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Are Our Brains Still Evolving? Are Humans Becoming More Intelligent Or Dumber?

While some research shows humans are expanding their cognition alongside technology, other evidence suggests a different pattern is in place.

An Ever-Changing Species

Even though the controversy regarding how human beings came into existence on earth is not seemingly going to come to an end anytime soon, it is an unquestionable fact that the present man has undergone significant physical changes as compared to early man. Historians have documented the stages of the evolution of man and attribute it to the need to the survival requirements of the human species. One of the most documented changes in the evolution of man is the change in the size and the shape of the cranium. Early man is thought to have been creative and intelligent. He discovered fire, the wheel, tools to hunt and even agriculture during the Agrarian Revolution. The change in the size and shape of the cranium sparked off the debate of whether the human brain is enlarging or shrinking, historians document that the shape of the cranium is attributed to the change in the shape of the jaws and the eye sockets. Even though the change in the size of the brain in documented, does in signify the change in the intelligence level of human beings, is man becoming more intelligent of less intelligent?

Fewer Daily Challenges to Overcome to Survive in Modernity

Due to the short lifespan of human beings and the thousands or even millions of years it takes for evolutionary events of a species to become apparent, there are no scientific records of the intelligent quotient (IQ) across the different stages in the evolution of man. However, through the activities performed by early and present man, scientists and historians have raised different opinions on the topic of human intelligence. According to researchers from Stanford University, human beings are becoming less intelligence because the genes responsible for brain power no longer mutate to adapt to survival conditions. The researchers argue that that the genes are susceptible to mutations are as man evolves, they became less important to the species and are being faced out. The team argue that early man developed the early man developed these genes due to their need to survive harsh conditions and find solutions to the problems, however, modern man is projected to develop physical characteristics to adapt to change rather than the intelligence. The researchers claim that by the time the genes are completely faced out, human will have figured out another alternative to their problems such as technological solutions.

Feebler Bodies to Come?

Researchers from Cambridge University and Cornell University led by Dr. John Sanford contend that early man was much more superior to the present man in terms of physical prowess and capacity, and that future man will be even weaker than present man. The researchers attribute the diminishing state of humanity to genetic mutations and the passing of mutant genes to the next generation of species. Early man was had pure genes that modern man and as evolution occurred, the genes mutated to adapt to the changes, the number of mutant genes have continued to grow as man continue to evolve. As man adopted technology and used it to make his work easier, he had a less physical requirement and the genes mutate to adopt to a less physical body. The scientists view that human physique including the loss of mental capacity is supported by historians and archaeologists who document that the remains of the early man were much bigger to that of the present man. The scientists from Cambridge University postulate that the Cro-Magnon man had a more superior brain and physique compared to the present man. The Agrarian Revolution which is benchmarked as the birthplace of modern technology is considered a crucial stage in the evolution of man. Archaeologists and historians document that a significant change occurred during the Agrarian revolution as man became less mobile as he opted for agricultural produce as a source of food compared to hunting and gathering that was more tiresome and dangerous.

Evidence for Ongoing Positive Cognitive Development in Humans

Other researchers argue that human beings are becoming more intelligent than their predecessors, and that the modern man is smarter and more knowledgeable than early man. In his book Are We Getting Smarter?: Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century, James Flynn states that modern man faces a wider range of problems and that he has developed a broader range of skills compared to early man. Modern man can solve more challenges in a quickly and efficiently than his predecessor. The change in the human physique is an evolutionary process that was beyond human control and that humans have just evolved to a new and better species. His sediments are seconded by Cadell Last, a researcher at the Global Brain Institute. According to Cadell, a new species of man will have developed by 2050. The revolutionary transition will be equivalent to the transition of man from apes to human beings. The modern man has evolved to be more aware of his surroundings and has developed skills to make his life easier using technology rather than develop survival skills in the manner of his predecessors. Cadell postulates that man is evolving to a less physical being due to lack of physical requirements, and that, as with the case with the tail, certain human organs such as the genitals are prone to be altered because reproduction will be low due to controlled reproduction as the global population increases. Cadell suggests that instead of developing survival skills, human beings are developing skills that allow them to supersede human capabilities, man will live longer, give birth at much older age and develop less muscular bodies.

Transhumanism

Cadell is seconded by Mathew Hughes, a software developer and writer, when he states that technology has made humans into smarter beings with more advanced capabilities. He states that is undergoing Transhumanism, a process where man is trying to surpass his limitations and human abilities. He cites the ancient Greek tales of Icarus and Daedalus who constructed wings to fly and compares them to modern man who is building technology to enable him to surpass human abilities. Prof. Nayef Al-Rodhan of Yale University states that human beings have evolved from the need to survive to Transhumanism due to the development of human intelligence. As man evolves, he develops different skills that allow him to adapt to the change. The early man developed skills to survive, while the modern man is actively shaping his own evolution.

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