What ’ s more, our rational brains, despite being “ educated, ” have quite a hard time acknowledging such uncomfortable, but increasingly, obvious facts. We have a plethora of active biases that make effective action on our problems very difficult. We care overly much about the present, about what our peers think, and about conforming to current cultural values and mores, even if a wiser part of our brain is shouting that we ’ re off base.
So why is knowing all this so important?
1. Knowledge of our evolved traits can cut through the “ surface explanation ” and gives us deeper explanations and insights - at the intersection of biology and ecology. What motivates us, what makes us afraid, what can distract us and how and why the human social glue functions are all things that can make individuals more effective and potentially lead to better policies and goals. 2. Knowledge of tribal ingroup/outgroup dynamics via evolution ironically explains why science vs. anti-science (or rather non-science) may become the “ Crusades ” of the 21st century. All the “ threatening ” stories of ecology, climate change, ocean acidification, biophysical depletion, brain/behavior neuroscience, addiction etc. are related to SCIENCE, with biology, chemistry, and physics at the core. It ’ s actually human nature to discount the knowledge and scholarship of human nature. It would seem important to narrow this gap. 3. For society, knowledge of whence we came informs why we are ill- equipped to recognize and respond to the challenges of exceeding our limits. Addiction, steep discount rates, myriad cognitive biases, "delusionality," social conformity, etc. all combine to form a deep moat surrounding the castle of sustainable futures. In the same way our culture has grasped the logic of a “ Paleo Diet ” – where our brains gravitate towards sweet, salty and fat items because they were important to our ancestors - we might visualize a “ Paleo Behavioral Diet ” recognizing that many of our mental cravings, reactions and responses are products of our evolutionary past, and are not healthy or productive in our current environment. 4. Knowledge of evolved group and individual behavioral tendencies can give sound insights into how people, demographics and whole countries are likely to respond to events in coming years and decades. We live on a full planet with a ginormous fossil sunlight endowment (about to decline, see next section), complex gadgetry and electronic
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