Man: The Hyper-Inquisitve Animal

by : Marie DePierre

Everyone at one point ponders "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?"

I took a course on the paranormal at UNLV under Dr. Raymond Moody who struck a good point with me, as a magician. He stated that the paranormal, and magic, are pastimes. Very few magical moments or wondrous paranormal experiences happen to you while you're, say, rushing to work late, or enjoying a good game of Pictionary. These eternal questions about the nature of man and the universe's existence can also be considered "pastimes," occupying the conscious only in times of mental void. Is this because we are just too busy to pay attention to strange and wondrous things? Or is there another explanation?

As life evolved over billions of years, niches opened up that could be occupied by creatures of growing mental sophistication. The first mammals were small, nocturnal creatures, who had to eat near constantly to fuel their body temperature-control system (their warm-bloodedness), as they lost body heat and burned calories quickly. They had to have a regular intake of animal protein, such as insects. Hunting at night to find these insects, they not only had to have keen eyesight, smell, and hearing, but had to pursue their prey relentlessly. This relentless hunt demanded the fabrication of a more detailed, dynamic mental model of the creature's surroundings - a more potent projection of reality.

To survive, these first mammals had to develop a curiousity about their environment such as never before had existed on Earth. They had to look everywhere, intensely, because if they missed a meal or were caught by a predator, they would die. Only the best searchers - those with the most inquisitive brains - survived to reproduce, and reproduce again, ultimately evolving into us. As we evolved, our brains became more complex, the curiousity - the search - that kept our predecessors alive evolving with it.

But of what would one of our ancestral rodents have "thought" if their inherent inquisitiveness were not constantly occupied with their own survival?

The Industrial Revolution and this new age of advanced technology, which has all but swept the problems of survival out from under us, is accompanied with another "New Age"- a revival of spiritual interest. We don't have to constantly peer under leaves and around corners for our next meal, so where are our brains looking?

I am a strong advocate of magic, the existence of paranormal activity, and other forces which cannot be seen or proven, but does Dr. Moody have a point?

This revival in magic, the paranormal; are our overly inquisitive minds merely fabrication something else to (if only until the phone rings or one realizes one is five minutes late to work) satiate the curiousity that is genetically inherent to us? In our current human society, it is not the most inquisitive minds who reproduce. No longer needed for survival, are the questions of the ages going to be bred out of us as we evolve? Are the questions "Who am I?" "Why are we here?" "Where did the universe come from?" merely an evolutionary mistake?

And so this morning, while I read Sophie's World by Gaardner and pondered "Who is Laura Marie DePierre?" 12 hours later I am left with another question:

Does my belief in magic exist only because evolution has yet to catch on to the fact that I do not need this hyper-inquisitiveness anymore?

Signing off, this is