Astrobiologist: Are humans freaks of nature?
|January 14, 2017||Posted by News under Animal minds, Extraterrestrial life, Intelligent Design, Mind, Naturalism, News|
Taking issue wth paleontologist Simon Conway Morris, astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch writes at Air and Space Smithsonian:
Since we doubtlessly did originate from animal ancestors, the gap between us and them must have been bridged at some point in time. Perhaps it was not a jump, but a continuous evolution. Were the mental abilities of the cavewoman or caveman really as advanced as today’s humans? How much ability for abstraction and appreciation of complex numbers did they have?
Since modern humans are the evidence that bridging the gap is possible, we might ask why it wasn’t bridged earlier, perhaps by an intelligent octopus, a smart dinosaur, a dolphin, or another ape? They’ve had millions more years to evolve than we have, but in their case the gap was not overcome. Are we really so special? If so, what it is it, exactly, that makes us special? Being a natural-born cyborg, as Andy Clark argues?
This lies at the core of the Fermi Paradox (or better called the Great Silence)—the puzzle of why we haven’t seen any spacefaring aliens. More.
People who explore these questions talk as though “humans” were some species other than ourselves and as though common sense reasoning should play no role in addressing our experience.
How about this: Humans invented the concept of “freaks of nature.” It has no meaning outside humanly developed categories.
Humans ask all questions about the way things are or aren’t. No other known life form does anything like that.
Casuistical experiments intended to advance notions such as that apes have a theory of mind mainly testify to the human need to believe things that cannot be true, in support of a cause.
Why do intelligent people make strenuous efforts to believe things that are simply—and obviously—untrue? When there is so much to be done about things that are obviously true? Is this part of post-fact science?
Note: The question of humans as special doesn’t lie “at the core” of the Fermi Paradox (why haven’t the space aliens visited us)? We don’t know why space aliens haven’t visited us because we don’t know that they even exist. That makes it hard to trim the field of explanations…
It would be nice if the aliens showed up. They would keep science writers in work for decades.
But if the evidence suggests that we are alone, why can’t we accept that? Is all this part of post-fact science too?
See also: How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?
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In search of the minimal self
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