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The Conflict between Evolutionary Skills & Modern Life

Over millions of years, evolution has developed in us skills that help us survive. For example, we instantly can detect potential danger and are primed to act. We don't need to slowly analyse the situation with logic, which exposes us to the possible danger. Civilisation, and especially the modern lifestyle, often conflicts with these ancient skills. We have a Stone Age brain in a Technological Age society. This series of articles on evolutionary psychology addresses some of these conflicts - and what we can do about it. 

There are two basic approaches:- 

  1. Adapting our environment and ourselves is useful when confronted with evolutionary programming that is resistant to change. 
  2. Re-harmonising with the evolutionary skill is useful when our modern lifestyle has corrupted the evolutionary skill.

Adapting our Environment and Ourselves

Evolutionary adaptations - whether spoken of as skills or biases - are so deep rooted in our evolutionary past, they are often very difficult, if not impossible to change. See here (posted and accessed 24 February 2014). Deciding to change them is not going to work. The way forward is adapt to them, to create environments that allow for our inherent bias and irrationality, thereby enabling us to make healthier decisions.

An example is our evolutionary programming to enjoy sweet foods, as, in nature, these foods are never dangerous. This 'skill' is also linked to times of abundance, to harvests, when our bodies needed to eat as much as possible to prepare for leaner times ahead (see here, accessed 24 February 2014). The food industry has exploited this, especially after fat was maligned in the 1970s. It has added sugar to almost everything. Just like tobacco has been socially ostracised, we need to do the same with sugar. There is little point in educating the world about the dangers of sugar and associated obesity - and making it all about personal responsibility - when we are fighting our millions-of-years-old evolutionary programming. It is clear that government and food industry must reduce/stop adding sugar. When this happened in the Simpsons, the supermarket had nothing it could stock on its shelves! Even if it proves unpopular initially, we need to adapt our environment to minimise our exposure to added sugars.

Re-harmonising with the Evolutionary Skill

Sometimes, our modern lifestyle has blocked or corrupted the evolutionary skill.

An example is the drastic reduction in natural birth and the loss of attachment parenting. Contributory factors include the breakdown of extended family by civilisation, and the medicalisation of society in the past few hundred years. We need to realise that natural family living harmonises far better with our evolutionary programming - and that we need to act in concert with it. Ways to do this are described here.

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Read about various evolutionary conflicts and solutions in the links to the right.
Or go here.

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In terms of the map of consciousness 'Animal, Human and Angel', evolutionary programming is related to the Animal. The Human is us - today - grappling with all these issues. The Angel in us also provides some in-built knowledge and skill, if we can access it, such as life-after-death knowledge and other superpowers [to be addressed later].

In another map of consciousness, 'Personality & Psychology', our genetics is our evolutionary programming, our environment is the world we live in to which we adapt. 


Evolutionary Psychology articles:-

The Conflict between Evolutionary Skills & Modern Life

Emotion

Win-Win & Negativity Bias

Birth & Evolutionary Psychology

Pubic Hair Removal

Violence & Evolution

Breastfeeding & Sexual Arousal

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