This talk repeats some content presented in previous talks, but also adds some important new ideas. There is evidence here that Varki, despite a large important unrelated day job, is still thinking about and developing his theory. That’s great news because, as I’ve said many times, MORT is the most important new idea since Darwin.
This slide depicts the emergence of the unique behaviorally modern human mind.
This slide shows that most behaviors unique to humans no longer exist (grayed out) if you remove the adaptations for an extended theory of mind and reality denial.
This slide explains the implications of the Mind Over Reality Transition theory.
Varki introduces a new idea that incomplete suppression of mortality salience may explain the need for Terror Management. I wonder if Varki might be trying to get Sheldon Solomon, who has to date been juveniley dismissive of MORT, on board?
I found this slide on ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny interesting because I’m reading Michael Pollan’s new book on psychedelics in which the human brain’s Default Mode Network is explained to be the seat of self and theory of mind, and which is suppressed by psychedelic drugs thus re-creating what may be the tripping mind of a baby. I wonder if our adaptations for an extended theory of mind and reality denial somehow affected or created the Default Mode Network? I’m hoping a neuroscience expert will weigh in here.
This new idea from Varki on sex differences resulting from MORT is, I suspect, important, but I need to digest it more before commenting.
At the 23 minute mark Varki addresses climate change with a quote from his co-author Danny Brower which is a very nice summary of why I created this blog. If we do not acknowledge and manage our tendency to deny reality we are doomed as a species.
Aside 1: The video at 15:15 that Varki took on traffic from the window of his hotel room in India is hilarious.
Aside 2: The Q&A begins at 25:00 and I observe that, as with previous talks, no one in the audience seems to get the profundity of his theory.
Aside 3: I observe that the most important new idea in science, and the idea whose broad awareness may offer the only hope for our species, has 12 views on YouTube. Apparently, the only topic more unpleasant than human overshoot is our genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realities.