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Thread: Evolution of Intelligence: A Comparison

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    All very useful, but which are actually inventions of AMH? Fire, for instance, was used about one million years ago by the species homo erectus...
    Well water bottles, at least plastic ones, are definitely AMH inventions!
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  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    So, not necessarily dumb, just not creative enough to go with the flow. They seemed to lack innovation overall.
    I would wonder about how that worked. Our own ancestries lived largely similar lives for a long time, but there is a time when innovation started to happen. I wonder whether it was really a change in our brain, or whether the invention of agriculture made a social change, where an elite could live on the labor or others and could start to innovate with the free time they had.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Well water bottles, at least plastic ones, are definitely AMH inventions!
    Water bottles made from leather, animal bladders, or gourds are a staple of primitive peoples today. Certainly without that we wouldn't have had some of the long walking journeys that diversified and scattered early humans coming in and out of Africa. You can go without almost anything, but not water. It's also one of the few items useful for keeping cool in hot weather or climates; you can light fires against the cold, and wear more clothing, but heat gives you limited options.

    (I read somewhere that the bottle gourd's genes indicate that they were the first or nearly first domesticated plant, bred for thicker walls to hold water.)
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  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I would wonder about how that worked. Our own ancestries lived largely similar lives for a long time, but there is a time when innovation started to happen. I wonder whether it was really a change in our brain, or whether the invention of agriculture made a social change, where an elite could live on the labor or others and could start to innovate with the free time they had.
    Innovation in tool design happened well back into the paleolithic. Tools began to change more rapidly, as we invented more sophisticated and more effective hunting weapons, bolas and atlatls preceding the bow and arrows, bone barbs replacing or supplementing stone spearheads. Sewing needles, fish hooks, etc were probably AMH inventions.

    http://humanorigins.si.edu/human-cha...ics/tools-food
    Explosion of technology

    By 100,000 years ago
    Eventually new kinds of tools replaced stone handaxes. Some were small or made of several parts. Some were made of bone, ivory, or antler. Over the past 100,000 years, as modern humans spread around the world, the pace of technological change accelerated—leading to today’s extraordinary diversity of specialized tools.
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2019-May-25 at 03:16 PM.
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  5. #65
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    IIRC Neanderthal had larger brains in the back, but AMH have larger brains in the front where abstract thought occurs.
    Or was that just some Sunday Science Supplement stuff?
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  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Well water bottles, at least plastic ones, are definitely AMH inventions!
    Plastic ones, yes. But who invented water-skins?

    We don't know, but there is direct evidence that Neanderthals had bone tools similar in shape to devices used in leather-work today — tools to make hides more water-proof. The tools don't tell us how they used their water-proof hides, but skin containers for carrying water seem like a reasonable hypothesis.
    Last edited by Colin Robinson; 2019-May-26 at 03:32 AM.

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    One of the instructors I had when I was getting my teaching certificate would ask his students list and count all the phone numbers they can remember. When he started this, in the 1980s, the class average was about 100. When I had his class, in 2010, it had fallen to about twenty.


    What I do worry about is the ability of people to sustain intellectual activity, an ability which is badly impaired by much technology.

    I suspect a lot of human brain size is concerned with social interactions, which haven't gotten simpler.
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  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    One of the instructors I had when I was getting my teaching certificate would ask his students list and count all the phone numbers they can remember. When he started this, in the 1980s, the class average was about 100. When I had his class, in 2010, it had fallen to about twenty.
    That's pretty impressive. I doubt I could get much further than ten.
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  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Yes, I think that's a good question. I saw a person wearing a t-shirt the other day that said, "I don't need Google, my wife knows everything." But as a serious question, since we can look everything up, it might take away the drive to try to have a good memory. And given that, our ability to have a good memory might deteriorate just because there is little evolutionary advantage to having it.
    This argument is not new. From The Internet Classics Archive | Phaedrus by Plato
    At the Egyptian city of Naucratis, there was a famous old god, whose name was Theuth; the bird which is called the Ibis is sacred to him, and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters. Now in those days the god Thamus was the king of the whole country of Egypt; and he dwelt in that great city of Upper Egypt which the Hellenes call Egyptian Thebes, and the god himself is called by them Ammon. To him came Theuth and showed his inventions, desiring that the other Egyptians might be allowed to have the benefit of them; he enumerated them, and Thamus enquired about their several uses, and praised some of them and censured others, as he approved or disapproved of them. It would take a long time to repeat all that Thamus said to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts. But when they came to letters, This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    This argument is not new.
    Old Plato was right about one thing: memory. Members of cultures with a strong oral tradition, especially preliterate cultures, develop their memories far more than members of cultures who rely only on written records.
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    Here's the link to the article that was reported on multiple news outlets about a week ago citing that IQ scores in most recent generations have "declined" for the first time since they were measured.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinio...de-ncna1008576

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    Quote Originally Posted by KABOOM View Post
    Here's the link to the article that was reported on multiple news outlets about a week ago citing that IQ scores in most recent generations have "declined" for the first time since they were measured.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinio...de-ncna1008576
    As noted above, IQ scores are not an absolute measure of intellect because they are adjusted to keep stable an "average" that keeps changing with the times.

    ADDED: Ah, I see the article kinda-sorta addresses this. Well, OK, maybe it's true, we plateaued as a species.

    We had a good run, though. (I still think this one is an artifact.)
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  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    ADDED: Ah, I see the article kinda-sorta addresses this. Well, OK, maybe it's true, we plateaued as a species.
    I mentioned this earlier, but it might be logical. Smarter people may be more successful, but on average, are they likely to have more children? If not, then we lose the evolutionary pressure for more intelligence.


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  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I mentioned this earlier, but it might be logical. Smarter people may be more successful, but on average, are they likely to have more children? If not, then we lose the evolutionary pressure for more intelligence.
    Are smart people in fact having less children than less-smart people? ADDED: Is there any way to find out?

    There are also factors besides genetics to account for:
    https://ourworldindata.org/intelligence
    Population Aging and The Flynn Effect
    The effect of an aging population, especially in advanced economies, has an attenuating effect on average cognitive abilities over time. Skirbekk et al. writing in Intelligence create projections of future cognitive abilities and find that if the Flynn effect reaches a saturation point, then average cognitive ability declines into the future.
    Disease Burden and IQ
    Disease during pregnancy or early childhood can impair the cognitive development of children permanently. The driving force behind this theory is that if a child becomes seriously ill, the body transfers resources (energy) into fighting off the infection, reducing the amount left for brain development.
    Nutrition and Prosperity: Evidence from Aberdeen
    An examination of the differences in IQ between two cohorts, one group born in 1921 and the other 15 years apart in 1936, finds substantial differences in IQ over their lifetimes. The study conducted by Staff et al. uses panel (longitudinal) data on the same groups of individuals.8 All students born in either 1921 or 1936 and attending school in Scotland on June 1, 1932 or June 4, 1947 were made to sit intelligence examinations. The authors report that scores on the Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM) test decreases annually by over one-half point. At age 77 (where there is an overlap in data) there is an estimated difference of 16.5 IQ points between the two cohorts, which is roughly three times larger than expected.
    A change in nutrition, infection, other childhood conditions, and average age might have an impact on IQ even if measured IQ were consistent.
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2019-May-29 at 11:30 PM.
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  15. #75
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    I do recall reading that the latest IQ studies including denoting generational drops (on raw scores prior to being rescaled to the 100 index) within fairly homogenous overall populations in Scandanavian countries. Also, the data set for IQ measurements is usually predominantly younger people as few mature adults have any inclination to be IQ-measured.

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    For many years it has been accepted that there are at least seven different intelligence vectors and a single score of IQ is not useful. And that is without emotional intelligence in the mix. The cultural aspects make any comparison with the past very suspicious. To those we could add rubiks cube intelligence, thumb keyboard speed and gaming intelligence. Minefield, that’s another one!
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  17. #77
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    So say we have hit our upper limits barring genetic enhancement.

    We have managed to hit some pretty high bars using only the brainpower that we had in the past. Apollo comes to mind, as does the discovery of the DNA molecule, Pi, special and general relativity, quantum theory, all of science, math, art, technology, even basics like written language and agriculture. Innovations, inventions, creativity, we've got a pretty good toolbox already.

    If we do undergo a temporary atavism, I personally don't think it would last. It'd be a glitch, an eddy in the current. But at the moment it's not even been shown that we are in that position. We have anecdotes and assumptions, not data.
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  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    We have managed to hit some pretty high bars using only the brainpower that we had in the past. Apollo comes to mind, as does the discovery of the DNA molecule, Pi, special and general relativity, quantum theory, all of science, math, art, technology, even basics like written language and agriculture. Innovations, inventions, creativity, we've got a pretty good toolbox already.
    To be honest, I think you're a bit too pessimistic about this whole thing. I don't think that the achievements you list were simply the result of high IQ. There were lots of people working on those problems, and working together, and to a great extent I think it's our ability to communicate and cooperate on things that allows us to make progress, not brute intelligence. It's not even always the most intelligent people (on tests) that do the most important things. So personally I wouldn't worry that progress is going to stop because of a small measured decrease in IQ scores.

    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    If we do undergo a temporary atavism, I personally don't think it would last. It'd be a glitch, an eddy in the current. But at the moment it's not even been shown that we are in that position. We have anecdotes and assumptions, not data.
    If it makes you feel better to think so, then go ahead. But again, I don't really think it's an issue to lose sleep over.
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  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    To be honest, I think you're a bit too pessimistic about this whole thing. I don't think that the achievements you list were simply the result of high IQ. There were lots of people working on those problems, and working together, and to a great extent I think it's our ability to communicate and cooperate on things that allows us to make progress, not brute intelligence. It's not even always the most intelligent people (on tests) that do the most important things. So personally I wouldn't worry that progress is going to stop because of a small measured decrease in IQ scores.



    If it makes you feel better to think so, then go ahead. But again, I don't really think it's an issue to lose sleep over.
    Um, you have it backwards. I was saying that progress was NOT going to stop, just because of a few bad test results. We already have all the brains we need, both individually and collectively, to continue to make progress.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  20. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Um, you have it backwards. I was saying that progress was NOT going to stop, just because of a few bad test results. We already have all the brains we need, both individually and collectively, to continue to make progress.
    In the first part of my quote, I was responding to this:

    So say we have hit our upper limits barring genetic enhancement.
    And I meant to say, even if we have, don't worry.

    And then in the second part, I was responding to:

    If we do undergo a temporary atavism, I personally don't think it would last. It'd be a glitch, an eddy in the current.
    And saying, if you want to believe that, go ahead.

    So I was actually responding to two different things. Sorry if it was confusing.
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