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African Origins of Human Intelligence
Date Wednesday February 19
Time 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Location Details
University Theater, CSU East Bay
25800 Carlos Bee Boulevard
Hayward, CA 94542
Event Type Speaker
Organizer/AuthorHenry Gilbert
Emailhenry.gilbert [at]

Our ancestors sprang from populations in sub-Saharan Africa that existed between about 100 and 250 thousand years ago. Rapid evolution produced Homo sapiens from Homo erectus. Our technology exploded during this evolutionary transition, with several apparent African 'firsts' and subsequent spreads of technology into Eurasia. We became human in Africa, and the African 'firsts' don't stop with the initial spread of some Homo sapiens into Eurasia.

Humans commonly make the perceptual error of equating the knowledge products of a society with the individual intellectual capacities of that society's members, but this assumption rests on weathered pillars of salt. Sure, knowledge tends to be produced by smart people, but a society's knowledge production relies in every sense on that society's economy, which is historically related to agricultural viability. Agriculture emerges as a result of climate, endemic species, and other ecological factors, not brain power. Civilization and its material and intellectual products are thus not good indicators of 'intelligence.' They are based on geographic luck and the fickle, dramatic course of history.

Dr. Yonatan Sahle, postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley's Human Evolution Research Center, has recovered the earliest projectile points in the world. Come hear him explain what they tell us about our intellectual origins ... and grapple with the challenges they pose to our understanding of human evolution.
Added to the calendar on Sunday Jan 26th, 2014 5:33 PM
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