Recently, while shopping for skulls, I made an amazing discovery—my brain wouldn’t fit in the new skulls.
You’ll remember I needed a new skull because my sinuses seemed to have filled up or caved in on the old model. As much as I hate change, I installed a sleek beauty skull with high cheek-bones and extra hard-headedness. But when I got it home I discovered—my brain wouldn’t fit.
It seems our humanoid gray matter grew for the first 20,000 years, but has been shrinking ever since. So the new brains are 10% smaller than Cro-Magnon man. (That’s a chunk about as big as a tennis ball).
The salesman was as slick-tongued as ever, assuring me I didn’t need that missing10%. “Remember the first cell phones?” he asked.
“No, I don’t know anything before Justin Bieber, Glee, and sugar-free, caffeine-free Dr. Pepper.”
He grinned like a zoo monkey, pretending to buy the lie in trade for a sale. “Well, the first cell phones were as big as lamps. Technology has improved. So has the brain.”
“You mean we’ve dumbed down?” I asked.
“No one’s sure,” he mumbled into the J-pegs holding brain apps. “Some scientists argue that as human society grows increasingly complex, individuals don’t need to be as intelligent in order to survive and reproduce. In any case you don’t need the brain cells you lost. It was probably just multiplication tables, old poetry, and reruns of I Love Lucy.”
“Never heard of it,” I lied. Dang! I liked that show.
“However,” he pontificated, adding his best ape grin, “An anthropologist at the Duke University Institute for Brain Sciences (Brian Hare), thinks a smaller brain is a domesticated brain.”
I squinted at him. “I have domestic chickens. They’re stupider than a box of rocks. Some of them drown because they don’t know to come in out of the rain.”
“Well…” he continued, ignoring my dead chicken problem, “A smaller brain is the signature of selection against aggression, and an increase in tolerance.”
“You want me to trade how-to-use-an-abacus for not-getting- bent-out-of-shape-that-Starbucks-hikes-the-price-of-peppermint-drinks during December? Is that what you mean by tolerance?”
“No. You’re right.” He squinted at me as though I were the insane one. “It could be the dumbing-down of the gene pool.”
I scowled at him until he lumbered away, then I bought a Wii.
According to the Japan Medical Journal, 42 patients suffering from brain tumors and head injuries were introduced to ping pong. In all players, even the crappy ones, blood flow to the brain increased. Additionally, dementia levels dropped from high to intermediate.
Sign me up. Let a fresh load of blood wake up my last two blinking brain cells. I might even admit to remembering the original Hawaii-Five-O.