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Notre cerveau collectif

CAMBRIDGE – Imaginez un jeu de survie qui opposerait une troupe de singes capucins à vous et vos collègues de travail. Les deux équipes seraient parachutées dans une forêt africaine reculée, sans aucun matériel : sans allumettes, couteaux, chaussures, hameçons, vêtements, antibiotiques, pots, cordes, ni armes. Au bout d'un an, l'équipe ayant le plus grand nombre de survivants remporterait la victoire. Sur quelle équipe préféreriez-vous parier ?

On pourrait supposer que les humains, compte tenu de leur intelligence supérieure, auront le dessus. Mais vous ou vos collègues savez-vous comment fabriquer des arcs et des flèches, des filets, des conteneurs d_eau et des abris ? Savez-vous reconnaître les plantes toxiques ? Savez-vous allumer un feu sans allumettes ? Savez-vous fabriquer des hameçons ou des colles naturelles ? Savez-vous vous protéger contre les grands félins et les serpents durant la nuit ? La réponse à la plupart, sinon la totalité, de ces questions est probablement « non », ce qui signifie que votre équipe serait probablement vaincue par une bande de singes, probablement haut la main.

Cela soulève une question évidente. Si nous ne pouvons pas survivre en tant que chasseurs-cueilleurs en Afrique, le continent où notre espèce a évolué, comment les humains sont-ils parvenus à cet immense succès par rapport à d'autres animaux et à se propager dans la quasi-totalité des principaux écosystèmes de la Terre ?

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