Left in the dark : the biological origins of the fall from grace : an investigation into the evolution of the human brain : a journey to the edge of the human mind



Left in the dark : the biological origins of the fall from grace : an investigation into the evolution of the human brain : a journey to the edge of the human mind This Is A Totally New Way Of Looking At The Evolution Of The Human Brain It Is So Totally Fresh, Unexpected And Hitherto Un Thought Of That It Will Probably Take A Long Time Before Evolutionary Anthropologists And Psychologists Begin To Take It On Board But It Will Make An Impact, Of That There Is No Doubt It Will Be, It Must Be, Taken Very Seriously In Any Discussion Of Human Origins Colin Groves Professor Of Biological Anthropology At The School Of Archaeology Anthropology, Australian National University And Author Of Several Books Including A Theory Of Human And Primate Evolution And Bones, Stones And Molecules

10 thoughts on “Left in the dark : the biological origins of the fall from grace : an investigation into the evolution of the human brain : a journey to the edge of the human mind

  1. says:

    Having seen an overview of the claims, I expected little from this book but I was hopeful that it could at least be mind candy in the same sense that I enjoyed tremendously reading Jayne s _Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind_ But having finished reading it, I m disappointed It s not fit to shine Jaynes s boot buckle while Jaynes s theory has serious problems explaining where bicameralism went, worldwide, and other chronological problems, for starters , it at lea Having seen an overview of the claims, I expected little from this book but I was hopeful that it could at least be mind candy in the same sense that I enjoyed tremendously reading Jayne s _Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind_ But having finished reading it, I m disappointed It s not fit to shine Jaynes s boot buckle while Jaynes s theory has serious problems explaining where bicameralism went, worldwide, and other chronological problems, for starters , it at least was an elegant theory that fit a great many facts Wright and his co author, on the other hand, is chock full of anecdotes better ping pong playing and relaxation playing with your left hand really data seems misrepresented I did not recognize his description of the peg data in the sleep deprivation experiment with the actual graph dismissal of possibilities as implausible which are perfectly plausible the claim that testosterone can t damage one hemisphere and help the other comes to mind, as does the claim that there are no plausible evolutionary theories for evolving handedness actually, there s a very elegant competition explanation which anyone who has done a head to head sport like ping pong or fencing could appreciate fully general counter arguments like the claim that not appreciating the theory is evidence of being damaged as the theory predicts excuse making for the absence of forest fossils supporting their theory blatantly false claims about bipedalism mixed in with distraction about the aquatic ape theory claims about agricultural longevity which are surely the elementary mistake of assuming that infant mortality dominated average lifespans say much about how adults actually lived invocation of pseudoscience like photoreading or Carlos Castaneda or 140 year olds in distant Third World countries seriously seriously or Alzheimer s and other diseases being caused by dehydration blatant confirmation bias who, interested in people who do not sleep, would mention a Vietnamese woman and not mention fatal familial insomnia and of course, vitamin C megadoses must appear in any work by fruitarians, as does the claim that cooking reduces the nutritional value of food which would come as news to anthropologists, who regard the introduction of fire as possibly the key breakthrough to enabling large expensive brains except that right, the authors believe that fruit is what enabled large brains, well, I wonder why they might not discuss the caloric value of cooking food perhaps it s because cooked food doesn t raise micro electric potentials throughout the body which becomes everimportant in data rich noisy fields like psychology I actually pointed this out for dual n back recently on Hacker News andgenerally in my Replication Crisis pageThe use of autists, idiot savants, and TMS is an interesting topic in its own right, but inadvertently sabotages the thesis There s a legal saying, hard cases make bad law in neuroscience, damaged patients make bad theories The brain is Turing complete and can exhibit arbitrarily complex problems these patients tend to be fairly unique, and how are you going to build any kind of theory on them To the extent we can infer anything, it s that there is a common trait among those with access to low level processing they are not smart Their abilities seem to come at the expense of all other abilities or higher level processing Kim Peek may have memorized thousands of books, but what sort of understanding did this man with an IQ of 89 exhibit of them Very little The child prodigy artist may be able to render remarkably detailed artwork, but a camera isaccurate and just as artistic as I ve ever heard him be This does not bode well for any exaltation of the right hemisphereThe crowning piece of nonsense is probably the loop between fruits, steroids, and DNA This idea, lovingly illustrated in multiple graphs, is fractal nonsense theyou look at each piece, the worse it gets It s as if someone told you that car evolution was steered by gas stations you see, a human drives the car to a gas station, the car is filled up with gas, the gas changes the car, changing how it drives to the next gas station and how it reacts to the next fill up This may initially seem plausible until you look at step 3, which reads basically like the old Far Side strip And then a miracle occurs How exactly do steroids rewrite the DNA A steroid is not a little computer or nanobot which can go into a sperm or egg and notice the quiet eliding of the difference between somatic and germ line cells, it s perfectly possible for any genetic or epigenetic changes to not be passed on and rewrite the DNA as it wishes If variations in circulating levels of some chemical affect DNA, it must do so via receptors and proteins set up in advance by gradual evolution to do specific things eg think of how alligators or crocodiles vary the sex ratio of their offspring in response to ambient temperatures, this is set up in advance because it s useful, the temperature doesn t just cause the sex ratio to vary in some magical way because boy alligators are fiery and analogous to hot weather while female crocodiles are chillier and aloof I m reminded of the genie of the lamp I wish everyone was happy Well, OK, but what does that actually mean and how should the genie do it They are, naturally, as sure of this evolutionary loop as one can be in the complete absence of all evidence.While we re on DNA, I was deeply amused that they could propose this system as their primary explanation, and then throughout the rest of the book dismiss any further adaptation because a few hundred thousand years was not enough I really think that we can adapt to eating meat in a few hundred thousand years, especially when our primate ancestors and surviving lineages often do eat meat It was especially funny to read It is highly unlikely that the DNA selection process could have achieved this rapid result certainly not on the savanna where hominids would be subjected to hard and stressful environmental conditions hard and stressful conditions are exactly the kind of selection pressure that might drive large increases in any organ or body part, and allometric scaling in general is one of the easier things for evolution to change if it s fitness increasing Changing size is a lot easier than developing an organ from scratch, that s for sure Size is a tweak These are only my notes for the first 80 pages After that, I gave up and read on in a sort of stunned state At least it does deign to include some sort of references although it doesn t link specific claims to specific papers, seems kind of skimpy, and is very heavy on books which aren t very useful in the sense that now you have an entire book to read just to check a few claims.It helps that I ve read up on many of the same topics for entirely different reasons, so I have a good idea of the general framework of various fields and where they re making huge extrapolations or passing over contrary evidence What is good in it is not original, and what is original is not good The disturbing thing for me is that so many of the references and facts are familiar, and it s written fairly well I m reminded of an apocryphal quote usually attributed to Anatole France What frightens us most in a madman is his sane conversation

  2. says:

    I learned a lot from this book, in particular about diet and human physiology It presents a fascinating theory that our ancestors where specialized fruit eaters, but separation from this food source around 200,000 years ago had a harmful effect on body chemistry The research makes a compelling argument that the post separation diet has caused the human brain to devolve far from its evolutionary peak Leaves you wondering what our frugivore ancestors were like beforehand perhaps their time wa I learned a lot from this book, in particular about diet and human physiology It presents a fascinating theory that our ancestors where specialized fruit eaters, but separation from this food source around 200,000 years ago had a harmful effect on body chemistry The research makes a compelling argument that the post separation diet has caused the human brain to devolve far from its evolutionary peak Leaves you wondering what our frugivore ancestors were like beforehand perhaps their time was indeed the golden age that the ancients wrote about

  3. says:

    This is a clearly writen and well documented with an extensive bibliographies of the quoted works revelent to this exploratory book A lot of speculation and soothe saying In the end the impression I was left with, is that this was in reality a well crafted prospectise appealing for an opportunity funding for the writers to engage in Left Brain, Right Brain in deepth research I found it a valuable catalogue of what s happening in the search for soul in the human mind Well worth ploughing thro This is a clearly writen and well documented with an extensive bibliographies of the quoted works revelent to this exploratory book A lot of speculation and soothe saying In the end the impression I was left with, is that this was in reality a well crafted prospectise appealing for an opportunity funding for the writers to engage in Left Brain, Right Brain in deepth research I found it a valuable catalogue of what s happening in the search for soul in the human mind Well worth ploughing through all the fruit in the trees stuff

  4. says:

    I learned a lot from this book I ve learntabout the benefits of raw food and the problems with our current food habits I ve also learnt a number of fascinating facts regarding sleep, hormones, lefthandedness and neuropsychology some actually quite practical and useful knowledge for living a good and healthy life However, I disagree with the reductionism the author s espouse, especially regarding Dr Strassman s DMT trials see DMT The Spirit Molecule Their position is refuted brill I learned a lot from this book I ve learntabout the benefits of raw food and the problems with our current food habits I ve also learnt a number of fascinating facts regarding sleep, hormones, lefthandedness and neuropsychology some actually quite practical and useful knowledge for living a good and healthy life However, I disagree with the reductionism the author s espouse, especially regarding Dr Strassman s DMT trials see DMT The Spirit Molecule Their position is refuted brilliantly in Graham Hancock s Supernatural

  5. says:

    Though much of the book is theoretical in stance rather than empirical or experimental, the authors provide much food for thought Definitely a candidate for interdisciplinary research frameworks.

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