October 28th, 2004


More on the hobbit fossils

"The whole idea that you need a particular brain size to do anything intelligent is completely blown away by this find."

You know, this is another one of those instances where I'm way ahead of the scientists. And I'm not saying this with any sort of ego. It's just that every so often there will be an article or something about some 'new' scientific discovery and it will literally be old news to me. Either I heard it from another source before (that may or may not be considered 'reputable science') or I figured it out somehow on my own.

I once visited a site called Gonzo Scientists or something like that, where they suggested that a lot of scientific ideas that turn out to be true are formulated by non-scientists, because they're not bogged down by scientific dogma and can think freely about something.

That might or might not be true. Be that as it may, I never bought the whole 'bigger brain, more smarts' idea. To me it was always more of a brain to body ratio. Stop me if you've heard it. Something like an ostrich has a huge body and a tiny head. It's dumb as fuck. Brontosauri had huge bodies, little heads. Dumb. But if these Flores humanoids had the same body - head ratio as we do, why wouldn't they be as smart as we are? Or at least as smart as we were at that stage in evolution. Hell, even if they were one eighth our size, if they had the same ratio, they'd be, potentially, just as smart.

Elephants, for example, have a very similar ratio to humans, and they're amongst the smartest land mammals. It's a non-human intelligence, but we're not going to argue that they have consciousnes and self-awareness, because it's pretty clear that they do. Plus they are highly emotional creatures, which places them right up there. [Edit for clarity: Which just proves the point. If we're going bigger brain = more smarts, elephants would be smarter than us! Have you seen those things? HUGE heads!]

But, I'm not a scientist. I just know what makes sense to me. And the quote at top seems to support what I already knew.

And to close this with a Neil Gaiman quote: "I'm not entirely sure how I feel about learning that there really were hobbit-sized members of the human family (and of course they rode ponies and fought dragons. Or ran away from them). It's like someone discovering fossil remains of a one-horned horse: something suddenly slips from idea-space into the world."
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