Re: Technology and Intelligence

Ralph L Holloway (rlh2@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Tue, 7 Feb 1995 11:12:58 -0500

I stayed out of this previous post by Graber as I didn't want to engage
is vehemance, but his latest post requires a response. It was back in
1972 that i published an an\lysis of the SK 1585 brain endocast ( a
robust austrlopith from Swartkraans, S. Africa). I still believe I was
correct in pointing out that the lateral lobe of the cerewbellum appeared
more highly developed to me than in A. africanus, and that tool-using
shouldn't be ruled out, simply because the brain was small (530 cc).,
something that both Shipman and Sussman have forgotten. The point I'm
tryinhg to make is that the brain is made up of many elements, quite a
few of which are related to perceiving and implementing social behavior.
I don't much care for the recent spate of ideas regarding so-called
social intelligence either, but tool-making for me is still distinct (
well, somewhat...) from tool-using, and the former develops within a
social system. I've argued again and again elsewhere (Culture: A Human
Domain, CA, 1969) and 1981 in Dialectical Anbthropology, that tool-making
should be viewed as but one aspect of social behavior. You can't relate
tool-making by its lonesome to brain size! Tools are made and used within
social systems, most probably mediated through arbitrary symbols systems,
and tool-making ought to be viewed as but one aspect of social behavior.
Too much of the cerebral cortex (paricularly the fronbtal and parietal
lobes, but also the rest) are tightly integrated with appreciating fdine
nuances of social behavior, social communication, social control, etc.,
On Mon, 6 Feb 1995, SS51000 wrote:

> J. Barnes says, in crowning his defense of the social-intelligence
> hypothesis, that "frankly, technology has been done to death." Not so, I
> would say: recently biological anthropologists including Pat Shipman and
> Randall Sussman have reported clear fossil evidence that even the robust
> australopithecines were equipped with the muscle flexor pollicis longus,
> meaning that they had an excellent precision grip. Fine manipulation
> therefore clearly preceded brain expansion. Temporal priority is a
> desirable feature in a factor being put forth as having caused high
> intelligence to have special selective value. It's not that "technology
> has been done to death" as the reason for brain expansion; evidence
> continues coming in to support it. The social-intelligence hypothesis
> has no such evidence. As for the admittedly outrageous formulation that
> the human intellect evolved for social manipulation *rather than* the
> solution of "practical problems": this gem is not my own, but is from
> Matt Ridley's 1993 book *The Red Queen*, as quoted recently on this list
> by B. Katz; according to whom Ridley was presenting the "classic"
> social-intelligence hypothesis by N. Humphrey. What I get from J.
> Barnes is that he too finds the technology hypothesis boring--"done to
> death." Again, I confess to finding that a singularly unadmirable reason
> to reject a theory consistent with a large and growing body of evidence.
> --Bob Graber