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Just How Wise Is Homo Sapiens?

Just How Wise Is Homo Sapiens?

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Published by Bill Allin
We know the scientific name for our species. But do we really suit the name? Read this for some surprises.
Find author Bill Allin at http://billallin.com
We know the scientific name for our species. But do we really suit the name? Read this for some surprises.
Find author Bill Allin at http://billallin.com

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Bill Allin on Mar 03, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/21/2013

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Just How Wise Is
Homo Sapiens
?
 Homo sapiens
: The modern species of humans. Archaic forms of 
 Homo sapiens
probablyevolved around 300,000 years ago or earlier in Africa, and anatomically modern fossilsare known from about 100,000 years ago. All humans now living belong to thesubspecies
 Homo sapiens sapiens
. The closest living relative of 
 Homo sapiens
is thechimpanzee. Neanderthals in Europe and Solo man in Asia are usually classed as archaichumans. Though archaic humans belong to the same species as modern humans, not allarchaic groups or populations are necessarily ancestral to
 Homo sapiens sapiens
.According to certain models of human evolution, modern humans replaced archaic populations throughout Asia and Europe after migrating out of Africa in comparativelyrecent times.- The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2005
How wise are you if you didn't know the proper name of your ownspecies,
Homo sapiens sapiens
? Don't feel insulted, there is a pointhere.What does the species name mean?
Homo
- Latin for man, human (the scientific name always begins witha capital letter, even if it is written as
H. sapiens
)
sapiens
- Latin for wise (
Sapiens
is both singular and plural, not alwaysplural as many assume because it ends with s)So the human subspecies to which you belong is technically called"wise, wise man." No doubt the additional "wise" is intended as anintensifier.It will come as no surprise to you to learn that our species name wasgiven to us by a man (not by any other animal). The man,CarlLinnaeus, was born in southern Sweden, in 1707.Linnaeus, botanist, zoologist and physician, is known as the father of taxonomy. That means giving names to organisms, not stuffing deadanimals.No doubt Linnaeus was wise. Those with whom he consulted in hisprofessional and personal lives were surely wise. Or at leastknowledgeable, for their time. But how wise is the species he calledsuper-wise, across the full spectrum of people? Linnaeus lived in anenvironment surrounded by wise men, and presumably wise womenwhose wisdom was not as well recognized or acknowledged. (How wiseis that?)
 
In reaction to a post I made on Facebook recently, which included thename of our species, a Facebook friend who lives in Rwanda, Africa,commented "hahahah homo sapiens are unwise because they thinktheir wisdom is to kill each other,hate each other,..." Humans are,generally speaking, the only species that kills for reasons other thanfood or defence.We have been known to kill for sport (think of theBeothuk, of Canada,the true "red men," who were hunted to extinction). We kill in acts of genocide, infanticide, patricide, matricide, murder and in support of our religions, our tribes and our nations. We kill, in some cases,because we are told by our leaders or commanders to kill. Let's notforget suicide, another act of killing that is almost unknown elsewherein the animal kingdom.How super-wise is that? Or even just wise? Despite all that killing, ourspecies is expanding so fast that we add another billion people to theplanet every few years. Human population now is five times what itwas 100 years ago. How? Mostly by slowing down the rates of deathfrom disease and childbirth.Our ancestors adapted so well that from our genetic beginnings in eastAfrica (genetic Adam about 150,000 years ago, genetic Eve about120,000 years ago--each of us can date ourselves genetically back toone or the other of them) we now populate almost every chunk of landon the planet, no matter its climate or other forms of life used forfood.No doubt we have been successful by adapting. But how many of ourancestors were actually wise enough to help their peers with theseadaptations? Not many. Only after we had settled most of the world'sland mass did we reproduce enough to gain the power of numbers wehave today.How many among us are wise today? We have television shows thatbroadcast activities some of us do that are not just dangerous, butdownright stupid. Many of those acts of stupidity are scripted, planned,choreographed.Many people today risk their lives doing things that are not justdangerous to health, but risky to their lives. All to get attention ormoney. Our species is unique, for certain, in that way. Wise?Our species is especially known for its tool making and use and for its
 
written knowledge. These are relatively recent in human history,comprising no more than 2% of the time we have existed. How manyof us have actually created a tool, or could use one unknown to uspreviously without training with a manual or by watching others? Howmany of us have actually read any number of the millions of booksthat sit lonely in our libraries?We have entire industries based on values that were created fromnothing by people who knew how to make money by exploiting naivetéand stupidity. For example, the fashion industry that creates items of clothing that are titillating or ugly, items that may well only be wornonce though they cost thousands of dollars to buy. It's not as if thesecould be donated to clothing collections for the poor.We have giant pharmaceutical companies that cater to people who liveunhealthy lives, selling them drugs that guarantee to keep themenslaved to drugs until they die. And giant agribusinesses that createmany foods so unhealthy that they feed customers constantly to thepharmaceutical companies.These industries are all enormously wealthy. And powerful enough thatthey can influence governments to create laws or regulations thatallow them to function and to put those who oppose them into prisonor ruin their reputations.I am not saying these industries should not exist. I am saying theircustomers could hardly be called wise. We could teach people to bewiser. But we don't. How wise is that?If a rabbit created a system of taxonomy, I have no doubt that rabbitswould be at the top of the scale of development. Impossible? Howwould you know? You can't even communicate with rabbits. Rabbitsmight be the most sophisticated animals species on the planet, but wewould not know it because we have already dubbed ourselves themost highly developed.Think about it. They are cute, cuddly, they love to have sex, they haveno trouble finding food for themselves or shelter for their families andthey can withstand any weather in any climate. Can you say thatabout yourself?Before you accept our self-ordained title as the smartest, mostdeveloped and most sophisticated animal on the planet, drive to asupermarket and watch people jockeying for the parking places closest

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