This is where we come from. “Back to me roots”, as Ali G said. We evolve culturally and not really biologically anymore. Our biology – that is, our minds and bodies were made for a different time and place. I call that time and place The Sweet Spot – like the part of your tennis racquet that gets the most juice out of your shot. Scientists call this The Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness, just I’ve changed the title for obvious marketing purposes.
The Sweet Spot seems to be around 50,000 years ago in Africa or Asia. This is where all humans come from. We were living there when we got the great idea to change our environment to suit our needs instead of changing ourselves to fit better into that environment. Since then we have not evolved much physically – so we are pretty much the same now as we were then. We don’t look the same, we don’t sound the same, but underneath our speech and our fancy clothes, we are the same.
This is a stretch for many people. It was a stretch for me before I learned about it. I thought biological evolution was constant all the way up til now. How could we be the physically same as cavemen? This is the whole point of evolutionary psychology – to show us how our brains and bodies are the same today as they were many, many years ago. When we don’t understand ourselves, it’s because we think we were made for now.
To really understand ourselves, we have to understand life in The Sweet Spot. What was it like? What were we doing to survive? What were we doing to mate?
We know a few things for sure.
- we lived in nomadic groups of 50-200 people
- we hunted and gathered
- we fought a lot with other groups
- we had to struggle just to survive, just like all animals
- men and women were fairly equal and hierarchies in groups were fairly equal
There are some other obvious things we know, like there were no pictures, no transportation, no real talking, no writing, etc. And then the one big one: our sole purpose was to pass on our genes.