Michael Muthukrishna on Developing a Theory of Everyone

A most interesting review of human evolution, not so much anatomical as cultural. Since it’s a bit long at almost an hour and a half, here is a one word summary for uber-busy Fools, “Energy.”

Note: this is not about religion qua religion but about learning

I stared trying to figure out religion some six decades ago. While I reached many useful conclusions I never did figure out how religion managed to get such a firm hold on humanity. This podcast finally revealed how that happens.

The podcast covers how the use of energy propels the evolution of life forms and details how humans are different from our closest relatives. Having worked in information technology most of my life, how we deal with information has been of great interest to me. One important advantage of computers over humans is that they don’t need decades of education, we can update then in minutes over the air. A great leap forward! A similar great leap happened from other great apes to humans, the presenter calls it “Cultural Software.” For Fools in a Rush, [FIAR] that starts at 10:05.

Cultural Software means, in the author’s words, that

Humans use social information at the expense of our own experience,
copying without understanding.

An example the author gives is that most people have never experienced a round earth yet take is as established fact. Here at METaR we are told to follow the science. Science is cultural software. The author is saying that we believe without understanding and that this lets us make progress much faster than if we had to verify everything ourselves like the other great apes do, which we mostly can’t do anyway. Learning on steroids! Computers learn even faster with over the air updates!

If you are not interested in my atheist musing go watch the video

The Captain

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

What the presentation made clear is that religion is belief without proof, the acceptance of teaching by a self appointed priesthood. That neither makes it good nor bad, it’s just fantasy, illusion, with no grounding in reality.

In my current recollection the war was neither good nor bad, just the way the world worked. Once my mother commented that I asked how could there be a god with so much evil happening. It is highly probable that I erased bad wartime memories. In any case, about six decades ago I decided to figure out if there was a deity and set out to study religions. My point is that I was NOT willing to accept “social information without understanding.” Maybe that’s why I’m also critical of science that does not make sense.


People do not want to face desperation so they turn to religion. It is a tonic. Good thing it is. People need to exercise their emotions.

Go further left, rely on social information and ‘crutches’ for more thought support.

Go further right, have more innate capacity (but not necessarily benefit) to internalize through logic and reasoning.

NOTE: Direct experience overrides almost all of the above and strong local cultural experience influences those further left in the graph. (positively OR negatively)

“The trouble with my… friends is that they know so much that just isn’t so”


If you haven’t read it already, you might enjoy “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari. He posits that a different between humans and others animals is that humans believe in things that don’t exist.


How can he, or any of us, know what animals believe? Maybe when a dog turns around 3 times before bed, it believes that it is praying to the great dog god in the sky?