“The smaller [average and devolving] human brain” recently discovered and reported in scientific journals “might not be a bad idea” – as aired on NPR’s “All Things Considered” January 2, 2011. See http://www.npr.org/2011/01/02/132591244/our-brains-are-shrinking-are-we-getting-dumber .
I’m not surprised that this has been discovered, but that the news report has been made with such light curiosity and a touch of humor. The reason it “might not be a bad idea” was reported to be that humans supposedly cooperate better with smaller brains. Since we are crowded into cities, where cooperation is required, rather than aggression, for survival, so goes the argument, our brains “naturally” have shrunk in size – by 10 percent – compared to CroMagnons, equivalent to the mass of a tennis ball!
One scientist explained that “a variety of domesticated animals” develop smaller brains – as if it is to be taken for granted that we are domesticated animals. (Belying his argument, he then compared the aggression of chimpanzees and bonobos, neither of which are domesticated.)
While I agree that we are indeed domesticated, I think the question needs to be asked: Who is it that domesticated us? Have we domesticated ourselves, as is implied? Or have we been domesticated, as described by ancient writers and storytellers of every culture, by beings from elsewhere who have created us, overseen us, changed our life spans, coerced us into cities, sent us in one direction or another, given us various foods and skills, and taught us how to live, etc.? This latter theory, I repeat, is not new, but is as ancient as human art and history; it’s only new to First World science, media coverage and the average person’s self-concept.
While the cooperative-city theory comforted a couple scientists and one NPR news reporter, I don’t believe there’s evidence that city life actually makes us cooperative – but the opposite. I suspect that poor nutrition and a toxic environment may be responsible for our amazing shrinking brains. (Maybe even cultural prejudice toward narrow hips on the child-bearing gender – who knows?!)
While some might say our devolution is simply an unintended consequence of bad science and technology, others suspect intentional manipulations. My personal experience as a child subject of mind control experimentation by our government tends to make me suspect that the dumbing down of the masses could also be intentional, for crowd control purposes and generally easier mass manipulation.
(Call me paranoid, but imagine walking in my shoes first. — And, hey, NPR just relayed, without comment or objection, the assumption that we all are “domesticated animals.” The most paranoid theories I’ve entertained in the past few years were just supported on the evening news.)
I do believe the tide is turning; but we must keep on resisting the oppression that would enslave us if we let it. All you activist friends out there, working for a cleaner environment – thank you! Keep fighting the good fight. The brains of our progeny may be at stake.