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Thinking Small
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Human Brains Are Shrinking; Is This Bad?

By James Donahue

They don’t know why but scientists say the human brain has been getting smaller. Does that mean we are losing intelligence or is something else going on?

Indeed, researchers have found that our brains have generally decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 centimeters. This study looked at both male and female brains. It is happening everywhere on Earth. Should we be worried?

Looking at the news reports from around the world we sometimes have to wonder about human behavior. We seem to all be caught up in some kind of religious fervor, sparked to hate anybody different from us, willing to go to war, caught up in gluttony for junk food, shiny merchandise, drugs, sex and football, and racing to extinction by recklessly polluting our air, land and water. Overall, it doesn’t appear that we are very smart at all.

The music and art being produced . . . at least for the public eye . . . literally stinks. Our television programming appears designed for idiots. Our schools in America are failing to teach even the basics like reading, writing and simple mathematics. Students graduate from high school not understanding how our government works, how to make proper change when operating cash registers, or even understanding the geography of the world.

Yet there are researchers among us who are making amazing advancements in science, astronomy, medicine and philosophy that rivals anything ever done in history. There are writers, musicians, poets and artists at work behind the scenes creating amazing works, but not being recognized by people with money needed to promote them.

We don’t perceive humans as having less brain power today, but instead they are victims of a defunct education system, a commercialization of too many "toys" that preoccupy their minds, and a clever system of brainwashing by the electronic and printed media that is leaving them confused and uneducated.

When compared to students in foreign countries, American students are ranked low in mathematics, science, political science and all of the other things they should know. Thus it is clear that human brain size is not causing the mental devolution.

Indeed, this writer has always struggled to find hats to fit him because of an unusually large head size. My late wife, Doris, who I considered to be much more intelligent than I, was a small person with an unusually small head. She had to be fitted with children’s eye glasses and clothes. Yet she had an astounding intellect.

When researching the skull of Cro Magnon man, researchers discovered its brain was about 20 percent larger than that of contemporary humans. Yet Cro Magnons were the real "cave dwellers" of the past. They walked the Earth some 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, and preceded homo Sapiens, who had smaller sized brains, but became the dominant species that began building monuments, cities and farms.

There is a troubling aspect of this picture. When we look back at the remains of the great monuments erected by ancient civilizations we find great stone block structures, architectural wonders apparently erected without the help of modern technology. Some believe it may still be impossible for contemporary architects to duplicate many of these ancient buildings, like the Great Pyramid of Giza.

There is no way for us to measure the intelligence of our ancestors, even those who lived a century before us, so it is impossible for us to compare ourselves with the people of the past.

One thing we do know is that because of computers, i-Phones and Blackberries, and the invention of satellite global positioning systems to guide aircraft, ships and even our cars, humans today are not using their brains as much as they once did. We don’t have to memorize routes, use mathematics to locate our position at sea, or even learn how to spell the words we write. Computers do it all for us.

One of the early copies of MAD Magazine offered a cartoon story about a future society that had become so dependent on computers, everything operated under a master computer that controlled all of the machines in the world. People had become so lazy they rode around in wheeled vehicles that took them where ever they wished at mere thought. One day the master computer broke down and the people discovered that they not only forgot how to repair it, but they lacked the muscular power to get out of their wheeled machines and walk. Their muscles had atrophied.

Are we doing this to our brains?