All Mixed Up: Julian Jaynes

In 1976, the polymathic Princeton psychologist Julian Jaynes published The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. It is one of those rare books which is mostly wrong but is filled with so many penetrating and provocative insights that it still deserves to be read. It’s a big idea book that aroused considerable scholarly response, most of it critical. While current academic interest in Jaynes is minimal, his popular audience remains large. Some of his followers have formed a society which maintains a cult-like website devoted to all things Jaynes.

Though it isn’t possible to do Jaynes justice in a short space, his most famous idea was that the ancient human mind was of two parts: it was “bicameral.” Inspired by research showing the brain is right-left specialized, Jaynes hypothesized that in the evolutionary past the left brain must have been completely separated from the right brain. The effect, according to Jaynes, would have been disquieting: language generated in the left brain would have been interpreted by the right brain as coming from outside or somewhere else. Ancient people, in other words, were functionally lobotomized and regularly experienced auditory hallucinations. These voices were called gods and this supposedly explains the origin of religion. For Jaynes, the bicameral mind lacked what he calls “consciousness.”

With this hypothesis in hand Jaynes began scouring the historical record looking for evidence of bicamerality. In the Iliad, an ancient oral poem finally written down around 800 BCE, Jaynes thinks he has found it:

[I]f you take the generally accepted oldest parts of the Iliad and ask, “Is there evidence of consciousness?” the answer, I think, is no. People are not sitting down and making decisions. No one is. No one is introspecting. No one is even reminiscing. It is a very different kind of world.

Then, who makes the decisions? Whenever a significant choice is to be made, a voice comes in telling people what to do. These voices are always and immediately obeyed. These voices are called gods. To me this is the origin of gods. I regard them as auditory hallucinations similar to, although not precisely the same as, the voices heard by Joan of Arc or William Blake. Or similar to the voices that modern schizophrenics hear. Verbal hallucinations are common today, but in early civilization I suggest that they were universal.

Jaynes must then explain the origin and evolution of the bicameral or “unconscious” mind, which he does here:

But why is there such a mentality as a bicameral mind? Let us go back to the beginning of civilization in several sites in the Near East around 9000 B.C. It is concomitant with the beginning of agriculture. The reason the bicameral mind may have existed at this particular time is because of the evolutionary pressures for a new kind of social control to move from small hunter-gatherer groupings to large agriculture based towns or cities. The bicameral mentality could do this since it enabled a large group to carry around with them the directions of the chief or king as verbal hallucinations, instead of the chieftain having to be present at all times.

I think that verbal hallucinations had evolved along with the evolution of language during the Neanderthal era as aids to attention and perseverance in tasks, but then became the way of ruling larger groups.

Setting aside for a moment the objection that modern humans are only minimally descended from Neanderthals and we don’t know whether they had language, Jaynes obviously believes that bicamerality is ancient and ancestral. All humans, in other words, descended from these hallucinating hunter-gatherers. Much later in time some of these hunter-gatherers (those in the Near East) developed agriculture and the “voices” were pressed into the service of social control. Even when the ruler-god isn’t present, people hear voices and attribute the commands of those voices to the ruler-god.

It’s all very tidy. The problem, however, is that the bicameral mind on which everything is built and depends eventually breaks down. The story that Jaynes tells about the breakdown is remarkable, indeed fascinating, but for my purposes the details are unimportant. All we need to know is that in complex agricultural societies, pressures and contradictions increase until the bicameral mind finally dissolves: it becomes unified or unicameral. This is the beginning, for Jaynes, of “consciousness.” It is the hallmark of fully modern minds which recognize the voice inside the head not as “god” but as “I.”

It is that this point that Jaynes’ story, still believed by many, runs into deep trouble: some groups of people never practiced agriculture, never lived in complex societies, and never experienced a breakdown of bicameralism. These people are of course hunter-gatherers, many of whom continued foraging until relatively recently and some of whom still do. These groups, descended directly from the hallucinating ancients, presumably retained bicameral minds and lacked “consciousness.”

If this were the case (it isn’t), our histories and ethnographies would be filled with fantastic and unbelievable tales about bicameral hunter-gatherers. They would have been strange beings incapable of recognizing that the voices inside their heads weren’t real. While this is the obvious implication of Jaynes’ theory, we needn’t take my word for it. Here is how recent “pre-literate tribal” people are described by the Jaynes Society:

They have limited inner mental life (and experience frequent auditory hallucinations) but they can be just as animated as non-human primates are. Bicameral people were non-conscious but intelligent, had basic language, and were probably more social than modern conscious people in the sense that they would have typically lived and worked surrounded by others. They would be able to express first tier (non-conscious) emotions such as fear, shame, and anger, but not second-tier (conscious) emotions such as anxiety, guilt, and hatred.

This is stunning. It reads like a racist Victorian description of non-European subhumans, and if I didn’t just pull it from a website advocating Jaynes’ views, that’s what I would think it was.

Here is how we know Jaynes is wrong: there is no evidence that historically recent hunter-gatherers were or are biologically-neurologically different or that their minds were metaphorically bifurcated. Nothing in the ethnohistoric or ethnographic record suggests this and in fact the opposite is true. What we find in the record is that these people, despite their different histories and cultures, were (and are) just like us.

Reference:

Jaynes, Julian. (1986). Consciousness and The Voices of the Mind. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 27 (2), 128-148 DOI: 10.1037/h0080053

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81 thoughts on “All Mixed Up: Julian Jaynes

  1. Benjamin David Steele

    You are making a claim that you aren’t backing up and can’t back up with evidence. There is no evidence that the hunter gatherers you refer to have never changed and been impacted by changes that have happened over the past few millennia. That would be an impossible thing to prove. You just take it as an unquestioned assumption.

  2. Cris Post author

    Just to be clear, I’ve never claimed that HGs have not changed over historical time; in fact, in dozens of posts over the past five years, I’ve argued just the opposite. Perhaps if you would take the time to peruse this blog’s archives on HGs, you would discover this. You might also discover, if you perused the much larger HG ethnohistoric record, that there are many groups of HGs in the world who were not impinged upon, or affect by, what you call “civilization.”

    Since you haven’t perused the two bodies of archival records to which I refer, you might tell us how the following HG groups (for which we have good records of initial contacts, followed by many decades of observation) were impacted and/or transformed by surrounding “civilizations.”

    Australian Aborigines
    Siberian Hunter-Gatherers
    Arctic Hunter-Gatherers
    Canadian Hunter-Gatherers

    After you tell us how these groups had been affected by “civilizations” at or near the time(s) of first contact(s), then please tell us what those records show, or more aptly don’t show, about bicameral minds or consciousness.

  3. Benjamin David Steele

    Psycholution told you the following:

    “Jaynes stated that he believed there has not been any truly bicameral people on earth in a long time (which is another reason modern ethnographers and anthropologists don’t report hunter-gathers as having a different conscious than anyone else).”

    You are making a straw man argument. You are criticizing Jaynes for something he never claimed. Jayne’s never proposed that the bicameral mind survived into modernity. His theory is based on it not having survived into modernity. So, how is your argument that there are no modern bicameral hunter gatherers an argument against Jaynes’ theory? It isn’t.

    You could be right in your claim and still it would be irrelevant to the intended target of your criticism. You are offering speculation. That is fine. I’m not even saying you are wrong necessarily. Based on the limited data, many speculations could be offered. Jayne’s theory is plausible according to what we know, but that doesn’t prove it is right.

    Arguing on limited data would only lead to going around in circles. Probably better data to look at is psychological and brain research related to auditory hallucinations. That would give us the evidence to ascertain the extent of plausibility of Jaynes’ theory. That was another point that Psycholution brought up.

    I’m not the one making absolute assertions. I feel no need to defend Jaynes’ theory at all costs. It’s just a plausible theory, no more and no less. But it does offer great explanatory power that other plausible theories lack.

  4. Cris Post author

    Whichever way his hypothesis is parsed, it would require HGs not impacted by “civilization” to have bicameral minds or consciousness. Most Jaynesians recognize this, and even the president of the Jaynes society recognizes this as a major weakness and concern. He claims to have had discussions with Jaynes about it, but was not given any satisfactory answer.

    So the HG issue aside, which the Jaynesians continue to sidestep or ignore, I will again state the bottom line: there is something akin to a miraculous consensus among anthropologists, archaeologists, and other scientists who study the issue that humans have been anatomically, neurologically, genetically, and/or behavorially “modern” for the past 50,000 years. You can read thousands of books and tens of thousands of articles that touch, in one way or another, on issues raised by Jaynes and you will not find, in any of them, supporters of Jaynes’ theory. This is an odd state of affairs, don’t you think? Is there some kind of conspiracy against Jaynes?

    So I will repeat: the “problem” identified by Jaynes is not a problem at all. The default theory is that humans have had “modern” minds for the past 50,000 years. Given this well supported and consensus scientific view, we don’t need Jaynes’ arcane solution. All this aside, his psychological work is so antiquated at this point that reading it is interesting mostly for historical reasons.

  5. Benjamin David Steele

    I’m not a Jaynesian apologist. I’m merely curious about many views of the world. It doesn’t personally impact me whether Jaynes’ theory turns out to be true or false, whether in full or in part. It’s just interesting, as it is the only theory that I’ve come across that takes ancient people seriously, takes them at their word, instead of projecting our modern consciousness back in time. But as I said, that doesn’t mean it is correct.

    “Whichever way his hypothesis is parsed, it would require HGs not impacted by “civilization” to have bicameral minds or consciousness.”

    I don’t personally see this as a problem. Jaynes himself argues that many bicameral people built great civilizations. However one wishes to define ‘civilization’, it doesn’t seem to be a key factor in the existence of the bicameral mind or its breakdown, assuming such occurred.

    Contemporary indigenous people always are a complicating factor for many diverse theories. Westerners for a long time have made assumptions about the universality of human psychology. The study of non-Western hunter gatherers has proven this false. It turns out that the human mind has immense plasticity and can express in many ways. So, even if Jaynes is correct about the breakdown of the bicameral mind, we should assume that it would breakdown in diverse ways. What we shouldn’t do is predict a singular post-bicameral mind.

    This leads us to many further speculations.

    “humans have been anatomically, neurologically, genetically, and/or behavorially “modern” for the past 50,000 years”

    I’d agree with that, more or less. Of course, it depends on what you mean by ‘modern’. Many changes have occurred over the past 50,000 years (anatomically, neurologically, genetically, and behaviorally). More recent research shows that, for example, significant genetic change can happen faster than previously thought. Even single genetic changes can have massive results. Being basically modern for a long time doesn’t really say much about how the human mind may or may not have changed during that time period. Knowing about brain plasticity, it doesn’t even require genetic changes for there to be changes in cognitive behavior.

    “All this aside, his psychological work is so antiquated at this point that reading it is interesting mostly for historical reasons.”

    There have been more recent works that update his theory with newer knowledge in the relevant fields.

    I’m not arguing for Jayne’s theory being right. I’m just saying it remains plausible and retains its immense explanatory power. Theories that assume human minds haven’t changed at all can’t explain what is stated in ancient texts, other than to dismiss it or explain it away.

    That seems unsatisfying to me. It was also unsatisfying to Jaynes. But I understand it is satisfying to you. Each to their own, I guess.

  6. Cris Post author

    Have you ever read Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy? I think you would like it, as it addresses some major issues raised by Jaynes. I think it’s available online as a free download. I also recommend all of Michael Gazzaniga’s split brain research over the past few decades; he is quite familiar with Jaynes’ hypothesis and disagrees, mostly because Jaynes’ understanding was based on early, or “primitive,” research in the field. We’ve come a long ways since then.

  7. Benjamin David Steele

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I love book recommendations. I was actually looking around for books that offer different perspectives. That should be helpful. I’ll look for a copy of it immediately.

    I’ll also check out Micheal Gazzaniga’s research. I’m most fascinated by the research, as much by the speculation. My focus lately has been on a different area of research, that of genetics versus environment along with the complicating and endlessly fascinating epigenetics (the latter of which shows the plasticity of biology, including neurobiology).

    I really don’t know what to make of Jaynes’ theory. It just intrigues me. I do get the sense that something happened to humans between the hypothesized bicameral breakdown and the Axial Age. Obviously, massive change occurred and we still haven’t been able to prove why it happened.

    The earliest civilizations were highly advanced in many ways. They built great edifices and developed complex religions and cultures. But they seem so foreign to us moderns. The civilizations that came immediately after them, however, don’t feel quite so foreign. We can read the writings of those post-bicameral/axial people and understand their worldview. It is familiar to us, in some basic way.

    Between those two eras, something changed. But precisely what changed? And why?

  8. Benjamin David Steele

    I was just looking around about Gazzaniga. A search brought up a reference in Jayne’s book. Jayne cites Gazzaniga’s “The Bisected Brain”. On the Julian Jaynes Society website, Marcel Kuijsten also references him a few times:

    http://www.julianjaynes.org/critiques-and-responses-about-julian-jaynes-theory.php

    On a theory related to Jaynes’, there is McGilchrist’s “The Master and His Emissary”. The author references Gazzaniga numerously throughout the text..

    I own the book, but I haven’t yet read it. Apparently, he is attempting to explain the same change that Jaynes described, although with a somewhat opposing theory. McGilchrist argues, instead, that the hemispheres have come to operate more independently, more separately, and/or more imbalanced, not less so. If so, we are more bicameral than the ancients.

    The challenge with any theory about the ancient past is that there is no direct way to test it. I love speculative theories. Like many others, I want to understand how human civilization became what it is today. Gazzaniga’s research is interesting, but in the end I don’t how it might or might not relate to theories about the ancient human mind.

    Speculations are dime a dozen. But we either allow ourselves to speculate or we simply declare our ignorance about the ancient world. It is hard to resist the urge to probe shared past and origins..

  9. Arty Kraft

    Interesting thread. Another source central to these pursuits is “The Greeks and the Irrational” by E.R. Dodds, which had inspired Jaynes while providing a skeletal framework for his theory. It seems part of the problem, which both participants here have touched on, is that the empirical research regarding consciousness before 1000 BCE is scant and thus speculation and metaphysical theories are necessary to fill in the blanks. Since Jaynes was a professor of Psychology as opposed to a theoretician or a philosopher he was, however, forced by his position to reinterpret Dodds’s rather imprecise perspective into what appeared to be a solid premise.

    In doing so he tried to force what was overwhelmingly metaphysical into absolutist parameters, differentiating one period from another and one state of mind from another, as if this monumental occurrence happened suddenly and unequivocally. For the sake of argument let’s presume that there was, in fact, a transition from bicameral awareness to full consciousness; it’s more likely that it would’ve occurred incrementally as fleeting notions gradually became reasonable ideas rather than evolving rapidly and completely.

    But then that wouldn’t have been as dramatic and thus his book by now would’ve been largely forgotten.

  10. Benjamin David Steele

    @Arty Kraft – Actually, Jaynes argument doesn’t assert it happened all at once. There are those who criticize Jaynes for his asserting the opposite, that the bicameral mind lasted to a much later time in particular societies.

    Some critics see this as a ethnocentric condescension because, I suppose, they assume that Jaynes is arguing a moral superiority of the societies that supposedly developed post-bicameralism earlier. His argument can be seen as a clash of civilizations, when at some time or another previously separate societies finally met.

    One thing to keep in mind is that it has been almost 40 years since he published his book. There is obviously lots of new knowledge that is available to us now. If one wants to defend a theory like that of bicameralism and its breakdown, one would have to revise the theory to conform to what we presently know.

    Taking that societies developed differently and at different time periods, according to the theory, there should have been many examples of clashes with bicameral and post-bicameral societies. I’m not sure Jaynes was even arguing all societies went through a bicameral phase. We don’t have to assume a linear progression of the development of consciousness. We also don’t have to assume that the bicameral societies were inherently inferior. Different kinds of societies and consciousnesses would be better adapted to different kinds of conditions.

    From my perspective, there does seem to have been dramatic changes in the past. But it is hard to understand them from millennia after the events. Jaynes theory is just one of many. It is a thought experiment. We have a tendency to project our modern mind onto past societies. Jaynes, instead, suggests we imagine that people once were far different.

  11. Andy Ornberg

    Thanks for the reference to Dodds’ book. I had not heard of it before. No doubt in my mind that the transition to modern consciousness was a transition that took some time. With almost half of Americans believing the world is only 6000 years old and 20% believing the sun revolves around the earth, it seems we are still transitioning in some ways. Many of Jaynes’ hypotheses, which is what he referred to his arguments as, could use some revision. However, his basic points regarding humans moving from a bicameral mentality to an introspective consciousness are still visionary and brilliant. To put it in perspective, a reviewer of Jaynes’ work pointed out that after all just about every prediction Galileo made about the celestial bodies was wrong, but his basic insights into the structure of our solar system was still a revolutionary leap forward. The same I think can be said of Jaynes.

  12. Benjamin David Steele

    @Andy Ornberg – These past months I’ve been reading many books along these lines. I wanted to get a broader perspective. I’m not attached to any particular theory, but I do take the side of those who think that a profound transformation happened in early civilizations.

    Anyway, in my diverse readings, I was able to figure out where some of the ideas were coming from. As Arty Kraft said, Dodd influenced Jaynes. Another influence was Bruno Snell through his book, The Discovery of Mind. Snell was also influenced by Dodds.

    In turn, Dodds was influenced by Ruth Benedict. She made the distinction between shame and guilt cultures, while comparing Japan and the United States (from The Chrysanthemum and the Sword). That distinction was used by Dodds in comparing earlier and later Greek culture and hence inspired Jaynes’ theory. Benedict was mentored by Franz Boas, who taught her to study societies as cultures.

    If you’re interested in a crticism of Dodds’ view of the Greeks, a major example is that of Bernard Williams. In Shame and Necessity, Williams discusses Dodds’ book and briefly mentions Jaynes theory.

  13. Tzvi Freeman

    I was just interested in how Jaynes by bypasses instances of OT characters musing to themselves:
    “Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and he said in his heart…” (Genesis 17:17)
    “…And Esau said in his heart…” (Genesis 27:41)
    I’m sure there are others, but I managed to find these two.

  14. Benjamin David Steele

    @Tzvi Freeman – Jaynes has an entire chapter discussing the Old Testament. It is chapter 6, The Moral Consciousness of the Khabiru. He even acknowledges and discusses the problems, challenges, and limitations of using it as evidence. From pp. 294-5:

    “The story or imagined story of the later Khabiru or Hebrews is told in what has come down to us as the Old Testament . The thesis to which we shall give our concern in this chapter is that this magnificent collection of history and harangue, of song, sermon, and story is in its grand overall contour the description of the loss of the bicameral mind, and its replacement by subjectivity over the first millennium B.C.

    “We are immediately, however, presented with an orthological problem of immense proportions. For much of the Old Testament, particularly the first books, so important to our thesis, are, as is well known, forgeries of the seventh, sixth, and fifth centuries B.C., brilliant workings of brightly colored strands gathered from a scatter of places and periods. 2 In Genesis, for example, the first and second chapters tell different creation stories; the story of the flood is a monotheistic rewrite of old Sumerian inscriptions; 3 the story of Jacob may well date to before 1000 B.C., but that of Joseph, his supposed son, on the very next pages comes from at least 500 years later. 4 It had all begun with the discovery of the manuscript of Deuteronomy in Jerusalem in 621 B.C. by King Josiah, after he ordered the temple cleaned and cleared of its remaining bicameral rites. And Khabiru history, like a nomad staggering into a huge inheritance, put on these rich clothes, some not its own, and belted it all together with some imaginative ancestry. It is thus a question whether the use of this variegated material as evidence for any theory of mind whatever is even permissible.

    “Amos and Ecclesiastes Compared

    “Let me first address such skeptics. As I have said, most of the books of the Old Testament were woven together from various sources from various centuries. But some of the books are considered pure in the sense of not being compilations, but being pretty much all of one piece, mostly what they say they are, and to these a thoroughly accurate date can be attached. If we confine ourselves for the moment to these books, and compare the oldest of them with the most recent, we have a fairly authentic comparison which should give us evidence one way or another. Among these pure books, the oldest is Amos, dating from the eighth century B.C., and the most recent is Ecclesiastes, from the second century B.C. They are both short books, and I hope that you will turn to them before reading on, that you may for yourself sense authentically this difference between an almost bicameral man and a subjective conscious man.”

  15. Brad Morrison

    Very interesting. As you have identified Jaynes’ work as, among other things, inspirational of thought and research, I offer the same criticism for this entry of yours.

    What I recall thinking after having read Jaynes’ _Origin of Consciousness_ is that he tried to describe at least two common states in cultural/civilisational, i.e., bicameral and non-bicameral, and that he insisted that the bicameral mind comes first. What I notice most obviously in your essay is how you ignore Jaynes’ anecdotal adoption of histories of non-bicameral civilisations conquering bicamerals with little or no effort. In particular, the classic description of the Conquistador’s one-day victory over the Incas seems to address at least some of the questions you’ve raised.

    I found the latter chapters of Jaynes’ tome to be very instructive, e.g., Hypnotism and Glossolalia as artifacts of bicameral thinking. It would appear that Jaynes sought to tackle a subject whose breadth approaches that of Einstein’s Unified Theory work. As with most fascinating work, I have often wished for even a few minutes with Jaynes in order to better understand what he was after. The first time I read the book, it occurred as ground-breaking research – until I reached the end and realised that it is, for the most part, an essay with a great deal of synthesis. The second time I read it, I experienced it as a grand cornucopia of ideas, with the beginnings and suggestions of research.

    Unlike most seminal works capable of supporting decades, even centuries of follow-on theses, it would appear that Jaynes opted to sketch a grand framework, rather than to build a solid foundation. This accounts for the book’s popular audience, and may indicate what it is that you seem to find missing for audiences in the scientific community.

    I agree that, although quite scholarly, _The Origin of Consciousness…_ is more of a speculative work. Were it a text for coursework, it could quite easily support exercises in logic and philosophy, history, and psychology, simply to support or disprove Jaynes’ assertions. Compare to published, even refereed work, in which the support, proofs, and research are presented with more focused findings.

  16. gabrielandrade1

    What’s so racist about saying that HG are bicameral? First, they are not saying it’s in their genes to be bicameral; or, better yet, they ARE saying we are ALL genetically bicameral, but civilization has changed that. So, the difference between HG and us may be substantial, but it’s not biological, therefore, we are NOT talking about race. Second, is it not true that tribes farther removed from industrial society are more prone to posession rituals, and conceptual realism (the Piagetian term to describe confusion of dreams and reality)? Don’t they have less introspection (what HG tribe has composed an intimate novel narrrated in first person?)?
    Please do not play the race card. That is why anthropology gets a bad name nowdays. You guys wanto to blackmail everyone with the postcolonialism excuse.

  17. Benjamin David Steele

    @gabrielandrade1 – I just happened by this post again. I must have seen your comment earlier, but I forgot about it. It is a strange comment. I don’t think anyone brought up racism here.

    Anyway, it is irrelevant to the topic. Jaynes theorized that bicameralism wasn’t genetic. It was simply an early phase of civilization. Bicameral theory is about very specific societies. It was never intended to describe all preliterate humans.

    As such, he didn’t expect to find bicameralism among hunter-gatherers. The bicameral societies he discusses were complex agrarian civilizations, the first city-states and empires. Bicameralism required a highly ordered and hierarchically stratified society, which wouldn’t be possible in a small tribe.

    That is why it is mostly pointless looking for bicameralism among hunter-gatherers today. It simply has nothing to do with bicameralism, except maybe to the extent isolated tribes were in ancient times influenced by bicameral societies and so carried traces of that mindset.

    I suppose we could speculate that bicameralism can appear anywhere, when the conditions are right. The early bicameral societies apparently did emerge as hunter-gatherers settled down around worship centers. I don’t know the probability of finding examples of that in the world today. It seems unlikely.

    I wonder about the initial contact with and observations of the Australian Aborigines. Some of those tribes remained isolated for a very long time. Outside influence should have been minimal. When their societies and traditions were still fully intact, did they show any signs of bicameralism?

    There was an interesting book that came out recently. It is Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory, and the Transmission of Culture by Lynne Kelly. She isn’t discussing bicameralism, but her focus is on that early stage of settlements. It might be useful to look at the evidence she gathered and compare it to the bicameral theory.

    I still wouldn’t see how race has anything to do with any of it. Besides, race is one of those meaningless ideas, as far as science goes. A race is a sub-species, but humans aren’t genetically diverse enough to have sub-species. Genetics might play some role in the emergence and decline of bicameralism, but even then its role would probably be minor at best.

  18. Anonymous

    1. I Agree race is a meaningless concept, and I also agree that Jaynes’ theory has nothing to do with race. But, YOU are the one who brought it in the first place. I quote from your post: “This is stunning. It reads like a racist Victorian description of non-European subhumans, and if I didn’t just pull it from a website advocating Jaynes’ views, that’s what I would think it was”. As usual among anthropologists, you are playing the race and postcolonialist card, by hinting that to claim that there exist significant mental differences between modern and primitive peoples (and no, “primitive” is not an inappropriate word), is colonialist and racist.
    2. I disagree with this: “Bicameralism required a highly ordered and hierarchically stratified society, which wouldn’t be possible in a small tribe. That is why it is mostly pointless looking for bicameralism among hunter-gatherers today”. As far as I remember Jaynes DID intend to describe all preliterate societies. Jaynes did not claim that bicameralism required a highly ordered and hierarchically society. It is actually the opposite. Complex urban life required deliberation for more difficult tasks, and thus, people stopped assuming that the voices came from without, and integrated them in conscience.
    3. I do not know a great deal about Australian aborigines. But, from the reports I’ve read about other native peoples before Western influence (mostly, native Africans and Americans), they did have many mental traits Jaynes associates with bicameralism: confusion of dreams and reality, hearing voices, possession rituals, and so on.

  19. Gabriel Andrade

    1. I Agree race is a meaningless concept, and I also agree that Jaynes’ theory has nothing to do with race. But, YOU are the one who brought it in the first place. I quote from your post: “This is stunning. It reads like a racist Victorian description of non-European subhumans, and if I didn’t just pull it from a website advocating Jaynes’ views, that’s what I would think it was”. As usual among anthropologists, you are playing the race and postcolonialist card, by hinting that to claim that there exist significant mental differences between modern and primitive peoples (and no, “primitive” is not an inappropriate word), is colonialist and racist.
    2. I disagree with this: “Bicameralism required a highly ordered and hierarchically stratified society, which wouldn’t be possible in a small tribe. That is why it is mostly pointless looking for bicameralism among hunter-gatherers today”. As far as I remember Jaynes DID intend to describe all preliterate societies. Jaynes did not claim that bicameralism required a highly ordered and hierarchically society. It is actually the opposite. Complex urban life required deliberation for more difficult tasks, and thus, people stopped assuming that the voices came from without, and integrated them in conscience.
    3. I do not know a great deal about Australian aborigines. But, from the reports I’ve read about other native peoples before Western influence (mostly, native Africans and Americans), they did have many mental traits Jaynes associates with bicameralism: confusion of dreams and reality, hearing voices, possession rituals, and so on.

  20. Benjamin David Steele

    @Gabriel – Let me respond to your three points. But I’ll break it up into three separate comments, to keep it from being long and cluttered.

    1. I’m glad we agree that race is a meaningless concept. That was my main concern, but apparently there is no need to have any debate about that. That is a relief, as those debates can be tiresome and frustrating.

    As for racism, you are incorrect in blaming me. I didn’t bring it up. Cris Campbell wrote this blog post. I must admit that I forgot about what he wrote, and so you were justified in commenting about it—I apologize. Considering his response, I may partly agree with you. If you look at my comments here, I’ve had plenty of disagreements with Cris’ views, interpretations, and conclusions. But I don’t personally have a strong response to that part of Cris’ statement.

    It probably wasn’t helpful for him to throw in a comment like that, if only for the reason it ends up being an unnecessary distraction. He clearly implies that it is racist, in that it “reads” like racism. But he admits that wasn’t written by Jaynes and so I don’t know why it is relevant. It isn’t as if Jaynes can take responsibility for what other people write.

    I noticed that the Julian Jaynes Society website no longer has that quoted material on an official page. All I could find was a similar comment made in the discssion forum:

    http://www.julianjaynes.org/forum3/viewtopic.php?p=877&sid=c4b634ec1b6e5bed2893cee7c8ca685c#p877

    It doesn’t show who is the author, other than being a moderator there. So, I’m not sure in what official capacity that person may or may not speak. Either way, it still has nothing directly to do with Jaynes’ writings and theory.

    As a response to Cris’ criticism, I noticed that Michael Prescott made a few points about that quote:

    http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2013/04/more-letters-from-the-past.html?cid=6a00d83451574c69e201901bb0d8a0970b#comment-6a00d83451574c69e201901bb0d8a0970b

    Michael agrees that one part of the quote is problematic, but doesn’t put it into the context of racism:

    “”Just as animated as non-human primates.” This is the one truly offensive thing in the passage. It’s stupid to compare human beings with one mode of mentation to animals with an altogether different mentality.”

    That seems a fair way of putting it. Then, in the last part of his comment, he writes:

    “”Fear, shame, and anger, but not anxiety, guilt, and hatred.” I would say: a shame-based society rather than a guilt-based society. This is a standard anthropological distinction, and I don’t know why a blogger who is also an anthropologist would be surprised or appalled by it.”

    That expresses my own viewpoint. Jaynes was building off of highly respected scholars who had already made distinctions between ancient societies and what followed. There is a vast literature on this topic. It is well within the mainstream scholarship to consider that ancient people experienced the world differently. Whether or not it is a consensus view, it certainly isn’t radical. I’ve come across dozens of academic books that support this basic interpretation of the evidence.

  21. Benjamin David Steele

    Now to your next point.

    2. If you disagree with me, then you disagree with Jaynes. I was just putting his theory into my own words. You obviously are remembering incorrectly, which is easy to do. At times like this, the only way to resolve the disagreement is through direct quotes. Here is Jayne’s describing the transition of preliterate societies into bicameralism (p. 139):

    “Now here is a very significant change in human affairs. Instead of a nomadic tribe of about twenty hunters living in the mouths of caves, we have a town with a population of at least 200 persons. It was the advent of agriculture, as attested by the abundance of sickle blades, pounders and pestles, querns and mortars, recessed in the floor of each house, for the reaping and preparation of cereals and legumes, that made such permanence and population possible.”

    As he explains, the earliest humans were pre-bicameral. The development of bicameralism was simultaneous with the development of a more complex society of agricultural settlements. Elsewhere, he touches upon why this happened. After discussing typical primate social behavior, he argues that bicameralism wasn’t an expression of early social groups but rather a response to it (p. 129):

    “There is no reason to think that early man from the beginning of the genus Homo two million years ago lived any differently. Such archaeological evidence as has been obtained indicates the size of a group to be about thirty. 6 This number, I suggest, was limited by the problem of social control and the degree of openness of the communication channels between individuals. 7 And it is the problem of this limitation of group size which the gods may have come into evolutionary history to solve.”

    In note 7 to what he wrote there, he makes it clear that the “case is not the same” between ancient and modern hunter-gatherers. That indicates that looking at tribal people today won’t necessarily tell us much about the earliest human societies:

    “7 This group size is approximately the same for modern tribal hunters when they are nomadic. But the case is not the same. See Joseph B. Birdsell, “On population structure in generalized hunting and collecting populations,” Evolution, 1958, 12: 189– 205.”

    He goes into more detail about the factor of growing population (pp. 194-195)::

    “The most obvious fact of theocracies is their success in a biological sense. Populations were continually increasing. As they did so, problems of social control by hallucinations called gods became more and more complex. The structuring of such control in a village of a few hundred back at Eynan in the ninth millennium B.C. is obviously enormously different from what it was in the civilizations we have just discussed with their hierarchical layer of gods, priests, and officers.”

    Growing population destabilized the pre-bicameral societies. That forced bicameralism to develop. But then further growing population put pressure on the bicameral societies to adapt with increasing complexity. He sees this as having a successful strategy, as long as stability could be maintained (p. 204):

    “This was fine in a stable hierarchical organization, where the voices were the always correct and essential parts of that hierarchy, where the divine orders of life were trussed and girdered with unversatile ritual, untouched by major social disturbance. But the second millennium B.C. was not to last that way. Wars, catastrophes, national migrations became its central themes. Chaos darkened the holy brightnesses of the unconscious world. Hierarchies crumpled. And between the act and its divine source came the shadow, the pause that profaned, the dreadful loosening that made the gods unhappy, recriminatory, jealous. Until, finally, the screening off of their tyranny was effected by the invention on the basis of language of an analog space with an analog ‘I’. The careful elaborate structures of the bicameral mind had been shaken into consciousness.”

    When stability failed, bicameral societies collapsed. This eventually led to the breakdown of the bicameral mind, as he points out. But before that happened, a pattern of collapse and rebuilding had apparently become cyclical, until whatever major catastrophe finally came along to permanently destroy them (p.195):

    “Indeed, I suggest that there is a built-in periodicity to bicameral theocracies, that the complexities of hallucinatory control with their very success increase until the civil state and civilized relations can no longer be sustained, and the bicameral society collapses. As I noted in the previous chapter, this occurred many times in the pre-Columbian civilizations of America, whole populations suddenly deserting their cities, with no external cause, and anarchically melting back into tribal living in surrounding terrain, but returning to their cities and their gods a century or so later.”

    Jaynes has a more extensive discussion earlier in the book, where he responds to an ‘Objection’ (pp. 179-180):

    “Objection: If the bicameral mind existed, one might expect utter chaos, with everybody following his own private hallucinations. The only possible way in which there could be a bicameral civilization would be that of a rigid hierarchy, with lesser men hallucinating the voices of authorities over them, and those authorities hallucinating yet higher ones, and so on to the kings and their peers hallucinating gods. Yet the Iliad does not present any such picture with its concentration on the heroic individual.

    “Reply: This is a very telling objection that puzzled me for a long time, particularly as I studied the history of other bicameral civilizations in which there was not the freedom for individual action that there was in the social world of the Iliad.

    “The missing pieces in the puzzle turn out to be the well-known Linear B Tablets from Knossos, Mycenae, and Pylos. They were written directly in what I am calling the bicameral period. They have long been known, yet long resistant to the most arduous labors of cryptographers. Recently, however, they have been deciphered and shown to contain a syllabic script, the earliest written Greek used only for record purposes. 7 And it gives us an outline picture of Mycenaean society much more in keeping with the hypothesis of a bicameral mind: hierarchies of officials, soldiers, or workers, inventories of goods, statements of goods owed to the ruler and particularly to gods. The actual world of the Trojan War, then, was in historical fact much closer to the rigid theocracy which the theory predicts than to the free individuality of the poem.

    “Moreover, the very structure of the Mycenaean state is profoundly different from the loose assemblage of warriors depicted in the Iliad. It is indeed quite similar to the contemporary divinely ruled kingdoms of Mesopotamia (as described later in this essay, particularly in II. 2). These records in Linear B call the head of the state the wanax, a word which in later classical Greek is only used for gods. Similarly, the records call the land occupied by his state as his temenos, a word which later is used only for land sacred to the gods. The later Greek word for king is basileus, but the term in these tablets denotes a much less important person. He is more or less the first servant of the wanax, just as in Mesopotamia the human ruler was really the steward of the lands ‘owned’ by the god he heard in hallucination— as we shall see in II. 2. The material from the Linear B tablets is difficult to piece together, but they do reveal the hierarchical and leveled nature of centralized palace civilizations which the succession of poets who composed the Iliad in the oral tradition completely ignored.

    “This loosening of the social structure in the fully developed Iliad may in part have been caused by the bringing together of other much later stories into the main theme of the Trojan War. One of the most telling pieces of evidence that the Iliad is a composite of different compositions is the large number of inconsistencies in the poem, some in very close proximity. For example, when Hector is withdrawing from the battle, one line (6: 117) says, “The black hide beat upon his neck and ankles.” This can only be the early Mycenaean body-shield. But the next line refers to “The rim which ran round the outside of the bossed shield,” and this is a very different kind and a much later type of shield. Obviously, the second line was added by a later poet who in his auditory trance was not even visualizing what he was saying.”

    As a side note, I’d point to Andy Ornberg’s response to this post:

    http://bicameraljaynes.blogspot.com/2014/10/all-mixed-up.html

    He discusses the hunter-gatherer issue.

  22. Benjamin David Steele

    And last but not least, there is your third point.

    I’m not all that familiar with Australian Aborigines either. But it is an interesting and unusual example, in their having remained isolated for so long and in our having a fair amount of info about their societies.

    You wrote that, “they did have many mental traits Jaynes associates with bicameralism: confusion of dreams and reality, hearing voices, possession rituals, and so on.” That is a good point. The problem is there is so little discussion of it. Jaynes doesn’t mention the Aborigines in his book. And nothing comes up in a site search of the Julian Jaynes Society website. I barely found much reference to this anywhere on the internet, and even then only as a brief passing comment.

    It is curious. Maybe there wasn’t enough accurate and thorough anthropological knowledge of the Aborigines in the past. I hope that is changing, as indicated by Lynne Kelly’s book. Her view of Aborigines appears to be entirely new. I haven’t yet finished reading her book and so I can’t speak in great detail about its full merits.

    I would offer two thoughts.

    First, Aborigines may be a society in transition. With their established songlines, that seems like a first step toward permanent settlements, specifically in terms of Kelly’s theory.

    What Jaynes argues pushes a society into bicameralism is growing population. But maybe the Aborigines rarely if ever had a problem with population size, as their environmental conditions might limit population growth. Aboriginal society may have been too stable to ever require full bicameralism. That said, the precursors to bicameralism might be present, just as the vestiges of bicameralism still can be found today. Bicameralism isn’t just a few traits but how those traits fit together in a specific social order.

    Second, I’m not sure bicameralism is a necessary step in development for all societies. There is immense diversity of natural environments and human cultures, as well as immense diversity in neuroplasticity. I see multiple potentials of development that could go in many directions. What we might see as the elements or precursors of bicameralism don’t necessarily require forming into bicameralism itself.

    I don’t know. Just some thoughts to consider.

  23. Gabriel Andrade

    @Benjamin
    1. Ok, apologies accepted. I disagree with this: “Just as animated as non-human primates.” This is the one truly offensive thing in the passage. It’s stupid to compare human beings with one mode of mentation to animals with an altogether different mentality”. I don’t see anything stupid about it. Luria and Vigotski, two intellectual giants, wrote a famous book, “Apes, primitives, and children”. The title speaks for itself. There are some intellectual tasks that civilized adults can do, but apes, children and primitives are incapable of doing. That, it seems to me, is enough to warrant a comparison.

  24. Gabriel Andrade

    @Benjamin
    2. Ok, I was wrong about pre-bicamelarism. I find Jaynes’ theory very interesting, but hard to swallow. Thank you for pointing out my error.
    3. I mostly agree. However, it seems to me, that all societies roughly do go through some of the same stages. That does not imply that bicameralism is one of those stages. But, contrary to the cultural relativist dogma, I am willing to defend the old unilineal (yes, “Victorian”) model of cultural evolution. Any society that grows in population, will transition to some form of horticulture or agriculture. And, agriculture brings about the same social changes everywhere: hierarchies, warfare, cities, etc. So, yes, there might be “multiple potentials of development that could go in many directions” (your words), but all within limits, and those limits are universal stages that, for the most part, were correctly delineated by the Victorians.

    Gabriel. Maracaibo, Venezuela.

  25. Benjamin David Steele

    “There are some intellectual tasks that civilized adults can do, but apes, children and primitives are incapable of doing. That, it seems to me, is enough to warrant a comparison.”

    I would be fine with that, in principle. Humans are animals, after all—specifically, primates. Comparisons are fair game. OTOH it is important how such comparisons are done.

    The phrasing of this particular comparison comes off sounding rather unscientific. I’m not even sure what ‘animated’ is supposed to mean.

    Does this imply that, compared to people in agricultural and/or industrial societies, tribal people physically move about more (walking, running, jumping, dancing, doing physical labor, or whatever)? Or does it mean they use a lot of hand gestures and facial expressions? Is there a study that has proven this to be the case as a generalization of all tribal societies?

    I understand why Cris jumped to thinking racism. It is easy to imagine an actual racist making this comment. There is a long history of racism behind social and cultural comparisons. And in the past comments like this were intentionally conflated with racial views of superiority and inferiority, even when race wasn’t overtly stated.

    But there is no reason to assume the intention was racist. More importantly, as I pointed out, it’s simply an unnecessary distraction.

  26. Benjamin David Steele

    “Ok, I was wrong about pre-bicamelarism. I find Jaynes’ theory very interesting, but hard to swallow. Thank you for pointing out my error.”

    I’m no expert on Jaynes’ theory. I just have been looking at it more recently. It is more fresh in my memory.

    As I’ve said in previous comments, I’m not an ideological defender of Jaynesianism. I’m just curious. Jaynes might be wrong, but the evidence still remains to be explained. Dismissing it is unsatisfying.

    I’m curious about other theorists as well, from E.R. Dodds and Bruno Snell who influenced Jaynes to Iain McGilchrist who was influenced by Jaynes. I also have interest in entirely different theorists who explore ancient mindsets, worldviews, and psychological experiences, such as David Konstan, Peter S. Wells, David Wengrow, etc.

    I’m willing to consider any possible explanations. I just find it fascinating to contemplate those who based on the evidence appear to have been far different from us, whatever that might ultimately mean.

    “But, contrary to the cultural relativist dogma, I am willing to defend the old unilineal (yes, “Victorian”) model of cultural evolution.”

    I’m not willing to either defend or attack it. I simply don’t know. I’ve had some attraction to unilineal and semi-unilineal models. For example, I find some aspects of spiral dynamics to be compelling, although I always have niggling doubts about almost everything. Models that are descriptive of development may not be prescriptive about what is the most optimal or necessary development. Many alternative paths were wiped out and we may never know what they would have led to.

    About spiral dynamics and bicameralism, I came across this (note 3, p. 57):

    http://cejournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Reitter.pdf

    “The idea here is that efficacy as an attractor-value can include the valuation of others’ efficacy — and this broadens the picture of extreme egotism drawn by the SD authors into a considerably more subtle picture that includes a values’ revolution at RED in the self-organization of society through enhanced social mutual appreciation (e.g., of heroic qualities) and resultant social ramification. Jaynes explicitly brings up some supporting evidence on this point”

    Of course, that would only be comprehensible if you knew about spiral dynamics. The colors refer to stages of development, sort of—actually, they are sometimes referred to as value memes, as they aren’t exclusive stages but in integral theory portrayed as a holarchy (i.e., transcend and include). It isn’t as simplistically unilinear and there is much debate about whether it is inevitable that everyone must go through all stages as a straightforward progression.

    “Any society that grows in population, will transition to some form of horticulture or agriculture. And, agriculture brings about the same social changes everywhere: hierarchies, warfare, cities, etc. So, yes, there might be “multiple potentials of development that could go in many directions” (your words), but all within limits, and those limits are universal stages that, for the most part, were correctly delineated by the Victorians.”

    Maybe or maybe not. The jury is still out on that one.

    All we know is what happened in many societies. But I’d point out that even tribal people continued to develop their societies, whether or not they developed agriculture. Nothing stands still and remains unchanged. The problem is most of those alternative lines of development were intentionally or unintentionally wiped out by the agricultural empires, the Victorians being their heirs. The winners, of course, write the history books and create the social models.

    As an intriguing side note, there is some research that shows different agricultural systems creates different mindsets and social systems:

    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/plowing-the-furrows-of-the-mind/

    This type of thing has only barely been researched. Tribal people have been researched to an even less degree. We know so little at this point and about most things we will never know, as whatever evidence once existed was lost or destroyed.

    It is hard to study humanity using the scientific method as we have no way to repeat the experiment to see if we can confirm or disconfirm most of our hypotheses—they simply are nonfalsifiable. Speculation is not without its merits, but we should be intellectually humble in this endeavor and not become overconfident in the default state of our shared ignorance. Not being able to disprove our assumptions and biases is not the same thing as proving them.

  27. Gabriel Andrade

    @Benjamin
    1. Yeah, we may agree that the “animated” bit is very vague and inappropriate. Nevertheless, apart from Jaynes, there are plenty of studies documenting the intellectual inabilities of primitives, which are shared by children and non-human primates. Piaget’s tests of size conservation, and other similar tasks, come to mind. H.R. Hallpike has done cross-cultural research documenting this data.

    You write: “I understand why Cris jumped to thinking racism. It is easy to imagine an actual racist making this comment. There is a long history of racism behind social and cultural comparisons. And in the past comments like this were intentionally conflated with racial views of superiority and inferiority, even when race wasn’t overtly stated.”.

    I think this is judging by association. Yes, racists may use similar language as people who compare cultures, but that does not imply that cultural comparisons are racist per se. I think you are incurring in Boas’ mistake: to say that European skulls are not superior to African skulls, does not entail that European civilization is not superior to African cultures.

  28. Benjamin David Steele

    1. Yeah, I don’t necessarily agree with you here, at least not from a general perspective.

    I do love comparisons and often find them helpful, but I’ve learned through experience to be extremely wary of them. We should think carefully about what and how we compare. There are is an immense number of confounding factors in collective patterns of human behavior. The more I learn about what we know the more I realize how little we know.

    One angle I always consider is environmental influences. Many things we see as important might be as much or more effects than causes.

    Microbes and parasites, for example, have been shown by research to effect our moods and mental health, cognitive functioning and IQ, cravings and physical well-being. Now consider that we are more likely to share in common microbes and parasites with family, friends, neighbors, etc—anyone we are in a regular contact, as microbial ecosystems form not just in our bodies but in our shared environments (houses, churches, schools, etc). It gives new meaning to such as parasite load.

    https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/what-do-we-inherit-and-from-whom/

    I think about this on a personal level. As a life-long feline afficionado in a society where cat ownership is common, I and many people I know are probably carriers of the parasite toxoplasmosis gondii. It is known to alter brain functioning and contribute to affective, psychiatric, and neurological disorders: OCD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, major depression, and suicidal inclinations (not to mention increased rate of car accidents). Besides mental health, it also can cause subtle gender-dependent behavioral changes. It is even shown to cause epigenetic changes in rodents. The crazy cat lady isn’t just a humorous stereotype.

    That is just one example among the hundreds of millions of microbes and parasites that inhabit various human populations. Different microbes and parasites will be dependent on different animal hosts, environmental conditions, and foods eaten (all of these are factors directly related to geographic and cultural populations). Some of these, such as cultured food, we purposely consume to introduce microbes we want—kefir and other probiotics are associated with improved mood. Different cultures have different food traditions, including different preferred cultured foods.

    How many anthropologists and similar scholars have studied this or even considered it? Probably not many. But they should.

    Ancient populations would have had entirely different microbial ecosystems, especially as climate change and environmental changes have happened over the millennia, not to mention the process of various species going extinct or being domesticated. Maybe ancient people thought and perceived differently because they had different profiles of microbes and parasites.

    Just a possibility to consider, one among many others. There are all kinds of factors like this that get ignored.

    “I think this is judging by association.”

    It is. That is partly why I thought it unhelpful.

    “Yes, racists may use similar language as people who compare cultures, but that does not imply that cultural comparisons are racist per se.”

    True, but… There are ways of making comparisons that are conducive to or at least open to racist interpretations. And there are ways of making comparisons that are more careful and precise, avoiding lazying thinking and vague language that allows for misinterpretation. An important distinction to keep in mind.

    “I think you are incurring in Boas’ mistake: to say that European skulls are not superior to African skulls, does not entail that European civilization is not superior to African cultures.”

    I’m not defending any particular ideological position. If I’m making a mistake, it’s simply being overly cautious toward all viewpoints.

    The type of thing I’m wary of is language in particular. For example, ‘superior’ is a non-scientific term. It’s a value judgment. Even if we could operationalize animated behavior in order to study it, there is no objective reason to judge as superior a society with lower rates of animated behavior. Both an intellectual at his desk and patient sick in bed are lacking in animated behavior. So, an unanimated population could either be really studious or really sickly.

    It remains that that the animated claim was unhelpful. But also the racist allegation/implication is also unhelpful. On neither side, the debate isn’t furthered for this particular point. So it seems to me.

  29. Benjamin David Steele

    I stated something incorrectly. In my first sentence, I meant to write:

    1. Yeah, I don’t necessarily disagree with you here, at least not from a general perspective.

    Basically, I agree with your broad view that comparisons can potentially be valid and useful.

  30. Benjamin David Steele

    Here is something along the lines of what I was talking about. It doesn’t consider any of the mental health and behavioral implications, though. We are just now discovering this microbial diversity exists at such a massive scale. The next step will be determining its significance.

    http://www.nature.com/news/bacteria-bonanza-found-in-remote-amazon-village-1.17348

    “An isolated American Indian group in the Venezuelan Amazon hosts the most-diverse constellation of microbes ever discovered in humans, researchers reported on 17 April in Science Advances1. Surprisingly, the group’s microbiome includes bacteria with genes that confer antibiotic resistance — even though its members, part of the Yanomami tribe, are not thought to have been exposed to the drugs. […]

    “When researchers analysed the microbial DNA in those samples, they found that the average Yanomami’s microbiota had twice as many genes as that of the average US person. More surprisingly, the Yanomami microbiome was even more diverse than those reported for other indigenous groups in South America and in Africa4.”

  31. Jordan

    “Whichever way his hypothesis is parsed, it would require HGs not impacted by “civilization” to have bicameral minds or consciousness.”

    That is not true. It is easily explained by a parallel evolutionary trend. If you agree that all humans originated from a common source (which they absolutely did), then that source has the ability to impapct any human down the evolutionary line. The argument could be made that since bicameralism really was a catalyst for societal cohesion, it would follow that the success of that cohesion and emergence of new struggles would regrees the bicameral mind.

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