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The Science of Discworld II

Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen

More books on Evolution

Our world runs on stories - metaphors. We are not homo sapiens ('wise men')we are reall pan narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee.

We expect universe to be mildly malevolent, but we hope it will be favorably disposed toward us.

Our future affects our past. Trivial example - we get ourselves up at 6am bc we need to be at work at 8.

Taxi drivers don't maximise their earnings. They tend to work until get to a target income figure, then go home. So work shorter hours on good days, and longer on bad days. They cd improve their income by 15% just by doing the reverse.

The conventional (and prob correct) explanation of human evo is that we evolved on savannah, with selective pressure on ability to quickly recognize predators, and to communicate that to fellows. But an alternative explanation that evolved on seashore. This cd explain some human peculiarities. Erect posture, great breath control (which enables speech), great in water (even a newborn baby can float by itself). Plus seafood easier to harvest.

Chimpanzees regularly seen killing and eating other primates, but no difference to humans eating other mammals.

In medieval times, Cinderella's slipper was a fur one, not glass. And this was a euphemism, bc (at least in the German version) the girls gave the prince their 'fur slipper' to try on. The story came to us through French, and in that language, verre can be either glass or fur. The Grimm bros went for the hygienic alternative.

They say that the arrival of the bicycle saved East Anglia from an incest implosion.

Humanity had a bottleneck event just after 'out-of-africa' in which we may have gone down to as little as 100,000 people. From that popn arose all the 'racial' groups we see toady, just as wolf popn gave rise to the many varieties of dog we see today.

In the Diaspora, some Jews stayed in N Africa, one large popn went to Spain (the Sephardi, with the Rothschilds being the most famous), and the rest to central Europe, partic Poland (Ashkenazis).

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