30th January 2013
Charlie Stross, award-wining speculative fiction author and knee-jerk socialist, has some interesting thoughts.
Our ability to exchange extended phenotypic traits without genetic exchange (thank you, language faculty!) makes us, as Dawkins pointed out in the 1990s, exceptional.
Because of this ability, we don’t have to invent everything for ourselves, individually; we can borrow one anothers’ good ideas. So we only need to be smart enough to understand and use the cognitive tools created by our most intelligent outliers.
This is a sharp insight. What follows?
The evolutionary pressure selecting for general intelligence (to the extent that general intelligence exists) breaks once a species develops language.
Hmmmm. There’s food for thought. This would certainly explain the conjunction of Charlie’s superb writing skills with his moronic political opinions. I have a theory that the reason most people who write for a living are Liberal Fascists is that they are so accustomed to being able to control every aspect of their stories (whether what they do reflects Real Life, or is even feasible in Real Life) inclines them into an intellectually lazy acceptance of the notion that some wise central authority should surely be able to take action and obviate whatever aspect of Real Life is currently chapping their butts. What is especially amusing, in an ironic way, is that they are the first to claim membership in the ‘Reality-Based Community’, much the same way that totalitarian Communist regimes are fond of naming their concentration camps ‘Democratic Republic of Supressistan’.
Not a source of optimism. But Real Life seldom is.