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Old July 23rd, 2008, 12:49 PM   #1

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Great Leap Forward - could it happen again?


according to archaeology a huge change in the advancement of sapiens occured about 40,000 - 50,000 years ago. jared mason diamond calls it The Great Leap Forward. it is also refered to as the "the big bang of human consciousness".
before this leap sapiens had stagnated, using the same crude stone tools and weapons for 1 million years. no paintings, no carvings, no grave goods, no ornamentation. suddenly an event occured which caused a dramatic advancement in culture. all of the above advancements start to appear in the archaeoligical record. even bone flutes appear which signify the begining of music. the appearance of these advancements are so sudden that they can be termed an 'event'. what could have caused this mighty stride in the journey of sapiens? after trawling about and copying and pasting i found the following.

laryngeal anatomy
according to jared diamond most or all of our distinctly human traits, including our large brains, had been established well before the time of the leap. the hominid brain grew at an accelerating pace until it reached its present size of 1500cc about 200,000 years ago. the magic twist allowing for the leap was our ability to exert fine control over spoken sounds. thus diamond emphasises the evolution of laryngeal anatomy as the reason for the leap.

new brain software
richard dawkins and his ally, linguist steven pinker believe that language already existed before the leap. (archaeology still cannot prove when language began). dawkins suggests the leap may be down to "the sudden discovery of what we might call a new software technique: mabye a new trick of grammar, such as the conditional clause, which, at a stroke would have enabled 'what if' imagination to flower."
another suggestion of dawkins' is the possible appearance of referential language. "mabye early language before the leap could be used to talk about only things that were there, on the scene. perhaps some forgotten genius realised the possibility of using words referentially as tokens of things that were not immediately present. it is the difference between 'that waterhole which we can both see' and 'suppose there was a waterhole the other side of the hill'"

change in brain structure
the archeologist Steve Mithen has just written a book in which he claims that before the big bang there were three different brain modules in the human brain that were specialized for "social or machiavellian intelligence", for "mechanical intelligence" or tool use, and for "natural history" (a propensity to classify). These three modules remained isolated from each other but around 50,000 years ago some genetic change in the brain suddenly allowed them to communicate with each other, resulting in the enormous flexibility and versatility of human consciousness.

genetic changes in fat metabolism
neurons themselves, and their many connections, are fat rich. it is possible that a chance genetic mutation changed the metabolism of essential fatty acids, which were found abundantly in food sources in and near water. omega-3, an essential fatty acid, is used to produce a faster, more richly connected network of nerve cells. this gave rise to the modern human mind with its apparently unique capacity for processing multisensory information at high speed and making far-reaching associations that formed the basis of complex symbolic thought. the huge increase in the complexity of synapse connections caused a massive improvement in cognitive function and memory, providing an increase in intellectual power.

mirror neuron system evolves
another genetic mutation that may have played a crucial role in human evolution was the development of a sophisticated mirror neuron system. A mirror neuron is one that fires not only when a monkey grabs a peanut, but also when it watches another monkey grabbing a peanut. Mirror neurons enable a baby to copy its parent sticking out their tongue, by creating an internal model of the action, and then re-enacting it in its own brain. Amazing, considering it can't see its own tongue, yet it matches the visual appearance of the parent's tongue with the felt appearance of its own. mirror neurons have played a vital role in the evolution of language, empathy and self-awareness. By improving the ability to learn through imitation, the mirror neuron system has contributed to the rapid transmission of cultural innovations, liberating humans from the chains of a strictly gene-based evolution.

getting stoned on magic mushrooms etc.
the practice of mind-expanding activities such as the taking of psychoactive substances was fundamentally interwoven with the early development of man, helping to expand the boundaries of consciousness. the mind was opened to new visions by maximising hyperconnectivity (there are around 100 billion neurons in the human brain, each through its axons and dendrites, communicating with anything from 1000 to 10 million other neurons and spreading further the network of simultaneous associations.) the heightened perception of altered states was the basis of shamanic tradition and the focus of innumerable cults, the tool by which the seer revealed new knowledge, and was inspired to reach a higher level of creativity and spirituality.

i realise that there is a whole other school of thought which opposes the great leap forward theory but for the purposes of this can we assume it is a good theory.

QUESTIONS FOT ANYONE THAT IS INTERESTED IN THIS TOPIC

does anyone have any alternatives to add to the above suggestions to account for the leap?

is it possible that another 'event' could occur in our journey, some new leap that would result in our descendents looking at us in the same way as we look at our stagnant ancestors before the leap? something that would take us to a whole new level of consciousness? something that would change us into supermen compared to what we are now? if so what are the possible areas to look at where the new change could occur?
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Old July 24th, 2008, 07:15 PM   #2

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Re: Great Leap Forward - could it happen again?


I think that humans have ceased to evolve forward. This may sound very harsh, but in today's society, right or wrong, those who are physically/mentally deficient can survive to sexual maturity, passing on "undesireable" traits.

On a similar note I find it interesting that what is sexually attractive seems to have undergone a vast change since agriculture to hold in human society. At one point a very rotund woman was the ideal of feminine beauty. Now that place is held by much smaller, and often less robust figures. Any women care to comment? Is a big, muscular guy the one you want to continue the species with? Sorry for the kinky change of subject.
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Old July 24th, 2008, 11:40 PM   #3

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Re: Great Leap Forward - could it happen again?


Biological natural selection is linked to the enviroment a particular species lives within. The species adapts to fit the enviroment. If the enviroment changes, the species changes.
Humans learned a long time ago how to change and adapt the enviroment we live in to fit us.
In short, we don't have to change/evolve anymore.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 03:52 PM   #4

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Re: Great Leap Forward - could it happen again?


But is it possible we are "de-evolving"?
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Old July 26th, 2008, 03:57 PM   #5

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Re: Great Leap Forward - could it happen again?


Can any of the skeptics here explain how humans are getting taller?

Surely, "undesirable people" can find ways to copulate. But conjecturing, I would say that many do not, and people with "attractive" traits copulate far more often.

I could be completely wrong. I'm asking, not telling.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 04:15 PM   #6

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Re: Great Leap Forward - could it happen again?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharks and love View Post
Can any of the skeptics here explain how humans are getting taller?
That's really pretty basic - those humans who are "getting taller" are those who have the best nutrition.

Note: Not all humans are getting taller, a helluva lot are getting deader for the lack of that nutrition.

The sad thing is that the world produces more than enough foodstuffs to feed everybody. Distribution of those foodstuffs sucks.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 04:42 PM   #7

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Re: Great Leap Forward - could it happen again?


I'm going to make a Great Leap out on a limb here. Over on the Mayan Calendar thread we were talking about the magnetic poles migrating around the planet every so often. The Earth's magnetic field deflects some Cosmic Radiation into the area of the surface under the magnetic field's poles. Some CR is blocked just by the atmosphere, and some passes right through us down into the earth. Some passes right through the Earth and out the other side into space.

The point is that if the magnetic field's poles are passing over different parts of the globe, the humans on the surface will be subjected to more CR as they slowly passed overhead. There are two main effects of CR on humans. One is cancer and the other is genetic mutation. So, a polar shift could cause thousands of years of increased incidence of genetic mutation (presumably, this would also effect plants and animals).

Strictly speaking, could our descendant survivors of such a millennia spanning "experiment" be considered homo sapiens sapiens? Or do we just get even more mirror neurons?
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Old July 26th, 2008, 05:08 PM   #8

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Re: Great Leap Forward - could it happen again?


Quote:
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That's really pretty basic - those humans who are "getting taller" are those who have the best nutrition.
OK. So if I ate something, and my ancestors 300 years ago ate the same thing, we would be the same height (under perfect conditions)?
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Old July 27th, 2008, 03:26 PM   #9

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Re: Great Leap Forward - could it happen again?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharks and love View Post
OK. So if I ate something, and my ancestors 300 years ago ate the same thing, we would be the same height (under perfect conditions)?
Yes. Although pre-natal care has a lot to ddo with it too. That is why European males tend to be 2 inches taller on average than white American males.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 03:39 PM   #10

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Re: Great Leap Forward - could it happen again?


are you serious? when i picture americans i always imagine them to be huge.
off topic for a second, you know i read somewhere once that before ww1 the average scottish person was much taller than today. so many tall scotsmen were killed that it reduced the height of the average scot. could this be true does any one know?
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