Wednesday, January 2, 2019

As the new year dawns................. wouldn't hurt to remind ourselves that the veneer of civilization is very thin:

     The large societies found in some other species, such as ants and bees, are stable and resilient because most of the information needed to sustain them is encoded in the genome. A female honeybee larva can, for example, grow up to be either a queen or a worker, depending on what food it is fed.  Its DNA programmes the necessary behaviours for whatever role it will fulfil in life.  Hives can be very complex social structures, containing many different kids of workers, such as harvesters, nurses and cleaners.  But so far researchers have failed to locate lawyer bees.  Bees don't need lawyers, because there is no danger that they might forget or violate the hive constitution.  The queen does not cheat the cleaner bees of their food, and they never go on strike demanding higher wages.
     But humans do such things all the time.  Because the Sapiens social order is imagined, humans cannot preserve the critical information for running it simply by making copies of their DNA and passing these on to their progeny.  A conscious effort has to be made to sustain laws, customs, procedures and manners, otherwise the social order would quickly collapse.

-Yuval Noah Harari,  Sapiens:  A Brief History of Humankind

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