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  1. #51
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    Composition of intellectual achievements from ages past might not reflect the intelligence of ancient societies, but perhaps the inquisitiveness of ancient societies does. Why were they inquisitive? Because their world was full of endless wonder, untapped resources, and even superstition. Their very survival depended upon the accumulation of contemporary technologies.

    Today, curiosity has been quelled by prior knowledge and stimulation. Thus, we have no reason to be as innovative as we were in the past; and I suppose we appear less intelligent as a result.

    Why bother conceptualizing another Great Pyramid when you have Chuck E. Cheese down the street? Why bother mapping the world when you have Google Earth at your fingertips? Why bother achieving anything?

    Today, one does not need to be technologically progressive to survive. One just has to perform mundane procedures.

  2. #52
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Tater View Post
    Composition of intellectual achievements from ages past might not reflect the intelligence of ancient societies, but perhaps the inquisitiveness of ancient societies does. Why were they inquisitive? Because their world was full of endless wonder, untapped resources, and even superstition. Their very survival depended upon the accumulation of contemporary technologies.

    Today, curiosity has been quelled by prior knowledge and stimulation. Thus, we have no reason to be as innovative as we were in the past; and I suppose we appear less intelligent as a result.

    Why bother conceptualizing another Great Pyramid when you have Chuck E. Cheese down the street? Why bother mapping the world when you have Google Earth at your fingertips? Why bother achieving anything?

    Today, one does not need to be technologically progressive to survive. One just has to perform mundane procedures.
    This post reads as if the general populations back then were the ones conceptualising pyramids, rather than the small minority that probably actually were curious and innovative. Surely the vast majority of people were performing mundane procedures just as they are now? So the great minds of their day channeled their thinking into creating monuments etc., whereas the greatest minds of today channel their thinking into more varied and worthwhile (in terms of current needs) endeavours. I think as a whole we are as innovative as we have ever been.
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  3. #53
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    I subscribe to Jared Diamond's theory that we are moving into an evolutionary position in which we rely on our masses and our communities in such a way that does not require as much individual intelligence. Some of the advancements of the human race would clearly imply great intelligence, but perhaps it is a collective intelligence, at the cost of the individual intelligence.

    I find the notion that our brains are getting smaller because they are becoming more efficient to be optimistic, self-flattering, and to my knowledge, not reflected in our understanding of brain development up to this point.
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  4. #54
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    What about the people that are still hunter-gatherers what's their brain size like?

    ...and what is the evolutionary advantage of smaller brain mass?
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  5. #55
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinlan View Post
    What about the people that are still hunter-gatherers what's their brain size like?
    Good question. It would probably be tricky to get a sample. However, it wouldn't be surpising if a lot of the so-called primitive people had at least somewhat shrunken brains, too. I say this because most of them are not as pristine or ancient in their lifestyle as the layman is inclined to believe.

    Still, since the hypothesis relates to societal development, I suppose they should have l
    arger brains.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quinlan View Post
    ...and what is the evolutionary advantage of smaller brain mass?
    Brains are very, very expensive. Anything you don't need, you should get rid of.
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  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I subscribe to Jared Diamond's theory that we are moving into an evolutionary position in which we rely on our masses and our communities in such a way that does not require as much individual intelligence. Some of the advancements of the human race would clearly imply great intelligence, but perhaps it is a collective intelligence, at the cost of the individual intelligence.
    Ew, I don't wanna become part of the BORG. We're in a collectivist cycle of history right now though.

    I find the notion that our brains are getting smaller because they are becoming more efficient to be optimistic, self-flattering, and to my knowledge, not reflected in our understanding of brain development up to this point.
    I find your conclusion to be lackluster. We know, from brain scans, that smarter people with higher IQs perform the same sort of mental tasks that those with lower IQ do with less work on the brain's part. IOW, the brains of smarter people work more efficiently. Scientific fact. It would be conceivable that brains might, if there is ANY genetic basis for this BS, develop in such a way that the extra brain matter is not needed as it begins to work more efficiently with what it has.

    While the average IQ has statically been going up and up worldwide, some studies show it has started a drop in some countries. As far as I know, worldwide IQ is still on an upward trend, and if our brains are getting smaller at the same time, they are likely becoming MORE EFFICIENT. However, I believe the premise of the OP is flawed to begin with, in many ways. I doubt any decrease in avg size would be due to genetic changes, but likely the different ways in which we use our brains and other environmental factors. IOW, not evolution.

  7. #57
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    This seems like one of the most obvious subjects on which to question the use of the IQ.
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  8. #58
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Aren't there huge parts of the brain dedicated to just plain sight and sound and other "simple" things that people don't think about? Couldn't it just be that our senses are getting weaker or something like that while the "smart" part of our brains, cognition, etc are staying the same. I mean, it's not like most people have to constantly be on the lookout for prey.
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  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    Aren't there huge parts of the brain dedicated to just plain sight and sound and other "simple" things that people don't think about? Couldn't it just be that our senses are getting weaker or something like that while the "smart" part of our brains, cognition, etc are staying the same. I mean, it's not like most people have to constantly be on the lookout for prey.
    You are correct. The brain is divided into many specialized areas revolving around the different senses, with the information being organized in various ways (all this mostly refers to the cerebral cortex). I didn't see anywhere where they actually did a comprehensive comparison of which areas of the brain are shrinking most, so its all speculatory crap. But yea, it's possible that as our environments have changed and we have taken to interacting with the world differently that certain areas of our brains may not be used as much as they were in the past, but even then, a 10% atrophy of brain mass is way too significant to account for the normal variations in compartmental brain size that occur from specialization. For instance, Buddhist monks can display increased size in certain areas of the brain associated with their meditation activity. Nowhere near a 10% size difference though, probably not even half a percent.

  10. #60
    Nips away your dignity Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    When I read the OP's post, this was what I was thinking..

    Maybe it's just the parts of the brain early man needed to survive, but we now use a lot less. Vision, hearing, etc. How often do you really focus on hearing something distant? Mostly you probably wouldn't bother. Early man probably needed his ears open at all times. Maybe it's them lobes shrinking? :P

    I see others seem to potentially agree. xD
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