[ExI] evolution and the supernatural

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Mon Feb 24 14:10:32 UTC 2020

On Mon, Feb 24, 2020 at 12:15 AM Keith Henson via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

>> First of all Evolution can't make perfect brains or perfect anything, nor
>> does it need to, it just needs for an animal to be better than the
>> competition.
> * > Correct.  But It's worth keeping in mind that not all psychological
> characterizations such as the ability to be infested with a supernatural
> belief are directly selected. *

Supernatural means an event beyond scientific understanding, so when our
hominid ansestors were roaming on the African savanna all their beliefs
must have been supernatural beliefs because science did not exist then. The
world is a complex place so a child back then would have to learn a lot of
stuff fast to survive, and the best way to do that would be to hear what
adults have learned from experience. A lot of the stuff, probably most of
it, would be valuable and true (don't eat those berries they're poisonous),
but because they didn't have the scientific method to weed out errors some
of it would be wrong (sacrificing a goat will make it rain).

> * > If you want a widespread and rather harmful example, consider drug
> addiction.  If you think about it there is no logical way for addiction to
> be a result of selection.  Lying under a bush wasted on plant sap is not
> the best way for your genes to get into the next generation. *

Using a condom is not the best way to get your genes into the next
generation either. Both your brain and your genes want things and sometimes
these things are different and sometimes the brain wins. And yes I know
genes don't really "want" things, but they can act as if they do.

*> When there is a need for a war (resource limits) such memes spread well.
> Turning up the "gain" on xenophobic memes is part of the psychological
> complex that has been selected for war.)*

But there must be more to it than that because countries like China, India,
America, Britain, Russia, Brazile, the Philippines and many others are more
xenophobic and totalitarian now than they were fifteen years ago, and yet
we've never been richer.

John K Clark
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