Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Are sciences and arts perversions?

According to Wikipedia, perversion is
a type of human behavior that deviates from that which is understood to be orthodox or normal.
Now consider the human mind. We evolved so that we find food, make children, avoid predators etc. All these are just means that serve to our survival in a universe that is trying to kill us. Or, even better, they serve to the selfish gene, to its replication.

So, the human mind shouldn't care about things that don't serve this purpose. What evolutionary purpose can be in doing math and physics? Indulging yourself in such activities doesn't serve the purpose of your survival and replication. One may say that, at least for some, science is their job, they earn money, and they survive. But researchers know better that jobs in the industry are safer and better paid, and with better success rate. And better success at ladies (although artists are doing even better). But anyway, sciences and arts are recent, so they can't be the product of mutation and selection. So, science and arts are perversions of the original purpose of the brain.

While they are not the product of evolution, they may be a byproduct. In order to survive, our ancestors had to identify patterns around them, use these patterns to make predictions. To anticipate when a wild animal will attack them, to recognize comestible fruits, to identify a sexual partner with good potential, all these require pattern recognition and the ability to make predictions. And this is why we became intelligent. So, even if we are using our intelligence to other purposes like sciences, this is a byproduct of evolution.

Nature has a way to reward you when you do something good for your genes. This is why we like to eat and to have sex. This is why we feel proud and happy when our children accomplish tasks or acquire new skills. But the blind gene doesn't know the future, so she can't reward us for actually doing something good for her. Instead, she rewards us for guessing patterns. We feel happy when we guess a pattern, and especially when a long anticipated prediction is confirmed. We identify patterns in sounds and drawings too, so this is why we like music and other arts. Even literature, builds on our predictions and anticipation. During anticipation, the brain produces the drugs that will make us happy. Building anticipation and suspense is the craft of accumulating this happiness in the consumer of one's art.

We are surprised when we make predictions which we consider safe, and turn out to be wrong. Sometimes, the anticipation accumulates the feel-good drug, and the surprise makes it explode. So this is how we laugh. Jokes are just clever ways to manipulate us into making predictions that turn out to be wrong in an unexpected and usually harmless way.

OK, so evolution explains all these as perversions of our mind, as byproducts. However, we know that science helped us to survive better. As a result of science and of its progeny, technology, we live longer, in better conditions, we find and produce food easier, we can take care better of our children and it also helps the children of our children.

So, science really helps the replication of the selfish gene.

I can't help but asking, did the selfish gene have a secret plan all this time?

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