Human Nature: The Caveman in all of us

We humans are a confusing species. We do crazy things, we believe in crazy things and when our emotions rise high, our craziness rises to meet them? So what’s going on here? We’re (supposedly) intelligent modern-day human beings, not prehistoric club-dragging cavemen anymore. We’ve evolved! — Haven’t we?

How can a technological advancing species such as ourselves, be prone to bouts of illogical, nonsensical, craziness? Not to mention our dark side, our tendencies towards violence, selfishness, and indifference which we all know is just scratching the surface of mankind’s evil ways. Well yes, maybe in our past you might say?

Yet, are we really that much different today?

It’s almost like evolution has skipped over our human nature and instead simply carried over our primitive prehistoric traits. Could a caveman’s imperfect human nature still reside in us today? Is that even possible? Looking at even our recent history — It’d be pretty hard to argue against it don’t you think?

So yes, let’s say for the sake of argument, that we still posses our ancient prehistoric tendencies for violence, hatred, racism and all manners of ill-will towards each other. After all, a quick glance at today’s news or a casual query of our history will provide proof enough. But what about the more subtle, less obvious traits of our ancestral lineage. Do we still carry even these with us today? Is there still a lot of caveman in us?

PRIORITIZING THREATS

When I say… Climate change! Global warming! What is your initial reaction? I’m betting it’s not the same, doesn’t produce the same fears and concerns in you it once did. After all, the warnings have been around for so long now (decades in fact) that we’ve grown more than accustomed to hearing them.

Maybe? Even tired of hearing them?

Yet? We’re talking about the destruction of our planet? Our one and only home? We’re talking about changes that if made now, may save the lives of our children, or our children’s children in the future? How can this not be our biggest priority? Have we become numb to the warnings of the possible environmental destruction of our world? Is that even possible?

Have the seemingly endless newscasts, documentaries, and the parade of data-fueled scientists mundanely stating their case of impending planetary doom due to climate change — numbed our fears over time? As in — “Yeah, yeah, climate change” — “Borrr-ing!”

Now of course we are not talking about all of us! Many of us still care very much, are active protesters, concerned parents, or avid advocates for environmental change. Yet, and somewhat amazingly, these climate change worriers are not in the majority!

And certainly not among our government leaders, as has been proven time and time again. But this affects everybody, right? Each and every one of us living on this planet! In fact all living life on this planet! So what the hell is going on here?

Deep in our hearts, most of us, even the deniers, must know that we are allowing the slow destruction of our planet. The evidence, after all, is undeniable. Can be seen with our very own eyes!

The polar caps are melting and our oceans are rising. They are filled with dead zones and islands of plastic waste float on their surface. And our woodlands and tropical forests are being cleared at alarming rates.

The air in some cities, notably in India, China and Pakistan is so polluted, that masks must be worn and the sun filters dirty-smog orange around them. Oil and chemical spills from ocean tankers and railway cars are common and regularly pollute even our most pristine environments.

And although scientifically proven to be devastating to both our health and the health of our environment, the burning of coal on a large industrial scale continues in almost every country! On top of all the evidence, science has been warning us for decades about mankind’s eventual deliverance of global warming!

Yet still, most of us have become, passively unconcerned?

Oh, there have been many past protests, many public outcry’s, including, though to no avail, getting the topic to prominence at world environmental summits. However, when these things failed to make a difference, our concerns didn’t double-down — but instead, slowly and with time, somewhat abated?

So Why?

I suppose there can be many reasons. Like the influencing propaganda from Corporate greed or Government indifference. A lack of will or a perception of insufficient funding to enable change. Then of course, there are many who simply don’t believe in global warming or climate change to begin with. Or perhaps, don’t really care either way? — “Hey, it won’t affect me, not in my lifetime!”

Still, the endless plethora of reasons for our growing unconcern about climate change is, at least on the surface, somewhat perplexing. — Or is it?

HUMAN NATURE

Perhaps the answer lies in our human nature. As a species, we have a hard time concerning ourselves with matters of importance unless they are somewhat immediate. Immediate, and perceived as an imminent or a direct concern to us and our loved ones. After all, that’s how evolution has programmed us to prioritize and respond to threats. It’s in our human make-up. Part of our inherent survival instincts.

If, as an example, we all got cancer 2 weeks after starting to smoke cigarettes instead of decades later? Nobody would smoke! The threat would be imminent and not down the road in the distant future. — “Hey, I’ve got lots of time! It’s not like I’m going to smoke forever! I’ll quit soon enough and all will be well!”

Perhaps this is much like our thoughts on the environment? Because the apex of destruction is not anticipated until well into our future, our human nature prevents us from categorizing climate change as an immediate threat. Even though the ticking clock seems to say that it is so.

As of this post today, surely the virus pandemic and associated fears now occupy the #1 concerns on our threat list. Racial intolerance and the sometimes associated violent protests also take up a lot of our immediate concerns. Perhaps tomorrow, yet another more immediate threat will lower our climate change worries even further down the list.

Our human nature has us constantly reprioritizing perceived threats. To ourselves, our families and the immediate group that we identify with. These human instincts, that served us well in a long ago much more dangerous world, still reside within us today.

So what seems to be at first glance, an absence of concern (as in climate change), actually happens naturally to all of us, and all the time. In fact, it’s inherent in us as a species. Just part of our Caveman influenced Human Nature. A carried-over trait, from our primitive past.

MODERN MAN — CAVEMAN INSTINCTS

There are many such examples of how our ancient caveman instincts still play havoc in our lives today. We get complacent easily for example, and have a hard time willing ourselves to initiate change. Even in hard times or in unwanted life situations we have a tendency to adapt rather than seek anew. Ancient instincts of self-preservation as in risk vs reward perhaps?

We also, often make decisions based on emotion, or make snap-judgements of others with just one glance. Or judge them because of their appearance, perceived intellect or social status. Their race, color or Creed. Ancient instincts to fear others not of our group.

Many of us still have a natural, yet ancient fear of snakes or spiders. We react instinctively with alarm to sudden loud noises even when in a safe and secure environment like our home. We are still, subconsciously wary of strangers not of our immediate identifying group, and we crave high-energy consumption and thus high-calorie foods rich in fats, sugar and carbohydrates. All carryover instincts from our prehistoric days.

Modern mankind it seems, comes with a lot of unwanted baggage?

So why are these left-over instincts still with us today in the age of modern man?

Perhaps, it’s really not that surprising! Considering the time frame of evolution and evolution by natural selection. Which, in most cases, works its magic gradually, taking millions, even billions of years. And mankind? Well if you mean our species Homo Sapiens — We are still babies! About, 300,000 yrs. old.

Still, according to Neuroscientist Paul Maclean and his book “The Triune Brain in Evolution” our caveman carryovers are very explainable!

The evolution of the human brain, consists of our early centered, or core, primitive brain. Layered, or wrapped around this, is a very old brain addition. And finally, wrapped around both of these is our newer or most recent evolutionary addition.

The two, newer brain tissue expansions, were layered atop the older ones therefore adding to the capabilities of our older brains — “But not replacing them!”

As a result, ancient corridors and hallways had been preserved, retaining their original functions. Thus the circuitry of today’s modern brain is in fact an integrated mixture of our ancient primitive, our very old, and our most recent. All layered atop each other (thus the folded look) yet functioning together as a whole!

The results of this construction is: A mind prone to error, forgetfulness, superstition, illogic, and instances of very poor judgement. In reality, we posses the brain of primates (originally but still there.) We’ve evolved not with a mind for precision and accuracy, subtlety and morality — but for cold-hearted selfishness in our pursuit for survival, reproduction, and all the ancient basics that natural selection endowed in us.

Now that’s a little scary! — But it does explain a lot about our violent history, or our, even today (check the news) not so perfect human nature.

It looks like modern-day man still has a lot of club-dragging caveman inside him after all!

PERSPECTIVE

So why do we humans do crazy things? Believe in crazy things? Sometimes act as if we have the intellect of a primitive tree-swinging Baboon? And why, as a species, are we still prone to violence, selfishness, excessive greed and the lure of power? … WHY?

Perhaps it’s our primitive inner-caveman trying to get out.

After all, whether we want him or not.

He’s still resides inside us.

Playing his part in our very much imperfect — Human Nature!

 

WordofWayne©

 

 

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Human Nature: The Caveman in all of us

  1. After reading AP2 rant and your brilliant article I totally see things in a very different perspective! Instead of the brain evolving right away it first must grow to a higher capacity but still remain in the same neurological state it was earlier (if that is correct according to science), then slowly and gradually change, kind of remodel the old pathways and halls as you call them to in time fit the new capacity additions. Now I see why they say the next chain of evolution will see people with bigger overextended heads. I think I should that book and further my understanding. Thanks for a brilliant post Mr. Wayne. Cowboy Batman hehe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Beyondthought1. It’s always nice to hear from a new reader. I’m happy you enjoyed my post, but I am really happy that it has made you think and want to explore more on the subject. Because this is my blogs intent and ultimate goal. To spark curiosity and intrigue your brain to learn new things! To inspire you to search knowledge on your own and “most importantly” to do it with an open mind!

      Now I don’t know where Cowboy Batman came from, but it did make me laugh out loud and a good chuckle is always needed so thank you for that! As to future man with giant brains and heads? Not likely my friend. A woman’s birth canal is only so big and babies today are already stretching them near the max. That’s why evolution has been folding our brain to keep it from expanding out and getting too big.

      But yes, read that book that interests you! Seek new knowledge and expand your mind! Reading will not only give you a new perspective but done openly and without bias correct some of the false long-held beliefs that we all carry. Perhaps my related post on this subject — We Have Always Been Story Tellers — will interest you?

      Thank you Beyondthought!, for your visit and comment! And Be well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant post Wayne – Was this the piece that my cave man outburst inspired? 😂 – Understanding the science behind our more primitive emotional states is critical to helping us guard against them – something you’ve done well to help others see here! Thanks Wayne – keep it up!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Pilot! And yep, your post was the inspiration all right. Started my comment and it just grew and grew and soon had a mind of its own. I remember you too saying ideas come to you in this way. Like the branching of a tree. Yet everything has roots entangled. Inspiration, ideas even life itself. Hey wait a sec — another post there maybe? Lol!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Good analysis Wayne. And it seems some of us are closer to that cave entrance than others. Even with the capacity to learn better, do we? Or is it that laziness just takes over. Sitting in front of the TV or video game with a plate full of 5 times the calories we need. Maybe that has placated our survival instinct for events happening slowly

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah no doubt we’ve become a lazy people my friend. Not only in body but in mind as well. Even our human spirit has taken a beating what with the pandemic and all. The cure? A mandated earth-walking through our National parks! And Everyone must go when their turn comes up. I think you’ll agree, nothing recharges the Human spirit like a long trip through the wonders of Mother nature!

      Liked by 2 people

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