Further science/philosophical reading about human evolution and the woes of our modern life. Looking for suggestions, please!
posted by alex_skazat to education (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I popped into a random Facebook thread, basically dealing with how our smartphones and the hyper-connectivity to instant information and socialization, also seem to bring a deep insulation to the user of the phone and their immediate environment. Example being someone mindlessly texting/looking for directions on a phone, while walking around a busy city block: They have insulated themselves to their immediate environment, to get information perhaps about.. their immediate environment, without having to also make social contact.
I began to realize that you could theorize that this type of behavior could be explained in an evolutionary sense: in the history of our species, individuals that were social, seem to have an advantage with survival. Thus, we all feel a natural inclination to be social - and smart phones (social networking, etc) allow us to not only be social, but HYPER social, to the point that its detrimental - but since we're all humans, with human brains attuned to a specific type of environment, (things too small or too big are hard for us to mentally understand), we don't see the detremental consequences of over-using this type of technology. In other words: it feels good to do it - really good, as well as natural, but there's causes that when you do it TOO MUCH, it's not good at all, but in fact, bad - almost as if it's an addiction.
Another example is fatty sugary food - how it's very yummy to eat a big piece of chocolate cake and I'll admit that left alone to my own devices, I'll eat an entire choco cake, if one was available. Again, you can view this in an evolutionary frame: a surplus of fatty/sugary foods back in the day (say, before even agriculture got started and hunting/gathering was derigueur) was a scarcity, so we've been tempered to not only crave these, but also get a nice little tap in the pleasure centers of our brains when we actually do get these things, with nothing in our systems to say, "hey YO stop! You're full!", because - hey! you don't know when the next time you're going to get such a treat. That's great and all, but now there is a surplus of such things and overeating and bad nutrition is an everyday thing for a lot of people: What used to be a evolutionary advantage is now working against ourselves.
I could go on - say the idea of being able to move - to travel and to go fast - to catch a meal or to get away from being a meal has an evolutionary advantage. Say, car ownership taps into this desire and evolutionary urge that says, "yes! Cars are good! Go FAST! FAR! Yes! Own a car" and on paper, cars are pretty incredible contraptions - except when there's a billion+ of them on the planet and you realize on that type of scale they're an environmental disaster, their means of production undermine workers, people seem to be buy models they really can't afford and their current fuel has countries fighting wars over and is also perhaps reached its peak of production. Again, even though it seemed like a great idea, gave us an amazing advantage, it may be a big undoing, since we're (in my opinion) overusing it, even though it feels natural to utilize this invention.
So, as you can see, I'm jumping around different topics and I am neither a scientist, nor a student of philosophy - but first, what's this type of theory called, and what are some accessible books written about it? It could be as main stream as Malcolm Gladwell, or slightly a different topic, like Laurence Gonzalez's book about survival, where he postulates that humans evolve to speed up entropy in the Universe. I'm most interested in more examples of similar things I'd laid out and perhaps the psychology of how a once-useful evolutionary trait now seems to be (in some people's opinion) our undoing, even though it seems right and natural to do it.
And, am I making sense?