brains in absolute size, but the human brain is indeed the largest relative to lean body mass.


And it's here where the necessary complexity absent in your last post creeps back in. This is not 'largest brain' as you previously stated - this is encephalization quotient, or brain to body mass ration based on brain mass compared to predicted brain mass ratio of an overall weight.

There are lots of interesting elements regarding this ratio, but it is often misused by people who ignore many of the other factors, like sociality and environmental pressures (i.e. whales don't have to contend with gravity), and in the last decade studies analyzing cognitive abilities have focused more on whole brain size as it appears more useful for non-primate mammals. Overall, EQ applies best to primates first, carnivorous mammals second, and mammals overall last but doesn't work so well looking at other animal groups, it's also more effective as a comparison between species within their own categories.

There's no actual magical rule involved here. Whales could potentially be much more intelligent in many ways to us. While efficiency is dramatically important, bigger is better in terms of specific anatomical structures running numerous complex functions. Sure, a bigger animal needs bulkier systems, like bigger blood vessels to pump enough blood around, but there's no actual reason why a high brain to body size ratio must equate to higher intelligence.


Myrtonos wrote:What has water to do with it?


It's an idiomatic expression somewhat more gentle than saying 'no shit, Sherlock'.


Myrtonos wrote:As I noted, the human thumb is longer, which makes our hand more effective at manipulation that those of other primates.


And? Are you going somewhere with any of this?


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Lepisiota canescens and Linepithema humile want a word with Homo sapiens regarding your puny social groups.


These are ants, they can co-operate in larger groups than any non-human vertebrates, but not even as flexibly as social mammals like not only apes but elephants, wolves, whales and dolphins.


What's 'flexibility' got to do with your argument? And where have you defined flexibility? If you want to amend previous erroneous claims, that's fine, but it's like following an ever stretching goalpost.


Myrtonos wrote:Social mammals can co-operate more flexibly than ants, but even the ones mentioned in the previous sentence cannot co-operate as flexibly as sapiens, and their co-operation is based on intimate familiarity of all herd/band members. And the maximum number of gorillas or chimpanzees that intimately know each other is less than the the maximum for sapiens.


The last line shows you're not really paying attention to your own argument. Ants dramatically out co-operate humans and all primates. There has never been a band of millions of humans all working together to effect the same outcome. Human structures always break groups down into manageable chunks, like platoons and battalions so that they can be managed (imagine trying to get synchronous orders to a million humans), and because humans work better when they know the people around them. Ants need no such division as they do not engage in conflict with one and other, have no psychological hang-ups, and can operate almost as a single entity.

So if 'facts' is the watch-word, then shouldn't you amend your positions based on the facts? If your statements are too general and trivially easy to show wrong, why do you write them in such a confident declarative tone?

Do you have any relevant expertise in this field? I just want to point out to you that there are 2 qualified biological anthropologists here, and one guy who's studying biological systematics, so it's a little opaque for us. There's no discussion here. You appear to be lecturing. Is that your intent? If so, the initial question in this paragraph applies.


Myrtonos wrote:And neither of these are physically capable of using tools that sapiens can, and they are almost certainly nowhere near as intelligent.


And humans can't fly hundreds of miles with just a flap of their arms. /shrug

It's another reductio ad absurdum.

You need to explain why you're using human specialities to evaluate humans comparatively to other species. If you don't understand why it's problematic, there are thousands more species I could list with abilities humans don't possess and consequently to which Homo sapiens will not compare favourably. But it would be hard to understand why I'd want to do that, just as it's hard to understand why you'd want to do so.


Myrtonos wrote:And finally, the carrying capacity of birds and bats is obviously limited by wingspan.


As unfortunate choice of words. Carrying capacity is a measure of the maximum number of individuals a particular environment or clime can maintain indefinitely, not how bulky a flying animal can be.

Also, bats and birds are not 'obviously limited' by wingspan as the Wandering Albatross shows. Their flight efficiency may be; the range of their potential behaviors may be; but not the birds or bats weight because there's always something bigger with a bigger wingspan, then it's just physics and selection pressures. Presumably, the Wandering Albatross' mean wingspan is approximately ideal for the lifestyle it leads, whereas a sparrow wouldn't get much value out of a 3 metre wingspan.

So how is that different than Homo sapiens? Our hominid forebears specialized in a particular way of life and adapted and evolved to become better at it, just as other animals adapted and evolved to become better at their niches. But why are other animals being compared to a human ideal when they don't live the same lifestyle? I can't see what the sense is there.

As an aside, this reminds me more than a little of a conversation I had with a Sinhalese taxi driver many years ago who was angry that the English left Sri Lanka because, he shouted rolling down the window of his car and pointing at a manual labourer in a sarong, if they'd stayed a bit longer then everyone would be wearing trousers!


Myrtonos wrote:And surely none of these even use fire, and they most certainly stuff their mouths with biomass as is, without fire, there is no other way.


See above. Pelicans also don't use watches or hair nets, whereas humans have little expertise in flying or nesting on the side of craggy cliffs.


Myrtonos wrote: Let me clarify the radical departure for how a lot of creatures lived:


There is no 'radical departure' - you've got entirely the wrong idea. Hominids have been doing this lifestyle for millions of years; certainly longer than there has been Homo sapiens. It's a niche our evolutionary forebears discovered and mastered, and we are the lucky recipients of millions of years of trial, error, extinction and survival. It didn't happen overnight, but rather was gradual. For our own species, language, symbolism, and cultivation of other species seems to be the key propulsion moments towards what we've become as a species.


Myrtonos wrote:*Evolution of the ability to stand and walk upright on only two feet, with two hands being free for other things, like tool use. And yes, able to make and use tools more sophisticated than those made or used by any other animal.
*Domestication of fire, giving humans greater power than what is contained in the biological properties of human bodies. It takes a single person with a flint stick to burn down a whole forest in less than a day. Although other primates do use tools to some extent, they don't seem to light or even control fires.
*Adaption to eating food made out of biomass by cooking it over a fire, spending less time chewing it than previously spent chewing raw food, with a reduction in jaw size and intestine length and so evolution of a bigger brain (in relative size) and along with it, greater intelligence than any other animal. This lead to the ability to co-operate, both in larger groups and more flexibly than any other animal ever could.



Why are you reeling off these statements? :? You've written most of this before and it's still there in this thread. This addition contains many of the same problems: Where it isn't loaded with overtly adaptationist just-so stories confusingly nestled in erroneous assumptions, the remainder is banal. Finally, your conclusion doesn't follow from your premises.

Why are you posting this? Can we please establish the point here? Please clarify your motivations as it may net a more useful exchange.

Did you want critique? For clarity, I specialize in early human evolution and socioecology and teach it at undergraduate level, so I believe I might be capable of helping if it's critique you're after.

If it's not critique (and it doesn't seem to be), are you expounding? Perhaps I misconstrue, but the tone in both threads is lecturing. Are you looking to lecture?

Otherwise, excuse me saying, but aren't you just repeating what you read in Harari's book? While I am not saying he's wrong, many of the topics he sweeps over aren't plumbed very deeply they're more just an overview for non-experts employed in the service of making a particular argument.

And really that's what I am missing: what's your argument here?

It can't be related to the topic thread question because, as mentioned already, the evolution of intelligent life predates humanity by hundreds of millions of years, so focusing on humans seems odd content in a thread so titled. We may as well be talking about terrestriality and looking just at humans. Yes, we're terrestrial, but isn't the question about when that evolved?
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:54 pm
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

psikhrangkur wrote:
Myrtonos wrote:What has water to do with it?


The idea behind Sparhafoc's comment is that the things you state are quite banal.

To put it another way, "Okay, I'll grant that that previous statement is true. So what? Why should I care?"

Myrtonos wrote:And surely none of these even use fire, and they most certainly stuff their mouths with biomass as is, without fire, there is no other way.


I think you've misunderstood Sparhafoc's reference to the albatross. The point being made here is that your decision to place homo sapiens on a pedestal in this manner is rather arbitrary.

You can continue to try and explain why our species is such a departure from everything before it, but I imagine that Sparhafoc would only do the same in the case of the albatross until you either understood the underlying motivations of his response or you began to try and dismiss his example out of frustration.



Am I so predictable? :cry:
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Mon Oct 15, 2018 10:07 pm
psikhrangkurPosts: 148Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:30 pm Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Sparhafoc wrote:Am I so predictable? :cry:


I mean, if you can follow a train of thought...
Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:15 pm
MyrtonosPosts: 86Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:23 am Gender: Male

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

psikhrangkur wrote:I think you've misunderstood Sparhafoc's reference to the albatross. The point being made here is that your decision to place homo sapiens on a pedestal in this manner is rather arbitrary.

The fact is that it is our own kind that controls the planet. We keep animals of many other kinds on farms and lock some animals including elephants and apes, up in zoos. We also lock up some animals, especially mice, in research laboratories.

psikhrangkur wrote:You can continue to try and explain why our species is such a departure from everything before it, but I imagine that Sparhafoc would only do the same in the case of the albatross until you either understood the underlying motivations of his response or you began to try and dismiss his example out of frustration.

And the fact is that sapiens have now built aircraft that outperform all birds, including the one mentioned here. No birds, even on the collective level, could build anything like that. To build it required co-operation among a lot of people.

Sparhafoc wrote:And it's here where the necessary complexity absent in your last post creeps back in. This is not 'largest brain' as you previously stated - this is encephalization quotient, or brain to body mass ration based on brain mass compared to predicted brain mass ratio of an overall weight.

I don't get this, but I did mention the ration of the brain to the rest of the lean body mass.

Sparhafoc wrote:There are lots of interesting elements regarding this ratio, but it is often misused by people who ignore many of the other factors, like sociality and environmental pressures (i.e. whales don't have to contend with gravity), and in the last decade studies analyzing cognitive abilities have focused more on whole brain size as it appears more useful for non-primate mammals. Overall, EQ applies best to primates first, carnivorous mammals second, and mammals overall last but doesn't work so well looking at other animal groups, it's also more effective as a comparison between species within their own categories.

I'm hardly following this at all. Whales live in water, which is denser than air and denser in relation to biomass.

Sparhafoc wrote:There's no actual magical rule involved here. Whales could potentially be much more intelligent in many ways to us. While efficiency is dramatically important, bigger is better in terms of specific anatomical structures running numerous complex functions. Sure, a bigger animal needs bulkier systems, like bigger blood vessels to pump enough blood around, but there's no actual reason why a high brain to body size ratio must equate to higher intelligence.

And yet whales aren't as successful, even in water as Sapiens have long been on land.

Sparhafoc wrote:What's 'flexibility' got to do with your argument? And where have you defined flexibility? If you want to amend previous erroneous claims, that's fine, but it's like following an ever stretching goalpost.

An example of the flexibility of human co-operation is revolting against a repressive king and converting right away to democracy with elections. More flexible co-operation means being better at adapting to new threats, dangers and opportunities.

Sparhafoc wrote:Ants dramatically out co-operate humans and all primates. There has never been a band of millions of humans all working together to effect the same outcome. Human structures always break groups down into manageable chunks, like platoons and battalions so that they can be managed (imagine trying to get synchronous orders to a million humans), and because humans work better when they know the people around them. Ants need no such division as they do not engage in conflict with one and other, have no psychological hang-ups, and can operate almost as a single entity.

While human structures do get divided down into groups that are more easily manageable the fact is that have been numerous cases of multiple platoons or battalions working together on a common outcome, such as building a skyscraper or flying higher than any bird has ever flown or getting to the moon.
While sapiens may work better knowing people around them, other social mammals cannot co-operate at all without knowing the specimens around them. Put say tens of thousands of apes in a city square or a stadium and there would be complete chaos. But sapiens often gather in these places in tens of thousands with amazing co-operation.
Ants may be able to work together in large numbers but cannot re-invent their social system, for example they cannot revolt against a repressive queen and establish a republican democracy with elections.

Sparhafoc wrote:And humans can't fly hundreds of miles with just a flap of their arms. /shrug

But very flexible co-operation with countless strangers has given us aircraft with can outperform all flying animals.

Sparhafoc wrote:You need to explain why you're using human specialities to evaluate humans comparatively to other species. If you don't understand why it's problematic, there are thousands more species I could list with abilities humans don't possess and consequently to which Homo sapiens will not compare favourably. But it would be hard to understand why I'd want to do that, just as it's hard to understand why you'd want to do so.

But it is because of human specialties (greater intelligence and better at making and using tools) that sapiens have come to rule over pretty much all other life on earth. Okay, other animals may have other specialties, but they don't have control over something as powerful and as obedient as fire.

Sparhafoc wrote:As unfortunate choice of words. Carrying capacity is a measure of the maximum number of individuals a particular environment or clime can maintain indefinitely, not how bulky a flying animal can be.

I'm not sure what this means.

Sparhafoc wrote:Also, bats and birds are not 'obviously limited' by wingspan as the Wandering Albatross shows. Their flight efficiency may be; the range of their potential behaviors may be; but not the birds or bats weight because there's always something bigger with a bigger wingspan, then it's just physics and selection pressures. Presumably, the Wandering Albatross' mean wingspan is approximately ideal for the lifestyle it leads, whereas a sparrow wouldn't get much value out of a 3 metre wingspan.

But there is a limit to how much food their can carry, this is carrying capacity.

Sparhafoc wrote:So how is that different than Homo sapiens? Our hominid forebears specialized in a particular way of life and adapted and evolved to become better at it, just as other animals adapted and evolved to become better at their niches. But why are other animals being compared to a human ideal when they don't live the same lifestyle? I can't see what the sense is there.

Our ancestors adapted and evolved to fill an entirely new ecological niche and since then, we have developed new tools over time without evolving much further.
The fact is that it is sapiens that rule the world and keep animals of other kinds on farms and in zoos and laboratories.

Sparhafoc wrote:See above. Pelicans also don't use watches or hair nets, whereas humans have little expertise in flying or nesting on the side of craggy cliffs.

What have watches or hair nets to do with it?

Sparhafoc wrote:There is no 'radical departure' - you've got entirely the wrong idea. Hominids have been doing this lifestyle for millions of years; certainly longer than there has been Homo sapiens. It's a niche our evolutionary forebears discovered and mastered, and we are the lucky recipients of millions of years of trial, error, extinction and survival. It didn't happen overnight, but rather was gradual. For our own species, language, symbolism, and cultivation of other species seems to be the key propulsion moments towards what we've become as a species.

Yes, species of genus homo have been doing the hunter-gatherer lifestyle for millions of years. There is a radical departure, with the ability to make and use more sophisticated tools than any other animal ever has, using some of those tools to harness naturally occurring fires and later lighting fires. And the lifestyle of sapiens has radically changed since, even without evolving as much, think of the rise of farming and later cities.
Language, symbolism, religion and culture have made our own kind the a very successful species, I believe the most successful one ever.

Sparhafoc wrote:Why are you reeling off these statements? :? You've written most of this before and it's still there in this thread. This addition contains many of the same problems: Where it isn't loaded with overtly adaptationist just-so stories confusingly nestled in erroneous assumptions, the remainder is banal. Finally, your conclusion doesn't follow from your premises.

I was just trying to clarify things. Our hands are adapted completely to tool use and not knuckle walking. While there are other animals that do use tools, even elephants, they don't light or even control fires.
Let's consider hunting; We might not be able to run as fast as a lot of four legged beings, but people can make weapons that can be used for hunting an animal without getting near them, thus outperforming anything that runs on four legs. Even hunter-gatherer humans did rule every landmass they inhabited. They greatly changed them by torching neighborhoods with fire.
As humans arrived on each continent, they hunted a lot of megafauna to extinction. The Americas and indeed the Great Southern land (now Australia) were greatly affected by the arrival of humans, due to burning and hunting.

Sparhafoc wrote:Did you want critique? For clarity, I specialize in early human evolution and socioecology and teach it at undergraduate level, so I believe I might be capable of helping if it's critique you're after.

If it's not critique (and it doesn't seem to be), are you expounding? Perhaps I misconstrue, but the tone in both threads is lecturing. Are you looking to lecture?

I'm not quite sure what this means.

Sparhafoc wrote:Otherwise, excuse me saying, but aren't you just repeating what you read in Harari's book? While I am not saying he's wrong, many of the topics he sweeps over aren't plumbed very deeply they're more just an overview for non-experts employed in the service of making a particular argument.

While I don't entirely get what you are saying, but yes, it is based on what is mentioned in sapiens.

Sparhafoc wrote:It can't be related to the topic thread question because, as mentioned already, the evolution of intelligent life predates humanity by hundreds of millions of years, so focusing on humans seems odd content in a thread so titled. We may as well be talking about terrestriality and looking just at humans. Yes, we're terrestrial, but isn't the question about when that evolved?

What intelligent life, before humanity there were no animals that could co-operate either with as great flexibility or with countless strangers.

There were no beings around to build things like pyramids.
Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:38 am
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Myrtonos wrote:The fact is that it is our own kind that controls the planet.


It would help if you stopped calling half-baked nonsensical ideas 'facts'.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:40 am
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

And yet whales aren't as successful, even in water as Sapiens have long been on land.



Myrtonons, I am sorry but you need to stop preaching at people and start listening, because frankly, you don't know what you're talking about.

Biological success of a species cannot be defined by some arbitrarily assigned ad hoc rationalization. All extant species are, by definition, equally successful as they ALL have a lineage traceable to the first life on the planet: they're all survivors of a couple of billions years of evolution and changing climates.

Humans have been around for the blink of an eye, and there is absolutely nothing to suggest we're beyond the remit of extinction.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:47 am
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Myrtonos wrote:The fact is that it is our own kind that controls the planet.


I'm not sure how you turn a bizarrely erroneous notion into a 'fact'. Of course, we're in the post-fact era where our gut instincts outweigh minor notions like evidence, reason, or reality, so perhaps that's it?

The planet is controlled by a swathe of natural forces, like gravity. The systems on the planet have a myriad of different inputs, but all operate under physical forces, i.e. physical and chemical. Human activity may well cause some effects on systems like climate or weather, but it's not 'controlled' - it's an unintended side-effect. Plenty of species throughout history have had far more dramatic impacts on the chemical composition of our planet.

In reality, wee are vastly more controlled by the planet than we control it. Every aspect of our biology is dependent on components readily found available here, but far more rarely distributed through the galaxy. Our abilities, traits, and even psychology are all contingent results of the long and arduous struggle for survival against the systems which dominate us.

There is no sensible idea here based on your premise. You will inevitably need to refine this.


Myrtonos wrote: We keep animals of many other kinds on farms and lock some animals including elephants and apes, up in zoos. We also lock up some animals, especially mice, in research laboratories.


Animals =/= planet

We could lock every single animal that's ever lived up in the cruelest circumstances, and the planet would give not one hoot, not shift one iota in subjugation to our alleged 'control'.

So rather, I expect you meant: 'it's a fact that humans are the dominant species'?

Even that would be highly questionable given the extreme proliferation of the bacteria or the longevity of the sponge for example, but at least it wouldn't be so trivially wrong.


Myrtonos wrote:
psikhrangkur wrote:You can continue to try and explain why our species is such a departure from everything before it, but I imagine that Sparhafoc would only do the same in the case of the albatross until you either understood the underlying motivations of his response or you began to try and dismiss his example out of frustration.


And the fact is that sapiens have now built aircraft that outperform all birds, including the one mentioned here.


False. Powering an aircraft does not outperform a wandering albatross when it comes to fuel consumption per distance flown. The albatross's flight efficiency is far beyond any technical, engineering or scientific ability we possess, or that we're likely to possess for a very long time. That includes solar powered flight by the way, because there are still enormous ancillary costs to producing a solar powered glider, like logistical and production costs, not to mention all the snacks the pilots munch along the way ;)


Myrtonos wrote: No birds, even on the collective level, could build anything like that.


Well, it's clear that the reductio ad absurdum didn't help, even when psikh took the time to explain it to you.

It's a pointless thing to say. Birds don't build aircraft, so of course it doesn't matter how many birds you throw into a hangar to construct an aircraft, because that's obviously not how it works.

But you need to stop and think.

What need would a bird have for an airplane?

Think about it. How much energy would birds 'even on the collective level' need to expend to build an airplane? You could sit and list all the evolutionary costs they'd need to incur, the generational effort of artificial selection that would be required to mold their brains and cognition towards the kind of organism that does math, reads symbolic representations of its language and engineers, and their other anatomy towards being able to manipulate objects with precision so they could write books, build smelters and machines.

Only then would they be able to build the aircraft, which when you think about it all seems a bit bloody stupid when they could just have fucking flown there with their wings and a few dozen consumed insects in the first place.

You have a fundamental misunderstanding plaguing all your ideas. You do not consider historical contingency, and the fact that life is all about survival strategies incurring both costs and benefits.

It's wonderful having a big brain full of complex cognitive processes that model scenarios, encode complex information into simplified types, categorize and analyze etc. but it incurs a massive cost (i.e. energy expenditure of the brain, anatomy needed to support large mass in structurally the worst place for extra weight, and in potential opportunity costs of not specializing in some other organ resulting in a more serendipitous life-style) and presents its own suite of problems - I don't see any pigeon terrorists blowing up their fellows because they feel very strongly that the other doves are wrong, nor a gaggle of larks, afraid of those funny foreign toucans, locking them up and separating them from their children.

Instead, birds have paid other costs, encountered ensuing problems of their specialisations, and have made a pretty darn good show of it, all things considered given the 100 million years they've traversed.

Perhaps come back and take stock in another 98 million years and see whether the human lifestyle really does so obviously trump birds'.



Myrtonos wrote: To build it required co-operation among a lot of people.


My thought is that you first need to figure out what argument you are actually presenting, then present it.

Otherwise we have this kind of circular ramble through a series of points, none of which are anything other than banal or based on flawed assumptions.

Is this thread about the evolution of intelligent life?
Is this thread about dexterous apendages?
Is this thread about biological success?
Is this thread about flexibility?
Is this thread about maximal co-operation?
Is this thread about tool use?
Is this thread about <an actual thing>?
Or is this thread a rehash of the ideas outlined in a book you read?



Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:And it's here where the necessary complexity absent in your last post creeps back in. This is not 'largest brain' as you previously stated - this is encephalization quotient, or brain to body mass ration based on brain mass compared to predicted brain mass ratio of an overall weight.


I don't get this, but I did mention the ration of the brain to the rest of the lean body mass.


What don't you get?

You made a false claim, I corrected you. I believe the usual method from here is that either you accept and acknowledge the correction, or you contest it by bringing something more to the table.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:There are lots of interesting elements regarding this ratio, but it is often misused by people who ignore many of the other factors, like sociality and environmental pressures (i.e. whales don't have to contend with gravity), and in the last decade studies analyzing cognitive abilities have focused more on whole brain size as it appears more useful for non-primate mammals. Overall, EQ applies best to primates first, carnivorous mammals second, and mammals overall last but doesn't work so well looking at other animal groups, it's also more effective as a comparison between species within their own categories.


I'm hardly following this at all. Whales live in water, which is denser than air and denser in relation to biomass.


Then ask to be enlightened.

Whales live in a medium where the primary component of terrestrial life (gravity) is largely in abeyance meaning they can grow much larger than any terrestrial counterpart without paying the costs associated with carrying large amounts of blubber, muscle, and bone on land. Thus, when comparing the E.Q. of a land animal and an aquatic animal, you can't apply a simple ratio as the ration is mis-measuring here. On land, there may well be a competing pressure between body and brain size that could then be tracked by a simple ratio and produce potentially useful results regarding intelligence; what does the organisms' evolution focus on (body or brain) and why? In the water, the trade-off barely exists. It's not either/or like on land - you can have a large, complex body AND a large, complex brain.

As I said before, you may have read a 2 sentence summary of this in a book for popular consumption written by an historian, but while he may not exactly be wrong, he could be pretty darn far away from being comprehensive, yet you are rather obliged to engage in this level of detail if you want to make claims off the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis.

Amusingly, one of the authors (Aiello) of the original 1997 paper was my tutor at the time it was published, but do go on and tell me the potted version you're misapplying! ;)


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:There's no actual magical rule involved here. Whales could potentially be much more intelligent in many ways to us. While efficiency is dramatically important, bigger is better in terms of specific anatomical structures running numerous complex functions. Sure, a bigger animal needs bulkier systems, like bigger blood vessels to pump enough blood around, but there's no actual reason why a high brain to body size ratio must equate to higher intelligence.


And yet whales aren't as successful, even in water as Sapiens have long been on land.


False.

Whales evolved 50 million years ago.
Homo sapiens evolved around 3-4 hundred thousand years go.

Plus, we're back to 'success' again. Are you talking about whales winning the Eurovision Song Contest? If not, perhaps you'd best set about defining 'success' and explaining why your version would be superior to that used by biologists of all demarcations.



Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:What's 'flexibility' got to do with your argument? And where have you defined flexibility? If you want to amend previous erroneous claims, that's fine, but it's like following an ever stretching goalpost.


An example of the flexibility of human co-operation is revolting against a repressive king and converting right away to democracy with elections. More flexible co-operation means being better at adapting to new threats, dangers and opportunities.


What's 'flexibility' got to do with your argument? And where have you defined flexibility?


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Ants dramatically out co-operate humans and all primates. There has never been a band of millions of humans all working together to effect the same outcome. Human structures always break groups down into manageable chunks, like platoons and battalions so that they can be managed (imagine trying to get synchronous orders to a million humans), and because humans work better when they know the people around them. Ants need no such division as they do not engage in conflict with one and other, have no psychological hang-ups, and can operate almost as a single entity.


While human structures do get divided down into groups that are more easily manageable the fact is that have been numerous cases of multiple platoons or battalions working together on a common outcome,...


Not in the slightest. They were operating as independent battalions and platoons managed by increasing smaller numbers of overseers. They aren't cooperating in parallel. Ants cooperate in parallel. No central instructions needed. All ants know what they need to do without being told. Requirements can be adapted to in short order. Etc. etc. etc. Again, your claim is trivially wrong but you are trying to defend it rather than amending your error.


Myrtonos wrote: such as building a skyscraper or flying higher than any bird has ever flown or getting to the moon.


Neither example requires that many people at all to complete, and very few of them are actually cooperating together, and are instead essentially working on independent tasks the output of which other people will take for other purposes. You seem to want to have your cake and eat it.


Myrtonos wrote:While sapiens may work better knowing people around them, other social mammals cannot co-operate at all without knowing the specimens around them.


Completely false. All individuals in any species immediately cooperate with each other to some degree the moment they encounter one and other, even if it's just in terms of conveying mental states through behavior. They do not need to 'know' them before. Further, they can even cooperate towards common goals, even members of entirely different species can do this.


Myrtonos wrote: Put say tens of thousands of apes in a city square or a stadium and there would be complete chaos. But sapiens often gather in these places in tens of thousands with amazing co-operation.


I honestly think I'd have trouble explaining how banal and bizarre I find your statements. The above doesn't possess any intrinsic meaning whatsoever.

Chimps don't live in cities, what is it they're 'supposed to do'? Pick up newspapers, stroll in the park, and buy ice-cream from newly employed ape ice-cream vendors?

Not satisfied with such a bizarre argument, you then toss in the notion that humans just living in some degree of proximity to each other represents mass cooperation! Have you never been to a city? :lol:


Myrtonos wrote:Ants may be able to work together in large numbers but cannot re-invent their social system, for example they cannot revolt against a repressive queen and establish a republican democracy with elections.


1st: First the basic notion is false: https://www.livescience.com/10635-queen ... hrone.html - ants can and do kill queens.

2nd: Utterly bizarre. Which ant lives under a repressive queen in the first place? What do ants have to do with elective administration? Ants can't juggle either. Is that important?

So should I list the things ants do that humans don't? Because that's all your argument amounts to because there's no actual argument, just a series of statements that are either banal or outlandishly misapprehended.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:And humans can't fly hundreds of miles with just a flap of their arms. /shrug


But very flexible co-operation with countless strangers has given us aircraft with can outperform all flying animals.


Whereas in reality, they don't 'outperform' when you look at the actual costs involved.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:You need to explain why you're using human specialities to evaluate humans comparatively to other species. If you don't understand why it's problematic, there are thousands more species I could list with abilities humans don't possess and consequently to which Homo sapiens will not compare favourably. But it would be hard to understand why I'd want to do that, just as it's hard to understand why you'd want to do so.


But it is because of human specialties (greater intelligence and better at making and using tools) that sapiens have come to rule over pretty much all other life on earth. Okay, other animals may have other specialties, but they don't have control over something as powerful and as obedient as fire.


Firstly, we don't 'rule' over life in the slightest.
Secondly, fire is far from obedient as the yearly death rate to fires would quickly tell you.

https://www.ctif.org/sites/default/file ... s_2017.pdf

If applied to the 2015 World population of 7.2 billion (thous. million), then there is an estimated range of fire deaths in the World of 79 thous. (based on the median) to 136 thous. (based on the mean).


79,000 people died to fire in 2015.

Thirdly, you have to establish why it is that an ant, a bird, or any other animal would need control over fire or airplanes in the first place. You're assuming that because X is useful for a human, it's absolutely useful to all species. Clearly, that's nonsense. Fish simply don't need bicycles, so I don't think we need wring our hands as to why fish seem a little slack in the wheeled-transport area.

You need to understand the missing paradigm here: it's within the field of evolutionary biology, and it's not something that Harari has any expertise in, which is presumably why he gave only the most basic details without plumbing any of the requisite complexity, and you have followed suit through repeating his ideas in your words. You need to consider what evolution actually means.

There are many interesting idiomatic attempts at explaining it. One is the concept of the Red Queen Hypothesis, where competitors run and run and run as fast as they can just to stay equal. All species on the planet at all times are constantly undergoing competing and contradictory selection from a huge number of sources. If an organism cannot navigate these selections while doing the vital 3 F's: cannot feed, cannot flee or fight, or cannot fuck, then it loses the race for all eternity. Assuming the other competitors (species) can do these things, they're all 'winning'. They're all successful, whether they're 'advanced' in some aspect, or 'behind' in some other. There are no relative components here; it's absolute. They're either winning, or they're extinct.

So yeah, it's a trivial observation that humans can build amazing stuff that lets us do things our bodies never evolved for, but that doesn't actually make us 'more successful' on some undefined hodgepodge of ideas intimating an absolute scale.

It really is just cake or death.



Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:As unfortunate choice of words. Carrying capacity is a measure of the maximum number of individuals a particular environment or clime can maintain indefinitely, not how bulky a flying animal can be.


I'm not sure what this means.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrying_capacity

The carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water, and other necessities available in the environment. In population biology, carrying capacity is defined as the environment's maximal load...



Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Also, bats and birds are not 'obviously limited' by wingspan as the Wandering Albatross shows. Their flight efficiency may be; the range of their potential behaviors may be; but not the birds or bats weight because there's always something bigger with a bigger wingspan, then it's just physics and selection pressures. Presumably, the Wandering Albatross' mean wingspan is approximately ideal for the lifestyle it leads, whereas a sparrow wouldn't get much value out of a 3 metre wingspan.


But there is a limit to how much food their can carry, this is carrying capacity.


They don't need to carry food. They're flying about collecting it as and when. What else were they supposed to be doing?


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:So how is that different than Homo sapiens? Our hominid forebears specialized in a particular way of life and adapted and evolved to become better at it, just as other animals adapted and evolved to become better at their niches. But why are other animals being compared to a human ideal when they don't live the same lifestyle? I can't see what the sense is there.


Our ancestors adapted and evolved to fill an entirely new ecological niche...


Namely?


Myrtonos wrote:... and since then, we have developed new tools over time without evolving much further.


Balderdash, we've evolved dramatically. Evolution doesn't stop. If you think it does, you need to understand that evolution is about the distribution of alleles in a population, not some Great Chain of Being.


Myrtonos wrote: The fact is that it is sapiens that rule the world and keep animals of other kinds on farms and in zoos and laboratories.


I want to hear you tell me that sapiens rules the world next time you finally manage to pull yourself out of bed after 5 days of the effects of influenza.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:See above. Pelicans also don't use watches or hair nets, whereas humans have little expertise in flying or nesting on the side of craggy cliffs.


What have watches or hair nets to do with it?


Exactly my point. The very point I have made to you a goodly number of times now.

See? Reductio ad absurdum does work!

People may think I'm being snarky when I employ this device, but the reality is that you can always get someone to show that they fundamentally understand why their argument is flawed, even if they can't quite work out how the exact same observation they've just made applies just as accurately to their own arguments.

Hair nets and watches have exactly the same thing to do with 'it' as airplanes, constitutions, and moon-landings.

Does a penguin need a hair net? Does an elephant need a watch? Does a goat need a constitution? Does any other species need any of these things you keep pointing to as if proxies for the argument you should be making?

No, of course not. Which then begs the question as to why you find these notions so captivating.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:There is no 'radical departure' - you've got entirely the wrong idea. Hominids have been doing this lifestyle for millions of years; certainly longer than there has been Homo sapiens. It's a niche our evolutionary forebears discovered and mastered, and we are the lucky recipients of millions of years of trial, error, extinction and survival. It didn't happen overnight, but rather was gradual. For our own species, language, symbolism, and cultivation of other species seems to be the key propulsion moments towards what we've become as a species.


Yes, species of genus homo have been doing the hunter-gatherer lifestyle for millions of years. There is a radical departure, with the ability to make and use more sophisticated tools than any other animal ever has, using some of those tools to harness naturally occurring fires and later lighting fires. And the lifestyle of sapiens has radically changed since, even without evolving as much, think of the rise of farming and later cities.


Millions of years, radical departure. These two concepts are in contradiction.

In reality, it's not Homo sapiens that learned to use fire, it was over a million years ago with erectus. Over generations and species, our lineage slowly developed control over fire. Ergo, not a radical departure, but a progression.
While sapiens can certainly build more sophisticated tools than their forebears, so their forebears could build more sophisticated tools than theirs, and so on for quite some time. Ergo, progression, no departure.
With agriculture, human nomadic groups roved around seasonally available crops, first adding to their dispersal unintentionally, then cultivating them to increase their ranges, then finally settling down near those sources, then eking out a meager existence farming them, then generationally improving techniques and tools in a progression sometimes lost through human or natural activities until we arrive at mechanical automation and chemistry, coopted for agriculture.

Radical change is not something measured across millions of years or multiple generations. Radical departure is about fundamental, structural changes occurring almost without precedent. That isn't the human story for the most part. Rather, there's a fairly slow progression throughout thousands of generations which has sped up in recent centuries.


Myrtonos wrote:Language, symbolism, religion and culture have made our own kind the a very successful species, I believe the most successful one ever.


As I've already complained: the term 'successful' here is perfectly opaque. What does success mean? Are you going to apply human centric metrics of success to compare against other animals again? Or are you going to acknowledge now that you need to be thinking about what paradigm you're operating under?


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Why are you reeling off these statements? :? You've written most of this before and it's still there in this thread. This addition contains many of the same problems: Where it isn't loaded with overtly adaptationist just-so stories confusingly nestled in erroneous assumptions, the remainder is banal. Finally, your conclusion doesn't follow from your premises.


I was just trying to clarify things. Our hands are adapted completely to tool use and not knuckle walking.


Please cite a peer-reviewed article in a science journal showing that 'our hands are completely adapted to tool use'.

Incidentally, one of the earlier errors you made but which I left considering the number I already had to deal with is the notion that other apes are 'completely adapted to knuckle-walking'. They're not. Our common ancestor was already at least partially bipedal, and this is hardly surprising given that all primates readily stand on their hind legs and use their front legs for foraging. It's a characteristic vastly more ancient than sapiens or even Homo.


Myrtonos wrote:While there are other animals that do use tools, even elephants, they don't light or even control fires.


And the point therein of this banal observation is...?


Myrtonos wrote: Let's consider hunting; We might not be able to run as fast as a lot of four legged beings, but people can make weapons that can be used for hunting an animal without getting near them, thus outperforming anything that runs on four legs.


Outperforming?

The only way the usage of this word would have any semantic sense is if you're comparing the skills of human and other animals when it comes to employing ranged weapons.

And, imagine for a moment that I gave you several hours with any material you liked to whip yourself up a weapon. Then you faced off against a hungry lion. How do you see that going? Would you expect to 'outperform' the lion?


Myrtonos wrote:Even hunter-gatherer humans did rule every landmass they inhabited. They greatly changed them by torching neighborhoods with fire.


You have a strange notion that 'rule' means 'capable of shitting on things'. I don't understand the word 'rule' the same way as you use it.


Myrtonos wrote:As humans arrived on each continent, they hunted a lot of megafauna to extinction. The Americas and indeed the Great Southern land (now Australia) were greatly affected by the arrival of humans, due to burning and hunting.


And? There's no central argument underpinning any of these random smattering of observations.

As I asked already: why are you reeling off these statement.

You said: to clarify

Well, to clarify what? I don't have the vaguest idea what your argument is. At present it seems to be something like humans are the most successful because we can intentionall burn down local environments with fire and other animals can't, also we're good at stabbing them.

IS that your argument?


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Did you want critique? For clarity, I specialize in early human evolution and socioecology and teach it at undergraduate level, so I believe I might be capable of helping if it's critique you're after.

If it's not critique (and it doesn't seem to be), are you expounding? Perhaps I misconstrue, but the tone in both threads is lecturing. Are you looking to lecture?


I'm not quite sure what this means.


Well, it means exactly what the words say. What is the objective of this thread? You were asked it in the other. What are you trying to establish with your listing of a series of statements you read in a book? Do you have a unifying argument? If so, why isn't the title of the thread reflective of that? Why isn't it in the original post?

For example, if the title and OP said 'Humans Über Alles', I might be able to understand the thread of argument all these statements are seeking to justify. That SEEMS to be what your argument is, but then you haven't amended your argument when your propositions have been shown wrong, so given I don't know what it is and that it doesn't seem to follow naturally from your written statements, I can only ask, ask, and keep asking for you to explain what the purpose is here.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Otherwise, excuse me saying, but aren't you just repeating what you read in Harari's book? While I am not saying he's wrong, many of the topics he sweeps over aren't plumbed very deeply they're more just an overview for non-experts employed in the service of making a particular argument.


While I don't entirely get what you are saying, but yes, it is based on what is mentioned in sapiens.


So perhaps you might want to mention your source in the original post, because it really seems like a list of statements without anything underlying them. Harari had a coherent argument running throughout his book: an agenda to explain aspects of human history in what he considers to be a useful framework for a non-specialist audience.

But you're not doing that here. This is a discussion forum. How can we discuss if there's no argument? All that can be done is really what has happened: claims are challenged because there's no greater context to wrestle with.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:It can't be related to the topic thread question because, as mentioned already, the evolution of intelligent life predates humanity by hundreds of millions of years, so focusing on humans seems odd content in a thread so titled. We may as well be talking about terrestriality and looking just at humans. Yes, we're terrestrial, but isn't the question about when that evolved?


What intelligent life, before humanity there were no animals that could co-operate either with as great flexibility or with countless strangers.


What do you mean 'what intelligent life' - are you under the outlandish notion that only Homo sapiens exhibit intelligence?

I bet you immediately contradict yourself here.

Finally, "no animals could X with as great Y' necessarily acknowledges that other animals could X with Y, just not so well, so even your own sentence contradicts the notion of human exceptionalism the sentence was written to assert.



Myrtonos wrote:There were no beings around to build things like pyramids.


Because pyramids suddenly became a yard-stick in something? Intelligence?

Ants, as we've already seen assuming that links have been read, have built structures hundreds of miles long - considerably bigger than the pyramids. The Argentine ant, as we have already seen, is essentially a globe-spanning mega-colony comprising the most populous recorded society ever on Earth, be it human or otherwise.


The point, of course, is that even if every single thing you said was true (which it factually isn't) there's still little rhyme or reason underpinning it. Wouldn't it work out better if you just made a kind of thesis statement? Topic & Controlling Idea. Then, define what you mean by woolly terms like 'successful' and, while I'm giving advice, modify your argument when you find out that your propositions are wrong.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:56 pm
MyrtonosPosts: 86Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:23 am Gender: Male

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Sparhafoc wrote:The planet is controlled by a swathe of natural forces, like gravity. The systems on the planet have a myriad of different inputs, but all operate under physical forces, i.e. physical and chemical. Human activity may well cause some effects on systems like climate or weather, but it's not 'controlled' - it's an unintended side-effect. Plenty of species throughout history have had far more dramatic impacts on the chemical composition of our planet.

But human activity causes more effects on systems than that of any other animal. This has included activities like fires lit by humans.

Sparhafoc wrote:In reality, wee are vastly more controlled by the planet than we control it. Every aspect of our biology is dependent on components readily found available here, but far more rarely distributed through the galaxy. Our abilities, traits, and even psychology are all contingent results of the long and arduous struggle for survival against the systems which dominate us.

And we control other animals, especially land animals, while they hardly control us at all.

Sparhafoc wrote:So rather, I expect you meant: 'it's a fact that humans are the dominant species'?

This is exactly what I was trying to say.

Sparhafoc wrote:Powering an aircraft does not outperform a wandering albatross when it comes to fuel consumption per distance flown. The albatross's flight efficiency is far beyond any technical, engineering or scientific ability we possess, or that we're likely to possess for a very long time. That includes solar powered flight by the way, because there are still enormous ancillary costs to producing a solar powered glider, like logistical and production costs, not to mention all the snacks the pilots munch along the way ;)

But most aircraft, in fact, all powered aircraft, are much heavier than any flying animal. And most man made aircraft, especially ones with fixed wings, are capable of achieving much greater speeds than basically any animal can naturally accomplish. Even helicopters can achieve higher speeds than any animal can naturally accomplish, in flight or on land.

Sparhafoc wrote:It's a pointless thing to say. Birds don't build aircraft, so of course it doesn't matter how many birds you throw into a hangar to construct an aircraft, because that's obviously not how it works.

Yes, these hangers are a system of human co-operation. No other animal is remotely capable of that sort of co-operation.

What need would a bird have for an airplane?
Okay, you gave the largest flying bird as an example of an animal that can do something that human bodies can't naturally accomplish. While sapiens might not have wings and even be too heavy to fly even if they did, our own kind can co-operate on building aircraft capable of carrying people and freight which, like humans, is heaver than anything any flying animal can carry, and also capable of travelling at speeds in excess of what any animal can naturally accomplish.

Sparhafoc wrote:Think about it. How much energy would birds 'even on the collective level' need to expend to build an airplane? You could sit and list all the evolutionary costs they'd need to incur, the generational effort of artificial selection that would be required to mold their brains and cognition towards the kind of organism that does math, reads symbolic representations of its language and engineers, and their other anatomy towards being able to manipulate objects with precision so they could write books, build smelters and machines.

Only sapiens can do maths, read symbolish representations of our language and engineers and is able to manipulate objects with enough precision to write books, mine metals and make machines out of them.

Sparhafoc wrote:Only then would they be able to build the aircraft, which when you think about it all seems a bit bloody stupid when they could just have [curse word] flown there with their wings and a few dozen consumed insects in the first place.

I'm not saying it would make sense for animals capable of powered flight to do that, but human animal, while not able to naturally accoplish flight can build aircraft that can carry more weight (in people and freight) and go faster than any animal can naturally accomplish. And commercial planes can even go higher than any flying animal.

Sparhafoc wrote:It's wonderful having a big brain full of complex cognitive processes that model scenarios, encode complex information into simplified types, categorize and analyze etc. but it incurs a massive cost (i.e. energy expenditure of the brain, anatomy needed to support large mass in structurally the worst place for extra weight, and in potential opportunity costs of not specializing in some other organ resulting in a more serendipitous life-style) and presents its own suite of problems - I don't see any pigeon terrorists blowing up their fellows because they feel very strongly that the other doves are wrong, nor a gaggle of larks, afraid of those funny foreign toucans, locking them up and separating them from their children.

And it is a wonderful thing to have hands that can make a use the most sophisticated tools of all, so much so that these tools con be used to control the location of fires, and even light them. Fires are a dependable source of heat and light, something no other animal has, and the power of fire is greater than the power contained within the biological properties of any animal, such as muscular strength and jaw size. Fire can also cook food. While big brains as you say incur a massive cost in energy expenditure, so do the long intestines of many other animals. You guys and I each can spend much less time chewing on cooked food than the great apes spend chewing on raw food.

Other example of sophisticated tools are weapons than can be used to hunt animals from a distance, something no other animal can do, and putting human hunters at an advantage over any four-legged carnivore or omnivore, even though many can run faster than us.

Sparhafoc wrote:Instead, birds have paid other costs, encountered ensuing problems of their specialisations, and have made a pretty darn good show of it, all things considered given the 100 million years they've traversed

But they still can't do anything their bodies can't naturally accomplish.

And yes, the thread is about the evolution of intelligent life and why humans are the dominant species, especially on land.

Sparhafoc wrote:And it's here where the necessary complexity absent in your last post creeps back in. This is not 'largest brain' as you previously stated - this is encephalization quotient, or brain to body mass ration based on brain mass compared to predicted brain mass ratio of an overall weight.


Sparhafoc wrote:Whales live in a medium where the primary component of terrestrial life (gravity) is largely in abeyance meaning they can grow much larger than any terrestrial counterpart without paying the costs associated with carrying large amounts of blubber, muscle, and bone on land. Thus, when comparing the E.Q. of a land animal and an aquatic animal, you can't apply a simple ratio as the ration is mis-measuring here. On land, there may well be a competing pressure between body and brain size that could then be tracked by a simple ratio and produce potentially useful results regarding intelligence; what does the organisms' evolution focus on (body or brain) and why? In the water, the trade-off barely exists. It's not either/or like on land - you can have a large, complex body AND a large, complex brain.

Okay, first of all, whales aren't capable of using any tools. And in spite of the competing pressures you mention, the big brains of humans (in relative size), and the physical abilities that come with having two hands, have paid off quite nicely, think of the weapons I mentioned above, and aircraft, vessels and even land vehicles capable of achieving higher speeds than any land animal can naturally accomplish.

Sparhafoc wrote:As I said before, you may have read a 2 sentence summary of this in a book for popular consumption written by an historian, but while he may not exactly be wrong, he could be pretty darn far away from being comprehensive, yet you are rather obliged to engage in this level of detail if you want to make claims off the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis.

I have actually read Sapiens: a brief history of humankind, and I must admit it is oversimplified.

Sparhafoc wrote:Amusingly, one of the authors (Aiello) of the original 1997 paper was my tutor at the time it was published, but do go on and tell me the potted version you're misapplying! ;)

What paper?

Sparhafoc wrote:Whales evolved 50 million years ago.
Homo sapiens evolved around 3-4 hundred thousand years go.

Plus, we're back to 'success' again. Are you talking about whales winning the Eurovision Song Contest? If not, perhaps you'd best set about defining 'success' and explaining why your version would be superior to that used by biologists of all demarcations.

Whales can't hunt anything from a distance, they don't have weapons like that, they don't run fish farms. And they don't lock up any other marine animals in anything like zoos, like sapiens do with land animals.

Sparhafoc wrote:What's 'flexibility' got to do with your argument? And where have you defined flexibility?

I give you an example of that flexibility and yet you repeat the question.

Sparhafoc wrote:They were operating as independent battalions and platoons managed by increasing smaller numbers of overseers. They aren't cooperating in parallel. Ants cooperate in parallel. No central instructions needed. All ants know what they need to do without being told. Requirements can be adapted to in short order. Etc. etc. etc. Again, your claim is trivially wrong but you are trying to defend it rather than amending your error.

There are not completely independent of each other, say like chimpanzee bands are in the wild. And yes, they might not know what to do without being told, being being told what to do is exactly what makes the co-operation that flexible.

Sparhafoc wrote:Neither example requires that many people at all to complete, and very few of them are actually cooperating together, and are instead essentially working on independent tasks the output of which other people will take for other purposes. You seem to want to have your cake and eat it.

Each example needs thousands or even millions of people to complete, from miners to construction workers.

Sparhafoc wrote:All individuals in any species immediately cooperate with each other to some degree the moment they encounter one and other, even if it's just in terms of conveying mental states through behavior. They do not need to 'know' them before. Further, they can even cooperate towards common goals, even members of entirely different species can do this.

This can't be. Co-operation among social mammals, other than humans, relies heavily on intimate knowledge.

Sparhafoc wrote:Chimps don't live in cities, what is it they're 'supposed to do'? Pick up newspapers, stroll in the park, and buy ice-cream from newly employed ape ice-cream vendors?

And not all humans live in cities either.

Sparhafoc wrote:Not satisfied with such a bizarre argument, you then toss in the notion that humans just living in some degree of proximity to each other represents mass cooperation! Have you never been to a city? :lol:

I'm not saying that people living in close proximity to each other represents mass co-operation, but gathering in a stadium or city square does. I have lived in a city all my life and yes I have seen and even been in many gatherings.
But put as many apes in a city square or stadium of the same size and there would indeed be chaos.

Sparhafoc wrote:1st: First the basic notion is false: https://www.livescience.com/10635-queen ... hrone.html - ants can and do kill queens.

2nd: Utterly bizarre. Which ant lives under a repressive queen in the first place? What do ants have to do with elective administration? Ants can't juggle either. Is that important?

Sure, ants may be able to kills queens, but they can't establish a republican democracy with elections once the queen is dead.

Sparhafoc wrote:Whereas in reality, they don't 'outperform' when you look at the actual costs involved.

If you consider speed and carrying capacity, yes they do outperform all animals.

Sparhafoc wrote:Firstly, we don't 'rule' over life in the slightest.
Secondly, fire is far from obedient as the yearly death rate to fires would quickly tell you.

Firstly domestic animals are submissive to us and not the other way round. And we are not submissive to any other animal either.
Secondly, fire is obedient in the sense that we control when and where to light it and when to extinguish a fire.

Sparhafoc wrote:Thirdly, you have to establish why it is that an ant, a bird, or any other animal would need control over fire or airplanes in the first place. You're assuming that because X is useful for a human, it's absolutely useful to all species. Clearly, that's nonsense. Fish simply don't need bicycles, so I don't think we need wring our hands as to why fish seem a little slack in the wheeled-transport area.

I didn't say that other animals would need control over fire, aircraft, or wheeled transportation. And even non-human land animals are also "a little slack in the wheeled-transport area". I'm saying that control over fire does put us at a great advantage over other land animals, a single human with flint stick can burn down a whole forest in less than a day.
And only sapiens can build or design any wheeled vehicles or any aircraft, many of which can go faster than any animal naturally can, and have a greater carrying capacity than what any animal can naturally carry.
Fish may be better swimmers than, well, any land animal, including sapiens, but sapiens can design, build and pilot submarines which can carry people and are not such clumsy swimmers.

Sparhafoc wrote:You need to understand the missing paradigm here: it's within the field of evolutionary biology, and it's not something that Harari has any expertise in, which is presumably why he gave only the most basic details without plumbing any of the requisite complexity, and you have followed suit through repeating his ideas in your words. You need to consider what evolution actually means.

I thought he was one of the smartest and wisest people on the planet.

Sparhafoc wrote:There are many interesting idiomatic attempts at explaining it. One is the concept of the Red Queen Hypothesis, where competitors run and run and run as fast as they can just to stay equal. All species on the planet at all times are constantly undergoing competing and contradictory selection from a huge number of sources. If an organism cannot navigate these selections while doing the vital 3 F's: cannot feed, cannot flee or fight, or cannot fuck, then it loses the race for all eternity. Assuming the other competitors (species) can do these things, they're all 'winning'. They're all successful, whether they're 'advanced' in some aspect, or 'behind' in some other. There are no relative components here; it's absolute. They're either winning, or they're extinct.

As as humans, we are very good at navigating these selections. Not only can we feed, but we can cook food, and so spend less time chewing it, and can digest it with less effort. And we have prevented many other animals from doing at least one of the three vital F's and thus making them extinct. For example, other animals can't fight against human hunters because we can hunt them from a distance, they can't hunt us, in order to do so, they would have to come right up to us, and many humans either flee from them or shoot them before they get too close.

Sparhafoc wrote:So yeah, it's a trivial observation that humans can build amazing stuff that lets us do things our bodies never evolved for, but that doesn't actually make us 'more successful' on some undefined hodgepodge of ideas intimating an absolute scale.

It has allowed us to hunt so many animals to (near) extinction, no other animal can hunt humans to extinction. Yes many people have been killed or even been eaten by wild animals. But a human with a weapon such as an arrow or especially a gun will beat many four legged animals, even if they can run faster.

The carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water, and other necessities available in the environment. In population biology, carrying capacity is defined as the environment's maximal load...

I wasn't asking what carrying capacity means, I just wasn't sure about something else you mean that mentions carrying capacity.

Sparhafoc wrote:They don't need to carry food. They're flying about collecting it as and when. What else were they supposed to be doing?

Apparently some birds do carry food.

Sparhafoc wrote:Balderdash, we've evolved dramatically. Evolution doesn't stop. If you think it does, you need to understand that evolution is about the distribution of alleles in a population, not some Great Chain of Being.

In the past 10,000 years or so, we haven't evolved that much, but lifestyle has changed alot, think of the rise of farming and later cities. In fact, we hardly evolved at all between the rise of farming and the rise of cities.

Sparhafoc wrote:I want to hear you tell me that sapiens rules the world next time you finally manage to pull yourself out of bed after 5 days of the effects of influenza.

It seems you are thinking about the individual level, what about the collective level?

Sparhafoc wrote:Hair nets and watches have exactly the same thing to do with 'it' as airplanes, constitutions, and moon-landings.

Airplanes can achieve much greater speeds than any animate being can naturally accomplish, and at such speeds can achieve heights well in excess of what any land animal (including humans) can naturally accomplish. Commercial jet planes can even fly higher than any flying animal. Hair net and watches are neither weapons, nor conveyance devices. Constitutions might not be weapons nor conveyance devices but they do help with co-operation with coutless strangers, for the very reason(s) that Dr. Harari says in his book, I know his book is quite simplified, but that doesn't mean that's not quite the case.

Sparhafoc wrote:Millions of years, radical departure. These two concepts are in contradiction.

What I mean is that the way hominids lived diverged greatly from the way all other animals have ever lived. Walking upright on two legs, and pretty much all the time, more often than any of the great apes.

Sparhafoc wrote:In reality, it's not Homo sapiens that learned to use fire, it was over a million years ago with erectus. Over generations and species, our lineage slowly developed control over fire. Ergo, not a radical departure, but a progression.
While sapiens can certainly build more sophisticated tools than their forebears, so their forebears could build more sophisticated tools than theirs, and so on for quite some time. Ergo, progression, no departure.

I didn't say it was sapiens that learned to use fire. It may be a progression, but being able to use more sophisticated tools than any other animal ever has was part of the radical departure.
Among those tools were flint sticks, which could be used to light fire, something no other animal could ever do. Developing control of fire did lead to a radical departure, due to a dependable source of heat and light, and powerful weapon against other animals such as lions.

What is radical about this is that species of genus homo, over time, diverged greatly from all other animals ever lived in lifestyle.

To illustrate the success of sapiens, consider the fact that the great apes most closely related to us are confined to sub-Saharan Africa, like zebras, giraffes and the larger of the two extant Elephants, the latter being the largest extant land animals. Elephants are the last surviving megafauna, unless giraffes count, I'm not sure if they do.

But for 40,000 years sapiens have long inhabited every continent north of the Antarctica, by the way, Antarctica was only discovered comparatively recently.

Sparhafoc wrote:With agriculture, human nomadic groups roved around seasonally available crops, first adding to their dispersal unintentionally, then cultivating them to increase their ranges, then finally settling down near those sources, then eking out a meager existence farming them, then generationally improving techniques and tools in a progression sometimes lost through human or natural activities until we arrive at mechanical automation and chemistry, coopted for agriculture.

This is something that sapiens has achieved that no other animal has ever done. No other kind of animal has ever produced its own food, as far as we know, even other species of genus homo never did.
By the way, farms are a system of human co-operation.

Sparhafoc wrote:Radical change is not something measured across millions of years or multiple generations. Radical departure is about fundamental, structural changes occurring almost without precedent. That isn't the human story for the most part. Rather, there's a fairly slow progression throughout thousands of generations which has sped up in recent centuries.

The evolution of the ability to walk upright on two feet and use more sophisticated tools than any other animal may have happened over millions of years but was certainly without precedent, I mean tools like spears that could be used to hunt animals from a distance. Tools that could control fire (including lighting and extinguishing them) were also historically unprecedented.
And finally, cooking, the best thing that fire did, made way for shorter intestines and smaller jaws, and for larger brains than any other animal (at least other land animals or any flying animals) has ever had, and (it seems) more flexible tongues than any other animal ever lived, so we could develop a spoken language with a wider range of sounds than pretty much any other animal can produce.
Yes, I know parrots can be trained to talk like humans, but our kind still has an communicative advantage over the that isn't vocal.

A non-human primate may be able to vocalise a call to fellow band members warnings of dangers like eagles and lions, say if an eagle or lion is coming. But a modern human can tell friends and relatives something like that they can see an Eagle flying over the river, or a cheetah tracking a herd of wilderbeast. They can describe the specific location and paths leading to that area and together, a band or tribe of humans can discuss what to do, whether to chase away the cheetah and hunt the wilderbeast.

Human language can also describe things that aren't even objective realities, like gods, myths, legends, religious beliefs.

And the rise of farming and later cities, this was indeed radical change relative to the rate of evolution.

Sparhafoc wrote:As I've already complained: the term 'successful' here is perfectly opaque. What does success mean? Are you going to apply human centric metrics of success to compare against other animals again? Or are you going to acknowledge now that you need to be thinking about what paradigm you're operating under?

What I mean is that sapiens dominate every long inhabited continent and keep animals of many other kinds on farms and lock yet other kinds up in zoos and laboratories

Sparhafoc wrote:Please cite a peer-reviewed article in a science journal showing that 'our hands are completely adapted to tool use'.
To what else would our hands be adapted?!?

Sparhafoc wrote:Incidentally, one of the earlier errors you made but which I left considering the number I already had to deal with is the notion that other apes are 'completely adapted to knuckle-walking'. They're not. Our common ancestor was already at least partially bipedal, and this is hardly surprising given that all primates readily stand on their hind legs and use their front legs for foraging. It's a characteristic vastly more ancient than sapiens or even Homo.

The great apes don't stand on their hindlegs as often as humans. Okay, I didn't say that apes are completely adapted to knuckle walking but still partly adapted to it and less adapted to tool making and tool use.

Sparhafoc wrote:And the point therein of this banal observation is...?

The ability to control fires set humans apart from other animals because of power of fire, as explained above.

Sparhafoc wrote:The only way the usage of this word would have any semantic sense is if you're comparing the skills of human and other animals when it comes to employing ranged weapons.

No other animal is capable of making their own spears, let alone bows and arrows. Most aren't even capable of throwing spears or arrows.

Sparhafoc wrote:And, imagine for a moment that I gave you several hours with any material you liked to whip yourself up a weapon. Then you faced off against a hungry lion. How do you see that going? Would you expect to 'outperform' the lion?

I'm not sure what you mean.

Sparhafoc wrote:You have a strange notion that 'rule' means 'capable of [defecating] on things'. I don't understand the word 'rule' the same way as you use it.

No I don't.

Sparhafoc wrote:Well, to clarify what? I don't have the vaguest idea what your argument is. At present it seems to be something like humans are the most successful because we can intentionall burn down local environments with fire and other animals can't, also we're good at stabbing them.

This is indeed sort of what I am am saying and Dr. Harari has too, especially in one of his books.

Sparhafoc wrote:Well, it means exactly what the words say. What is the objective of this thread? You were asked it in the other. What are you trying to establish with your listing of a series of statements you read in a book? Do you have a unifying argument? If so, why isn't the title of the thread reflective of that? Why isn't it in the original post?

It is not enough to say it means exactly what it says.

For example, if the title and OP said 'Humans Über Alles', I might be able to understand the thread of argument all these statements are seeking to justify. That SEEMS to be what your argument is, but then you haven't amended your argument when your propositions have been shown wrong, so given I don't know what it is and that it doesn't seem to follow naturally from your written statements, I can only ask, ask, and keep asking for you to explain what the purpose is here.


Sparhafoc wrote:Otherwise, excuse me saying, but aren't you just repeating what you read in Harari's book? While I am not saying he's wrong, many of the topics he sweeps over aren't plumbed very deeply they're more just an overview for non-experts employed in the service of making a particular argument.


While I don't entirely get what you are saying, but yes, it is based on what is mentioned in sapiens.

Sparhafoc wrote:So perhaps you might want to mention your source in the original post, because it really seems like a list of statements without anything underlying them. Harari had a coherent argument running throughout his book: an agenda to explain aspects of human history in what he considers to be a useful framework for a non-specialist audience.

But I'm saying something like he says, yet you claim I'm wrong, how could he not be?


Sparhafoc wrote:What do you mean 'what intelligent life' - are you under the outlandish notion that only Homo sapiens exhibit intelligence?

No, it is just common knowledge that homo sapiens exhibit greater intelligence than any other animal ever has.

Finally, "no animals could X with as great Y' necessarily acknowledges that other animals could X with Y, just not so well, so even your own sentence contradicts the notion of human exceptionalism the sentence was written to assert.

Sparhafoc wrote:Because pyramids suddenly became a yard-stick in something? Intelligence?

Ants, as we've already seen assuming that links have been read, have built structures hundreds of miles long - considerably bigger than the pyramids. The Argentine ant, as we have already seen, is essentially a globe-spanning mega-colony comprising the most populous recorded society ever on Earth, be it human or otherwise.

Then how could Dr. Harari not be wrong?

Sparhafoc wrote:The point, of course, is that even if every single thing you said was true (which it factually isn't) there's still little rhyme or reason underpinning it. Wouldn't it work out better if you just made a kind of thesis statement? Topic & Controlling Idea. Then, define what you mean by woolly terms like 'successful' and, while I'm giving advice, modify your argument when you find out that your propositions are wrong.

I didn't realise that 'successful' was such a "woolly" term.
Wed Oct 17, 2018 5:29 am
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:The planet is controlled by a swathe of natural forces, like gravity. The systems on the planet have a myriad of different inputs, but all operate under physical forces, i.e. physical and chemical. Human activity may well cause some effects on systems like climate or weather, but it's not 'controlled' - it's an unintended side-effect. Plenty of species throughout history have had far more dramatic impacts on the chemical composition of our planet.


But human activity causes more effects on systems than that of any other animal. This has included activities like fires lit by humans.


Firstly, as I've already pointed out, this isn't actually true historically.

Secondly, as before, you went from an absolute claim in your initial argument, to a relative claim in your revision of that argument. You declared that humans control the planet, now you're saying they have 'more impact' on systems within the planet.

Thirdly, systems within the planet are not 'the planet', just like animals are not 'the planet' but are instead ecological systems. Humans are included in those systems.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:In reality, wee are vastly more controlled by the planet than we control it. Every aspect of our biology is dependent on components readily found available here, but far more rarely distributed through the galaxy. Our abilities, traits, and even psychology are all contingent results of the long and arduous struggle for survival against the systems which dominate us.


And we control other animals, especially land animals, while they hardly control us at all.


No, we don't really. We've domesticated some animals, and we can shoot other animals, but this doesn't equate to 'control'.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:So rather, I expect you meant: 'it's a fact that humans are the dominant species'?


This is exactly what I was trying to say.


Ok, but it's also highly debatable, and is not a simple fact.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Powering an aircraft does not outperform a wandering albatross when it comes to fuel consumption per distance flown. The albatross's flight efficiency is far beyond any technical, engineering or scientific ability we possess, or that we're likely to possess for a very long time. That includes solar powered flight by the way, because there are still enormous ancillary costs to producing a solar powered glider, like logistical and production costs, not to mention all the snacks the pilots munch along the way ;)


But most aircraft, in fact, all powered aircraft, are much heavier than any flying animal.


Entirely irrelevant.


Myrtonos wrote: And most man made aircraft, especially ones with fixed wings, are capable of achieving much greater speeds than basically any animal can naturally accomplish. Even helicopters can achieve higher speeds than any animal can naturally accomplish, in flight or on land


What's 'speed' got to do with it? You declared that aircraft 'outperform' flying animals, now you've changed your argument to 'airplanes fly faster than flying animals' - of course, the revision is banal. No one is contesting that claim. But it's also nonsensical in light of what I tentatively perceive to be your argument.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:It's a pointless thing to say. Birds don't build aircraft, so of course it doesn't matter how many birds you throw into a hangar to construct an aircraft, because that's obviously not how it works.


Yes, these hangers are a system of human co-operation. No other animal is remotely capable of that sort of co-operation.


You need to read what's being written because you can't start a sentence with 'yes' when you go on to miss the entire point being made.


Myrtonos wrote:What need would a bird have for an airplane?
Okay, you gave the largest flying bird as an example of an animal that can do something that human bodies can't naturally accomplish.


No I didn't. I used a single example chosen entirely at random from all the species on the planet which specializes in something different than humans and consequently, if we were using that as a metric, humans would compare unfavourably. As Psikh explained to you, it's a way of showing the redundancy of your human exceptionalism argument.


Myrtonos wrote: While sapiens might not have wings and even be too heavy to fly even if they did, our own kind can co-operate on building aircraft capable of carrying people and freight which, like humans, is heaver than anything any flying animal can carry, and also capable of travelling at speeds in excess of what any animal can naturally accomplish.


And water, is of course, wet. Yes, we all know what airplanes are. But you seem intent on ignoring the point being made to you and how it reflects on your argument.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Think about it. How much energy would birds 'even on the collective level' need to expend to build an airplane? You could sit and list all the evolutionary costs they'd need to incur, the generational effort of artificial selection that would be required to mold their brains and cognition towards the kind of organism that does math, reads symbolic representations of its language and engineers, and their other anatomy towards being able to manipulate objects with precision so they could write books, build smelters and machines.


Only sapiens can do maths, read symbolish representations of our language and engineers and is able to manipulate objects with enough precision to write books, mine metals and make machines out of them.


:lol:

First, yes of course I know that, as does everyone over the age of 8.
Secondly, it was of course exactly my point. You wringing your hands about birds not being able to do something humans can do now has a deeper explanation: the costs associated with it. It would be pretty damn stupid for birds to pay those costs when they can already fly at the cost of consuming a few insects or fish.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Only then would they be able to build the aircraft, which when you think about it all seems a bit bloody stupid when they could just have [curse word] flown there with their wings and a few dozen consumed insects in the first place.


I'm not saying it would make sense for animals capable of powered flight to do that,...


No, but you're trying to make comparative claims based on the fact that they don't employ powdered flight, which is bizarre and redundant.


Myrtonos wrote: but human animal, while not able to naturally accoplish flight can build aircraft that can carry more weight (in people and freight) and go faster than any animal can naturally accomplish. And commercial planes can even go higher than any flying animal.


Humans can naturally accomplish flight. Flight isn't supernatural, and humans achieve it via their process of biological and cultural evolution - ergo, not fundamentally differently than how birds achieved flight. Humans, after all, are natural animals too.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:It's wonderful having a big brain full of complex cognitive processes that model scenarios, encode complex information into simplified types, categorize and analyze etc. but it incurs a massive cost (i.e. energy expenditure of the brain, anatomy needed to support large mass in structurally the worst place for extra weight, and in potential opportunity costs of not specializing in some other organ resulting in a more serendipitous life-style) and presents its own suite of problems - I don't see any pigeon terrorists blowing up their fellows because they feel very strongly that the other doves are wrong, nor a gaggle of larks, afraid of those funny foreign toucans, locking them up and separating them from their children.


And it is a wonderful thing to have hands that can make a use the most sophisticated tools of all, so much so that these tools con be used to control the location of fires, and even light them. Fires are a dependable source of heat and light, something no other animal has, and the power of fire is greater than the power contained within the biological properties of any animal, such as muscular strength and jaw size. Fire can also cook food. While big brains as you say incur a massive cost in energy expenditure, so do the long intestines of many other animals. You guys and I each can spend much less time chewing on cooked food than the great apes spend chewing on raw food.


You need to go and actually read the paper The Expensive Tissue Hypothesis (http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script= ... 7000100023) so that you know what it actually says and how it was experimentally tested. You then need to look at the intervening 2 decades of responses to it to find out how well this idea has held up with experts in the field. Your potted version from Harari is outdated.


Myrtonos wrote:Other example of sophisticated tools are weapons than can be used to hunt animals from a distance, something no other animal can do, and putting human hunters at an advantage over any four-legged carnivore or omnivore, even though many can run faster than us.


You keep repeating yourself, and the repetitions are of things that we banal in the first instance.

And of course, when not banal, just bizarre. You have an advantage over a tiger because you can sharpen a stick?

Go look up the recent stories of a man-eating tiger in India that's been hunted for 8 months by dozens of trained hunters with rifles. They don't seem to have heard they have the advantage because they can't bloody catch it, it's killed more people in that time, and 2 hunters have been hospitalized after being mauled by the tiger.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Instead, birds have paid other costs, encountered ensuing problems of their specialisations, and have made a pretty darn good show of it, all things considered given the 100 million years they've traversed


But they still can't do anything their bodies can't naturally accomplish.


Nor can humans.


Myrtonos wrote:And yes, the thread is about the evolution of intelligent life and why humans are the dominant species, especially on land.


As already informed, the evolution of intelligent life predates humans, hominids, and even primates by hundreds of millions of years.

Further, there are only 3 ways that are relevant with respect to dominance over animals. One is that we have removed ourselves from predatory food-webs or the impacts of other species (but the hundreds of deaths each year to sharks, lions, crocodiles, hippos etc. and the millions of people who die each year from bacterial and viral diseases challenge this notion) and the other is that we have domesticated various animals, which hardly amounts to global dominance, and finally that we can burn, shoot, or kill stuff - which I've already addressed.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Whales live in a medium where the primary component of terrestrial life (gravity) is largely in abeyance meaning they can grow much larger than any terrestrial counterpart without paying the costs associated with carrying large amounts of blubber, muscle, and bone on land. Thus, when comparing the E.Q. of a land animal and an aquatic animal, you can't apply a simple ratio as the ration is mis-measuring here. On land, there may well be a competing pressure between body and brain size that could then be tracked by a simple ratio and produce potentially useful results regarding intelligence; what does the organisms' evolution focus on (body or brain) and why? In the water, the trade-off barely exists. It's not either/or like on land - you can have a large, complex body AND a large, complex brain.


Okay, first of all, whales aren't capable of using any tools.


False.


Myrtonos wrote: And in spite of the competing pressures you mention, the big brains of humans (in relative size), and the physical abilities that come with having two hands, have paid off quite nicely,...


And despite lacking many of the characteristics particular to humans, whales have done quite nicely. Ergo, making a perfectly respectable living doesn't require a human suite of traits. Again, do feel free to check back in after 48 million more years to see how well we're doing comparative to whales.


Myrtonos wrote: think of the weapons I mentioned above, and aircraft, vessels and even land vehicles capable of achieving higher speeds than any land animal can naturally accomplish.


Oh I am thinking of the weapons, as you seem to argue that being able to kill something is a vital ingredient here to exceptionalism. I think that's a wholly distorted notion.

And a land animal DID naturally make aircraft, vessels, and other vehicles of higher speeds than any other land animal.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:As I said before, you may have read a 2 sentence summary of this in a book for popular consumption written by an historian, but while he may not exactly be wrong, he could be pretty darn far away from being comprehensive, yet you are rather obliged to engage in this level of detail if you want to make claims off the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis.


I have actually read Sapiens: a brief history of humankind, and I must admit it is oversimplified.


Yes, it is. As I said before, that's not to say it's wrong, but it's both incomplete and, in many cases, fairly outdated. Harari leans on sources that are decades old, and it's not like those fields simply stopped questioning after publication of a particular hypothesis. As I already mentioned, the entire concept of encephalization quotient has been amended many times and is no longer used in a singular form. There are more angles of criticism of it I haven't even mentioned, such as environmental availability of food. The same goes for Dunbar's Number: when food sources are plentiful, species no longer respect Dunbar's Number and simply make as many copies of themselves as they can with more surviving due to abundance, and so more breeding. This may cause stress in groups, but they muddle through just fine. A bit like humans, then.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Amusingly, one of the authors (Aiello) of the original 1997 paper was my tutor at the time it was published, but do go on and tell me the potted version you're misapplying! ;)


What paper?


See above - The Expensive Tissue Hypothesis, Aiello 1997


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Whales evolved 50 million years ago.
Homo sapiens evolved around 3-4 hundred thousand years go.

Plus, we're back to 'success' again. Are you talking about whales winning the Eurovision Song Contest? If not, perhaps you'd best set about defining 'success' and explaining why your version would be superior to that used by biologists of all demarcations.


Whales can't hunt anything from a distance,...


So? Do they need to hunt things from a distance? Many whales are filter feeders - how would distance hunting help them?

Other whales use bubbles to corral fish. Isn't that distance hunting?


Myrtonos wrote:... they don't have weapons like that, they don't run fish farms.


Back to banal. They also don't have fly-swatters, jump-pants, or self-help books.


Myrtonos wrote: And they don't lock up any other marine animals in anything like zoos, like sapiens do with land animals.


And they never subscribe to Netflix, never belch rudely at a formal dinner, and never drive while drunk.



Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:What's 'flexibility' got to do with your argument? And where have you defined flexibility?


I give you an example of that flexibility and yet you repeat the question.


I asked you to DEFINE it, not to repeat an example that you'd already used which contained the same woolly, undefined term gratuitously used in the same way that provoked the question of its definition in the first instance.

It's a bit like a shell-game. You seem to be arguing one thing, but when challenged, the pea happens to be under another shell, then another and so on. You confidently asserted that no species cooperate like humans - you were then given examples of species which cooperate to a much greater degree than humans - then you changed your argument to add in 'flexibility'.

You did this with 'outperform' too where it went from a blanket declaration of humans outperforming pelicans, to a revised version where you were just talking about speed.

I'm challenging your contentions because they're wrong. And because they're wrong, they're not actually supporting your argument as you believe they do.

In all honesty, I am not sure there can be anything that's not banal coming from your points.



Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:They were operating as independent battalions and platoons managed by increasing smaller numbers of overseers. They aren't cooperating in parallel. Ants cooperate in parallel. No central instructions needed. All ants know what they need to do without being told. Requirements can be adapted to in short order. Etc. etc. etc. Again, your claim is trivially wrong but you are trying to defend it rather than amending your error.


There are not completely independent of each other, say like chimpanzee bands are in the wild.


False.



Myrtonos wrote: And yes, they might not know what to do without being told, being being told what to do is exactly what makes the co-operation that flexible.


:lol:

Which is why you need to define flexible, because as far as I am concerned, you've just produced an oxymoron. Flexibility is being told what to do by a central authority?


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Neither example requires that many people at all to complete, and very few of them are actually cooperating together, and are instead essentially working on independent tasks the output of which other people will take for other purposes. You seem to want to have your cake and eat it.


Each example needs thousands or even millions of people to complete, from miners to construction workers.


Not millions, that's poppycock. And even when thousands, as I've already pointed out, they're not actually cooperating with each other - they're working on small sections in small teams who have no contact with the rest of the people involved on the project. About the closest you might get to cooperation on that scale from your examples is some kind of team photograph at the end.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:All individuals in any species immediately cooperate with each other to some degree the moment they encounter one and other, even if it's just in terms of conveying mental states through behavior. They do not need to 'know' them before. Further, they can even cooperate towards common goals, even members of entirely different species can do this.


This can't be. Co-operation among social mammals, other than humans, relies heavily on intimate knowledge.


If you ever find yourself saying 'it can't be' when the empirical evidence clearly shows it can, then the advised course of action is to revise your erroneous notions, not declare reality wrong.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Chimps don't live in cities, what is it they're 'supposed to do'? Pick up newspapers, stroll in the park, and buy ice-cream from newly employed ape ice-cream vendors?


And not all humans live in cities either.


:lol:

I just want to check: you realize I am not an alien who's never visited Earth before, right? I'm human too. All these banal statements about humans are obviously not news to me, or presumably to anyone else reading. So what value do they have?



Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Not satisfied with such a bizarre argument, you then toss in the notion that humans just living in some degree of proximity to each other represents mass cooperation! Have you never been to a city? :lol:


I'm not saying that people living in close proximity to each other represents mass co-operation,...


But that's exactly what you said. So are you revising that?


Myrtonos wrote:... but gathering in a stadium or city square does.


Simply gathering together represents cooperation? Then there are a huge number of other species which dramatically out cooperate humans. Let's grab another random species. Springboks: seasonal herds have been recorded of tens of millions of individuals covering up to a hundred miles of land.

Springboks don't have hands, aircraft, wigs, neckties, breweries, or any other of the accoutrements particular to humans, yet here they are engaging in dramatically greater cooperation than humans (according to your definition), so where does that leave your argument about human exceptionalism when it comes to cooperation?


Myrtonos wrote: But put as many apes in a city square or stadium of the same size and there would indeed be chaos.


I know you read my previous comment as to why this is a functionally nonsensical statement to make, but here you are repeating it again. Magically put a million humans miles from civilization in a rainforest and there would indeed be chaos.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:1st: First the basic notion is false: https://www.livescience.com/10635-queen ... hrone.html - ants can and do kill queens.

2nd: Utterly bizarre. Which ant lives under a repressive queen in the first place? What do ants have to do with elective administration? Ants can't juggle either. Is that important?


Sure, ants may be able to kills queens, but they can't establish a republican democracy with elections once the queen is dead.


And they can't juggle either.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Whereas in reality, they don't 'outperform' when you look at the actual costs involved.


If you consider speed and carrying capacity, yes they do outperform all animals.


If you cherrypick, you'll always get results tailored to your argument, but it's usually a sign of a poor argument when you need to ignore all the bits which don't conform.


Myrtonos wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Firstly, we don't 'rule' over life in the slightest.
Secondly, fire is far from obedient as the yearly death rate to fires would quickly tell you.


Firstly domestic animals are submissive to us and not the other way round.


Submissive? Well, first of all they're domesticated, so guess what that means?
Secondly, even our oldest domesticated compadres, dogs, can turn and rip out peoples' throats. Something like 5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and something like 25,000 people globaly are killed by dogs annually.
Thirdly, between the two species - dog and human - who's actually bearing the cost of living? Does the dog bring you supper, scratch your belly, and go out to work to put food on the table? If not, then who's getting the best deal here?


Myrtonos wrote: And we are not submissive to any other animal either.


Go and command a tiger to fetch your paper and tell me how it went.


Myrtonos wrote:Secondly, fire is obedient in the sense that we control when and where to light it and when to extinguish a fire.


Except, of course, I've already cited real world empirical data that contradicts your simplification.

.....

.....

Time to go to work, so I will continue later.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Last edited by Sparhafoc on Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:17 am
MyrtonosPosts: 86Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:23 am Gender: Male

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Sparhafoc wrote:Firstly, as I've already pointed out, this isn't actually true historically.

Secondly, as before, you went from an absolute claim in your initial argument, to a relative claim in your revision of that argument. You declared that humans control the planet, now you're saying they have 'more impact' on systems within the planet.

Thirdly, systems within the planet are not 'the planet', just like animals are not 'the planet' but are instead ecological systems. Humans are included in those systems.

Firstly, I can't think of any other species that has had a greater impact on the planet than human beings.

Secondly, you claimed that humans don't actually control the planet and you explained something like what you thought control means, so I said we do have more control than any other animal.

Sparhafoc wrote:No, we don't really. We've domesticated some animals, and we can shoot other animals, but this doesn't equate to 'control'.

We've even locked up some animals in zoos and laboratories, no other animal has done that to us.

Sparhafoc wrote:What's 'speed' got to do with it? You declared that aircraft 'outperform' flying animals, now you've changed your argument to 'airplanes fly faster than flying animals' - of course, the revision is banal. No one is contesting that claim. But it's also nonsensical in light of what I tentatively perceive to be your argument.

When I said that planes outperform flying animals, I did mean in terms of speed and capacity, I explained that after you mentioned fuel consumption. And any aircraft capable of carrying even one human being must necessarily be heavier than any bird, even a bird carrying food, at least when at least one person is on board.

Sparhafoc wrote:You need to read what's being written because you can't start a sentence with 'yes' when you go on to miss the entire point being made.

I'm not sure what you mean and you sound like you miss the entire point Dr. Harari has made over and over again.

Sparhafoc wrote:I used a single example chosen entirely at random from all the species on the planet which specializes in something different than humans and consequently, if we were using that as a metric, humans would compare unfavourably. As Psikh explained to you, it's a way of showing the redundancy of your human exceptionalism argument.

Also, the example you used, whether you picked it at random or not is a bird doing something our bodies can't naturally accomplish. It is not my argument, it is something Dr. Harari has said before about Sapiens, not just in that book but in talks too. But I have some trouble grasping this.
They may specialise in something different from Sapiens, but the fact is that our own kind have built conyenece devices that can carry us and travel much faster than any flying animal. Don't you think such technology puts us at an advantage over all other animals?

Sparhafoc wrote:And water, is of course, wet. Yes, we all know what airplanes are. But you seem intent on ignoring the point being made to you and how it reflects on your argument.

I don't think I ignored anything.

Sparhafoc wrote:First, yes of course I know that, as does everyone over the age of 8.
Secondly, it was of course exactly my point. You wringing your hands about birds not being able to do something humans can do now has a deeper explanation: the costs associated with it. It would be pretty damn stupid for birds to pay those costs when they can already fly at the cost of consuming a few insects or fish.

Now all flying animals are smaller than humans, and this includes most birds as most birds can fly. Any idea how much birds consume relative to their own lean body mass and how that compares with humans.

Sparhafoc wrote:No, but you're trying to make comparative claims based on the fact that they don't employ powdered flight, which is bizarre and redundant.
I'm very confused by this.

Sparhafoc wrote:Humans can naturally accomplish flight. Flight isn't supernatural, and humans achieve it via their process of biological and cultural evolution - ergo, not fundamentally differently than how birds achieved flight. Humans, after all, are natural animals too.

How can it be "natural"?!? All flying objects capable of carrying people are man-made, and before artificial flying objects, no human could ever fly, and nor could any other animal even as heavy as a human. The only way for a human to fly is to be carried in one of those flying objects.

Sparhafoc wrote:You need to go and actually read the paper The Expensive Tissue Hypothesis (http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script= ... 7000100023) so that you know what it actually says and how it was experimentally tested. You then need to look at the intervening 2 decades of responses to it to find out how well this idea has held up with experts in the field. Your potted version from Harari is outdated.

I didn't know the version in sapiens is outdated. That paper is quite long, and it may take time to read.

Sparhafoc wrote:You have an advantage over a tiger because you can sharpen a stick?

Well yes, a person sharpens a stick to make a spear, and is at an advantage over a lion because they can throw the stick at the lion hitting the lion before it can bite the person in the throat.


Sparhafoc wrote:Nor can humans.

Oh yes humans can, they can make weapons and conyence devices capable of doing what our bodies cannot naturally accomplish.

Sparhafoc wrote:As already informed, the evolution of intelligent life predates humans, hominids, and even primates by hundreds of millions of years.

What intelligent life, not only with big brain capacity, relatively speaking, but able to make and use such sophisticated tools?

Sparhafoc wrote:Further, there are only 3 ways that are relevant with respect to dominance over animals. One is that we have removed ourselves from predatory food-webs or the impacts of other species (but the hundreds of deaths each year to sharks, lions, crocodiles, hippos etc. and the millions of people who die each year from bacterial and viral diseases challenge this notion) and the other is that we have domesticated various animals, which hardly amounts to global dominance, and finally that we can burn, shoot, or kill stuff - which I've already addressed.

These are very relevant with respect to dominance over species of kingdom animalia, especially land animals, note that viruses don't belong to this kingdom. Actually we have captured and tamed more species than we have ever domesticated, and animals that have never been domesticated may also be locked up in zoos. But I'm not entirely following you here.

Whales have no hands or trunks so how could they possibly use tools?

Sparhafoc wrote:And despite lacking many of the characteristics particular to humans, whales have done quite nicely. Ergo, making a perfectly respectable living doesn't require a human suite of traits. Again, do feel free to check back in after 48 million more years to see how well we're doing comparative to whales.

Firstly, there is more than one species of whale but only one living species of human.
Secondly, whales aren't land animals, they live in a whole different environment to humans. Also, no marine animal, including whales, has nearly as much control over the creatures of the sea as humans have over creatures of the land.
Thirdly, I'm not clear on "perfectly respectable living".

Not to mention that human control over ecological systems has extended to the marine environment, think of fishing and even some hunting of marine mammals.

Sparhafoc wrote:Oh I am thinking of the weapons, as you seem to argue that being able to kill something is a vital ingredient here to exceptionalism. I think that's a wholly distorted notion.

No, being able to take down an animal from a distance has given us and advantage over other land animals.

Sparhafoc wrote:And a land animal DID naturally make aircraft, vessels, and other vehicles of higher speeds than any other land animal.

Naturally? Surely you understand that what is made by humans, especially modern technology, is not considered natural.

Sparhafoc wrote:As I said before, that's not to say it's wrong, but it's both incomplete and, in many cases, fairly outdated. Harari leans on sources that are decades old, and it's not like those fields simply stopped questioning after publication of a particular hypothesis. As I already mentioned, the entire concept of encephalization quotient has been amended many times and is no longer used in a singular form. There are more angles of criticism of it I haven't even mentioned, such as environmental availability of food. When food sources are plentiful, species no longer respect the E.Q. hypothesis and simply make as many copies of themselves as they can with more surviving due to abundance, and so more breeding. This may cause stress in groups, but they muddle through just fine. A bit like humans, then.

I didn't know he leaned on older sources, but maybe he feels that earlier generations were more careful about this.

Sparhafoc wrote:See above - The Expensive Tissue Hypothesis, Aiello 1997

I had a bit of a look at that paper and it doesn't mention cooking at all. Cooking food is one thing that allowed such great intelligence.

Sparhafoc wrote:Whales evolved 50 million years ago.
Homo sapiens evolved around 3-4 hundred thousand years go.

And there is apparently more than one species of whale.

Sparhafoc wrote:So? Do they need to hunt things from a distance? Many whales are filter feeders - how would distance hunting help them?

It means they can't take down their prey without actually physically reaching them.

Sparhafoc wrote:Other whales use bubbles to corral fish. Isn't that distance hunting?

I didn't know other whales did that, but it still not quite actually firing an arrow to hit the prey so they come down before one reaches them.

Myrtonos wrote:... they don't have weapons like that, they don't run fish farms.


Back to banal. They also don't have fly-swatters, jump-pants, or self-help books.

Sparhafoc wrote:And they never subscribe to Netflix, never belch rudely at a formal dinner, and never drive while drunk.

And what is this thing about subscribing to Netflix, even being rude at a formal dinner or drinking and driving has nothing to do with controlling other species, but locking up other animals in zoos is definitely a case of banana-republic-like power over other animals.

Sparhafoc wrote:I asked you to DEFINE it, not to repeat an example that you'd already used which contained the same woolly, undefined term gratuitously used in the same way that provoked the question of its definition in the first instance.

But it is hard for me to explain word meanings, giving examples is the best I can do. We can not only revolt against a monarch but also adopt a republican democracy with elections afterwards.

Sparhafoc wrote:It's a bit like a shell-game. You seem to be arguing one thing, but when challenged, the pea happens to be under another shell, then another and so on. You confidently asserted that no species cooperate like humans - you were then given examples of species which cooperate to a much greater degree than humans - then you changed your argument to add in 'flexibility'.

I did not change the argument. I mentioned right at the start of this thread the ability to co-operate in unbelievably large groups with unbelievable flexibility.

Sparhafoc wrote:You did this with 'outperform' too where it went from a blanket declaration of humans outperforming pelicans, to a revised version where you were just talking about speed.

No I explained what I meant after you said that it is not the case when it comes to fuel consumption.

Sparhafoc wrote:I'm challenging your contentions because they're wrong. And because they're wrong, they're not actually supporting your argument as you believe they do.

But Dr. Harari claims these same things and you claim not to be saying he's wrong.

And different platoons of the same army do co-operate in parallel, when at war, platoons in the same army fight for the same country.

Sparhafoc wrote:Which is why you need to define flexible, because as far as I am concerned, you've just produced an oxymoron. Flexibility is being told what to do by a central authority?

There is apparently only one way an ant colony can function, led by a queen ant, if the ants get together and kill the queen, surely another will automatically take over. They can't make changes like going from an absolute monarchy to republican democracy, or like going from Czarist rule to communism, as in the Russian revolution.

Sparhafoc wrote:And even when thousands, as I've already pointed out, they're not actually cooperating with each other - they're working on small sections in small teams who have no contact with the rest of the people involved on the project. About the closest you might get to cooperation on that scale from your examples is some kind of team photograph at the end.

Here is an example of co-operation on a really large scale, direct from Sapiens: A brief history of humankind:
The production of a modern nuclear warhead requires the cooperation of millions of strangers all over the world – from the workers who mine the uranium ore in the depths of the earth to theoretical physicists who write long mathematical formulas to describe the interactions of subatomic particles.


Sparhafoc wrote:If you ever find yourself saying 'it can't be' when the empirical evidence clearly shows it can, then the advised course of action is to revise your erroneous notions, not declare reality wrong.

Are you saying two Chimpanzees or two Gorillas who have never met before and not even introduced to each other can somehow co-operate on something?

Sparhafoc wrote:But that's exactly what you said. So are you revising that?

I'm referring to gatherings, such as in city squares and stadiums, not people living next to and on top of each other.

Sparhafoc wrote:Simply gathering together represents cooperation? Then there are a huge number of other species which dramatically out cooperate humans. Let's grab another random species. Springboks: seasonal herds have been recorded of tens of millions of individuals covering up to a hundred miles of land.

Do you really mean tens or thousands in each herd? Or multiple herds spread over a hundred miles of land?

Sparhafoc wrote:And they can't juggle either.
What has juggling to do with it?

Sparhafoc wrote:If you cherrypick, you'll always get results tailored to your argument, but it's usually a sign of a poor argument when you need to ignore all the bits which don't conform.

But isn't considering fuel consumption or equivalent without considering speed and carrying capacity also cherrypicking?

Sparhafoc wrote:Submissive? Well, first of all they're domesticated, so guess what that means?
Secondly, even our oldest domesticated compadres, dogs, can turn and rip out peoples' throats. Something like 5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and something like 25,000 people globaly are killed by dogs annually.
Thirdly, between the two species - dog and human - who's actually bearing the cost of living? Does the dog bring you supper, scratch your belly, and go out to work to put food on the table? If not, then who's getting the best deal here?

Yes, and first no other animal can domesticate us like that, they haven't even domesticated other animals.
Secondly, humans can take lives of dogs too.
Thirdly, dogs are dependent on humans. And while they might not bring supper, etc, they can be useful in hunting, and in guarding homes, and guiding blind people.

Sparhafoc wrote:Go and command a tiger to fetch your paper and tell me how it went.

This sounds like one human versus one tiger. But put a few thousand humans against a few thousand tigers and humans would win.

Yuval Noah Harari makes the same point about humans versus chimpanzees. But he says that a thousand humans would be at an advantage over a thousand chimpanzees.
Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:54 am
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 3209Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: The evolution of intelligent life

Greetings,

Regarding intelligence, brain-size isn't everything.

Cats have twice as many neurons as dogs, despite having a overall smaller brain than dogs. Also, Neanderthals had bigger brains than us but probably weren't any more intelligent.

As regards who "rules the world", given that bacteria comprise 80% of life on Earth, it's mostly likely they who "rule".

And it should be noted that for every human cell in our body, there are nine microorganisms, which form the microbiome that helps guide our behaviour, amongst other things [Collen 2015; Yong 2016]. More recently, scientists have discovered an "exposome" - a "cloud" of bacteria, viruses, pollen, etc, - that surrounds us.

So, who's in control - the human or the microbiome/exposome?

And then there's the deleterious effect of modern medicine on our microbiome, which can leave us susceptible to illness due to the destabilizing of our internal ecosystem [Blaser 2015].

How "intelligent" does that make us?

Kindest regards,

James
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"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:30 pm
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