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Whoa - I love it here.
I missed that article (dammit) - thanks once again for helping me fill in so many cracks. They from my skull shrinking?
So often these days this song comes to mind - by Black Dub with Daniel Lanois and the late, great Chris Whitley's daughter Trixie:
Swing away...


Sorry - upon a second reading this "rang an alarm":
"...we might conclude that maybe the evolutionary experiment (or accident) which gave rise to us wasn't such a hot idea after all."
Had to reach back 40 years, but I used to read Koestler and this popped into my head:

"The disastrous history of our species indicates the futility of all attempts at a diagnosis which do not take into account the possibility that homo sapiens is a victim of one of evolution's countless mistakes." The Ghost in the Machine

I used that possibility as the basis for a paper required in applying for some scholarship or grant money back then.

I didn't get that money - go figure.

Bob S.

Yes but a 70 year old swam the English Channel and ninety-year olds write best sellers.
Use what you have and don't whine about it.


Dave- thanks for keeping up this blog. I have been reading daily for several years and think that you are spot-on most of the time.

We are peak-oilers/enviros who have taken to the rurals about 15 years ago and have become partly self-sufficient and trying to become more so. Gardening, wood heat, practical skills, a good well w hand pump, no debt, lots of mountain hiking & physical work.

We have observed the dumming down of the USA first hand in my inlaws family. Once a good farming family, it has become a group of frothing at the mouth ultra-conservative catholics and extreme Foxnews junkies- a good family that has been wrecked. They now embrace ignorance and read nothing- with personal slogans such as "northern by birth- southern by choice". They advocate nuking the entire middle east. And respond with deep anger if anyone contradicts their deep ignorance- which they are deeply proud of. "You think you are smarter than us".

May Dog save us!

Brian M

Interestingly, if the theory is correct, then if the decline of industrial society results in a) lower populations, b) less specialization, c)greater need to fend for one's own survival, it would seem to imply that those circumstances might mirror the older evolutionary conditions and might be expected to result again in increasing brain size.

So, history goes like this... grow brain, get smart enough to specialize, shrink brain, discover one-time bonanza of cheap energy, specialize and overpopulate into decline, fight for survival, grow brain.... whoops!, no more fossil fuels... well, at least our far-future decedents will have bigger brains.

They will likely need them.


From: "alwyn weiss"
Subject: Brain Shrinkage
Date: December 4, 2011 12:54 PM

Sir a factor of importance is food.We are a herbivore by biology.Humans would eat mostly vegetations and some usually raw meat(big things and small things clams en bugs).hard to avoid vita c intake.Cook raw stuff vita c en enzymes go down.With grains you can spout them or eat early green stuff excellent food.Cook grain and quality way down(porrigde).Bread can be made from sprouted grain or ground kernels(flour) so a decline and a big decline.In modern era the pure "foodstuff" of little value.The four pure whites white flour,white water(alcohol),white sugar and white salt.Sea salt has many mineral in it,white salt is pure with some inadequate iodine added.Altogether towards raw better quality the other way is weak stupid shepple.The drug companies wont save us and high iol prices will guarantee push comes to shove and that is right now.The truth shall set you free. Alwyn


I believe that up until industrial civilization really got going (early to mid 20th century), any dysgenic effects of agriculture or large populations were offset by deaths due to disease, famine, war, migration etc.

It's really only during the 20th century that we have a whole lot of stupid people (not to mention physically infirm, extreme elderly, etc.) running around. A graph of human population growth confirms this. The energy from fossil fuels tricks us into believing all these people can be supported.

Don't worry, we are quickly returning to a world where only the strong and intelligent are going to make it.


And we are the only animal whose brain shrinks as they age...

"Human brains shrink as people grow old, unlike even our closest animal relative, says a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that highlights what researchers call the unique character of human aging.
The human brain normally can shrink up to 15% as it ages, a change linked to dementia, poor memory and depression. Until now, researchers had assumed this gradual brain loss in later years was universal among primates.

But in the first direct comparison of humans to chimpanzees, a brain-scanning team led by George Washington University anthropologist Chet Sherwood found that chimpanzees don't experience such brain loss. From that, researchers concluded that only people are afflicted by this oddity of longevity.

"We are very weird animals," said Emory University anthropologist Todd Preuss at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, who wasn't involved in the study...."

Jersey Patriot

There is some question about how violent hunter-gatherer societies were. Steven Pinker has analyzed violence rates among modern industrial societies and among horticulturalists, and he concludes that violence has dropped a lot. Before anyone asks, yes, he includes World War II, the Holocaust, Iraq, Rwanda, the Drug War, etc.

However, there isn't much good data about actual hunter-gatherers. There seems to be some evidence that violence was high, but no one's sure if it was human violence or accidents or fights with animals. Horticulturalists move frequently, but are still tied to land while their food grows. Hunter-gatherers can move whenever they want, which makes avoiding violence a lot easier.


Food for thought, without a doubt. Of course, I was waiting for the "Idiocracy" reference and wasn't disappointed. Thanks for the clip, too :)

A smart and, dare I say it, prescient movie. If you haven't seen it yet, do so as soon as you can: hysterically funny, yet at the same time, witheringly spot-on.

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