I’ve developed a theory that explains everything. Here’s the summary: we’ve actually evolved through natural selection to be 99% close-minded mimics, with just enough flexibility of mind to criticize clearly horrible ideas. We’re all just dumb hot chicks, but with ideas (instead of competing, fumbling boys) paraded in front of us, egotistically dismissing those that displease us, and choosing the most socially acceptable.
Evolution and life on this beautiful and hostile planet only started getting interesting about 500 million years ago. I’m talking eyes (electromagnetic radiation detectors), legs (transporters to the eating and humping), brains (chewing gum wads of neurons), and as far as we can tell (and we can tell, unless you choose to ignore literally mountains of evidence) humans only started rubbing their eyes to the morning sun around 200,000 years ago. We were smelly and losing our hair and had enormous ass cheeks to help us walk upright. Our average lifespan was about 25 years.
Humans are unique in that we come up with explanations about our environment and, therefore, change it in our favor. But here’s the rub: in a tribe of 1,000 fighting, struggling, farting humans, only one guy has to invent the hand axe. The other 999 have to be good at one thing: mimicry and social learning. For generations after, the humans that survived honored the past generation, learned the mysteries of the hand axe, and didn’t need to come up with any new ideas (creativity, of course, being a hugely inefficient use of energy).
I submit that we’ve bred ourselves, over the past few thousand years, based on these sickening ideals of conformity.
Creative free thinking – progressive explanation-finding – is not the norm for a society. The free-thinking, science-loving, art-making, debate-prone Greeks are the rare gem in a cultural wasteland of Spartans – honoring the past, scared of progress, strict rule-based education, warring, stupid, boring, etc. The acceleration technology has been pretty slow up until the industrial revolution – natural selection wouldn’t have had to choose for the acclamation of new ideas within an individual’s lifetime. Rather, an individual who can “fit in” would do much, much better. Being outspoken and interesting is dangerous (Archimedes. Galileo. Turing. King. Lennon.) but being accepted by established cultural norms is socially attractive and even considered sexy. We aren’t downright against new ideas, but most of us require an idea to be accepted socially before we bother with it (free thinkers, of course, are often suspicious of mainstream ideas).
My theory would explain the existence of so many things. The socially-driven memes of crappy pop music. Chain restaurants. The reality-skirting old-world mentality of religion. The subdued, unemotional patronizing of reality that is NPR. Why tired old jokes are used in Hollywood films years after they were funny. Why successful advertising employs derivative cliches over anything else. Why online daters who are less passionate about their beliefs are more successful.
The Beatles invent a hand axe, I – V – vii – IV, (see Let It Be) and it becomes almost the only chord progression I hear used in modern hits forty years later. Where the more rare free thinker prefers unique ideas, especially in something like art, most people prefer conformity, proven memes, socially lukewarm bullshit.
Just a little theory. I have to go now. I love you. here’s a song I wrote http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etYd60CoQuM