Friday, January 08, 2010

The "Human" Spark?

PBS is out to set our collective understanding of the world back by at least 100 years with a miniseries that started this week, called The Human Spark.

The aim of the show is to find out why humans are different from all other life, a very old fashioned idea and one that does not need exploration, since there is much more to learn about how other life is similar to humans.

They're using Alan Alda's star power to bring people to the show, and it is supposed to present "science" to support such proven-false ideas as,
empathy and cooperation are "characteristically human qualities" (their words),
humans are the only species to possess language,
humans are the only species to make and use tools,
humans are the only species to be concerned with social status,
and other things that are supposed to make us superior to all the rest of the living world.

Our society has suffered for far too long under such erroneous ideas that separate us from all other life. Animals' languages exist are are being deciphered by open-minded scientists. Animals make and use tools, as reported by scientists willing to observe clearly. And on and on; pick almost any article I've written here. To the careful, open-minded observer, there is a greater unity between ourselves and other living beings than outmoded, established science is willing to admit.

And the real problem here is, as history has shown, separation leads to unfamiliarity with the other, which gets transformed into the other being seen as inferior, which leads to the destruction of it.

Thus, all life on earth would benefit by exploring that which makes us one with all life. Spreading the fallacious idea of separation will lead to more extinction.

Unfortunately for us all, Alan Alda is prepared to tell us that we must believe in the dark-age philosophies. And because he is Alan Alda, an awful lot of people will not question what he says.

Thanks a lot, PBS.

The first of the series aired this week, but it focused on just one topic: Why homo sapiens is superior to what scientists have speculated about neanderthals (homo neanderthalensis). That's what it comes down to, speculation, because no one has ever observed neanderthals. They even created a wax bust showing how a neanderthal man was supposed to look different from modern man. The funny thing is, it reminded me of an actor from a few years ago.

Joe E. Ross versus artist's conception of a neanderthal
Point not made, PBS.

The scenario they presented about how homo sapiens took over Europe from the neanderthals actually played out nearly exactly the same as how Europeans took over the Americas from the Native Americans. This suggests, then, it isn't genes, it isn't brain size, or any other physical attribute, but instead it's a societal thing. One society was better prepared to move in and take over from another society. There was no proof of any innate superiority or "human spark".

Future shows are scheduled to demonstrate why homo sapiens is superior to other species. I don't expect any proof there, either.
"Humans have always assumed that they are more intelligent than dolphins because they had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars, and so on -- whilst all dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But the dolphins have always believed that they were far more intelligent than man -- for precisely the same reasons."
--Douglas Adams

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