Technology, evolution, intelligence -Reply

James Barnes (Barnesj@SMTP.LMS.USACE.ARMY.MIL)
Tue, 7 Feb 1995 07:40:59 -0600

To clairify a poorly worded statement which flowed out of my keyboard
in a recent post...

Matt Tomaso


Mea culpa, as well. If I had chosen my words more carefully rather
than with sarcasm...

However, I would like to address a few points.

1) Yes, social insects, some mammals, etc. exhibit communication and
cooperation. In the case of insects and lower mammals this is innate
and not a product of learning. In the case of lions, dogs, etc. their
repertoire is fairly limited. I also would point out that a great many
animals besides humans use tools. However, I do think you've hit upon
a very important point: How far removed are human behavioural
repertoires from other social animals? Are these old repertoires in new
settings? I would think so. But, that doesn't address the importance of
a refined ability to perceive and interpret environmental cues and
developing a course of action based on those interpretations.

2) Yes, artiodactyls do a fine job of escaping predators. They have a
specialized morphological feature called a hoof. It permits them to run
fast. Humans lack hooves. They also lack claws and their canines are
not that intimidating. Humans avoid predation through social cooperation
("you sleep, I watch") and, of course, technology.

3) The agricultural and industrial revolutions have already been
addressed. These events occurred long after the evolutionary changes
we are referring to. They were made possible by the evolution of
intelligence, not vice versa.

Finally, as far as seeking a prime mover, I don't believe I suggested
anything of the kind. In addressing the particulars of another's argument
there is the danger of over-emphasizing one aspect of your own.
Evolution is the product of a suite of traits and behaviours producing
differential reproduction. Tool-using is simply one of them as is social
organization, etc. However, I find the latter more interesting.

I do agree with Mr. Tomaso that before talking about intelligence you
need to define it.

Jim Barnes