Technology and Intelligence

Mon, 6 Feb 1995 10:56:20 CST

in the hominid line(s) was because it helped sort out/manipulate social
relationships is impressively deficient in empirical support. The idea
seems to be a reaction against the traditional idea--found in Darwin's
*Descent of Man* and adumbrated as early as the presocratic philosopher
Anaxagoras--that making and using tools was the key. There are several
lines of evidence in the fossil, archaeological, and ethological
records supporting this idea. I am unaware of any such support for the
social-intelligence idea. In particular, many monkey species live in
societies larger than those of australopithecines or pithecanthropines;
and there is no evidence that hominid groups began growing significantly
until around ten thousand years ago. This social-intelligence
hypothesis is a distressing case of proposing a new, inferior thesis out
of ignorance or, to put it more charitably, boredom. If intelligence
had not been put in the service of finding food while avoiding becoming
food--"practical problems"indeed--we would never have expanded beyond
the tropics. It is ludicrous to assert that human intelligence evolved
to solve social *rather than* practical problems. It is a projection on
to the fossil record of academia at its worst: pettiness as evolutionary
prime mover--a hypothesis worthy of gossipy technophobes. --Bob Graber