Survival from a Known or Unknown Risk
I tried for quite a while to come up with a title that encompassed my thoughts and ideas in a particular avenue of thinking about possibilities. This seems to broadly cover a lot of the areas, but isn’t exclusive to what my thought experiment consisted of. To start with we need to try to define the context in which our current level of society exists, and what assumptions we are currently using. In western culture we consider ourselves able, advanced and intelligent. This is based on the current version of ‘truths’ that is particular to our society. But it isn’t as simple as mathematics, as these truths change with the age in which you are in, and the system you use to look at them. The Liberal idea of what is right isn’t necessarily the correct one. If there is such thing a correct way of looking at things, or a self evident truth it may be vastly different than modern people currently have decided it is. 1+1 will rarely make 3 even if people are prepared to go to war, imprison or torture you, and the whole of society will shout you down and demand your destruction for doubting it.
To try and work out what is necessary for the future, we need to know what has happened in the past. We have only real knowledge of one planet, and a vague impression of others by remote devices in our one solar system, based on we think one sun in one galaxy travelling at some velocity, in roughly thataway direction. Nobody has measured close up of any other sun and most ideas are based on a general theory of what is happening to our sun, and building complex theoretical structures based on that. The assumption that all other areas of the universe conform exactly to our know laws of physics is an assumption that may not turn out to be true. So we have a best guess based on what we guess is right. We have not touched the sun, or gone anywhere near it, but we think we have a rough idea what is happening. When you see reported any events happening elsewhere in our solar system or universe that is unexpected and a surprise, it is because the theoretical structure was somewhere between slightly wrong and totally wrong, so didn’t predict it and probably needs altering. Science is about trying to get the guess right more times than wrong. The better the science hopefully the less wrong guesses. But we have a poor record on a lot of definitive and exact structured theory based on guesswork.
The other problem is that we know very little that has happened in the past 100 years, and have hearsay for most of that, some of it probably incorrect, so any history, apart from maybe general recorded physical events is usually speculation and simply made up, quite often to fit a romantic idea. Unless you perform your own experiments to confirm this most information is hearsay and based on the status of the reporter. Even in recent times information is modified. I was speaking to my daughter about an event that was recorded on the internet, where she stated a particular event happened and how it was viewed. Because I was there I said’ not really’, but she still believed it happened that way, as the internet has a better credibility than witnesses. The way historical events are portrayed gives an indication more of the psychology of the reporter than the event. The first thing we need to cover is intelligence. Intelligence is one of those things that in our modern age we claim to possess. We have undertaken and produced many things to give this impression, so we’ll take it as self-evident for now.
But at what time did this intelligence reach a level at which we would call productive in a modern sense. We can look at chimpanzees or orang-utans, but do we marvel at their civilizations? If they are exposed to current devices and stimuli they seem to portray a standard of understanding and use that is getting close to our own, but not quite to the level of the least able mentally of our race. Dolphins, whales and elephants show similar comparable intelligences, dogs even with a lower level than those, by close association with humans can work out things quite well, but are mainly akin to things that are trained close to their wild counterparts instincts. This sets a maximum base point for our line of species, about when chimpanzees, gorillas, and orang-utans diverged from us, probably about 1.8 million years ago. But the oldest stone tools have been discovered which date from about 2.8 million years. No other primate has shown any real ability in this area unless they are first shown by us, and there hasn’t been a single case of another primate fashioning such a thing, in all the times they have been observed. Neanderthals seem to have developed around 400,000 years ago and had brain sizes of comparable size to modern humans, but we have no knowledge of complexity, but there has been recently been found signs of complex activity, so we could probably take that an able form of human has existed for at least 300,000 years, maybe as far as a million years. There are still some remote tribes is existence and there have been many in the past that showed no higher level of complex behaviour above what seem to be implicated there.
We now come to ‘what have they been doing all this time’? The first real stonework dates from about 12,000 years ago and could not have been just ‘thrown’ together; The construction needed quite a considerable society around it to be able to produce it, so these were what could be classed as primitive root grubbing hunter-gatherers, with sharpened sticks. This was the sophistication of an ordered society. Did this just instantly come about from nowhere, highly unlikely? This would need a lot of generations of working together for a common goal, culminating in the stonework building, so you are probably looking at thousands of years of prior social shuffling. It is still though assuming that there are sudden jumps in behaviours and characteristics, a thing not found in nature, which unusually favours long term gradual changes. Things can happen very quickly if there is a major environment change, but it usually leaves other signs that this has happened, such as large boulders where they shouldn’t be, inch thick carbon layers, 10 feet of pumice, or seashells on the top of a mountain. Bit of a giveaway. Such prompts suggest a warped sense of humour. From analysing grain and other deposits at Gobekli Tepe scientists get a date from around 10,000BC or 12,000 years ago. Ancient historians claim that a later nearby city was probably the first evidence of agriculture to be found based on this and that Gobekli Tepe was created by hunter gatherer people. So, we have a group that is basically a subsistence way of life transporting and relief carving up to 10 tonne stones, some 18 feet high, and setting them in place. Using similar tools, carving, and transport methods of the time it’s estimated that it would have taken 20 people 20 years to carve the stones and possibly three times that number to transport them, if they knew exactly what they were doing, having a long tradition of doing so. There are signs that even more ambitious stones up to 50 tonnes were being planned there, still at the quarry. Not bad for simple people who had to go out most days to hunt and prepare food, Some estimates suggest that if you had 500 people with free time you could possibly construct the whole site within 120 days. You would probably need about twice the number to keep them fed, so it’s possible for a group of 1500 people with the exact organisation, experience and knowledge already present to do it. It’s a complicated set of affairs with many givens and assumptions of expert knowledge and organisation in the right place at the right time. No learning is needed and people without prior developed skills, using simple tools, effectively practicing and learning on the job, produced reliefs that expert stone workers with modern power tools would find hard to do so. It was then buried so nobody knew it was there, probably taking the same people 10 years to do so. It seems the alternative and simple answer is not acceptable to ancient historians. There was a long established agricultural community there then, and that the historians refuse to accept it because they haven’t seen it or proven it personally. The site was not as far as anybody is aware subject to a terrible disaster that cover the area, such as volcanic action or a biblical level flood. The signs aren’t there, so it probably was buried. The act of burying it is troubling. If they suddenly hated it or had a complete change they would have destroyed it. They could have demolished it completely with fire within a few months. It suggests that there was a drastic change that they knew was coming, and they wanted to preserve it for future generations or people. An that change was due or happened 12,000 years ago.
One of the most worrying aspects of trying to study prehistory is that Göbekli Tepe was deliberately buried. I consider this of vital significance. It’s about 9500BCE, built by a primitive hunter gatherer society, a project that few modern small towns would attempt, about the same time that the Clovis people of the US were around and disappeared, and things simultaneously like millet, rice and soybean were domesticated in China, maize and beans in Central America, wheat, barley, lentil, and chickpea in the middle east and potatoes and tomatoes in the Southern America. About the same time as the Gwion cave paintings in Australia. Say we have15,000 years for stone construction, that still leaves between 385,000 and 2,785,000 years unaccounted for. Recent evidence suggests that Neanderthals and possibly early Sapiens were not the knuckle dragging primitive ape level species that is often portrayed, and it would be probably very likely that if they were born into todays society they would have an active technological ability not much different to us. So at minimum we are left with creatures that could go from a simple nomadic life to landing men on the moon 25 times over, maximum 180 times over.
We often assume that because people in the past did not have technology they were less able and primitive compared to modern man. We assume this as we are in the future and have things they didn’t. That they may have had social systems that made our society look like random acts of primitive uneducated barbarians doesn’t enter into our thoughts. This is an assumption based on no evidence; just what people want to think. The view of Neanderthals I think is also tarred with this same prejudice, and there is appearing evidence pointing to the opposite that is generally thought. If you look at some of the achievements that people have been found to have done in the past, few modern people without all their education and extensive training could manage, but they did them with what they had.
I made a short list of 30 people over the past 2,500 years, and some proven intelligent modern people, who are considered the smartest that ever lived. From what we can find out about history, in many ways defining a culture by at best a set of old faded images, Mesopotamia was the first really known civilization where we saw really impressive works of art, but Göbekli Tepe was in existence possibly 5,000 years before that, so we are at around 12,000 years ago the first demonstrations of modern equal, as there is no real difference between 12,000 years and 400 years ago in capability.
We have ecological statistical rules such as Bergmann’s Rule and Allen’s rule, but they both have large anomalies in disparate species associated with them, and some species cover or migrate nearly the globe.
The list is Leonardo da Vinci, William Siddis, Judit Polgar, Sir Isaac Newton, Plato, Aristotle, William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, Confucius, Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, Satyendra Nath Bose, Gottfried Leibniz, Galileo Galilei, Johann Goethe, Avicenna aka Ibn Sina, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Garry Kasparov, Aryabhata, Voltaire, Philip Terence Tao, Cleopatra, Marilyn vos Savant, Mislav Predavec, Rick Rosner, Christopher Langan, Evangelos Katsioulis, Kim Ung-Yong, Christopher Hirata. I’ve used this list as an example trying to work out statures, so that an average ratio can be estimated. As we don’t have direct forensic evidence it’s in a lot of ways guesswork. I have the spreadsheet available, but actual knowledge of their brain size, structure and complexity is unknown. Even for Einstein whose brain was analysed, there was a lot of guesswork and disagreement among the doctors who looked at it.
From this list I compiled statures and estimated brain size that suggests that as long as the brain is within accepted norms, say from 900-2100cc, there isn’t much to tell about the resultant level of intelligence, and the level really goes on a combination of size of brain, size of the animal in comparison, size of the animal and number of neurons. It’s interesting that under the age of 1 a child’s brain is below the minimum of this band and doesn’t really start to be within adult norms until 3-4 year of age, the biggest growth being between 9 months and 3 years, the fastest time of learning.
We can express this in very rough terms by using:
Brain Control Bc = Sb1
Where Sb1 is size of the brain and Sa is size of the animal. The bigger the animal the more has to be devoted to control of the body, and the smaller the brain the less processing power that is available. This gives an optimal figure between ½ and 1 ½ times human range.
The second part of the terms is:
Processing Strength Ps = N
Where N is the number of neurons, allowing for complexity of processing to take place, but depending the larger size of the brain in comparison giving a lower density, so less overall connections and understanding.
Leaving the combination giving an indication of intelligence:
Intelligence Bc x Ps
I’ve not put it in one equation, as Sb1 and Sb2 are different ratios or values that also need to be worked out. But it tends to give an optimal figure between ½ and 3 times human ranges.
If you compare ratios, small ants have the highest proportion of brain to body and something like hippopotami have one of the worst on land. At sea, a sperm whale has a brain 6 times the size of humans, but the body is 75 times the mass. A jellyfish probably has a distributed mechanism that works as a brain, being much closer to a communal animal than a communicating animal. Cut an arm or leg off and a jellyfish won’t even notice.
The closest animal to man in comparison with these ratios is the Dusky Dolphin that weighs on average about 50% more, has a brain 64% bigger, but has 14% less complexity.
Humans have a range from 900-2100 gram brain with a ratio of between 50:1 and 40:1 Neanderthals had brain range from 1300-1736cc and a ratio that averaged around 46:1 that is right in the middle of the Sapiens range.
We do not at the moment know the number of neurons that an average Neanderthal had, but if it turns out to be a similar density as a Sapiens brain, that would almost invariably lead to the conclusion that Neanderthals and sapiens at that time were equally as capable as each other and modern man given the opportunity.
If you look at Chimpanzee’s, the brain is about 1/3rd of the size of a human’s, but bodies about 2/3rd the weight, and in Orang-utan’s and Gorillas the bodies are larger for less than half the size of brain.
The idea that Neanderthals were solitary cave dwelling knuckle dragging apes, little above gorillas in intellect is one of modern assumption, not anything to do with facts or evidence, which suggest different, just more unfounded and unproven prejudice against what are considered the backward and uncivilised people of the past, and it’s very likely that man was of similar intellect to today 300,000 years ago. This begs the question; what have they been doing all this time?
Neanderthals had a size and brain capacity that would not be out of place to fit into modern human society. They could and did breed with Homo Sapiens Sapiens, so it is high time to put them in their proper place as an important part of us. But what part they play, apart from likely greater immunity we don’t really know, but we can assume that we aren’t vastly superior in intellectual or social capability, just more advanced in technical capability simply through being in a technical society.
This document isn’t a hard and fast rule, but shows general indications, as it may comes down to purely surface areas, a brain having little content internally, but having a large relatively convoluted thin outside layer being more important.
Next we come to the dinosaurs. Again, the current view is that they were all simply primitive lizards hunting and being hunted with no intelligence or abilities apart from being able to attack and eat things. They first came out about 230 million years ago, and probably reached a substantial level 140 million years ago. At that time there were dinosaurs that had brains that were larger than our ancestors at the time. We assume they did not evolve past this stage, while mammal brains and bodies developing into us they stayed the same. If intelligence is not just a fluke, then it would be logical to deduce that other creatures, such as those around 140 million years ago could develop to a suitable level within 40 million years. This would give a guess at an intelligent species of dinosaur around 100 million years ago. Given the 15,000 year from bottom to top for our species this would suggest somewhere near a timescale allowing for similar civilizations to evolve from hunter gathers to space age 6000 times over. If neither of these are true, then is suggests that technology is very hard to develop (at least 1:25, maybe 1:180) and intelligence is just a fluke (at least 1:6000). These two figures combined alone suggest a civilization Drake equation reduction by a factor of something like 150,000. If you add the other factor there has only been one form of life developed on a ‘perfect’ planet, with a perfect combination of elements, in a perfect orbit, around a perfect sun, in the perfect area of the galaxy, statistical chance should give millions upon millions of different bases. The fact that there isn’t suggests that the odds against life occurring may be as high as 1,000,000,000,000:1, or maybe as much as 150,000,000,000,000,000:1. We would be very surprising, as multiplying by the number of stars might suggest it should not be enough for us to exist, or if there is another civilization out there we may have to scour the universe for about the length of its existence to find it. It would be just our luck to be invaded by aliens who are intent on wiping us out, or we find aliens to wipe out and the universe ends. We would have to concede a draw in advance. Or they may have a massive inferiority complex and rather than the line ‘Take us to your leader’, may in fact say ‘take us to your stupidest person’, so they won’t feel so bad. You never can tell with aliens. It could be that their species was one of devolution where they devolved from higher forms and worked their way down to a second trombone. Back to survival. It is extremely rare to find a creature other than humans who will willingly give their life to save others. Also it is extremely rare for a creature other than a human to not to try to fight to the last, or try as much as they can to escape death. Even creatures that are mortally wounded will try to get away and will not just resign themselves, so there is an inbuilt imperative to survive. It is also extremely rare to find a creature other than a human who will refuse to carry on the species, again an inbuilt imperative. A lot of these things go against our built in nature and it’s interesting that much of the actions that are considered noblest and admirable are based on the opposite of our built in instincts. It is considered what separates us from the mere beasts of the jungle, but this is not true for all things, human species survival for as long as possible is still considered our primary goal, although a lot of famous leaders seem to be fixated on the idea of making us extinct. The opposite side to there being massive probabilities that a species or multiple species of saurian descendants of the dinosaurs, or previous human like civilizations existed in the past, is that something keeps on resetting the dominant species back to primitive levels on a regular basis. This is even more cause for concern as it would suggests a short periodic reset that could only be a short time period away. Not taking advantage of a time of progress and allowing a global disaster to reset everything as before, could mean that eventual extinction faces all. Scientific and social procrastination may in fact be making sure our set of species also falls by the wayside. We cannot assume we will have unlimited tries before history decides Humans as an entire species were a waste of space and this may be it, our chance. The current score as we know it is: Independent civilizations – 1 small planet Independent outposts in orbit – 1 tiny one dependent wholly on earth Independent outposts in nearby space – 0 Independent outposts on moons – 0 Independent outposts on other planets – 0 Independent outposts on moons around other planets – 0 Independent outposts at other stars – 0 Independent outposts at other galaxies – 0 Chance of long-term survival – 0. Effective percentage difference in survival chances over past 2.8 million years – 0. Maybe I am being a little pessimistic, the figure could be as high as a possible 0.000025%, which is vastly much better than it was 100 years ago. We are doing our best to save the planet, a task that is impossible, and we are beginning to have an effect. At the current rate at least we can be comfortable with a safe clean environment when it disappears completely and all known life dies. Shame we couldn’t save any of it when we had a chance, including ourselves, spending more time looking at our mobile phones.
Now, survival. This usually depends on not being where the sphere of operation of a disaster happens to occur. A world-wide one such as an asteroid hit and it’s more likely to be in the sea, so masive tidal waves are likely and high or at least higher ground is a must. Global sea rise and most coastal areas will be flooded or subject to continual flooding. At a guess sea-rise is almost certain, possibly by as much as 50 feet, but the time scale may be decades or centuries, a fast or out of control feedback system causing it possibly within a time period of a couple of years.