Saturday, March 23, 2013

the reason for enjoying music

The inspiration for this post comes from an interesting question on I am only mentioning it here to give you an idea how to think "evolutionary psychology".

Does listening to music enhance our survival?
Does it help us pass on our genes to the next generation?
Does it help in avoiding immediate threats?

The answer to all 3 questions are No!

For the humans music is a form of expression and a way to communicate. It is an art. For birds its a mating ritual. Most species on earth has evolved a sense of hearing - they can listen to sounds and take an action; but they evolved for the purpose of keeping the individual alive.

For e.g. when we walk alone through a woody forest and we hear some rumbling in the bushes our first impulse is to get startled and flee. Suppose you are thirsty and stuck in a forest and you hear a stream of flowing water, you get a bit excited and advanced to the source of sound with the hope of quenching your thirst.

But what can we conclude about how our brain works from the above two scenarios?

The brain has so many rules already wired. They are only there to keep us ticking.

This "pre-wiring" is a very ubiquitous. It is present in almost every specie living today on earth. We can explain in terms of the need for a species or an individual in a specie to survive. But what about why we enjoy music? It is currently a very popular phenomenon. But we've just established that we can't explain it in terms of survival. Then why is it popular?

Not everything can be explained with the idea of survival. Sometimes certain behavior simply exist because such "rules" exist in our brains or in a more general sense in our living systems. And when the species attains some level of evolutionary stability or maturity they flaunt with it; they simply use these behaviors to maximize their chances of reproductive success. These behaviors are in a sense "naturally selected".

This does not mean people who play musical instruments are constantly on the lookout for partners. This does not mean that people who go to rock concerts or an opera are looking out for suitable partners to mate with. Some go to enjoy the art form. Some go to have a good time with friends. Of course some do go out for seeking partners to mate with. Some don't go. Some have even more vile intents. All of this simply says our species is increasingly selective for the better or worse. That's all.

Well, this is all I have today. But I hope you are at least a bit inspired to think evolution (if not evolutionary psychology). Happy figuring out life...

You can find interesting links related to this blog here

Monday, March 18, 2013

The odd clean up

In any blog, a post like this might seem odd. Because I am writing this post to clean up stuff lying around this web page. There are link rolls, text saying how you should read my blogs, history of posts, etc etc. I just decided to go with minimal stuff. Hence all those content which used to be the right side will now appear as part of this post. While I am doing that, why not I share some few bits about this blog too...

So why am I doing this blog?

I am no biology student or any active academic scholar of biological or evolutionary sciences. But I am still discovering so many facets of human life, and all life on earth. I share as I learn with the hope that someday we all could have a better sense of life on earth.

How long have I been blogging here?

Well, pretty long enough. In fact the very first post of this blog says that I have kind of revived this blog. So I suppose you have to take it back to probably 1 or 1.5 years before 2005. Even I can't remember exactly when I started. However, I began taking an active interest into human evolution  way back in my school days - 11th or 12th std.

For how long do I plan to keep writing/blogging?

I am actively looking at other ways to reach out. Blogging is just one way, but not the ideal way. The best mode of sharing what I discover is through conferences, conventions, group gatherings, or, interviews where I can get to interact with people real-time. So I'll blog or do whatever I have to as long as I want to.

Why don't I just write a book or something?

It simply doesn't seem like a monetarily sound idea. Yes I'd want income out of selling copies, but with all the piracy going on I rather not do it. However I would love to write. I do not view this piracy as an evil thing; to some degree the society does benefit from it.

So, if its not writing books, blogging is the next best thing.

So what stuff do I share around here?

Primarily my thoughts on life on earth in general. Most of the time its about our species. Honestly (and in good probability) there is no other species "our species" can relate to (living or extinct). The questions I am fascinated with are simple but hard to scientifically or evolutionarily explain:
  • What is love? Why is it our species show an abundance of exhibiting this phenomenon? Why do we do the things we do when we are actually in love? 
  • Religion? Why is it so common? 
  • Why would a crawling infant, who has never seen a snake be afraid when he/she actually saw one? 
These kind of questions are bizarre. They are not meant to help you figure out your problems with life, the way you feel, or, how others feel about various things connected to your own life or otherwise...but if you are in a sort of mental block with life...the stuff here, or the way I try to answer stuff here would definitely help you move on with least in a relatively better way.

How to find stuff thats already here?


Most of the posts are tagged with keywords. They will help you locate posts out here. If you are looking for a particular article I would have linked to in one or more of my posts keep a tab on my delicious link rolls.

Any interesting article I read which is related to the interest I share our here I tag it with the word my delicious links can be accessed as follows:

For new readers: how to read this blog

Expecting people who land here to read everything I've ever written is farce. In fact you don't have to read everything. Here are some posts which I think you might find interesting...

The better way to get you up-to-speed with this blog is to have some sort of an interactive session - a conference, meet up, gathering, etc. If you feel interested in the blog after reading the above posts I have linked to, then I think its safe to meet up. :)

Okay, now I do have a do I ask?

If you are still reading all this I gotta give you credit. But I am not the expert at finding answers to all kinds of questions. Its not about finding an answer; its about sharing what you learn in a diplomatic way. So having said all that I'd advise you to follow these steps:
  1. Google. Because you may be surprised with whats out there...
  2. Try searching or joining discussion groups which would relate to your topic. I used to regularly discuss at
  3. Post your question on Quora. Someone out there will definitely answer. But be polite and clear with what you are trying to ask.
  4. If none of the above work, ask me. Quora has a feature by which you can ask other people to answer a question - use it...if you feel your question needs a much less publicity then email me at:
    ask [dot] deostroll [at] gmail [dot] com

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I am a somewhat inspired to write today because of what my folks at home think about the concept. But in reality probably everyone has the same notion. We only live in the boundaries of what our fate defines. Some believe its written, and belief in that fact provides sense and purpose to life. However, many religious/cultural beliefs say that it is our responsibility to understand what is the purpose of life – or more precisely what is the purpose of your existence in life?

Not all cultures/religions share the same idea of fate – and even if they do its not in the same fashion. Hinduism and Buddhism attaches importance to this idea through a term called karma – the sum of all actions – what the individual has done, what he/she is currently doing, and what he/she is will do. Christianity and Islam does recognize fate but links everything to a supreme being – God. Whatever happens its all according to the Divine Plan or in accordance with the Will of God (or Allah).

The more I think about popular religions the more I see a cause, a purpose why a particular belief is there. It somewhat paints a picture of an ancient society. Sometimes the reasons may be very prosaic; other times it may be controversial. Whatever the nature of that reason be, in a socio-evolutionary sense, why do we “have” some notion about "fate"? Was it something useful to a group and hence survival?

Well, yes!!!

The answer to the last bit is not something you want to have tea with...but to a degree it relates to our species just “carrying on with their lives”...getting on with it...

Now why is “carrying on” part important?

Well, its not really important – its just that you would not be reading this post otherwise, and I would not have even written it! :)

And before I conclude this blog post, I have my own idea of fate, but I rather choose not to express it in words. Instead I'll share a video about a very common phenomenon associated with the way we human beings reproduce – fertilization – it should give you an idea.

Links to articles related with this post:

Sunday, March 10, 2013


What are the most celebrated events all over the world?

If I were to ask you this the answers I'd expect are: New Year, Christmas, and probably a host of national holidays. But you do know every second you breathe someone dies, and someone is born. Perhaps I would have misguided you by using the word “celebrated”. There is always some “sense” with which I use words out here. In my defense, other popular personalities use it too – like Shakespear, Hemingway, or Tennyson. Else English Literature would have been extinct a long time ago.

Childbirth and Death are really old phenomenons; older than marriage. Many cultures hold rituals to commemorate both. Scientifically speaking people are born in the same manner, and they die in the same manner (more or less) (biologically speaking). Then why would different cultures have different rituals for each of these?

The fact we must importantly observe here is that a “culture” almost always “has” a ritual. Why?! What is the necessity? Scientists who have observed animals say that they do exhibit some crude form ritual practice. This may also be a basic answer as to why "we" have these ritual practices. But most importantly this sheds light to the fact that we are an emotional species. Some scientists today quote this as one of the reasons to explain why religions, cultures, and all those sacred religious practices exist. Its hard to imagine what would have happened if we were not emotional beings. This was a necessary part in our survival saga.

Here are a bundle of links to articles related to this article.