Monday, November 28, 2016

The“Survival of the Fittest”? No: It Was the Survival of the Fastest Adapting Brains

Evolutionary biologists have estimated that 99.99% of the species that have ever lived on earth are extinct today. From devastating meteors and asteroids to natural environmental hazards, their survival was under constant threats and many of which spelled immediate doom. Human beings, on the other hand, became quite adept at avoiding danger partially by creating their own environment, rather than just adapting to it. They crafted ways to solve problems, and became the only animal on the planet (1) that looks for problems, (2) that even predicts future problems, and  (3) that invents “practice problems” to solve.  (The imaginary and practice problems were/are presented in a safe and controlled environment that we called “schools”).
With the capacity to think flexibly, and after amassing an incredibly robust repertoire of problem-solving strategies, human beings evolved as the only species that could run away from a problem, swim away from a problem, climb away from a problem, talk our way out of a problem, create vehicles (sometimes with cooperating domesticated animals) to take us away from a problem, and use technology to design remedies to our problems. Mastering a wide range of possible problem-solving strategies and passing them down from one generation to the next permitted the survival of our species. However, it was not as much governed by the “survival of the fittest” rules as it was the survival of the most innovative and fastest adapting brains.

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