Brain Day

Alistair,

I have a friend who keeps insisting that she sees evidence of a greater intelligence at work in historical sites/artifacts. I keep telling her that our less evolved ancestry cannot have been more intelligent than we are and insisting that there’s no evidence of any outside influence that could explain prehistoric ingenuity. She remains unconvinced. Could you perhaps weigh in on this discussion?

Never Skip Brain Day in Sioux Falls


Brain Day,

As Hekate always used to say before she stopped saying things, “Hard work suffers sloth; great virtue suffers iniquity; abundant wisdom suffers stupidity.” It was the kind of thing she said. Existing in a quasi-triunal form tends to make you think in hendiatres. The point is, elaborate tech (like paper, cloth and cigarette lighters) makes life simple so people don’t have to be as smart anymore (abundant wisdom -> stupidity… you get it). It’s only when things are complicated or difficult that we get to see people approximating brilliance. Fortunately for humanity’s self-respect, life is always able to ascend new levels of both complexity and difficulty. 

What I’m trying to convey is that stupid and smart have a sort of Yin and Yang relationship – the smarter some groups, the stupider some members can be. 

Was higher intelligence holding humanity’s collective hand in prehistory? Sometimes, I guess. Sure. But a lot of the time there was more of a class project atmosphere. Believe it or not, humans were not the lowest sentient intelligence in the days before metallurgy and three-piece loincloths.

Alistair