Evolution Makes Us Really Bad Futurists. . . But Really Good At Painting Sad Pictures

Let’s travel back in time, let’s say, 100-thousand years. Give or take a few centuries. Your choice.

I know some of us would not be caught dead in the Middle Paleolithic Period. That’s okay. I understand. For all of you, just picture yourself in the Upper Paleolithic Period.

Back then, the world was filled with perils, most of them modern humans can’t imagine. Being stomped to death by wooly mammoths, eaten by saber-toothed tigers, or contracting some parasitic disease many millennia before vaccines, just to name a few.

ivp1In that world, it made a lot of sense for hominids to be shortsighted and reactionary. If you are being charged by a giant cat who outweighs you by two thousand pounds, chances are you didn’t have time to study up on the danger, check out some books from the library on big cats, and make a list of possible escape routes.

You just ran away as fast as your hairy, dirty feet could take you.

That ‘ancient’ world is where our brains evolved. The Paleolithic period basically helped create you and me. We are wired to respond to a world that no longer exists. Sure, there are still dangers, like being flattened by a city bus. But for the most part, if you have the technology to read this blog, your life is relatively cushy compared to our ancient cave-dwelling ancestors.

100-thousand years ago, it made sense to think about the present. In fact, that’s about all you had to think about. If you lived to 30, you were a really, really, old hominid. Now, many people live well into their 70s and 80s.

Evolution has been wonderful. It made us into creative, thinking humans with language skills and technology and art. These leaps in imagination gave us creative people like Pablo Picasso. During Picasso’s Blue Period in the early 1900s, he primarily painted with the color blue. His paintings were increasingly sorrowful and somber in tone and color. Kind of depressing, but beautiful.

Model BrainOur brains formed in the ancient plains of Africa. We were very good at scanning the grass for predators that hungered for human flesh.

But the time has come to think beyond today, beyond the predator in the grass, beyond the sun set.

There are big questions facing humanity. Probably some of the largest conundrums we’ve ever struggled with. The big problem is making humanity realize the predator in the grass is not going to pounce us. It will slowly overtake us. It’s called climate change, or overpopulation, or peak oil, biological epidemic, or nuclear Armageddon. Only then will we evolve again.

And if we fail, humanity will be entering our very own blue period. But there may not be any more Picassos around to find the beauty in the chaos.


About Blog Boss

Jim MacKenzie and Sarah Giavedoni are the creators of the blogs Stuff Monsters Like, the Incredible Vanishing Paperweight, and more. When they are not blogging, they are devoted to managing the Asheville Blogger Society, watching movies, running a completely unrelated nonprofit, and making money at their paid employment.
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