Post Tagged with: "mutants"

Morlocks – The Future Of Human Evolution?

Morlocks – The Future Of Human Evolution?

On two species of humanoids in HG Wells’ The Time Machine — Eloi and Morlocks — Edward Strickson writes:

So, is it likely that this is our future? We can speculate, but I’d lean pretty far towards a no. As we combine our cultures and try to spread equality, it’s less likely that entire branch of us will be isolated, unless there is a natural disaster or something similar that separates us. But this does not mean that we will not change, just that the extremes of Eloi and Morlocks are (thankfully) looking less likely as time goes on, at least in my point of view.

Full Story: Teen Skepchick: Morlocks – The Future Of Human Evolution?

The historic tendency of “masters” to have sex with slaves may also prevent our evolution from ever bifurcating along class lines.

Strickson thinks that of the two species we’re more likely to end up like the Eloi: “Many more of us are able to get on with our lives without immediate dangers, knowing that if anything befalls us we will be looked after.”

I disagree. Modern medicine has licked a number of diseases, and increased our likelihood of surviving accidents. Yet our lives are not without immediate dangers. We risk death every day in the U.S. when we step into automobiles. The rest of the world face other dangers, ranging from war lords to malaria. We still have no cure for AIDs, which is still one of the most common causes of death in world.

Meanwhile, global warming is baking our planet, necessitating more adaptation and/or evolution. Perhaps the Morlocks, with their underground habitats, are our species’ future after all.

December 9, 2012 1 comment
Being Weird is Great

Being Weird is Great

In case there are any younger readers out there, this is right on:

With as serious a tone as I could muster, I said “Listen to me, okay? What I’m about to say is something I want you take in and think about and really hold on to.”

He nodded. “Okay, he said.”

“This isn’t just conversation, this is important,” I said. “You listening?”

He nodded again. “I’m listening,” he replied with a look that convinced me that he was.

I took a deep breath. “Right now, you’re in high school in a small suburban town,” I started.

He nodded.

“Everyone you know looks the same and acts the same,” I explained. “They may dress differently from each other or belong to different crowds, but they’re all the same. Hipsters, brainiacs, jocks, so-called ‘geeks’ — they’re all so caught up with not being left out that they’re changing who they are to fit in with whoever it is that will accept them.

“When you show up and you’re not like that, it scares them,” I continued. “They don’t know what to do with you, because they have no idea what it’s like to think for themselves. So they try to make YOU feel like the loser, because there’s more of them doing what they’re doing than there are of you. In such a small group of small minds, the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

“To them, you are weird,” I said. “But weird is good. No, screw that — weird is great! Being weird to someone just proves that you are being you, which is the most important thing you can ever be. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s something wrong with them. They can’t understand what it’s like to be themselves, much less what it’s like to be you.”

He smiled a little. “You really think that?” he asked.

I laughed. “Dude, look at me!” I said. “I’m 300 pounds of ex-football player covered in cartoon and comic book tattoos, who builds websites and tours the world talking to people about his anime cel collection. Trust me, I know all about being weird.”

Joe Peacock: “That’s Why You Don’t Have Any Friends.”

This is all true. In fact, as you get older you’ll meet more people like you – maybe not exactly like you, depending on where you live and where you work, but similar people. In fact, as you get older it will start to become more difficult to keep yourself from living a bubble of people who think and act like you do.

I think Bruce Sterling’s 1991 talk at the Computer Game Developers Conference is also relevant to mutants of all ages:

Alienated punks, picking up computers, menacing society…. That’s the cliched press story, but they miss the best half. Punk into cyber is interesting, but cyber into punk is way dread. I’m into technical people who attack pop culture. I’m into techies gone dingo, techies gone rogue — not street punks picking up any glittery junk that happens to be within their reach — but disciplined people, intelligent people, people with some technical skills and some rational thought, who can break out of the arid prison that this society sets for its engineers. People who are, and I quote, “dismayed by nearly every aspect of the world situation and aware on some nightmare level that the solutions to our problems will not come from the breed of dimwitted ad-men that we know as politicians.” Thanks, Brenda!

That still smells like hope to me….

You don’t get there by acculturating. Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish. If you want to woo the muse of the odd, don’t read Shakespeare. Read Webster’s revenge plays. Don’t read Homer and Aristotle. Read Herodotus where he’s off talking about Egyptian women having public sex with goats. If you want to read about myth don’t read Joseph Campbell, read about convulsive religion, read about voodoo and the Millerites and the Munster Anabaptists. There are hundreds of years of extremities, there are vast legacies of mutants. There have always been geeks. There will always be geeks. Become the apotheosis of geek. Learn who your spiritual ancestors were. You didn’t come here from nowhere. There are reasons why you’re here. Learn those reasons. Learn about the stuff that was buried because it was too experimental or embarrassing or inexplicable or uncomfortable or dangerous.

April 25, 2012 1 comment
As Humans Evolve, Our Brains Are Actually Getting Smaller

As Humans Evolve, Our Brains Are Actually Getting Smaller

Leader

Today’s human brain is about 10 percent smaller than the Cro-Magnon brain from more than 20,000 years ago.

When it comes to brain size, bigger doesn’t always mean better. As humans continue to evolve, scientists say our brains are actually getting smaller. [...]

Cro-Magnon man, who lived in Europe 20,000 to 30,000 years ago, had the biggest brains of any human species. In comparison, today’s human brain is about 10 percent smaller. It’s a chunk of brain matter “roughly equivalent to a tennis ball in size,” McAuliffe says.

The experts aren’t sure about the implications of this evolutionary trend. Some think it might be a dumbing-down process. One cognitive scientist, David Geary, argues that as human society grows increasingly complex, individuals don’t need to be as intelligent in order to survive and reproduce.

But not all researchers are so pessimistic. Brian Hare, an anthropologist at the Duke University Institute for Brain Sciences, thinks the decrease in brain size is actually an evolutionary advantage.

NPR: Our Brains Are Shrinking. Are We Getting Dumber?

January 4, 2011 2 comments
Tibetans May Represent Fastest Case of Human Evolution

Tibetans May Represent Fastest Case of Human Evolution

Tibetan monks

Tibetans live at altitudes of 13,000 feet, breathing air that has 40 percent less oxygen than is available at sea level, yet suffer very little mountain sickness. The reason, according to a team of biologists in China, is human evolution, in what may be the most recent and fastest instance detected so far. [...]

If confirmed, this would be the most recent known example of human evolutionary change. Until now, the most recent such change was the spread of lactose tolerance — the ability to digest milk in adulthood — among northern Europeans about 7,500 years ago. But archaeologists say that the Tibetan plateau was inhabited much earlier than 3,000 years ago and that the geneticists’ date is incorrect.

New York Times: Scientists Cite Fastest Case of Human Evolution

(Thanks David Forbes)

(Photo by waterwin / CC)

July 2, 2010 0 comments
Mark Dery: How the Cephalopod Became Our Zeitgeist Mascot

Mark Dery: How the Cephalopod Became Our Zeitgeist Mascot

Squid Liberty Gamma Go t-shirt

Mark Dery writes for the recently retired h+ magazine:

H.G. Wells’s Martians, in War of the Worlds (1898), are octopuses by any other name: “heads — merely heads,” their cephalopod-like beaks ringed by “whip-like” tentacles. On Wells’s Mars, ultra-advanced “mechanical appliances” and “chemical devices” rendered physical labor and even bodily processes such as digestion obsolete, begetting creatures with freakishly overdeveloped brains and shriveled, vestigial bodies. Writing in Victorian England, where the Hobbesian social order struck a sour note amid the symphony of industrial progress, Wells wondered if a similar fate awaited Homo faber. “[T]he Martians may be descended from beings not unlike ourselves, by a gradual development of brain and hands (the latter giving rise to the… delicate tentacles… ) at the expense of the rest of the body,” the narrator speculates, in War of the Worlds. “Without the body, the brain would, of course, become a mere selfish intelligence, without any of the emotional substratum of the human being.” [...]

“I believe that the totemic image for the future is the octopus,” wrote the cyberdelic philosopher Terence McKenna, in 1990. Fresh from immersion baptism in hyperreality — his first encounter, via Virtual Reality, with a 3-D simulation he could walk around in — McKenna was convinced that humanity was poised for a techno-evolutionary leap. Ever the McLuhanite, he believed that humans are transformed by their labor-saving gadgets and mind-warping media. The cephalopod pointed the way forward, he said, because squid and octopuses “have perfected a form of communication that is both psychedelic and telepathic; a model for the human communications of the future.” Rebooting McLuhan’s dream of forging, through digital connectedness, a global consciousness that transcends linguistic barriers — “a state of absorption in the logos that could knit mankind into one family and create a perpetuity of collective harmony and peace” (McLuhan) — McKenna extolled the octopus’s jaw-dropping ability to telegraph its emotional state by means of “a large repertoire of color changes, dots, blushes, and traveling bars.”

h+: Kraken Rising: How the Cephalopod Became Our Zeitgeist Mascot

See also: Fuck Yeah Octopus

May 31, 2010 1 comment
Full text of Meda: a Tale of the Future

Full text of Meda: a Tale of the Future

Meda: a Tale of the Future as Related by Kenneth Follingsby

Meda: a Tale of the Future as Related by Kenneth Follingsby is an early mutant fiction written in 1888, printed for private circulation in 1891, and finally published in 1892. It’s an exceedingly rare book – I traveled to Riverside, CA to read it last November. I’m quite excited to see it online.

You can get it in several formats at archive.org

I’ve also mirrored the PDF and txt versions here.

See also:

My excerpts from the book here

More mutant history details here

April 24, 2010 0 comments
The Duggars and Quiverfull – The Cult Behind The Family

The Duggars and Quiverfull – The Cult Behind The Family

Kathryn Joyce writes:

But there’s one big omission from the on-screen portrayal of many of these families: their motivation. Though the Duggars do describe themselves as conservative Christians, in reality, they follow a belief system that goes far beyond “Cheaper by the Dozen” high jinks. It is a pro-life-purist lifestyle known as Quiverfull, where women forgo all birth-control options, viewing contraception as a form of abortion and considering even natural family planning an attempt to control a realm—fertility—that should be entrusted to divine providence.

At the heart of this reality-show depiction of “extreme motherhood” is a growing conservative Christian emphasis on the importance of women submitting to their husbands and fathers, an antifeminist backlash that holds that gender equality is contrary to God’s law and that women’s highest calling is as wives and “prolific” mothers.

Mary Pride, an early homeschooling leader whose 1985 book “The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality” is a founding text of Quiverfull, convinced many readers that regulating one’s fertility is a slippery slope. “Family planning is the mother of abortion,” she writes. “A generation had to be indoctrinated in the ideal of planning children around personal convenience before abortion could be popular.” Instead, Pride and her peers argue, Christians should leave family planning in God’s hands, and become “maternal missionaries”: birthing as many children as He gives them as both a demonstration of radical faith and obedience, as well as a plan to effect Christian revival in the culture through demographic means—that is, by having more children than their political opponents.

Full Story: Newsweek: Extreme Motherhood

Joyce has also written a book on the subject.

(via Religion News)

Have all the kids you want, you sick fucks. But always remember:

we occur at random among your children

See Also:

The Overpopulation Myth

The Westboro Baptist Church is (Probably Not) a Scam

Who really said “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross”?

March 4, 2010 3 comments
What Happened to the Hominids Who Were Smarter Than Us? They never existed

What Happened to the Hominids Who Were Smarter Than Us? They never existed

Discover is running a piece on the “forgotten race” of hominids the Boskops, the remains of which were discovered in South Africa in 1913:

The scientific community of South Africa was small, and before long the skull came to the attention of S. H. Haughton, one of the country’s few formally trained paleontologists. He reported his findings at a 1915 meeting of the Royal Society of South Africa. “The cranial capacity must have been very large,” he said, and “calculation by the method of Broca gives a minimum figure of 1,832 cc [cubic centimeters].” The Boskop skull, it would seem, housed a brain perhaps 25 percent or more larger than our own. [...]

Boskop’s greater brains and extended internal representations may have made it easier for them to accurately predict and interpret the world, to match their internal representations with real external events.

Perhaps, though, it also made the Boskops excessively internal and self-reflective. With their perhaps astonishing insights, they may have become a species of dreamers with an internal mental life literally beyond anything we can imagine.

The authors of the piece, Gary Lynch and Richard Granger (who co-authored the book Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligence), wonder why the Boskop discovery has been almost entirely forgotten. University of Wisconsin paleoanthropologist has an answer for them:

This is obscure knowledge, but for a good reason — it’s obsolete and has been for fifty years! [...]

What happened is that a small set of large crania were taken from a much larger sample of varied crania, and given the name, “Boskopoid.” This selection was initially done almost without any regard for archaeological or cultural associations — any old, large skull was a “Boskop”. Later, when a more systematic inventory of archaeological associations was entered into evidence, it became clear that the “Boskop race” was entirely a figment of anthropologists’ imaginations. Instead, the MSA-to-LSA population of South Africa had a varied array of features, within the last 20,000 years trending toward those present in historic southern African peoples.

However:

To be sure, there has been a reduction in the average brain size in South Africa during the last 10,000 years, and there have been parallel reductions in Europe and China — pretty much everywhere we have decent samples of skeletons, it looks like brains have been shrinking. This is something I’ve done quite a bit of research on, and will continue to do so, because it’s interesting. But it is hardly a sign that ancient humans had mysterious mental powers — it is probably a matter of energetic efficiency (brains are expensive), developmental time (brains take a long time to mature) and diet (brains require high protein and fat consumption, less and less available to Holocene populations).

(Discover piece thanks to Paul, Hawks piece via Wikipedia)

January 3, 2010 0 comments
Conformists may kill civilizations

Conformists may kill civilizations

Robert Anton Wilson explained this years ago:

The capacity to learn from others is one of the traits that have made humans such a global success story. Relying on it too much, however, could have contributed to the demise of past populations, such as the Maya of southern Mexico in the eighth and ninth centuries and Norse settlers in Greenland 1,000 years ago.

Over-hunting, deforestation and over-population are well-worn routes to societal collapse. Now, Hal Whitehead of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Pete Richerson of the University of California, Davis, have modelled how different learning strategies fare in different environments. They found that conformist social learning — imitating and emulating what the majority are doing — may also cause the demise of societies. When environments remain stable for long periods, behaviour can become disconnected from environmental demands, so that when change does come, the effects are catastrophic1.

Environments often change in unpredictable ways and over timescales from the seasonal to millennial. Rainfall and temperature change both seasonally and annually; populations of predators, prey and pests rise and fall; soil conditions change.

Biology News: Conformists may kill civilizations

(via Weird Fiction via Blustr)

October 8, 2009 1 comment
We are all mutants

We are all mutants

Each of us has at least 100 new mutations in our DNA, according to research published in the journal Current Biology.

Scientists have been trying to get an accurate estimate of the mutation rate for over 70 years.

However, only now has it been possible to get a reliable estimate, thanks to “next generation” technology for genetic sequencing.

BBC: We are all mutants say scientists

September 2, 2009 2 comments