Smart People are a Social Luxury

The basic human existence consists of food production and reproduction.  No one has time for science or literacy.

People who focus on skills that don’t directly contribute to their own breeding success are a social luxury.

Humans have a very limited number of cubic centimeters in their heads.  A woman’s birth canal can only be so wide and allow for efficient upright movement.  We have only to observe how difficult childbirth is for our species to see that we’re already pushing that limit.

With limited real estate to build on, a person who’s especially good at one thing must sacrifice in other ways.  It’s all too common for a great scientist to be socially awkward, because of the temperament required to excel and the time spent away from others pursuing his craft.

So a society that would have scientists must make cultural and biological provisions to allow a scientific breed of human to develop and persist.

Pretty much every culture today that produces lots of good scientists is at least traditionally a highly competitive culture of arranged marriages.
With the first priority of marriage to secure resources to support children, having sought after abilities became more important than having a natural instinct for dance.

In a free sexual market, the scientist who fails to devote all his resources to reproductive and social competition and who has the wrong temperament is crushed out of existence.
Without exception, instinct dominated societies have no science and most certainly no scientists.  The arrangement of evolutionary pressures ensures no such thing comes to pass.  Truth itself has no meaning if it does not further your aims. It does not matter for your purposes if the sun is some mythical god or a gaseous celestial body.  It does not affect the outcome of your own struggles in the grand scheme of nature and you haven’t the luxury to waste energy worrying about it anyway.

So if a technologically advanced society allows a sexual free market, we can predict it will swiftly, within a few generations, revert to the ancestral equilibrium that allows no place for specialists who fail to maximize their immediate individual payoff within the story of their species.
Ability for science, highly skilled arts, advanced craftsmanship, curiosity, self-reflection become handicaps to a human animal that must first be concerned with food production and reproduction.

By Giovanni Dannato

In 1547 I was burnt at the stake in Rome for my pernicious pamphlet proclaiming that the heavens were not filled with a profusion of aether, but rather an extensive vacuum.
Now, the phlogiston that composed my being has re-manifested centuries in the future so that I may continue the task that was inconveniently disrupted so long ago.
Now, I live in Rome on the very street where I (and others) were publicly burnt. To this day, the street is known as what I would translate as 'Heretic's Way'. My charming residence is number 6 on this old road. Please, do come inside and pay me a visit; I should be delighted to spew out endless pedagoguery to one and all...

5 replies on “Smart People are a Social Luxury”

Thank you for expanding on that. If scientists teamed up with merchants, and merchants used their money to pit warriors against each other, would science be a net burden, or a net win for society?

The “…limited number of cubic centimeters in their heads…” is why psychopaths are smarter than empathetic persons. If you’ve ever been hit by powerful emotions relating to others think what that might take. 10%???? Empathy is very powerful. Think if you could use all those “feelings” for raw processing power.

“…So if a technologically advanced society allows a sexual free market, we can predict it will swiftly, within a few generations, revert to the ancestral equilibrium that allows no place for specialists who fail to maximize their immediate individual payoff within the story of their species…”

I go back and read your post every now and then. They’re so good I find different meaning in them at different times. I think quite often about Empires and the rise and fall of civilizations. Maybe exactly the process you talked about above would be one of the factors disintegrating Empires. I’ve read that Rome had a pattern that we’re following. No fault divorce followed by an eventual reluctance for any Male to get married. Possible scenario. Males see Women sleeping around with the fun guys, alpha males etc. Then Women expecting the more scientific or cerebral types to make money to support them as they get older and they deciding they want no part of it. At one time Rome put a tax on bachelors.

I was talking to a friend whose background was Italian about what it would take to make America “come back” or be great again and he commented, “Rome never came back”. This comment affected me greatly and every since I wondered what this meant. Is it possible once the genetic material that makes places great is gone that it’s gone for good?

I have talked about the Eastern Empire of Rome continuing on when the West fell. Many Romans commented that later on in the Empire that there were very few actual Romans in Rome. Maybe the Eastern Empire not being the epicenter of power never attracted the mass crowds of people from other places. There were “more Romans” there.

I suppose a particular set of selective pressures makes a people great to begin with. Once they squander that memetic and genetic capital, there’s little reason to believe they’d get it back unless they underwent those same pressures again. So we may suppose it’s incumbent on conquerors to preserve and refine their winning formula. But every time they waste the inheritance of generations chasing wealth, neglecting the foundation that rendered them able to get that wealth to begin with. They become victims of success, relieved from the pressures that made them great. Humans have yet to rise to this challenge of rationality and consciousness as many dead empires testify. We will work on these riddles over time. I’ll be indisposed from blogging again some days yet. Feel free to contact me at giovannidannato at gmail.

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