" Six mistakes mankind keeps making century after century: Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others; Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected; Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it; Refusing to set aside trivial preferences; Neglecting development and refinement of the mind; Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do." - Marcus Tullius Cicero, 44 BC
Summary: So, what does this all mean? Why are your authors spending so much time on the evolutionary origins of our behaviors? Let ’ s summarize.
We know we evolved: from simpler organisms to vertebrates, from small mammals to hominids, from hominids to Homo sapiens. We know the broad-brush strokes but are lacking many of the details. We don't know the exact time and place that a fish first “ walked ” out of the ocean or what exactly happened five or six million years ago when an ape gradually morphed into a hominid. The story is robust without such details. We know our ancestors lived in tribes of 50-150 members for tens of thousands of years, and smaller “ bands ” for hundreds of thousands of years before that, on the savannas of Africa. We don't need “ proof ” of which traits, behaviors and suites of genes would have been adaptive in such a situation - all we need to understand is a) the likely living arrangements of the bands/tribes, b) the fact that a whole lot of time elapsed, and c) the mechanism(s) of natural selection. It is blatantly obvious through this lens why certain behaviors now “ shout loudly ” in (almost) all human brains: sexual jealousy, elation when winning some public contest (physical or mental), high interest in salience/novel objects, intense jockeying to move up the rungs on the status ladder in numerous intertwined social groups, the ability to perceive what others believe and then conforming to the same belief, fear of fast moving spiders and snakes, etc. x1000.
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