The Law of Monkey Brains

That’s the whole thing, right here. Life on Earth, in a nutshell. We are hard-wired to have a drastic double standard for the people inside and out of our Monkeysphere and those outside make up 99.999% of the world’s population.

Have you ever gotten pissed off in traffic? Like, really pissed off? I think we all have. We’ve thrown finger gestures and wedged our heads out of the window and screamed “LEARN TO FUCKING DRIVE, FUCKER!!” We’ve all pulled the gun out of the glove compartment and let a few fly at the offending car. Not firing at their head or anything. Just, you know, at their tires.

Now imagine yourself standing in an elevator with three other people, two friends and a coworker. A friend goes to hit a button and accidentally punches the wrong one. Would you lean over, your mouth two inches from her ear, and scream “LEARN TO OPERATE THE FUCKING ELEVATOR BUTTONS, SHITCAMEL!!”

They’d think you’d gone insane. We all go a little insane, though, when we get in a group larger than the Monkeysphere. You know the feeling, that invincibility of being an anonymous head in a crowd, screaming curses at a football player you’d never dare say to his face.
– David Wong

This is an entertaining and diverting rant about the size of our monkeysphere. The oft quoted research that our social group size ought to be around 150 because if you correlate monkey brain volume with size of their social grouping then that’s how big humans troops should be.

The original research was done by Robin Dunbar who when not whoring himself to the BBC or defending evol psyc (sic) against the hordes of shrieking critics comes up with some interesting (if untestable *shriek* *shriek* ) hypotheses about primate social and linguistic evolution.

I haven’t read much of his original work so (by the Mixing Memory criterion) I am no position to criticise but as I am not a professional it matters not.

One thought occurs to me is that extrapolating any supposed relationship between brain size and group size is doubly difficult..

theoretically the justification is that the bigger the social grouping the more c

Dunbar, a babboon expert, is no buffoon and he is aware of these limitations.


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