Reviewing a book by a former colleague at Nature Gaia Vince, Transcendence: How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time (2019) at Nature, the reviewer chooses to title his review that way:
Gaze into a mirror. Reflected is a marvel of evolution: a weak-jawed, bipedal omnivore with a greedy brain, in which 100 billion neurons consume 20% of the body’s energy intake. Science journalist Gaia Vince urges us towards such reflections in Transcendence, a book tracing the journey of Homo sapiens through genes, environment and culture to what might be, she surmises, a new state of being…
We have begun the Anthropocene, and our demands on the planet are not sustainable. That could usher in a new dark age, or a global order in a new shared civilization. We transcend our evolutionary beginnings.
Vince dubs this emerging species Homo omnis, or Homni for short. Her chosen analogue for such a biological super-organism is not flattering: it is the slime mould, in which single cells coalesce as one to move on. The fortunate are protected at the centre; those on the margin become vulnerable to environmental change. Which sounds disturbingly like us.Tim Radford, “The rise of the greedy-brained ape” at Nature
It’s helpful to be reminded that the science cognoscenti see the rest of us that way. They may see themselves that way, though vanity more likely gets in the way at the last, critical moment. No wonder so many people these days are “anti-science.”