On Fri, 01 Jul 2005 13:14:07 -0700, Ken Stuart <k-stuart@...
>One feature of human society is that everyone has an opinion on everything,
>regardless of whether they have any information on the subject or not (leaving
>aside the question of whether they are "qualified" to have an opinion on the
>subject, which is a large subject in itself).
>My question is - is there an evolutionary advantage to having an opinion on
>eveything (regardless of whether one has sufficient information on which to base
>an opnion) ?
One list member e-mailed me with some thoughtful ideas, which I have
incorporated into the following proposed explanation:
Paleo Guy starts to feel cold, so he decides to put on a fur. Then his
cavemate Urg says that he thinks he heard something that sounds like a predator
nearby. Paleo Guy says to himself "Well, that's only one data point, and not
enough on which to base an informed decision. I'll wait for more information".
Next door, Paleo Bloke starts to feel cold, so he decides to put on a fur. Then
his cavemate Lug says that he thinks he heard something that sounds like a
predator nearby. Paleo Blake says to himself "Well, Lug is often right, so
it's my opinion that I ought to get my spear and keep it nearby."
As a result, Paleo Guy is the next meal for the sabretooth tiger (that was heard
by Urg and Lug), while Paleo Bloke survives to pass on his genes to all those
people today whose opinions are collected by the pollsters.
We move ahead to 2005. John Doe starts to feel cold, so he decides to put on
a seater. Then he hears Senator Blow being interviewed on the TV, who says "We
need more troops in Zugawa to take care of the situation". John Doe, who has
never been to Zugawa and knows nothing else about the situation there, says to
himself " It's my opinion that we need more troops in Zugawa ". He does this
because he has genes passed down from Paleo Bloke who survived.
This has a variety of implications. The one that comes most easily to mind is
that progressive or utopian solutions that depend on an informed populace - or
even informed leaders - are not likely to succeed. Any solutions need to work
automatically, without human intervention or direction.