Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors A search for who we are 1992 Carl Sagan and Ann DruyanCarl Sagan and his wife attempt to inform we humans as to just who we are, how we came to be here, and what the future may bring They do an excellent job up until the end Endings are hard They rightly state at the end We are almost ignorant of what is coming Nothing is preordained p.415 This book should be required reading for high school social studies One problem is, however, the argument they make is open to interpretation as is pretty much everything when it comes to science and philosophy What this really is is a study in cognitive dissonance The Sagans dive deep into the human psyche and the history of Life on Earth looking for a distinguishing characteristic trait that divides humans from apes They conclude what distinguishes us from our closest relatives is only a matter of degree, not feature I ll offer this the distinguishing characteristic is the ability to deceive ourselves us, i.e cognitive dissonance And also, the ability to communicate over great distances, with anyone anywhere, instantaneously And lastly, the ability to kill from a distance But, the last two are the result, a byproduct perhaps, of the first one our large brain and its capacity to imagine The Sagans debunk the myth of scientists and philosophers that they know what they re talking about, when it comes to the human being and his condition Sure, we can put a machine a tool on Mars, certainly we are the only animal that is capable of doing that, but we still can t resolve a cure for the common hangover or loneliness or our basic differences with regard to who decides what, without committing mass murder and genocide, also unique to our species p 413 We are uniquely the only animal that violates that basic rule of Life, and keep getting better at it and so The book begins at the beginning, some 4 billion years ago and takes us, the reader, through the Earth s lifespan, as well as Life s, to include its most complex organism, Homo sapien, aka we the people, the most dominant creature to yet evolve through the process of Evolution Evolution on Earth, the process of Life s growth from the simple to the complex, has only two tools in its toolbox natural selection and sexual selection The former is ruthless and conscious less, and the latter unkind yet shows a semblance of forethought, and is responsible for all that we deem human qualities What natural selection did, and does do, is bring order to chaos It provides Life with an ordered survival mechanism competition for resources so as to further life through replication and reproduction Natural selection was The Decider Some died that others might live p 26 The Earth is a vast graveyard p.24 Sex is expensive a drain on energy resources In that, its act ultimately means death p.144 But, it, sex, also brings an entire species together p.151 And confuses enemies and is the key to health p.149 The selection process w r t mating necessitates different strategies for males and females and introduces conflict between the sexes The dominance submissive hierarchy is what allows groups of animals of the same species to live together in community and cooperation to survive, without killing each other and so avoids extinction In other words, peace through strength The D S hierarchy minimizes violence, which is distinct from aggression News flash democracy doesn t work Aggression, paradoxically, engenders peace within and between groups, allows for survival, and the sharing of resources without catastrophic destruction Trade deal making is at least a billion years old p 150 In other words, natural and sexual selection work work incredibly well to further Life on Earth Another news flash the Universe and Earth are indifferent, i.e they don t care about Life, and specifically about you or I, we All of this happens without thinking It s an unconscious mechanism that developed through millions of years of trial and error Feelings, too, are preprogrammed emotions are hardwired into animals because an emotive response bio chemical benefited an individual creature in its unconscious quest to reproduce We are profoundly ignorant about what motivates us p.172 Common enemies work as a powerful unifying force make the social machinery work p.114, 197 Again, deal making Diversity individual differences is the raw material on which selection operates p.255 Selecting against the weak and selecting for the strong, engendering a population that thrives.Success of a species leads to overcrowding, which escalates conflict and then can lead to war the last remedy of which the Law of the Jungle determines who wins, and winning is all that matters in the game of Life p 91 Enter intelligence and the large brained thinking man eg Sagan his wife, and others who believe that our intelligence will save us from extinction The belief is that our superior intelligence is our finest tool, which if applied properly, can figure out how to live together despite ignoring the rules and laws natural and sexual selection, and the D S hierarchy that Life developed evolved over its lifespan of several billion years After all, we re smart we ve figured out to defy gravity So the thinking goes.But what about loneliness Enter cognitive dissonance Maybe best described by David Foster Wallace, without even naming it, in his 1996 essay, in Premire, David Lynch keeps his head Wallace rightly posits that in response to my discomfort I m going to do one of two things I m either going to find some way to punish x for making me uncomfortable, or I m going to interpret the data that eliminates as much of the discomfort as possible p.208 in A supposedly fun thing I ll never do again Wallace goes on I can assure you that just about every established professional reviewer and critic scientist and philosopher professional and layman has chosen one or the other of these responses But, as Sagan cautions We must stop pretending we re something we are not a special creation We humans have a learning disability p.413 So much for the big brain hypothesis Moreover, the Sagans think that the psychological mechanism of Repression is itself an evolved survival mechanism p 378 In other words, We can t handle the truth Which contradicts their solution My head might explode.We are slow dancing in Gallop, New Mexico.So what are we, really Well, men are killers hunters predators warriors and pussy grabbers assholes and motherfers, and selfish protectors and women are nurturers, child bearers, and flirts who put up with men because they have to, and but also prefer their pets neutered so as to better control them And now, in the 21st Century, we re running out of room, both in the real world physical territory and in cyberspace, where there are no boundaries and no territory can be safely protected, or defended One survival strategy that evolved over time was migration if a territory became overcrowded, some members of a population could migrate to a new territory, a new hunting ground if you will and there, adapt to a new environment via mutation and or innovation Now, not only has all territory been claimed, but the Internet, the World Wide Web has increased, not only the feeling but also the reality of, overcrowding and thus conflict but without the constraint, or fear, of actual violence and death So we think Thus hostility and the threat of violence has increased by both real and virtual overcrowding I m not banking on the big brain hypothesis to save us To date there is no evidence to support it Over crowding leads to violence, between and within groups, unless there are sufficient resources for all But then, the matter of who decides who gets what and how much still lingers There are simply too many people We have become too successful In our brilliance we have usurped the rules laws of natural and sexual selection with artificial rules and laws like human rights, courts, juries of peers and democracy As if we re special and have a right to Life.Of course, the laws of Nature s still apply but we are so arrogant and smug that we think they don t Democracy doesn t work, but the sick, poor, stupid, i.e the weak, the majority, will surely vote for the person who tells them they re special equal to the healthy, wealthy, and smart the strong and clever The fulcrum, the pinnacle, the apex of Homo sapiens, the tipping point may have been reached in the mid nineties, at the O.J Simpson trial, where the stupid overruled over turned the smart, where the evidence was ignored and the truth was undermined by emotion by primitive feelings of us versus them trumping intelligence It was reverse Darwinism That in itself is a strategy a survival strategy one that will be exploited by those out of power seeking power, to ascend to the Big guy p.260 264 position without the required natural traits, talents, or abilities to merit that position That, in the long run, is not good for the survival of a group species This is one way in which democracy fails organisms Which brings to point Intersex or, humans not fully male or female but somewhere in between Where do they land on the D S hierarchy Are they killers or nurturers Dominant or submissive More confusion.Between male and female there is a range of possible beings especially w r t humans in the age of modern, hyper advanced knowledge of molecular biology, treatments and medicine, w r t natural selection In other words, we have made natural selection moot And not only that, but are on the verge of making sexual selection moot also Which is not to say that queers don t have a place in the hierarchy I think they surely do But not as dominant leaders We are still organic creatures who inhabit a live, vibrant world on planet Earth We should respect the process, the D S hierarchy, and not attempt to usurp it Sagan and his wife, Ann Druyan, tell a wonderful story the greatest story ever told that of Life but in the end they can t accept the reality that intelligence as a survival mechanism may have run its course, been too successful Now it seems that we are ceding our knowledge to machines and artificial intelligence We can t seem to overcome cognitive dissonance the need to override, or misinterpret the data to serve our own vanity and specialness thinking And, I think I do that AI will be as ruthless as natural selection in deciding who lives and who dies AI just might decide we re not worth the trouble, succumbing, in the end, to its own brand of vanity And so, the solution just might be let Trump be Trump Let the Alpha male run the show Respect the big guy He knows what he s doing He s a mutant, manic, narcissist the perfect creature for the times we live in, for the times they are a changing Let the big dog eat Let the big horse run Post script Of course, the Sagans go into much detail than I can here, and touch on topics I haven t, such as culture, religion, God, etc Very important matters to be considered as well as Descartes error, Hobbes cruel world, Darwin s delay, Freud s Oedipal complex, Skinner s box, Morris naked ape, Ardrey s territorial imperative, Hamilton s kin selection, Dawkins selfish gene, Diamond s third chimpanzee, and Wright s moral animal In short, if you think you re heroic, you re probably not if you think you re doing good, you might be doing harm than good, in the long run The Sagan s point is that an individual s behavior is most likely misinterpreted, and the ultimate consequences cannot be known There was just Monday, 22 May, 2017, another mass murder in Manchester, England The motives of the perpetrator debated but the act can not be denied It happened Modern humans are as they have always been, the only animal who kills like this which makes us Special Mark Edward JabbourMay 25, 2017 Carl Sagan forever lays to rest any doubts I had that Christianity and all religions in general are frauds, fakes, and myths The need to grovel before imaginary gods and the need to have some of those gods encourage the sacrifice of godsons, first sons, virgin daughters or other virginal heroes on crosses, slaughter stones, or thrown into volcanoes to atone for our sins , transgressions or shortcomings seems to be hardwired into our brain cells genes These beliefs spring from primitive human needs to explain bad guesses about the unknown and to cope with imaginary punishments which we now know are simply the vagaries of nature.It s wonderful to be free of religion Nevertheless, it s so ingrained I must admit it took than a decade to deprogram religion out of my brain Although most religionists seem to understand the concept of future eternity without end, they still think that there had to be some sort of beginning and thus cling to the idea of God creating the universe Carl Sagan has helped me to accept the concept that there is neither a beginning nor an end Eternity moves in both directions There s no need to try to explain a beginning The COSMOS may coalesce or gravitate inward upon itself and then explode into a Big Bang from time to time over the course of megazillions of years, but in some form our universe has existed forever in the past and will continue to exist in some form forever in the future. Cosmos, The Widely Acclaimed Book And Television Series By Carl Sagan And Ann Druyan, Was About Where We Are In The Vastness Of Space And Time Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors Is An Exploration Of Who We Are How Were We Shaped By Life S Adventure On This Planet, By A Mysterious Past That We Are Only Just Beginning To Piece Together We Humans Are Like A Newborn Baby Left On A Doorstep, They Write, With No Note Explaining Who It Is, Where It Came From, What Hereditary Cargo Of Attributes And Disabilities It Might Be Carrying, Or Who Its Antecedents Might Be This Book Is One Version Of The Orphan S File Sagan And Druyan Take Us Back To The Birth Of The Sun And Its Planets And The First Stirrings Of Life To The Origins Of Traits Central To Our Current Predicament Sex And Violence, Love And Altruism, Hierarchy, Consciousness, Language, Technology, And Morality Many Thoughtful People Fear That Our Problems Have Become Too Big For Us, That We Are For Reasons At The Heart Of Human Nature Unable To Deal With Them, That We Have Lost Our Way How Did We Get Into This Mess How Can We Get Out Why Are We So Quick To Mistrust Those Different From Ourselves, So Given To Unquestioning Obedience To Authority What Is Male And Female Why Are We So Anxious To Distance Ourselves From The Other Animals What Obligations, If Any, Do We Owe To Them Is There Something Within Us That Condemns Us To Selfishness And Violence When Sagan And Druyan First Undertook This Exploration It Was Almost With A Sense Of Dread We Found Instead Reason For Hope This Book Presents Important Ideas With The Clarity For Which The Authors Are Famous Daring, Passionate, With A Breathtaking Sweep Shadows Is A Quest For A New Perspective One That Integrates The Insights Of Science Into A Vision Of Where We Came From, Who We Are, And What Our Fate Might Be Ovo je bilo duga ko ali vrijedilo je kroz pri u od postanka ivota Sagan secira i obara svaku povr nu i sebi nui teoriju koja bi ovjeka gordo izdvajala iz ivotinjskog carstva Sve na e najgore i najbolje osobine nalaze se i me um na im bli im ili daljim srodnicima, i kad se usporedimo s ostatkom hladnog i bes utnog univerzuma, ne preostaje nam drugo nego sjetiti se da smo, u usporedbi s tim, mi svi zapravo vrlo, vrlo bliski ro aci. This book is written to put human beings in their right place in the animal kingdom It spans creation of earth, evolution and is a solid attempt at explaining how it is that we are the way we are It also dismantles the proposition that humans are special and unique from other beings It is a difference in degree only It is a humbling read that humans for all of our intelligence should be so cruel and arrogant in regards to our relatives For we are related to every other living creature in the world and we were not put here to rule and subjugate lesser creatures Things such as culture, language, tool use, consciousness are not unique qualities of human beings The book is rife with examples, entertainingly written and highly recommended For further reading, try Jared Diamond s the rise and fall of the third chimpanzee Another brilliant book to explain the nature of humans. Carl Sagan is my Jesus. , 99% , 90 20 200. After I read The Dragons of Eden, I learned that Carl Sagan explored than cosmology He also explored evolutionary biology stimulated by his wife, the biologist Ann Druyan Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is a book that Sagan and Druyan wrote together It is much scientifically rigorous and sophisticated than The Dragons of Eden, and deals not with the evolution of the tripartite brain, but on the evolution of consciousness itself Druyan and Sagan write that we are like babies left in a basket on a doorstep, never knowing and always wondering what our ancestry is For me, the most influential of the book s explorations involve the study of the levels of consciousness in other animals, aside from the human animal Through study after study, many amusing and all interesting, Druyan and Sagan emphasize that the difference between the consciousness of the human animal and other animals is a difference of degree rather than kind Indeed, some of the studies indicate that some of the other animals may have consciousness that surpasses in degree that that of the human animal The book stresses that we will not understand who we are until we view ourselves as part of a continuum, and the book also explorers the history of human resistance to this idea One or two of the chapters were too difficult for me to understand as a non scientist, but I was basically able to understand the book while only skimming the difficult chapters about DNA construction and such It was nice to know that rigorous science was part of the book This is one of those books that will change your outlook on the world. This was an excellent book I ve been a big fan of Carl Sagan for the last couple of years now, he s a very good writer and scientist It s amazing to me that despite how old his work is, it s still completely relevant to today, and he explains very difficult science so clearly and simply Most people think of carl sagan as an astronomer, but this book is about evolution And he does an amazing amount of research, just example after example I ll try and write a little about what I learned The genetic code has 4 symbols to code information Similar to the way a computer stores 1 s and 0s There is a record of information stored in your DNA large enough to make your human body And it s copied in each one of your cells It s stored in a similar way to computer memory That s a huge amount of information in just one teeny little cell Far superior to even our most advanced computers of today Sagan explains how the genetic code works very clearly And he shows you just why this double helix is so fascinating It truly is responsible for life on this planet And shows that you have a common ancestor with a plant in a hotel lobby Humans and trees and ants and fish and seaweed are all controlled by DNA The difference is how the DNA is programmed And we have just recently discovered it, and we found the key to what makes life All coded in 4 symbols, geneticists have named them AGC and T Sex and death are linked together Before sex was invented, there was no natural death Organisms basically just divided in half But when sex was stumbled upon, then genetic codes could be mixed, and the old generations would die off in order to make room for the new generations Older versions suffered from too much cell damage, probly likely to get eaten etc And sex is what makes our world what it is In a way sex is life And it s why our psychology, and the psychology of many animals is based around sex To a Deer or a Tick sex is almost all that matters, because if they don t have offspring then their genes will never be seen again So each generation came from parents who actually had sex For a Tick, with no eyesight, no ears, no touch, only a sense of smell, sex is inevitable, because if they didn t have sex, they wouldn t be here So how does such a creature manage to find a female and mate Well, it s fascinating, and it s in this book And it s accompanied by many other stories of how animals mate, just as fascinating When they hatched birds without a mother, and flew a shadow of almost anything over them, the birds wouldn t react, unless the shadow was in the shape of a flying hawk this birds particular predator Ever wondered why as kids we were all having nightmares and were afraid of the dark This is felt by all species, and it has to do with recognizing predators, because if we get eaten, especially when we are young, we don t have children, then our genetic code doesn t live on And he gives example after example of this stuff.The incest taboo, is not only felt by all humans, but all species Incest and inbreeding result in bad off spring So all species have some way to cope with incest.It s really unfortunate that evolution must be such a taboo subject This book really made me realize how real it is And with that perspective, there are so many great things to learn about myself through evolution Why I am who I am, and what really brought me here So if you think about this stuff as much as I do, then I recommend this book. 3.5 thoughts soon.