Monday, June 20, 2005

From the Obvious News Dept.: Bigger brains=More intelligence

According to the press release over at Virginia Commonwealth University:

Ever since German anatomist and physiologist Frederick Tiedmann wrote in 1836 that there exists “an indisputable connection between the size of the brain and the mental energy displayed by the individual man,” scientists have been searching for biological evidence to prove his claim.


Researchers at VCU have apparently provided this long sought for evidence. Larger brain size correlates with greater intelligence.

I'm not contesting the results of the study because I have a small hat size. I'm not contesting their findings at all. I have no reason to believe their findings aren't in fact the truth. What comes to my mind is, haven't we always believed this? Think of all the texts on evolution you read in High School and College. Think of any article involving a new form of ancient man discovered over the past few decades. The subject of how dumb these guys must have been is always brought up due to their small brain cavities. If the correlation between brain size and intelligence wasn't an established fact, then what were evolutionists basing their findings on?

For the record, I don't have a problem with theories of speciation and changes in population over time. I have problems with quantum leaps in chromosome counts between parents and their offspring. There is a leap of faith one must take to believe that each parent produces a genetically different but viable and superior offspring due to serendipity. If you've read my blog you'll realize that type of happy luck strikes me as unbelievable. Nothing good has happened to me randomly this year, so I'm skeptical that random chance made any improvements in the far past. If you find my lack of faith disturbing, fine. Call me a Doubting Thomas.

But back to the subject, if the Brainiac theory wasn't proven then this was the first time I ever heard of it. My text books never mentioned there was any debate on the subject. In fact, I had evolution crammed down my throat by a very nerdy, superior, fresh-out-of-college instructor in High School. My complaints with her weren't just because I tended to believe that God, not random chance, directed the genesis of life (though that obviously caused some friction). My complaints were that the subject wasn't open for debate. She taught evolution as "an accepted fact" - not a theory. The skeptic in me wonders what else was she pushing as fact that wasn't proven?

There was once a popular belief that Giraffes had long necks because they had to stretch their necks out to get food, then passed this longer neck attribute onto their children who picked up where Mum and Dad left off. Scientists soon debunked that theory, and we chuckle at it's naivete now, but since man is constantly learning self-evident things like smoking is hazardous to your health, or that the correlation of brain size to intelligence - or other discoveries we haven't thought of yet - aren't we in danger of being thought of as naive too? Even I, an evolution skeptic, accepted this Brainiac theory as fact. What if the Brainiac theory had been completely wrong? Then you and I would have accepted as fact a stupidity simply because it had been taught to us as truth. That sort of scenario bothers me. And I wondered if it bothered anybody else as well.

***

Generally, dialogs on this topic degrade fairly rapidly. Pro-evolutionists, like my honored High School teacher, tend to think anybody who believes in God is a moron who might as well believe that the Tooth Fairy also had a hand in Creation. Anti-evolutionists, usually assumed to be Creationists, tend to think anybody who doesn't believe God was responsible for the genesis of life is Satan's love monkey. Name calling quickly ensues. One side or the other compares the other to Nazis and the conversation implodes in vitriol and hatred. Personally, I don't side with the Creationists either because they tend to be as close minded as the evolutionists. But I'm anticipating flak from one group or the other because I don't stand firmly in either of their camps. So try to keep your comments kind.

However, since nobody reads this blog, all my worries will probably amount to a tempest in a teapot.


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4 comments:

nihon said...

I have a friend who loves to argue that evolution isn't a theory. He says that scientists have proven that one form of life (say, a dolphin) can suddenly or over time turn into, say, a whale. This is completely bogus as nothing of the sort has ever been proved. On the other hand, looking at it 100% scientifically, the "creation theory" is just as plausible (if not moreso) than the "evolution theory" if you believe there are beings in the universe that can manipulate matter on a much higher level than we humans. :-)

Douglas Cootey said...

Perhaps I'm an idealist but I believe that both Science and Religion are trying to define two sides of the same coin. Anybody who believes that they know all the answers is deluded, IMO. There's still so much left undefined in both religion and science that we should worry ourselves about defining those unknowns and not bashing others over what they disagree with us about.

Having said that, I did enjoy learning about evolution in Biology at college. It was presented to me as a theory, though the professors professed that they believed it to be a fact. I wasn't punished for disagreeing with them and learned of the theories as theories. Some parts made sense to me, others didn't, and I moved on. I believe there may be some truth to it (some parts of evolution are paralleled in Genesis - like life coming from the ocean, etc.). But, and this is the important part, if there was dispute over whether one aspect of evolution was true or not, we shouldn't be taught the aspect is true. Then that becomes dogma - part of an agenda. If there was doubt about the correlation between brain size and intelligence, then I feel it was irresponsible to teach that correlation as an undisputed fact as had been taught to me.

nihon said...

I just find it amazing (and amusing, for that matter) that he was so bent on convicing me that evolution was pure fact when there is nothing to back the theory up. There are pieces that look like they may hint in that direction to some degree or another, but there is absolutely nothing that shows one creature turning into a completely different creature (dolphin > whale, amoeba > bacteria, chimpanzee > human, etc.) That's my big beef with his point of view. I agree it's more of what you said: trying to define two sides of the same coin.

mountain faerie said...

For years I have been reading one theory after an other.
Someone is always trying to reinvent the wheel...........

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