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Do you think our modern society is making us dumber than our hunter-gatherer ancestors? And why?
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47 / F / Mid-Atlantic
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Posted 12/20/12
Researchers have found that 90% of our evolutionary deleterious variants (negative mutations) have taken place within the last 200-400 generations. With advances in medical technology and a change in the factors that guided natural selection previously do you think humans as a race are evolving in a progressive manner?
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22 / F / New Jersey
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Posted 12/20/12
To be honest, it's hard to say. Humans generally grow in a variety of ways. I think in a way, there's still natural selection...and yet the progress that has come through evolution has a tendency to bypass it as well. Humanity is a strange thing, which seems to defy that which is considered 'common laws' of the way the world works. It would be an interesting thing to study in depth.
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31 / M / So Cal
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Posted 12/20/12
I'd like to see humanity keep on the track it's on and split into two different species. The intellectuals and the "I dun ne no lernin i speek fin." type.
At that point either one will wipe out the other and we won't have to worry about this issue, or the intellectuals will enslave the morons.
We're almost there already, unfortunately, it's the rich that are enslaving while the intellectuals toil away in obscurity.
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20 / M / Norway, Oslo
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Posted 12/20/12
I dont know about dumber, but i can say this. The last years humans have lost much more freedom, and things like being the "ideal human" have become much more of a big deal.
Posted 12/20/12
Our hunter/gatherer ancestors weren't dumb. They kept it simple, but had very good survival skills, inventiveness, and straight up cunning.
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Posted 12/20/12
Yeah, we have changed a lot over the past few decades, but not entirely dumber.
Common sense, for one, has been completely thrown off.
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47 / F / USA
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Posted 12/20/12
I think we aren't so much stupid as we are non-aware of surroundings, signs, and worst of all......each other.
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32 / M
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Posted 12/20/12 , edited 12/20/12

Boganis wrote:

Researchers have found that 90% of our evolutionary deleterious variants (negative mutations) have taken place within the last 200-400 generations. With advances in medical technology and a change in the factors that guided natural selection previously do you think humans as a race are evolving in a progressive manner?


On the contrary - this may actually help us.

For one thing, genetic diversity is a good thing - for example, perhaps these mutations, which look negative now, actually grant immunity to some disease we don't know about. Mutations are also an opportunity for us to observe the effects of unusual changes to our genetics, and thus gain knowledge that may be useful down the road when we take full control of our genetics.

For another, it is human nature to defy nature. If nature gives us mutations with negative effects, that is encouragement for us as a race to figure out how to counter this.

Put another way, humans develop technology to overcome human frailties or shortcomings or to meet human needs. If nature gives us more of these, we'll advance our technology more to deal with the resulting problems.

If, at the moment, our genetics are degrading, it isn't actually an issue. Rather, it is a sign that we are ahead of what nature has decided to throw at us.

Either we'll continue to advance our technology, in which case we'll eventually figure out genetic engineering and solve the problem ourselves, or we'll eventually reach a point where once again our environment is hostile enough that only the strong survive, at which point, we'll be back on nature's course of natural selection and thus improving our genes in nature's way.

This is all, of course, assuming nature doesn't kill us all with something crazy like a super volcano, and we don't kill ourselves with a biological weapon or some other horrible thing.

The alternative to all this would, I suppose, be eugenics, but humans aren't qualified to make such decisions when it comes to humans, being social creatures; they will inevitably ignore the flaws in those they care for, when put to such a decision.

Edit: Re-reading the question, I realize it is referring to the past 200-400 *generations*, not years. So then, the past 4000-8000 years.
That being the case, I would point out that we haven't noticed vast improvements in quality of life until the past few centuries, really. Not anything that would really make it so much easier for humans to get by that they would need less intelligence, or that weaker humans would live to reproduce, anyway; life was still filled with dangers, and really, it still is, they are just not all the same dangers.
Can you imagine ancient hunter-gatherers trying to survive in New York City? The subways alone would be a massacre.
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Posted 12/20/12
Life was simple back then. Life today is filled with too much clutter and emotional lust.
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25 / M / Sydney, Australia
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Posted 12/20/12
No, humans are not getting "dumber".

Technology is one of the indicators that we're progressing exponentially. It's also evidence that, if anything, we're getting more intelligent.

Don't look at the mass when trying to figure out intelligence scale. The mass of people are always intellectually average or below. And these types of people are present in all time periods from Aristotle time to now.


Another evidence is our heightened feeling of "empathy", this is another evidence that proves our intellectual capacity is getting bigger. We've started to feel empathy toward other living things beside our own race.

Which is why it annoys me when people comment things like, "OMG someone just killed 20 children, it's the downfall of society", it's not the downfall, serial killers have always existed since the dawn of humans, it's not anything new, Hitler, Spanish Inquisition, Spartans and so on...
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32 / M
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Posted 12/20/12

GayAsianBoy wrote:

No, humans are not getting "dumber".

Technology is one of the indicators that we're progressing exponentially. It's also evidence that, if anything, we're getting more intelligent.

Don't look at the mass when trying to figure out intelligence scale. The mass of people are always intellectually average or below. And these types of people are present in all time periods from Aristotle time to now.


Another evidence is our heightened feeling of "empathy", this is another evidence that proves our intellectual capacity is getting bigger. We've started to feel empathy toward other living things beside our own race.

Which is why it annoys me when people comment things like, "OMG someone just killed 20 children, it's the downfall of society", it's not the downfall, serial killers have always existed since the dawn of humans, it's not anything new, Hitler, Spanish Inquisition, Spartans and so on...


Are humans actually getting smarter, or is it just that we're better educated? If you took a bunch of modern human children and raised them without a modern education, would they fair any better than humans 1000 years ago?

Also, empathy towards other living things isn't really new, is it? Haven't the relationships between humans and horses, dogs, cats and other animals existed for ages?

That isn't to say that I think people are getting dumber. My thought is that we're probably not really moving in either direction, at least not genetically. I think it would depend on if the tasks people carry out today were mentally beyond those of past humans, and considering some of the achievements of the ancient human civilizations with what they had to work with, I rather doubt that is the case. Likewise, I don't think the tasks carried out by ancient peoples are beyond modern humans.
Posted 12/20/12
Becoming dependent on technology for sure. There are already people who can't find anything without a GPS system, can't do simple math without a calculator. It's a tradeoff, endless information at our fingertips but upcoming generations won't be able to do anything without it.
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25 / M / Sydney, Australia
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Posted 12/20/12 , edited 12/20/12

ahatestory wrote:


GayAsianBoy wrote:




Are humans actually getting smarter, or is it just that we're better educated? If you took a bunch of modern human children and raised them without a modern education, would they fair any better than humans 1000 years ago?

Also, empathy towards other living things isn't really new, is it? Haven't the relationships between humans and horses, dogs, cats and other animals existed for ages?

That isn't to say that I think people are getting dumber. My thought is that we're probably not really moving in either direction, at least not genetically. I think it would depend on if the tasks people carry out today were mentally beyond those of past humans, and considering some of the achievements of the ancient human civilizations with what they had to work with, I rather doubt that is the case. Likewise, I don't think the tasks carried out by ancient peoples are beyond modern humans.


Well the original poster mentioned "hunter-gathering" period, so I'm assuming in the Stone Age or before that even.
And there is clear evidence that we've developed more intellectually, from mathematics to physics.

But animals rights have only existed for a century or so... nowadays people get criticised if they wear fur, whereas in the hunting-gathering period, people wouldn't think twice before skinning a wolf.
You might contest that maybe it's because of the thinking of that period, but that is just evidence that people back then did not have the level of empathy that modern humans have now.
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39 / M / Utah
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Posted 12/20/12 , edited 12/20/12
Sorry your question at the top of the page is different than your question in the opening post.

No. Society is not making us dumber.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect

Yes. Society is progressive.
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Posted 12/20/12 , edited 12/20/12

GayAsianBoy wrote:


ahatestory wrote:


GayAsianBoy wrote:




Are humans actually getting smarter, or is it just that we're better educated? If you took a bunch of modern human children and raised them without a modern education, would they fair any better than humans 1000 years ago?

Also, empathy towards other living things isn't really new, is it? Haven't the relationships between humans and horses, dogs, cats and other animals existed for ages?

That isn't to say that I think people are getting dumber. My thought is that we're probably not really moving in either direction, at least not genetically. I think it would depend on if the tasks people carry out today were mentally beyond those of past humans, and considering some of the achievements of the ancient human civilizations with what they had to work with, I rather doubt that is the case. Likewise, I don't think the tasks carried out by ancient peoples are beyond modern humans.



]Well the original poster mentioned "hunter-gathering" period, so I'm assuming in the Stone Age or before that even.
And there is clear evidence that we've developed more intellectually, from mathematics to physics.

But animals rights have only existed for a century or so... nowadays people get criticised if they wear fur, whereas in the hunting-gathering period, people wouldn't think twice before skinning a wolf.
You might contest that maybe it's because of the thinking of that period, but that is just evidence that people back then did not have the level of empathy that modern humans have now.


Conversely you could argue that modern humans have the luxury of emapthy because of the safety and security of modern life. After all, the hunter-gatherers very survival was dependent on what they could find or kill on a daily basis.
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