In news that should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, according to Gerald Crabtree, a professor at Stanford University’s medical school, humanity is getting dumber and dumber in our safe, sanitized civilized world. In part, he writes:
“I would be willing to wager that if an average citizen of Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions…We would be surprised by our time-visitor’s memory, broad range of ideas and clear-sighted view of important issues. I would also guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues.”
Crabtree’s basic argument is that back in the times of early man, if you made a error in judgement, you were pretty likely to die as a result and your substandard genes wouldn’t be passed on to flourish in subsequent generations:
“Needless to say a hunter gatherer that did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died along with their progeny, while a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus.”
There are obvious flaws in his theory–stupid people did not create great works of literature, discover a vaccine for polio, design the computer I’m typing on, figure out that the earth is not flat or establish Stanford University. Perhaps a more accurate hypothesis would be to conclude that thanks to the hard work and intelligence of some human beings, a great many others have the luxury of being stupid without said stupidity costing them their lives.
Even if sometimes it probably should:
Let’s be careful out there, shall we?