Lawrence Krauss on Caveman Common Sense


We evolved as human beings a few million years
ago on the Savanna in Africa and we evolved to escape tigers, or lions, or predators.
And so what makes common sense to us is the world on our scale. You know, how to throw
a rock or a spear or how to find a cave and we didn’t evolve to understand quantum mechanics.
And, therefore, it’s not too surprising that on scales vastly different than the kind
of experience we had as we were evolving as a species, that nature seems strange and sometimes
almost unfathomable, certainly violates our common sense. Our sense of what is common
sense and what’s intuition. But as I like to say, the universe doesn’t care about our
common sense. We have to force our ideas to conform to the evidence of reality rather
than the other way around And if reality seems strange, that’s okay. In fact that’s what
makes science so wonderful; it expands our minds because it forces us to accept possibilities,
which, in advance, we may never of thought was possible. I’ve said that scientists love mysteries,
and we do. That’s the reason I’m a scientist. Because it’s the puzzles of the universe
that make it so exciting. Now it is true that we want to solve, resolve those and solve
those puzzles. That’s part of the fun of doing science is solving puzzles, basically.
But each time we do, new questions arise. And I think for many of us, just as in our
lives, the searching is often much more profound than the finding. It’s the searching for
answers through life in some sense that make life worth living. If we had all the answers,
we could just sit back and stare at out navels. And I think what makes the search so exciting
is that the answers are so surprising. The universe continues to surprise us in ways
we never would have imagined. Well beyond our own imagination in advance, and that’s
all we have to keep exploring the universe. We can’t just sit in a room and think about
it because every time we open a new window on the universe were surprised. And that makes
the whole process incredibly exciting.

100 comments

  1. I was the one saying that no one knew anything about what Paleolithic human ancestors knew, Krauss is the one pretending he knows that.

  2. All He said is that understanding Quantum Mechanics was not important for Our survival as We evolved into Our current form, but understanding the cause-and-effect nature of the Universe around Us was. He wasn't talking about what Paleolithic Men thought, He's talking about what sort of Evolutionary Pressures would have been on Them.

  3. If he is talking about natural selection having that effect he's talking at least as far back as the paleolithic period and nothing, whatsoever is known how our paleolithic ancestors thought because there is no evidence of that left. He doesn't know what he's talking about because he's entirely outside of his area of expertise.

  4. Other than what those appear to be of, their estimated age and their physical description EVERYTHING THAT IS SAID ABOUT WHAT THEY MEAN only reveals what people, today, think. What the people who painted them thought about them is entirely unknown. That people mistake what anthropologists today say about them for the thoughts of the artists only proves they don't have even the most basic understanding of the situation, Krauss would seem to be one of those naive people. Duped by pseudo-science

  5. so there is evidence left of these peoples expression of their thoughts, cave painting are of animals, predators and prey, not calculations of quantum mechanics. So how exactly is his stating that these are examples of evolutionary pressures and could have impacted on the development of our mental perception not correct?

  6. How do you know what motivated the painting of them? You think you or Krauss has the ability to accurately guess that unless the actual person who painted an actual picture tells you? What makes you think that the different paleolithic people who painted those pictures all had a similar motive? You can't even know the gender of the painters.

    You have a superstitious belief in the ability of anthropologists to know what those people would have to tell them in order for them to know it.

  7. its not a question of what was the motivation that inspired these expressions what is know is they created these as they were aware of them, you claimed there is no evidence of paleolithic ancestors thoughts but there is they thought about things like predators otherwise they could not have drawn them, you can’t express that which you don't know

  8. You can't know what someone who paints a picture did it for, what they thought of it, or anything else that doesn't show up in the physical evidence without asking them. And they're all long dead. Krauss is a dolt if he thinks you can know that without them telling you. You are just a dolt because I've already pointed that out to you.

  9. you really are just arguing a mute point. the motivation of what inspired a cave man to paint is not what is relevant I’ve already stated this you seem to be slow on picking up on that.

  10. Uh, the word is "moot". But I guess like Krauss you don't think think the humanities are important so you probably don't mind you're using the wrong word.

  11. wow even further mis conceptions nice, you really must like creating your own little reality in your own mind and living in that. when exactly did Krauss or myself claim humanities are not important?

  12. i really dont give one fucking shit about grammar i can make all the spelling and grammar mistakes i fucking want, it doesn’t change from the fact that you no longer have any logical argument, you don’t event try to defend you position just more attacks towards me in a attempt to discredit me.

  13. Oh, and I don't expect you to understand what it means, but your sentence in which you misused "mute" was gramatically correct and in standard spelling, it's just that you demonstrated in that and subsequent statements that you didn't know you were using the wrong word. That, bunky, makes a big difference if people are to understand you and whether they'll be inclined to think you know what you're talking about. Though anyone who did would know by what else you said that you don't.

  14. Teleporting in the future is more likely that humanitya must exist as a computer programs and to come alive in a human form just simply do like the sand man movie do that can transform to all type of form?

  15. yea sad to see you still have not taken my advice to remove yourself from existence, you seem to be quite aware that you are spreading crap and misinformation as soon as i mention any thing of the sort you revert to questioning my grammar and not event defending your position, basically just using ad hominem attacks towards me as you know you are unable to defend you position as you are wrong

  16. While, if I found myself taking your advice on anything I might become suicidal, we're a very long lived family so it's entirely possible I'll be around forty more years. It would be easier for you to end it all than to talk me into it. While I doubt that would increase the cumulative intelligence of the Randi "Educational" Foundation, it would put you out of the misery you are bound to feel as your little troll god is exposed for the liar, fraud, hypocrite, ignoramus and criminal he is.

  17. have you gone and mixed yourself up this convo i thought was about Krauss not Randi. some nice false claims there as well please expose all you have on Randi, be nice to laugh at what you provide me with as what you think is facts and knowledge

  18. Did you forget that you're trolling me at the Randi threads too? To you have to be regularly reminded how to swallow?

  19. I’m not "trolling" you i genuinely think that you are a fucking idiot and have nothing to provide humanity, you bring no good, humanity is only held back by pieces of shit like you, just so you don’t go and try to claim i have a eugenic view from this i don’t in any way think that this is to do with your genetic make up i just think you ignore logic and have lost grasp on reality. and how about just not having a irreverent convo about other threads?

  20. I sure as hell didn't talk to you first. I don't usually engage illiterate idiots in conversation unless they start it.

  21. Jesus this is a long conversation, I was still clicking "(Show the comment)" for about a minute after Professor Krauss finished.

    (My use of the word 'Jesus' should not be taken badly)

  22. Why the fuck would Krauss make himself a figure of Atheism when he is already very popular and famous among intellectual circles? You have no idea what you are talking about. His best selling book; A Universe From Nothing isn't merely a ploy to attract insecure Atheists; it is a SCIENCE book. You wouldn't know because you've never read any books on science.

  23. Yeah you don't engage in debates with illiterate idiots you only put your heart and soul in ancient books written by illiterate idiots.

  24. I'll bet you think you know what this is all about without having read what I said, which has nothing to do with religion. In other words, bunky, you just confirmed what I said. Illiterate idiots who figure they know what it's all about without having to bother with reading what was said. You are an idiot.

  25. Quote me putting my heart and soul of ancient books. Go on, quote me doing that.

    Atheists figure they can know things on the basis of making assumptions instead of looking at evidence. I'd call you on the logical incoherence of talking about illiterates writing "ancient" books but it's clear the neo-athes can type out blog comments while being mentally incapable of reading. Apparently voice to text has gotten better lately.

  26. For the same reason Bertrand Russell and the far lesser figure, Richard Dawkins have, his active career in science is at an end. Or at least that's what his bailing into a career in pop-atheism leads me to conclude.

  27. I'd have stopped answering them but their level of intellectual engagement means that the last one to say something wins. And it's sort of fun seeing how ignorant conceited people are as they're still being conceited.

  28. A scientist using his name as a scientist to talk about stuff he obviously doesn't know about is a problem, which is what I object to. Otherwise, your comment as a response to what I said is rather incoherent, having nothing to do with what I said. Atheists tend to get kind of hysterical when their coreligionists are criticized.

  29. He, like everyone else has no idea what "cavemen" where thinking because there is absolutely no record left of what they were thinking. It's all about as scientific as "Clan of the Cave Bear" or a Chick publication. What Krauss says about this is about as informed as what a stupid blog dolt like you says about it.

  30. No, that would be according to your complete inability to think. What should be done is to not lie about what's found and what can be known about it. Without a text that reveals what people thought, the artifacts can't tell you what they thought.

  31. Yeah, big deal, it's a friggin typo. No one knows what someone is thinking unless they tell you what they were thinking. You can't just make it up and call it science. Well, you can, but that doesn't make it science, it's story telling.

  32. Oh, so now you're a fucking caveman expert now? Always gotta have an opinion on something. Even if your opinion sucks ass. Tsk, tsk.

  33. Only an atheist-"skeptic" could be so stupid as to read "no one knows" as a claim of expertise. YOU STUPID ASS, IF NO ONE KNOWS SOMETHING NO ONE IS AN EXPERT ON IT. And no one knows what cavemen were thinking BECAUSE WRITING HADN'T BEEN INVENTED YET SO THEY COULDN'T TELL US.

    Geesh, if you boys were stupider you'd drown in your own drool.

  34. Ooh, I'll bet you really upset me with the implication that I'm gay, when the fact is I've been out as gay for about forty years longer than Randi, even though I'm about twenty years younger. Or maybe that's how you sweet talk your ancient man-god.

    No one knows what "cavemen" thought about anything BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T LEAVE A RECORD OF WHAT THEY THOUGHT ABOUT ANYTHING EVERYTHING SAID ABOUT THAT IS MODERN MAKE BELIEVE.

    I'm more skeptical than the pseudo-skeptics like you Randi and Krauss.

  35. I never doubted that you were gay. Anyone could be. But you still have bullshit spilling out of it.

  36. I came out before Stonewall, Randi lied through his entire adulthood. He made his life a bullshit lie, only to come out as he found out that he was being researched for a tell-all article. Believe me, I'd rather the scumbag was straight, I don't want any more in common with him than possible.

  37. Who cares? Seriously, your opinion doesn't even matter. Why would he care about your opinion of him? You are but a spec of dust on this world as far as Randi's success on this Earth goes. What have you got to show for yourself? Nothing? That's what I thought.
    I've still yet to see a single statement come from you that isn't complete BS.

  38. You're worse than he is for insulting him like this, just not cool, you may disagree and think he's stupid, but insulting him the way you did is outright disrespectful, and no good man (seemingly winning an argument) would retort to such a low thing.

  39. Oh, his Randiness just hates it when he finds out someone has bothered to look at his sleazy record, including his using his incompetence in math and science as his excuse during the sTARBABY scandal. He knows zero, nothing whatsoever about statistics so he couldn't even read the papers on the things he tries to debunk. You can debunk a creep like Popoff using his show biz skills but to debunk a statistical argument, you have to understand statistics and Randi never bothered to learn that.

  40. OK, I think you're going way out in left field there.

    I never suggested I was being "respectful." I don't know where you got that idea. I really don't know what being "downright disrespectful" has to do with it, or what being a "good man" has to do with it.

    I don't know if I'm "worse" than he is, lol, but I am more correct in this case.

    Don't get so offended by YouTube comments. Calling someone an idiot is one thing, calling someone you don't know a bad person is another. Get over yourself.

  41. Ma Mumma says God made the navel, so it is beautiful and all glory goes to him!

    Man I almost cant bring myself to actually post this lol.

  42. I used to have some respect for Krauss, as recently as 2008 he was being reasonable about things like religion and its relationship with science but then he decided to dive into the same dumpster as Dawkins and Harris. These days he's just another jerk whose best days in science are receding into the past.

  43. That you dislike his opinion has nothing to do with the quality of his research. Krauss remains as relevant as he ever has been. Religion is the single largest hindrance to scientific progress in the United States. Vocal opposition to it is a civic duty for those who would see society progress.

  44. I dislike that he's an arrogant jerk who expects to be able to argue about stuff he's not prepared himself to argue, getting by on his largely irrelevant credentials. The United States was far more religious during the 1940s,50s and 60s when the public support of science was at its highest. The arrogance of atheist twits claiming to represent science is probably the most damaging force in the United States today. Let me guess,you're another Brit who figures they know all about the US.

  45. On the contrary, I was born in the United States to fundamentalist Christian Creationist parents who thought it was more important for me to be a religious activist than to receive a proper education. At 32 I enrolled at a local technical college to raise my GPA and at 34 was finally accepted to University to begin working on a physics BS. It is thanks to people like Krauss that I am no longer an unwitting slave to my parent's ignorant religion.

  46. Additionally, it was not religion that supported science during those years. It was the sting of losing the space race to Russia. It wasn't until creationism and its ilk were replaced with science that the U.S. progressed and beat the Russians in a manned flight to the Moon.

    Today the religious right wishes to plunge us into another dark age, filled with incorrect beliefs and superstitions about the world that we live in. Again it is science that fights against this gross ignorance.

  47. Well, I wasn't raised a fundamentalist, I was raised by one parent who had a degree in Zoology a another who taught math. While I'm glad for you broadening your horizons, there's no reason for you to assume everyone who is religious is a thought hating fundamentalist. Plenty of atheists are fundamentalists, just they are materialist fundamentalists. Krauss apparently has gone for that audience instead of addressing one primarily interested in science.

  48. Anything that asks for the suspension of logic and reason for the sole purpose of maintaining a belief is dangerous to thought. That may not be its intention, but, the road to ruin is paved with good intentions. Science, by it very nature is materialistic. Falsifiable hypothesis, demand for evidence, testable/repeatable results, adaptation of hypothesis based on observation….if it is science that you wish to learn, it is materialism you must reconcile your beliefs with.

  49. You just traded one version of fundamentalism for another one. You just don't realize it because you also learned a lexicon of words but not an awful lot about what they really mean. Materialist fundamentalism isn't supported by reason, it can't even support the idea that something is more worth thinking than anything else. Science isn't a universally applicable methodology, most of human experience can't be subjected to science. Come back to me when you've read a bit of Wittgenstein.

  50. Perhaps you should follow your own advice. Wittgenstein worked in numerous fields from mathematics to sociology. Perhaps you would like to offer a quote you feel supports your position instead of the utterly useless "Come back to me when you've read a bit of Wittgenstein". The man was brilliant, but not unlike Einstein and Newton, being brilliant does not make one always correct. If you feel there is more to life than matter and energy, fine. If you wish to convince others you'll need evidence.

  51. If you'd read him instead of wikiing him you'd know why I said that. You're a true (dis)believer and it would be as useless to talk to you about this as it would be to talk about evolution with a creationist.

  52. And if you'd read him instead of just name dropping we could be discussing his ideas instead of hurling ad hominem attacks. If you feel his work is so noteworthy, quote him to support your points and let the dialogue begin. I think you will find that my history has made me far more open minded than you give me credit for.

  53. p.s. I read your response and responded to it within 4 minutes. At what point would I have had time to wiki him? Please do not confuse "vaguely familiar" with wikipedia. His work is not an area of emphasis in my field, but his contributions to mathematics are quite noteworthy.

  54. Oh, you found some other venue of instant (non)erudition on him. Your comment proves you don't know much of anything about him except what you might get in the first few lines of a quick bio.

  55. And where did I say I knew anything substantial about him or his work? I didn't. My exposure to his work is limited to truth tables in a math and logic class I had a few years ago. You conversely, claim to have read his works yet have failed repeatedly to produce a single quote that backs up your argument. At present, your argument is "I have read him, you haven't". I do not contest that assertion. What did he say that you found so enlightening?

  56. I told you there wouldn't be any point in discussing it until you had read him. I'm not going to discuss Wittgenstein on Youtube comments with a character limit of 500 with someone who has never read him.

  57. Then why bring him up? So you can feel superior? Congratulations. You have made an unsubstantiated claim to have read the works of a mathematician/philosopher I have not. A word of caution though, if you're going to name drop like that, at least possess the ability to summarize the ideas of the person you're name dropping. The inability to summarize shows a severe lack of understanding on your part and makes you look like a complete fraud.

  58. Go read him and you might find out. Its not my fault you haven't read the relevant thinkers to have an informed opinion on this.

  59. Having read or not read one philosopher hardly qualifies or disqualifies one from having an informed opinion on philosophy. I have read many of the Ancient Greek philosophers as well as many of the Enlightenment philosophers (including Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason). Just as one can understand physics without reading Principia Mathematica, one need not read Philosophical Investigations to understand philosophy (though it would not hurt).

  60. Nobody has read all of philosophy. But if you want to understand a philosopher you have to have read him.

  61. It's not worth it. Others have tried to draw out a fruitful dialogue with this troll. The name of the game seems to me to be about provoking a fallacious exchange. This character excels in the old dodge and parry and I suspect feeds off the frustration it creates. Best not to bother…

  62. On the contrary, it is important that people see these philosophical arguments for what they are, philosophy, not science. Religion/Philosophy has made relatively few tangible contributions to society within the last 100 years. Morality is not the complex subject it is made out to be. Preserve your rights, don't trample the rights of others, believe the empirical evidence. I'd much rather be trolled on such matters than to let them stand unchallenged.

  63. All well and good provided you can get past the fallaciousness . Your last communication was a decent attempt at engaging on a meaningful level. If past history is a measure I doubt you will get anything other than a red herring as a response… All I'm saying is that unless you achieve an honest dialogue with this nut you will gain little more than perpetual and shallow squabble. Surely your time is more precious than that.

  64. Seems I won't get a response at all. Not surprising really. People who are passionate about subjects they understand are often excited to share that understanding with others. That was not the case with our antagonist. C'est la vie.

  65. you killed it Lawrence Krauss…basically, you are telling us that god who is omniscient,omnipresent and omnipotent has no reason to live at all…god already solved all the puzzles in life so god's life is boring and pointless as hell..

  66. I think that the "freeknowledgefan" guy just kinda goes around to atheist videos and replies to any atheist comment. Sorry your adventure ended with my not-very-controversial comment. 🙂

  67. Ok, yea we don't know ecactly what cavemen thought because they didn't leave a record they jusrt left some trash spear heads and whatever so how does it make so little sense to say they did think about quantum mechanics? just because someone is skeptical doesn't mean that have to be skeptical about everything to a ridiculous scale.

  68. So you think things like spearheads are a replacement for writing.

    They didn't leave us a record of what they thought which would require recorded language. Though it would require thoughts happening before that which is why you probably don't understand the process.

  69. He doesn't talk about cavemen thought, he talks about how they behaved and therefore, what they were evolved to do. We can tell FAR more about a peoples behavior based on things like bone fragments and tools than we ever could by talking to them because people are notorious for not accurately reporting their behavior. It's why Psychology and Sociology are such difficult areas of science (and, indeed, it is often argued that they aren't science, strictly speaking).

  70. Oh dear. 1. He doesn't know what they did because there is no way to observe that and no record of it in any detail at all, 2. "common sense" happens in peoples thoughts because they didn't record them. Apparently that's something you've not thought of. Krauss, great scientific thinker he is, obviously didn't either.

  71. It can certainly be a religion, usually mixed with scientism, materialism or some political cult. In the "new atheism" it is a fundamentalist religion of the kind that Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett and Krauss both push and profit from. It's a money making industry for the cult leaders. The late Paul Krauss and Madalyn Murray O'Hair were pioneers of that business model. . The faithful get the thrill of believing they are superior to the mass of humanity. That's what's in it for them.

  72. We could never sit back and stare at our navels! We'd all get bored and turn to hallucinogens, which is probably how the bible was created:
    man hates science, gets bored;
    man eats funny-tasting mushrooms because he is bored;
    man thinks he has seen Jesus;
    man writes bbible.

  73. I agree. Though not exactly for money-making. They made a club that everyone wants in. It's like high school but nerds are the jocks.

  74. +Freeknowledgeman Soooooo. You didn't watch the video then, that much is obvious. You just read the title and decided you'd assume what it was about.

    Or perhaps you watched the video, and it was just too tough for your simple mind to grasp.

    I'm not sure which would be worse..

  75. At the beginning, Lawrence stated "we evolved as humans a few million years ago." Correct me if I'm wrong, but he surely must be mistaken. I thought it was less than even a million years.

  76. Thank you Lawrence Krauss 🙂
    ( this is fun and excellent to listen to – quite a difference with the "religious" books… 🙁

  77. We continue to evolve. I wonder if, in 1000 years, our species in general will have adapted to quantum realities while continuing to be confronted by fresh mysteries.

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