Ancestor Australopithecus afarensis aka Lucy and innovative artist Lady Gaga: both are in all people. And we all navigate our lives between our instinctive primeval man and our creative modernist.

This contrast in modern man inspired evolutionary psychologist professor Mark van Vugt of VU University Amsterdam to write the book Lucy, Darwin & Lady Gaga, How evolution deepens our view of the world, or when do we get Lucy or Lady Gaga from stable? Because that both represent important elements in man, is certain for Van Vugt, who views man in this book through the eyes of Charles Darwin. “Educating, for example, is best done from your inner Lucy. Our educational instincts are so highly developed, we can rely on that. ”

Love: a question of primal instincts
“Falling in love and finding the right partner is also best done based on our instinct. This can be called a magical process, but also a chemical process. We instinctively know which partner is good to reproduce with. You can make lists of the pros and cons of a partner, but your ratio will definitely go against Lucy, your instinctive preference. ” Several examples show that Lucy and Lady Gaga cannot do without each other and that they continuously dance on the inclined plane of our choices and in our preferences. “It just depends on what problems we want to solve. During the corona crisis, we had to put Lucy aside for a moment, because he told us to seek comfort and closeness from our parents and grandparents: not a good idea. We had to approach that problem from our creativity and ratio, we couldn’t give in to our instincts and give our elderly a big hug. And yet, we can still be grateful to Lucy. Our immune system has protected us against millions of infections for millions of years. ”

Rational or instinctive message?
In Darwin, Lucy and Lady Gaga, the professor divides the primal instincts of people into 11 different categories, including the Homo ludens , the playing man, the Homo imperius , the ruling man and the Homo deus, the divine man. In doing so, he always finds his way to the problems with which modern people struggle, such as sustainability. “Do we approach the message that we must leave the car and take the bicycle more often from the instinctive or the rational? The rational message is that it is not good for the environment. We burden our world and thus the living environment of the generations that come after us. That is a message that will not easily affect our actions. The use of the car, for example, is also intertwined with our sense of status. A car has a higher social status than a bicycle, so choosing the car also has an instinctive side. So if you want to help people out of the car effectively and instinctively let them choose the bike, then you will have to specifically highlight that side of their choice and increase the status of the bicycle and lower that of the car. If the car’s moral status goes down and you manage to morally object to using a car for every few miles of laundry, you can easily get people to choose the bike. “You really can’t make that, get the car right away.” The car is then lowered in status, that of the bicycle is raised.


How to get the modern man off the flesh
The message to eat less meat also comes from the same tube. “From an evolutionary point of view, meat has a very positive cononation for us. It may have only made up about 30% of our diet, but meat was important to our ancestors. Sharing meat with your tribesmen and being able to put meat on the menu meant that you were a good warrior. Then we can cry to modern humans that meat is not good for us and that we are overloading the earth with meat production: it will go against our instincts to easily kick meat off our plate. If, on the other hand, you make the message very specific and you are not talking about the following generations in general, but our children and grandchildren who also have to make it on this globe in particular,

Sexism and Racism
In his book, Van Vught is not afraid of more difficult social debates such as racism and sexism. “There is no convincing biological evidence that different varieties exist. We mainly start from the differences in skin color, but only a fairly recent distinction has been made. We were all dark until 60,000 years ago. Only since the emigration of our ancestors from Africa has diversity in skin color emerged. ” Van Vugt cites several studies into how people view our differences in skin color. And they are surprisingly positive. “Whether information comes from a woman or from a man, for example, is a difference that we register much faster than whether information comes from a white or dark person. It also appears that we can quickly overcome those differences if an important common denominator presents itself: the difference between a dark or a white football player quickly becomes insignificant if you both put on an orange shirt of the national team. ” The evolutionary biologist therefore argues in particular to look at the distinction we make on the basis of the social economic positions we occupy and to remove the arrears for groups at that level.

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