We’ve been thinking about two things these last few days.
First, we look around at these marvels of science and engineering…and we wonder. How is it possible that the same man who hunted saber-toothed tigers could build a space station? According to evolutionary theory, there has been very little – if any at all – change in human beings for 100,000 years. Yet, apparently, the caveman carried within his head an extraordinary excess capacity – the ability to build space stations. This violates the fundamental principle of evolution…that every species survives at the margin.
None should have significant excess capacity, in other words, because such capacity (larger brains) would give him a competitive disadvantage against other creatures better suited to their environment. It would be a bit like carrying a heavy coat around in the tropics. It would be handy to have in another ice age, but the poor man who had it would likely be beaten in the evolutionary competition long before the temperature dropped.
Second, we wonder if this evolutionary heritage doesn’t explain why people think the way they do. It is a subject we began to address in our new book with co-author Lila Rajiva, “Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets”, but it continues to puzzle us.
Here, we have a letter written to a colleague, complaining about the latter’s support of Ron Paul, candidate for president:
“We are spending as much now as we did during WWII for the exact same purpose. Like it or not, we are in WWIII, a war against men as evil as Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito.
“Fascist, unconscionable Muslim terrorist rats, determined (they’ve said so) to destroy you, me, our children and our way of life. I’m a Korean Veteran. I know what I was fighting for. Do you? Ron Paul sure doesn’t. What in the world do core libertarian beliefs in limited economic and social constitutional government have to do with the war in Iraq? A great many libertarians want us to win this war because all Americans would then be safer. Defeat would greatly strengthen those who have declared war on us.”
The letter reminded us of Hermann Goering’s famous remark, upon hearing that the Vatican had condemned Nazi Germany.
“How many divisions does the Pope have?” he asked.
Any comparison between the “War on Terror” and WWII must be largely fantasy, as near as we can determine. The terrorists – whoever they are – have no divisions at all. No tanks. No bombers. No fighter jets. No infantry. No artillery. No country. No reserves. No staff. No discipline. No military tradition. No armaments factories. No railroads. No stocks of fuel. No logistics to speak of. Nor anything else that marks a modern, worthy enemy.
Yet, apparently intelligent people are still able to say that “we are in WWIII”.
Here is our question: If the human brain had the excess and unknown capacity to create the Eiffel Tour and the Empire State Building, what other capacity did it have? Did it have the capacity for putting 2 and 2 together…and getting 13? Did it have the capacity for committing strange and unbelievable acts of absurdity…like the War on Terror and Liars’ Loans?
Markets and Money