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The Genetic Origins of Creativity

  • Teenagers are rebels. Parents have accrued experience (wisdom) and Darwinian theory would predict that their children would be eager to absorb that experience in order to maximize their chances of survival. Quite the contrary: teenagers think that ignoring their parents' rules and doing the exact opposite is "cool". Sometimes the only reason to do the exact opposite is precisely because it is the exact opposite of what every parent says.
  • It seems that humans are genetically programmed to break the rules and question authority from a very young age, which contrasts sharply with the behavior of other animals.
  • Because children don't want to be like their parents (e.g. most children of scientists don't want to become scientists), the knowledge of the parents is inherited by the pupils, not by the children. In other words, knowledge does not spread vertically along the family tree (like, say, facial traits) but horizontally through society.
  • This could also be a major motivation for humans to teach and to write books, to spread their knowledge. If you spend your life accumulating some wealth and some knowledge, the wealth will be inherited by your children (almost certainly) and therefore will survive but your knowledge will not (almost certainly) and may perish with you. Hence the motivation to teach as many people as possible.
  • And viceversa: because children rarely want to be like parents (the children of scientists are rarely scientists, etc), the wisdom acquired by parents is passed on to the young people who study it, not genetically, and it therefore spreads in the society at large rather than remaining confined to the genealogical tree.
  • Humans are the only species that change habits from generation to generation. Other animals adopt the exact same "lifestyle" of their parents, whereas young humans strive to be "different" from their parents.
  • This might, in fact, be the fundamental behavioral difference between humans and other animals that set the human species on a course of unbridled technological progress.
Proof-edited by Alexander Altaras