In honor of Halloween eve, I thought I’d show an eerie clip from one of my favorite movies of all time (2001: A Space Odyssey):

What I love about this scene is just the haunting beauty of life before proto-humans evolved higher intelligence.  Even though the scene is very violent, there’s just something extremely peaceful about it:  For millions of years, generations of African apes would just lived there simple repetitive pointless lives under the quiet glare of the rising and setting sun, and then died, allowing their kids to repeat the same pointless cycle.

The film implies it took an alien intervention for apes to evolves into humans, which as former commenter “Race Realist” has noted, is a common conspiracy theory, perhaps because the human mind is such a complex entity that it’s hard for people to imagine how a process as random as natural selection could have produced it.

Indeed commenter “Mug of Pee” often cites the failure to beat Secretariat’s records as an example of how  even artificial selection for relatively simple traits like horse racing speed eventually hits a brick wall where natural selection runs out of mutations to exploit.  This may explain not only Stephen Jay Gould’s punctuated equilibrium theory, but the hundreds of thousands of years in the fossil record where the genus homo showed no progress in tool making and it’s also an argument HBD deniers like commenter “Swank” have used to argue all races must have equal intelligence, at least at the high end, because intelligence is so complex that any mutation that would increase its upper limit would take hundreds of thousands of years to appear.  This in sharp contrast to scholars like Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending who argued Ashkenazi Jews were selected for high IQ mutations that emerged only about a thousand years ago.

Even though the theme of aliens intervening in human evolution sounds kind of cheesy, it’s handled deftly by director Stanley Kubrick, who never shows us the aliens, instead focusing on the featureless black monolith that mysteriously enhances the IQ of the apes who touch it.

Some claim Kubrick, who was Ashkenazi Jewish, had an IQ of 200, and even assuming the old age ratio IQ scale that gave ridiculously inflated results, this is probably a huge exaggeration.  Nonetheless, he may have been the smartest major director of his generation so it’s interesting to note that like “America’s smartest man” Chris Langan,  he’s quite interested in a scientific definition of “God”, and that’s what the aliens were meant to be in his film.

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