Even the stainless steel is not stainless. It is dangerous and not wise to live on the assumption that at some point life gets smooth and stable. Many of us, including myself, try to build the life with stable ground. The effort itself is great, but expectation and belief “it is possible”, or worse, living on this thought, has many negative consequences. It is good to have a positive mind, but still bear a real picture of life.
It is no surprise that 99.99% of all species on earth dissapeared, got extinct. The earth is moving! All the time! The stars are expanding, the fallen leaves are shrinking. The life around is never the same. Life might go in circles, yesterday a friend pointed out. She started again to listen to rock music (famous ACDC) as in childhood. But is it exactly the same or with extra spices? The concept of dejavu is interesting and perhaps related to something circular about our life, but this is for another day.
“There are two ways to beat the cruelty of the environment: You can become stronger or you can become smarter. We chose the latter” – J. Medina
Given all around is in constant movement, can we, humans, be stable? Already the fact that we exist tells we can not. We had to do something to fight the Darwin’s natural selection. And humans long time ago realised that it is not only important to be in constant motion, but, more importantly, being stronger is not the best option to survive the instability, since the other one – being smarter – provides more options. Our genetic development over the years tells we were right. But how did we become smarter?
Dual representational theory. According to Judy DeLoache, humans developed symbolic reasoning: we interpret what we see. We can see differently about the same things and give meaning to shapes rather than treating facts for facts and living with insticts. A simple “line” could be just a line or become part of the word or part of the painting. With symbolism we create paintings, music and poetry.
“We are humans, because we can fantasize” – John Medina
It is interesting that humans learn symbolism only at the age of around three. Before age three we are just like animals. In the Judy DeLoche experiment a girl of 3 years old could immediately find a dog doll in a room after playing in a small child-room with a small plastic dog doll, while a 30 months old girl could not do that.
We are developing in an expontential speed and it is interesting and worth guessing, where is the next step? Human ancestors started leaving Africa 100 000 years ago, 42 000 years ago made first sculptures, paintings, fine art and jewellery, 5000 years ago designed pyramids and after another 5 000 years (now!) we started planning a trip to the other plannet! What a progression!
One of the reasons why we are so lucky with the development is of course climate – we have a unique opportunity to have not too cold and not too hot temperature, as this was not always the case in history. According to the scientific measurements, the temperature on earth was very fluctuative. However, this alone would not be enough. Some scientists think that human population started with a tribe of just few hundred. How come we were able to raise to 7 billion now?
Variability Selection Theory. What this theory says basically is humans had to give up on stability. When humans did not try to fight the changes, they were ready to survive and prosper. Humans started not to care about consistency within given habitat, because such consistency wasn’t an option. We had to adapt to variation.
It is a message for nowadays – it is crucial to solve the new problems and learn from mistakes. We have to get rid of inflexibility. According to the theory, interaction is important between two brain features: a database, that stores the knowledge, and ability to improvise out of that database. Both features give the ability to add new information under rapidly changing conditions. One example where changes could be made is schools. At the moment knowledge in schools is over-emphasized and improvisation is often ignored. Meanwhile the improvisationary instincts are drilled into us for million of years. Creativity suffers.
Another interesting development is that our brains and head grows. Walking on two legs had several consequences, of which two are crucial: it freed the hands and it was energy efficient. Our ancestors used the energy surplus to pump up the minds to the point that the modern brain, 2% of the body weight, sucks 20% of energy we consume. That is why we have prefrontal cortex, forehead, which is different from animals.
Prefrontal cortex (the newest, the third brain) manages several uniquely human cognitive characteristics, which could be called executive functions: solving the problems, maintaining attention, inhibiting emotional impulses. This region controls many behavious that different from animals. It is the newest edition to the brains.
The oldest brain (the first, the ancient brain) is brain stem. It regulates breathing, heart rate, sleeping and waking. On top of that sits the second brain (the middle brain) part – paleomammalian brain. It does the same function as in mammals. It has to do more with your animal survival than human potential. It is said to be responsible for functions called 4F’s: fight, feed, flee and fuck. With this brain you fell fear, pleasure, memories, emotions. Hippocampus of the second brain converts short term memories into long term memories.
Our brains and head slowly grew bigger. This created a problem to give birth. The solution was to create childhood. The brain could finish the development process outside the womb. The trade off was to create a vulnerable creature, that is not fit for more than a decade. But it was worth it, because during this extreme vulnerability, you had a creature that was fully capable of learning basically anything.
Traditional path to survive is to get bigger, stronger and smarter. Another, is to create an ally. If you establish the cooperative agreements with neighbours, you can double or triple the power even if you do not personally double your strength. Teamwork. We learned to cooperate, means taking into account interests and motivations of allies.
Theory of Mind. Final reason why we became smarter is theory, in which we try to see everything in terms of motivations, which annimals can not do. Knowing where to find a banana in the jungle could be a single venture or could be a process that involves several people, tapping into the group know-how. For that we had to use conginitive process to communicate and predict motivations of peers. Coming back to today realities, personal and business success depends not so much of the plain knowledge and facts we cary, but how well we read other people’s motivations.