Musings of a Member by Thoral Ibn Said

Professor Ivan Kurtz of Moscow University, a respected mibo-ethnologist, recently presented a novel hypothesis regarding the future of our species. His published paper entitled “The General De-Evolvement of Homo Sapiens” will be presented to the National Academy of Science in November.

The late Stephen J. Gould, the well known evolutionary biologist, said in his book A Full House that we humans are here by the “luck of the draw.” For Gould, it has nothing to do with any grand design or evolutionary mechanism. Evolution has been full of “fits and starts,” frequently leading to evolutionary dead ends.

Gould believed it was pure arrogance on our part to think that evolution has traveled in a steady, predictable direction toward human life. And, if it could be done all over again, it’s unlikely the universe would come up with anything remotely resembling us.

In Professor Kurtz’ view, Homo sapiens may in fact be reaching some sort of evolutionary “brick wall.” His paper also suggests that the speed at which we humans could be arriving at this dead end might be increasing by a factor of two every 24 months!

While it would be impossible here to cover all of Kurtz’ paradigm, a brief review of his two principle concepts are worth mentioning. The first he calls the survival/fear constraint. Kurtz believes all living organisms, including something as supposedly “simple” as bacteria, create a kind of knowledge log, which acts as an internal gyroscope, keeping the organism’s survival instincts focused.

Professor Kurtz has developed a numbering system from one to ten. Number one represents a species that possesses total fear of almost everything. Number 10 represents a species that lacks essentially all fear. It can be assumed in Kurtz’ model that no species is a perfect 1 or 10, as that would make its survival virtually impossible.

Predators in general cluster closer to 10 because they are hunters and, if not completely carnivorous, will eat meat from time to time. For example, Kurtz assigns the number 8.6 to a lion and an 8.0 to a cheetah. The cheetah gets a lower number than a lion because of a weaker jaw and a “kill” rate of only one in five attempts, a lower percentage than a lion.

An elephant, on the other hand, is assigned a number 6 because it is not carnivorous and has a highly developed sense of group responsibility to its own immediate herd and its species. In general, species that fall in the middle of the scale are more willing to integrate into their environment.

In Kurtz’ classification scheme, only humans go above 8.9. As well, unlike any other species, they fall into a range of between 9.0 and 9.5. Without going into lengthy detail, the broad factors the professor uses for assigning numbers for humans include population expansion and habitat destruction; environmental degradation attributable to humans; species cooperation; and human belief systems.

Professor Kurtz has concluded that Homo sapiens have a low fear threshold because of a poorly developed internal gyroscope. According to Kurtz, because of the primitive alarm mechanism of humans, our survival as a species is uncertain.

Of particular interest is the possibility we may be actually reverting or “retreating” back to a state we had passed through at least 40,000 years ago. If this hypothesis proves to be true, it would make our species truly unique.

But an even more astonishing possibility may be presenting itself, at the same time, according to the professor. The reason Kurtz has used a range of numbers is because he is strongly suggesting the possibility–admittedly tenuous right now–that we could be at the beginning stages of creating a new species, one that is related to us.

In a worldwide population of 6.8 billion people, the professor estimates, using his classification model, that possibly from one to two million individuals are consistently exhibiting a more highly developed internal gyroscope, thus the reason for a number in the range of 9.0.

The second principle is called the revelatory/egoism constraint. Simply stated, the essence of human character is a profound belief in magic, which can be interpreted as a deep-seated need for spirits and gods. It is virtually impossible for our species to see things as they are and not as they believe.

But, what Professor Kurtz is suggesting, is that a new species could be in the incipient stages of branching off from Homo sapiens; this new species is more willing to accept things as they actually are!

The revelatory/egoism constraint says that humans have a near pathological confusion between self and other. In other species this separation occurs at least by the time of puberty. At birth all species make no real distinction between self and other–or between wanting and getting–but they eventually outgrow this egocentric confusion. Not so for humankind.

Kurtz maintains that while “words” certainly influence behavior or can direct people to particular courses of action, words themselves possess no power whatsoever. Rational or objective thinking can only take place when humans are able to grasp the subjective nature of thinking. Thought has no “actual” power. You may hear voices emanating from the ether late at night, but whether or not those voices exist in the external world is another matter. (As an aside, Kurtz claims that the United States–among all developed nations–is currently showing the steepest negative rise in the revelatory/egoism constraint paradigm).

Allison Harper’s book Public Buffoonery, Welfare Capitalism, and the Political Process in America offers both an amusing and a serious commentary on the changing American politician and revelatory decision-making. It is worth reading, especially in light of Professor Kurtz’ contentions.

Finally, in an interview in Rypin, Poland two months ago, an American reporter with the respected Fox News Network, asked Professor Kurtz what one piece of advice he’d give to humankind. The quiet, soft-spoken professor hesitated for just a moment and then said to the young blonde reporter, “Look hard for pink elephants at dawn.” Before the confused Fox News reporter could ask for clarification, Professor Kurtz hobbled slowly up the steps of the zeppelin EMU and vanished inside.

Posted: March 15th, 2010
Categories: Written Word
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