Vanity- The Sequel!

Previously I made a ludicrous claim that humans have an innate tendency to believe in things that don’t exist or to put it in other words – we have evolved to believe in fiction.

A Darwinist (yes, it’s an actual term, I am not making it up) believes that behavioral features that are distinct and compulsive should serve an evolutionary purpose. Well I am not such a strong believer in evolution by natural selection as I believe genetic mutation also plays an important role, but that doesn’t mean that I am not a strong supporter of natural selection. Rather most of the adaptations that have survived are because of natural selection. So, one can ask why is it that humans spend so much time and mental energy in art, literature. Why aren’t we doing something more meaningful?

We see that kittens, puppies and lion cubs are trained to hunt and fight, so when they are big enough to venture on their own they can hunt and provide for themselves. They are trained to face the real world, where they have to hunt and fight to survive. Similarly, humans train themselves to survive the real world which is made of social situations where learning to react to immediate situations is a part of it. We practice role playing, we imagine different situations without it happening so that we are ready for it. Basically, we fictionalize the world, and by extension we have a tendency to believe in fiction. We are the only species on this earth that believes in stories and ridiculous imaginations, but on the other hand you can never convince a monkey to kill itself by promising it 72 bananas after its death.

This ability to have strong belief systems has made us form groups of millions, nay billions. And by numbers we have become the dominate species on this planet. A more curious point is that Neanderthals, our closest relatives, had bigger brains than us. Neanderthals had an average brain size of 1500 cubic centimeters (cc), whereas we humans have an average brain size of 1350 cc. we have a 11% smaller brain than Neanderthal but we pushed them to extinction as we could form really big groups and basically out number them.

In conclusion, it’s very easy for us to believe in fiction, because it’s an integral part of us which has made us survive and dominate this planet. We will believe when told that shell of a nautilus follows Fibonacci series but we question global warming, we believe in unicorns but doubt that we landed on moon.

The Great Wall of China is not the only man-made object that can be seen from moon. Every taste can be detected on every part of the tongue. The story about NASA developing a space pen while the Russians used a pencil isn’t true. NASA also used pencils, the first space pen was developed privately by the Fisher Pen Company and Napoleon Bonaparte was not short, he was 5’7” which was taller than average height at that time.

So, it’s always better to question and probe deep to find answers, rather than believing in stories. As art and literature enrich our lives, so should science and truth lead us to a better tomorrow.

-Rishyashringa J. S., Project Leader, BRAINSTARS

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