What Makes Us Human? - Big Heads

If having a large head is what makes us human, then I'm the future of humanity! Atlas carried the world on his shoulders... Me? I carry my humongous head, thanks to which my shoulders look puny in comparison. Good-bye life of male modeling and body-building... sniff sniff... :(

But why should the size of our heads tell us anything important about the uniqueness of our species? In order to understand the universal, sometimes we have to examine the abnormal and bizarre, and in this documentary, evolutionary biologist Armand Leroi looks at some interesting abnormalities that may reveal some of the secrets that have given rise to the unprecedented evolution of our brains: congenital microcephalics (including the so-called 'rat-people' of Pakistan), the famous case of Phineas Gage, and fundamentalist Christians living in Montana. How much weirder can you get from that? ;)

Coming to scientifically understand how we have evolved raises an important set of moral and philosophical questions about whether and to what extent we should try to manipulate the future evolution of our species. The old eugenics movement, driven by ideology and the state may be a thing of the past, but it may be brought back to the private level through the market and the ruthlessness of evolutionary social competition.

And don't fool yourself into thinking it won't happen... it already does, and you are involved in it whenever you assess the qualities of a potential mate through more indirect means than those genetic screening provide. The difference in future screening will not be one of kind but one of degree of efficiency. Will your genes survive the ruthless competition? Will your children's?

If you learned anything today, I hope it is at least that if you plan on mating with your sister, you should totally use a condom... and if you must keep the bloodline within the bloodline, make sure she's a hot but definitely distant cousin...

Admit it, the thought entered your mind! :)

Oh, and because the accent can make it ambiguous, that's ASPM... not ESPN!

Click here to watch part two of this fascinating and thought provoking documentary.
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