Human evolution Intelligent Design News

Seven easy steps to intelligence – like obtain a head or something

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Which Christmas shopping guide explains where to get a head? They come brand new, giftwrapped, right?

How would you know you needed intelligence if you were not intelligent already?

No, seriously, science writer pleiotropy allows us to know, re Ian Tattersall’s theories about human evolution:

Tattersall argues that human evolution has been unusually rapid in the last 7 million years, with many new hominin groups arising (and going extinct) and our lineage undergoing a lot of adaptive changes (tool use, brain size, anatomical modifications). Sharing cultural know-how is thought to have been under selection, steadily giving rise to humans. He then says this:

But this sort of refinement, one generation at a time, would not have been fast enough to radically reshape the human line in seven million years.

Why not? This is an assertion that Tattersall makes without any given justification. It may be so, but I don’t think anyone can know this.

No? I have a bridge to sell. Look, I need to pay parking fines, and am willing to let you have it cheap. He goes on:

Let me be clear here: I do not think it unlikely that symbolism, tool use, large brains, and small populations were not important drivers of human evolution. I do. I am just a controversialist. My pet hypothesis is that freeing the hands from locomotion led to an arms race between tool use and increased brain size, and my suspicion is that this is a general phenomenon that should be observable in other lineages (like on other planets). Evolving intelligence in seven easy steps: Become bilateral, obtain a head, use four limbs for locomotion, stand up, co-opt front-legs for tool use, get bigger brains, build a radio telescope. [Part of this is discussed in this io9 article about why aliens may look like humans.]

Io9 aliens here. (Check weekend special getaways.)

Tattersall’s essay ends with this intriguing paragraph.

Seeing our amazing species as an evolutionary accident, though, contains a profound lesson. For if we were not shaped by evolution to be something specific—fitted to our environment and tailored to a purpose—then we have free will in a way that other species do not. We can indeed make choices about the ways in which we behave. And this means, of course, that we must accept responsibility for those choices.

Free will, all of a sudden?! Then if we were shaped by evolution to be something specific, then we would not have free will, like other species? All other species do not have free will because they were shaped by evolution to be something specific? And because we are able to make choice, then we must take responsibility for them? How does that follow?

Look, it’s not that I disagree that we should take care of the planet, but I would like to make an appeal for a modicum of scientific rigor here. Rigorously, this last paragraph doesn’t hold water, and evolution almost certainly does not have anything to say about free will. More.

Actually, “evolution” says we do not have free will, but many of its publicists do not like the idea of a society where no one is a fault for crime committed against them personally. Perhaps they must pot something together for now until they can get themselves exempted from the general outcome.

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

See also:–for a completely different approach to human intelligence–Matching Darwin’s “Tree of life,” the “Tree of intelligence” comes crashing down and The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (the human mind)

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3 Replies to “Seven easy steps to intelligence – like obtain a head or something

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    How would you know you needed intelligence if you were not intelligent already?

    Mr. Ostman (a postdoc at UC Santa Barbara) says nothing about how this happened. It does sound like he just went Christmas shopping and evolution gave him everything he needed.

    Evolving intelligence in seven easy steps: Become bilateral, obtain a head, use four limbs for locomotion, stand up, co-opt front-legs for tool use, get bigger brains, build a radio telescope.

    This is the classic, linear/analogue thinking that made Darwinism so up-to-date in the 19th century. First you get some arms. You just stay there for a while. Then you get legs so you can move around. Then you get a brain to operate the arms and the legs. Then you get a head and wait for evolution to create a nice brain for you to put in there.

    It all works with gradualism, apparently. Evolution moves in a nice straight line, finding some useless parts and putting them all together. Then once you have a bigger brain — intelligence just appears. Seven easy steps.

    I love how Mr. Ostman introduced his ‘easy steps to evolution of intelligence’:

    Let me be clear here: I do not think it unlikely that symbolism, tool use, large brains, and small populations were not important drivers of human evolution. I do.

    The good-old triple negative ending with a positive — and the great intro phrase that everyone who has nothing to say starts with: “Let me be clear”.

    No, I won’t let you be clear, ok? 🙂

    “I do not think it unlikely that they were not. I do.
    That is, I do do not think it unlikely.
    And I’m very opposed to those who do not do not think it unlikely.”

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Actually, “evolution” says we do not have free will, but many of its publicists do not like the idea of a society where no one is a fault for crime committed against them personally.

    True – and yet another one of those contradictions that we see all the time. Supposedly there is no way to detect design, except when they do it, then it’s ok.
    We supposedly don’t have free will, except when they want to punish or scold someone (or lament that not enough people are ‘choosing Darwin’) then we’re all free agents.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    related note: podcast – Casey Luskin – On Human Origins: What the Fossils Tell Us, pt. 3
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....l-us-pt-3/
    part 1:
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....s-tell-us/
    part 2:
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....l-us-pt-2/

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