time to meet the pushiest, biggest, most complicated member of your
Gentlemen, Your Social Brain!
Let it take a
bow, because your Social Brain has a big ego and is especially vain
and loves attention and compliments.
The first question
we are going to address (even though you could care less) is where
did your Social Brain come from and what is it doing in your head?
Your Social Brain
was developed a long long long time ago when evolution was first fucking
around with the idea of creating human beings. Although it did tinker
with the concept of a bi-pedal not completely furry tool-utilizing
animal for a long time before it really got in gear with the Social
Brain concept. At a certain point in the fossil record, there is evidence
of an explosion (or explosions) of furious Social Brain activity such
as cave art, burying the dead, musical instruments, dental work, caring
for the elderly, ritual torture and so on. As you can tell from the
above partial list of social brain activities, Your Social Brain
is extremely versatile and just as prone to strike up a jaunty tune
as it is to ritually disembowel your enemies. With such a wide
range of interests, it is no wonder your Social Brain is huge and
prone to meddle into every aspect of your affairs.
The Social Brain
owes its existence to a disturbing or exhilarating evolutionary fact,
depending on your point of view: Human beings live and die in clumps.
They don't live and die in cute little individual-sized compartments,
they live and die in big, fat, fucking clumps. A major part of your
evolutionary fitness has to do with not how much iron you can pump
or your admirably low blood pressure and resistance to disease - it
has to do with what fucking clump you're part of.
Let's take an
example - the Hiroshima and Nagasaki clumps at the end of World War
II - not good clumps for the evolutionary fitness of their members.
Those people didn't have a hard fucking time reproducing and caring
for their children because they had bad fucking dietary habits, weren't
too fucking smart, weren't too strong, weren't aggressive enough or
were too aggressive - those people had a hard fucking time reproducing
because someone dropped a big fat fucking bomb on their entire
clump and killed them! This was not the fault of the individuals
who got vaporized - they were in the wrong fucking clump at the wrong
When the Black
Death swept through Europe and made vigorous and largely successful
attempts to kill most Europeans, some survived because they had better
disease-resistant genes and some survived because they got fucking
lucky. But the majority of them died because they were smack in
the middle of a big clump overrun with a vicious deadly disease! People
who weren't in the middle of the clump overrun with the disease didn't
die of it. They were in other luckier clumps peacefully or not so
When the Native
American population of the US was busy being almost completely annhilated,
the US settlers were not killing them all off because the individual
Indians were not much good at chess or had less than perfect muscular
development - they were killing them off because they were intent
on effectively destroying the whole fucking clump!
When ancient tribes
long long long before you were born were faced with serious fucking
resource shortage problems, they did not attempt to solve them by
conducting a serious and detailed assessment of the individual evolutionary
fitness of each member of the clumps fighting for territory and resources
- instead they tried to commit genocide against the clump that
So now we're going
to make up a fictitious but tremendously moving and exciting tale
of war's origins just to entertain ourselves and avoid contemplating
the real problems of the current world for 15 minutes or so. Always
a good use of time!
So once upon a
time, in evolutionary fairy-tale land, human beings were more or less
peacefully and confusedly wandering about in small clumps, exploiting
the resources of the land by eating them in the form of plants and
animals. This seemed like a pretty good deal since this is what animals
do, and there is nothing like a lush, comfortable tropical climate
and plenty of food to put you in a good mood, especially when there
is a small but pleasingly plump and attractive population of the opposite
sex to mate with. We're talking Garden of Eden time. And then!.....
went and fucking changed! As it is oh so prone to do over time.
And it came up with an extremely nasty little invention called
winter and threw in a couple of bonus inventions to boot - famine,
drought, scarcity, shortages, and shivering.
Yeah, when you
get that really fucking cold-ass winter thing going, as the planet
did at various points in our murky history, you get side effects.
Lush, green, healthful plants start saying things like 'fuck! it is
way too fucking cold for me to survive here! I'm gonna die!' And they
do. And raindrops start saying things like - 'whoah, looks like the
planet earth has pulled a fast change climate alteration on us - looks
like we're not going to be raining much here anymore!' And then the
little plants that were already trying to commit suicide due to temperature
grumpiness start starving for water and that really does them in.
And the only plants that really get a foothold in the colder, harsher,
drier environment are the naturally cynical and grumpy plants
that have a tendency to say things to human and other animals like
'yeah, sure go ahead and just try to eat me - I dare ya!' And the
humans and other animals do, but the cynical, tough, and grumpy plants
are not generous with their nutrients and it's hardly worth the fucking
So the humans
and other animals are pretty much forced to try to eat each other.
Because when the climactic going gets tough, eating other animals
gives you a lot more bang for your chewing buck. You don't see
Eskimos lounging around chewing on granola now do you? You don't
hear them preaching the virtues of a vegan lifestyle now do you? No
you don't, because when the going gets cold and the plant life gets
scarce, it is far more efficient to eat other animals who have very
nicely bundled together inside themselves wonderful health-sustaining
items like massive chunks of fat to keep themselves warm, and excellent
furry coverings you can use to drape over yourself when you would
otherwise be freezing your ass off, and amazing conglomerations of
proteins and vitamins and so on. The animals you eat, bless their
furry little hearts, have done a major part of the work of converting
unpromising plant life and other littler animals into something your
body can use.
And so hunting
and general desperate scrounging for resources becomes a much
bigger concern than it would if you still had your ass parked in the
Garden of Eden. But you, evolutionary early human-type-thingy that
you were, you dealt with it. You developed a hunting brain and realized
you really really had to stick together in clumps, because there is
no fucking way that you can efficiently kill the animals you need
in this god-forsaken rat's ass barren patch of land you've found yourself
on without the cooperation of a group. And you've got pregnant women
to deal with, who it turns out, lose a fair amount of hunting speed
and agility by the 8th month. But you gotta deal because no pregnant
women, no babies and no babies, no human species. And then there's
nursing women who need to consume a tremendous amount of calories
and yet - once again it turns out that you sacrifice a lot of hunting
speed and agility when you have a 3 month old clinging to your nipple.
So you deal. Men
do the hunting, women bear children and do a whole bunch of other
shit, old people give advice, it's cold, everybody clumps, everybody
works to survive, it's tough but you hang in there. And you're making
There you are
in your little clump of 50 people, hanging in there, when what should
appear on the horizon but another clump! Yes, it's another
clump of 50 or so, extremely hungry and desperately searching for
a territory that will support them. They have been wandering in desperate
and increasing panic over barren landscape ever since the last territory
they laid claim to went belly-up under the influence of drought, disease,
their own voracious insatiable appetites, and just a general lack
of resources. Now the only question on their minds is where the fuck
are they going to find a territory to support them when suddenly
they stumble on yours. Their eyes go wide as they note the
presence of water! on your land. They notice the humble sprinkling
of plant life. They freeze in their tracks and listen to the awe-inspiring
clandestine patter of huntable animals lurking and hiding and scurrying
in the background, just waiting to kill or be killed. They have
reached the promised land! There is only one problem - you!
Now you and your
clump are eyeing them and their clump warily. They eye you back. What
to do? 100 people and a huntable territory that supports fifty.
How do we know it supports 50? Because that's how many of you there
are. If it could support more, you'd have been breeding your fucking
mind out until you maxed out the number of people the land could support.
But you already did that and now you are just trying to make it work
- you are just barely making it work for those already in your clump.
How to solve this little resource problem?
charity, benevolence and happy hungry sharing? Rationality, problem-solving,
and mutual fucking respect? Or something else?