Criminal psychologist and creator of the Psychopathy Checklist, Robert Hare claims that ‘…the prevalence of psychopathic traits is higher in the business world than in the general population, reporting that while about 1% of the general population meet the clinical criteria for psychopathy, figures of around 3-4% have been cited for more senior positions in business.’
Psychopaths are a special kind of human adapted for reasons that often lay within a family ancestry of harsh judgements and brutal punishments or to the opposite extreme, an ancestry of unmitigated privilege - but we must remember: ‘Fearlessness and the capacity for the remorseless perpetuation of violence were the very qualities the tribe valued most in its dominant leaders.’
Hare’s psychopathic checklist has a scale of 1 to 40 with a score of 30 or above qualifying as psychopathic while non-psychopathic criminal offenders score around 22 and non criminals score around 5.
A collective of psychopaths could never build a community but nor could a collective of selfless individuals ever build an edifice to the glory of man’s achievements – such as the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a Finish research team (2011) found that music ‘lights up’, not just the auditory receptors of the brain, but also the emotional and creative centres, along with the foot tapping motor areas.
Music evokes emotions associated with memories and has proven to be beneficial for illnesses connected with dementia.
Heightened emotions seem to be a characteristic of the musical greats who push their creativity by writing lyrics, fermenting music and taking drugs. Some of the best musicians suffered for their heightened emotions and it’s more than coincidental that Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse all died at the age of twenty seven.
Astrological parlance has it that the age 27 is when the progressed Moon returns to its natal position; that time corresponds to an intensification of emotions and a chance to resolve inner emotional conflicts prior to ‘astrological maturity’ at age 28/29.
Evolutionary psychologists believe that different emotions appeared at different times; starting with the primal emotions that existed in our pre-mammal ancestors, to filial emotions which evolved amongst early mammals and finally the social emotions that evolved in us primates.
For most people our emotional responses seem to guide our thoughts and actions, but are these responses imbedded in our makeup or made up on the spot? For most people emotions don’t work along the rational lines of utilitarianism where the utopian consideration is argued to be ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’.
Consider: If a group of twenty or so people were about to die in the next 10 seconds and the only way to avert their death was to take your own life or cause the death of an innocent third person, what would you do? Most people’s brains would show an overload in the emotional areas which would probably result in no action – ‘frozen with fear’. But for the 2 to 5% of the population, who show little activation of the emotional areas of the brain, the rational approach would be to exclude the self (too important), then sacrifice the innocent third person for the greater good.
People lacking emotional feelings have been labelled as having a personality disorder called psychopathy and these people show the traits of: grandiose self worth, superficial charm, pathological lying, impulsiveness and the desire to manipulate others for personal gain.
There is a general correlation between brain size and performance in standard IQ tests but that correlation does not directly relate to ‘intelligence’ since a high IQ is just as likely in a person lacking social skills. If emotional understanding is more important than ‘facts and figures’ then an emotional intelligence test may be a more relevant measure of intelligence than a standard IQ test.
Neanderthals had a larger cranial capacity than us and lived for thousands of years alongside of us (we have about 2 percent Neanderthal DNA.) They became extinct 28-40,000 years ago due to modern man’s better ability for group cohesion which is indicated by our higher degree of genetic diversity as well as being anatomically reflected in the greater development of our prefrontal cortex.
Our circumstances are continually interacting with our brain to define our current reality and as time goes by each generation appears smarter than the last; inventions are improved upon, social interaction becomes more complex and it’s easy to assume a greater mental superiority. But are we individuals any more intellectually and emotionally intelligent than our forebears – and are we headed in the right direction?
Research indicates a rise in sea levels of about a meter per century over a 13,000 year time frame finishing 6,000 years ago and totaling a seawater rise of 120 meters. Enough to bury any evidence of coastal structures built over the 80,000 years of glaciation. Imagine a 10 meter tall structure being bashed about and finally covered in water over a 1,000 year period – not a lot would remain intact and what did remain would now be covered by 110 meters of water.
With the 13,000 years of warming came a change in weather patterns and from 10,500 to 5,500 years ago the Sahara Desert turned into a lush fertile plain with large fresh water lakes which then turned back into desert over a couple of hundred years as the monsoonal rains moved elsewhere.
As the Sahara dried out its huge flourishing population retreated to the Nile River valley and around 5,100 years ago the age of the Egyptian pharaohs’ began, a rule that lasted 3,000 years and ending with Cleopatra in 30BC.
The range and complexity of the Egyptian culture is exemplified by the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza in a 20 year period between 2,540 and 2,560 BC. The Giza pyramid contains about 2.3 million stone blocks placed at an average rate of 800 tons per day. The largest of the stone blocks weighed 25-80 tonnes and were transported 800 km by boat.
Recent excavations have revealed camps adjacent to the pyramids which accommodated many thousands of voluntary laborers (20,000-100,000) who were paid and fed according to a pecking order of importance. Scrolls found in caves carved into the cliffs adjoining the Red Sea (used to house boats during the ‘off’ season) were discovered in 2013 and document the daily duties for which these sea farers were paid; which was mainly for transporting copper from quarries on the adjacent Sinai Peninsula. ‘(Pierre) Tallet and his team found an ancient L-shaped stone jetty more than 600 feet long that was built to create a safe harbor for boats. They found some 130 anchors…’
The mathematical computations and architectural skills required to build the pyramids are still marvelled today – these people understood the mathematical symbol Pi, the ‘golden ratio’ of Phi and had the ability to orient and layer huge rocks with an accuracy which would be hard to repeat today.
Our modern age has created great technologies each built on the progressive piggy-backing of prior research, but it would be foolish to think that the ability to use a computer, drive a car, shop at a supermarket, wield a gun and vote in a ‘democratic election’ makes us any more intelligent than our forebears.