Did we evolve to see reality as it exists? No, says cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman.

Cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman hypothesizes we evolved to experience a collective delusion — not objective reality.

Image: Rendering of "St. John the Baptist" by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1516.
  • Donald Hoffman theorizes experiencing reality is disadvantageous to evolutionary fitness.
  • His hypothesis calls for ditching the objectivity of matter and space-time and replacing them with a mathematical theory of consciousness.
  • If correct, it could help us progress such intractable questions as the mind-body problem and the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics.
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Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
  • Researchers in the Czech Republic ranked 25 animals we fear most in a new online survey.
  • While predatory animals evoke fear, they rarely raise our sense of disgust.
  • By contrast, parasites, spiders, and snakes make us fearful and repulsed.
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Did humanity evolve to have psychopaths?

Psychopaths are manipulative, violent, impulsive, and lack empathy — but research suggests that psychopathy may be an evolutionary strategy rather than a disorder.

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  • It's tempting to think of psychopathy as a kind of aberrant mental condition, but several studies suggest that it may be an evolutionary strategy.
  • A study compared the genetic profiles of psychopaths with individuals who were more likely to have children younger and more frequently and found significant overlap.
  • This suggests that the qualities that bring about psychopathy are also qualities that encourage more frequent reproduction, making psychopathy an advantageous strategy.
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Why we prefer people just like us. And why that may be dangerous.

In general, birds of a feather do tend to flock together.

  • It's common for people to form groups of like minded individuals who also have similar abilities.
  • Evolution confers advantages on heterogeneous groups of people and groups with diverse talent sets.
  • Prizing individual identity ahead of group identity also helps counteract tribalistic politics.


The return of the 'stoned ape' theory

A long-ridiculed theory about humankind's early leap of consciousness is revived.

Photo credit: Elena Schweitzer / procy / Shutterstock / Big Think
  • Terence McKenna first proposed psychedelic mushrooms as the trigger for our rapid cognitive evolution.
  • McKenna's theory was called the "Stoned Ape Hypothesis."
  • The hypothesis is being revisited as a possible answer to a vexxing evolutionary riddle.
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