Re: "human brains are like peacock tails."

Dr. Ernest N. Prabhakar (
Fri, 17 Jul 98 23:35:32 -0700

You wrote:
> -----Original Message-----
> Speaking of which, I just read the most interesting theory on why human
> intelligence evolved. I wrote up a summary for my brother, but I think
> it applies to your conjecture. The basic premise is that human brains
> are like peacock tails. They are not there for any fundamental survival
> reason, except that humans prefer to mate with people who have big
> brains. Dave

Not so I've noticed.

I would agree that the human mind -- or for that matter, personality,
and either the illusion or reality of free willl -- doesn't have a really
good evolutionary explanation. It just screws too many things up that
would be much simpler if we were "mindless" genetic & culutral beings.
Why all this baggage?

Sure, one could argue -functional- skills are useful. I suppose the
trickiest part is language. Perhaps language is the most important
evolutionary aspect of being human. And perhaps one could argue that the
existence of language naturally leads to self-awareness, and hence
psychological complexity. Still, it seems like there'd be an easier way
to accomplish that without having to create Camus and Freud.

-- Ernie P.