What separates human beings from other animals? What makes us distinct, different, unique, what traits do we alone have who have done things that no other species has on Earth? For that matter, what is different between a person hunting for subsistence and a person settling the Fertile Crescent?
Humans are lazy, short-sighted creatures, and that makes perfect evolutionary sense. When you’re starving to death in an unfamiliar forest, you don’t have time or energy to make plans for ten years later, or to waste on superfluous activities. In evolutionary terms, laziness is just another word for efficiency. Long term planning and the capacity for delayed gratification came with the development of the higher reasoning cortex and the capacity for complex thought, and our brains have a constant battle between the impulsive, instinctual brain and the reasoned, thoughtful brain. It’s no surprise, then, that we are always looking for silver bullets.
the neurological ones. We sometimes seem to forget that our brains are as much a product of evolution as the rest of our bodies, as if somehow the brain was derived from a different process than produced that enlarged cranium that contains it. Plus, it’s one thing to understand the history of the amygdala or the hippocampus, and something else entirely to understand the evolutionary underpinnings of something more nebulous, like imagination.
Don't worry: despite the title, this is not going to be a post of me complaining about something, or at least that's not how I would construe it (but then I wouldn't, would I?). Instead, I would like to begin with an observation, that observation being that humans are fundamentally lazy. Or, for those who prefer a positive spin to things (so many possible particle physics jokes there), humans are fundamentally efficient. Like nature, we are generally inclined to take the short term path of least resistance.
I came across a reference to it when I was looking for the attribution for a quote I was using in an essay for work (that quote is: “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’”, in case you were curious), and thought the brief plot summary sounded interesting, so I added it to my list. This despite thinking to myself "self, in all of the George Bernard Shaw books and plays that you were forced to read in school, you hated precisely all of them. Why would you possibly think that you're going to like this one?"