Big Heads

I’m currently listening to The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a fascinating book. I love it.

In the book he mentions some studies that suggest that the more social an animal, the bigger its brains are. I’m sure I’m greatly oversimplifying, but basically the size of our neocortex is directly related to how many people with which we can maintain a stable social relationship. This number is about 148.2. You may have heard of Rule of 150. Many social groups and even colonies have used 150 or numbers close to it for years because they recognize that when a group of people gets bigger than 150 you end up with groups within the group and it gets really difficult to maintain cohesion. If you’d like to verify these facts, read the book as I don’t intend to put references here.

Anyway, as I listened to that portion of the book I couldn’t help but wonder that with all our social networks (facebook, myspace, linkedin, twitter, friendfeed, etc.) if the human race will evolve huge heads a few thousand or million years in the future. Or maybe even next week! I have 380 or so friends on Facebook alone. If I tried to have a stable social relationship with all of them, I would fail, but what if my neocortex grew and I succeeded? I’d have a huge head and look funny. Forget about balance, especially if I had to wear a motorcycle helmet. It’d be hard to even find a motorcycle helmet that big. That would be tragic (about the big head, not about the motorcycle helmet).

I like our heads the size they are. If you do too and want your great great great great great great great great grand children to have good sized heads I suggest you cut back on your facebook friends.

Reading, Audiobooks, Malcolm Gladwell