Our Domesticated Brains

Human brains have been shrinking for a long time now. While there are the (uplifting) efficiency and (depressing) Idiocracy explanations, each of which have their own merits, domesticated shrinkage is compelling:

In essence, we domesticated ourselves, according to Richard Wrangham, a primatologist at Harvard and a leading proponent of this view.

Some 30 animals have been domesticated, he notes, and in the process every one of them has lost brain volume—typically a 10 to 15 percent reduction compared with their wild progenitors. Domesticated animals also have more gracile builds, smaller teeth, flatter faces, a more striking range of coloration and hair types—and, in many breeds, floppy ears and curly tails. Except for those last two traits, the domesticated breeds sound a lot like us.”

Time scales can be funny where evolution and culture intertwine. Arguably we’re seeing an explosion of evolutionary activity simply due to the population explosion. Barbara Tuchman detailed the brutality of 14th-century European popular amusements in A Distant Mirror; as late as 1730 Paris massacring cats was hilarious. Do we recoil at barbarity due to enlightenment or because we’re tame?

…Then again, reproducing the acts in this video as live entertainment would have been right at home in Tuchman’s 14th century. Maybe the past isn’t such a different country after all ’cause that video’s effin’ hilarious.

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1 Response to Our Domesticated Brains

  1. Ragin' Dave says:

    Why do you think sports like football, rugby and hurling are all a thing? We’re no less violent now. Any trip through the center of a Democrat controlled urban area will prove that. We’ve just found ways to shift the way we express that aggression. That’s why the sissy-fication of children’s sports is such a bad idea in my eyes. Take away the ability to express that aggression in a safe manor, it’s still going to come out in some other form or fashion.

    That’s why you should always be afraid of the Irish. Any country that keeps hurling alive as a sport is just one crack away from taking out entire civilizations.

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