|Courtesy the Internet|
Dr Gerald Crabtree of Stanford University has hypothesised that the human mind has begun to lose its intellectual and emotional abilities. Since Dr Crabtree’s essays are only available online for a price that I cannot now afford, I’ve decided to be content with this little information handed out by Manoj Das in his article, Are we facing an evolutionary crisis? in the Sunday magazine of The Hindu [3 Feb 2013].
I’m particularly fascinated by the scientist’s hypothesis that deep within man a hitherto ignored constituent of consciousness is demanding recognition.
As a teacher and a voracious reader of serious books (boastfulness not intended), I’m slightly scandalised by what I see around in relation to man’s apparently declining “intellectual and emotional abilities.” If I ask my students to read a book for a project, they go online and get a summary of the book instead of reading the book itself. I tried a variation. I asked them to read one particular chapter of a book. I chose the book for each student from the school’s library. While most students were willing to read the chapter (aha, after all only one chapter – that was the feeling), some complained that it was too difficult a job reading things like a chapter from Freedom at Midnight or Nehru’s Glimpses of World History. The boy who was asked to read the initial parable in Richard Bach’s Illusions was annoyed by the apparent mysteriousness of the story. It is students who are going to enter class 12 soon who are making such complaints.
When I tell the students that reading is the most important source of knowledge and wisdom, they frown conspicuously. The fact is 90% of my students don’t want to read anything beyond what will fetch them a few more marks in exams. That gives me no right to conclude that people are losing their intellectual abilities. But the scientist’s hypothesis prodded me on to this reflection.
About emotional qualities, I need say nothing. We only have to look at the rising crime graphs.
So, are some mutations going to take place in the human species? Are we going to evolve in a tangential direction? In other words – what matters more, according to me – are we going to rediscover that ignored constituent of our consciousness?