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Evolution of mind?

Wolpert on evolutionary ‘Just so’ stories

The key evolutionary idea related to our minds is that of adaptiveness; that is those behaviours, thoughts and beliefs that help us humans to survive better. Genes can determine variants in such processes and evolution will select those individuals that survive best, and will so select those genes. The problem is to identify just what those characteristics are and how genes affect them, and to distinguish them from those that arise from interaction with the environment and learning. Alas, much of the evolutionary biology that I will use is similar to Kipling's 'Just So' stories, like how the camel got its hump. It is very difficult to get reliable evidence to show whether one is right or wrong. One cannot go back in time, but I hope that this book, like Kipling's, is both interesting and entertaining.

(Lewis Wolpert is a high profile evolutionary paleoanthropologist.)

Lewis Wolpert, Six impossible things before breakfast: The evolutionary origins of belief, p. xi, Faber and Faber, London, 2007.

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