So much of the human experience can be explained by one simple fact: the human mind is basically a pattern-seeking device — and a very good one.
We like to think of our minds as computers, but we operate on a completely different paradigm. The utility of a conscious mind — which is very costly in terms of the energy consumed by the wetware required to support it — is that it can allow us to adapt in real time to changing environmental conditions. For most life on Earth, the main response to changing environments involves centuries of slow evolutionary change, because most behavior is “hard-wired” into brains and nervous systems. But evolution stumbled on a new trick with a few animals, and perfected it with one particular family of higher apes that eventually became us. That trick is, of course, what we call intelligence. Read the rest of this entry