Randall et al.,
That may be true, but...
RRS> My only point was that it doesn't take many individuals
> to advance an entire population.
The big caveats are
1. Nobody knows which ones will make the advance.
2. Nobody knows which advances are critical.
3. Nobody even knows which *kinds* of advances will be
the most critical for the overall benefit.
4. People who make such estimates tend to overestimate
their preferred kinds of advances and to underestimate
advances that are made in areas other than the ones
they happen to focus on.
For example, how would anyone evaluate the following?
1. A hunter-gatherer who notices that more nuts and
grains tend to grow in places where the lost
from previous meals had fallen?
2. An early hominid mother who spent more time grunting
and pointing with her babies, who later learned how
to communicate better with the tribe?
3. A tribe that noticed the tubers next to the fire were
tastier than the ones they ate cold.
4. A merchant who traded the tribe's surplus grain for
another tribe's surplus cutting stones.
5. The stargazers who named the constellations, the
farmers who used them as guides for planting, and
the travelers who used them as guides across the
desert or the sea.
6. The hunters who brought home enough game so that the
elders of the tribe could pass along their
to the children.
7. The Egyptian priests who inducted Pythagoras into the
priesthood and taught him their mathematical secrets.
8. The blacksmith who invented a new kind of stirrup that
made travel on horseback more efficient.
9. The storytellers who passed along detail about all of
the above in addition to their tales about heroes.
10. The people who fed and clothed all of the above so that
they had the time and energy to make their "advances".
Instead of saying that 1% of the people make the advances,
I'd be more inclined to say that a very large percentage
of the population contribute to advances that have been
discovered, forgotten, and rediscovered many times over
Furthermore, I'd also mention the significant number
have *negative* effects on the tribe by laziness and
disruption. But then, it's often hard to distinguish
some of the laziness and disruption from some of the
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