Evolution and the downsides of being so smart

cc a f e ce b ea ef be f mergeskulls
Credit: Fiddes et al

With misinformation and disinformation about the pandemic, “cheap” and “deep” fakes of elected officials, and targeted ads and emotionally exploitative social media algorithms, it can begin to feel like all communication is manipulation.

Well, as it turns out, this is the thesis of an influential paper by evolutionary biologists Richard Dawkins and John Krebs.

For most animals living in complex social systems, including humans, eating calorie-dense food, like fruit and meat, both made the stakes of competition much higher and made us able to afford the calorically expensive brains we needed—and of course still need—for social scheming.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.
Related article:  Implantable 'neural lace': How we may be able to stimulate our brain to regain youthful functions

When the stakes are high, and the gatekeepers of reproduction and survival are other minds, competition and manipulation become central. This mental competition sets up an arms race—a scenario in which competition causes each side to accumulate potential to damage the other. There are many different arms races in nature. Some of the most innovative, beautiful, and horrific characteristics of plants and animals have also been shaped by arms races in nature. Trees get taller to reach the sunlight until they can’t reach any further up into the sky. Gazelles and cheetahs try to outrun each other. In our case, minds outran each other until they became as fast as possible.

Read the original post

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend