Anthropology lessons: Just how rational are we humans, the self-proclaimed "rational animal?"
It's true, of course, that we have a technology, one which typically works.
(When you hit the light switch this morning, we'll guess that your lights came on.)
That said, beavers have a technology too, though their technology may not be as advanced as ours. Also, beavers are said to mate for life, another leading difference.
If memory serves, beavers' lodges must be entered under water—this is a safety factor—yet they provide dry living quarters for their inhabitants. The construction of these lodges is made possible by the prior construction of dams.
According to the leading authority on the technology behind the construction of these dams, "Beaver dams or beaver impoundments are dams built by beavers to provide ponds as protection against predators such as coyotes, wolves, and bears, and to provide easy access to food during winter."
Elsewhere, the same authority describes the well considered technology involved in building the lodges:
The ponds created by well-maintained dams help isolate the beavers' homes, which are called lodges.These are created from severed branches and mud. The beavers cover their lodges late each autumn with fresh mud, which freezes when frosts arrive. The mud becomes almost as hard as stone, thereby preventing wolves and wolverines from penetrating the lodge.
The lodge has underwater entrances, which makes entry nearly impossible for any other animal, although muskrats have been seen living inside beaver lodges with the beavers who made them. Only a small amount of the lodge is actually used as a living area. Beavers dig out their dens with underwater entrances after they finish building the dams and lodge structures. There are typically two dens within the lodge, one for drying off after exiting the water and another, drier one, in which the family lives.
Beaver lodges are constructed with the same materials as the dams, with little order or regularity of structure. They seldom house more than four adults and six or eight juveniles. Some larger lodges have one or more partitions, but these are only posts of the main building left by the builders to support the roof. Usually, the dens have no connection with each other except by water. And so on. Back to our own technology, which is much more varied and advanced than that of our less able friends:
Yes, it's true that we the self-described "rational animal" have a varied technology. It's also true that our technology tends to work.
That said, it's largely downhill from there! When it comes to non-technological tasks, anthropologists tell us that we should forget the self-flattering stuff we've heard, always from our own human mouths.
Leading anthropologists tell us that man [sic] isn't necessarily the rational animal at all! Instead, we're reliably told, by Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), that we humans are the animal which works from preferred tribal script.
"Man [sic] is the script-reading animal," these despondent future experts have said.
Beyond that, these analysts have said that we humans persistently put this trait on display in the decades preceding the global conflagration they routinely describe as "Mister Trump's Unhelpful War."
This war began with a nuclear strike against Dennis Rodman, these experts persistently claim. More intriguing is their description of the constant resort to gossip and fiction—to unhelpful, disordered tribal script—in the decades before Donald Trump's rise to power and his inevitable war.
Huddled in caves and shivering badly, these future anthropologists have had plenty of time to map the pathways which led to this war. (Their "gathering" activities only take about four hours per day, they report, and "hunting" has ceased to exist.)
What led to Trump's rise to power? It was all about the "southern frontiers to the rational impulse," or so these experts have repeatedly said in nightly visits to our sprawling campus—nightly sessions the haters have often compared to dreams.
Most strikingly, the "futures" have told us that several major tribes took part in the stupid doctrinal wars which sent Trump to the White House. It wasn't just the Limbaugh tribe, we've constantly been told.
It wasn't just the ditto-heads, these future savants insist. It was also the gossip- and fiction-loving tribal script-readers Over Here within the tents of our own self-impressed liberal tribe!
Frankly, we always find this hard to believe, even though our sources strike us as highly credible. "How in the world did our tribe offend?" we've sometimes defiantly asked.
As our sources have answered that question, they've taken us to the southern frontiers of our own tribe's rational impulse! A few weeks back, they pointed to this report about mink coats in the New York Times, a paper they constantly ridicule.
"The Times lives on that southern frontier!" these future savants have frequently said. Tomorrow, we'll start with the reflexive framework the Times dropped on those mink coats.
Is the New York Times a rational enterprise? Or is the famous newspaper frequently working from script?
Future Anthros Huddled in Caves frequently lean toward the latter idea. We find this silly, hard to believe, but surely their views should be heard.
Tomorrow: Racist attacks on the joy of mink coats, along with other peculiar trips to our own southern frontier