How did we, the members of the human race get where we are now?

We are in a dangerous situation: 

Our world is divided into entities we call ‘countries’ that engage in activities called ‘wars’ as a matter of policy.  Wars are organized and planned mass murder and destruction events.  These ‘countries’ don’t simply fall into these ‘wars’ by accident, they appoint or elect leaders to plan them well in advance; they extract fantastic sums of money from their people to pay for them.  (As of 2024, Governments are planning for the next generation of wars, which will use artificial intelligence and other technologies that don’t even yet exist, to kill and destroy more thoroughly and effectively than we can now.)  To provide resources that the ‘countries’ can use in these organized destruction events, the entities called ‘global corporations’ are raping the world, taking everything of value the best technology allows them to take, and spreading toxins that never existed before into areas where they can never be cleaned. 

This can’t continue forever. 

At some point, war will get out of hand.  As you read this, numerous countries are doing research to build weapons that they call ‘doomsday weapons.’  They aren’t doing this secretly:  they actually issue press releases and openly describe their research.  In some cases, this involves what we may call ‘second-tier military powers’ whose leaders are claiming they need these devices because it is the only way they can deter attacks by first-tier powers. They need to make absolutely sure that a conflict will result in mutually assured destruction (MAD) and the only way to do this involves building giant devices that will make the world uninhabitable if used.  First-tier powers, however, don’t want to be caught with a ‘doomsday weapons gap.’ They need to keep up, and are building doomsday weapons also.  

If we are lucky and the struggles between the entities we call ‘countries’ don’t destroy us, we aren’t out of the woods.  Global corporations pose just as many threats as the entities we call ‘countries.’  These corporations have always been dangerous.  (We will see that corporations go back much farther than most people realize; they try to keep a relatively low profile in history so we don’t know about them, but these entities are responsible for a great deal more damage and threats than most people realize.)   But, without the high-tech tools they have now, corporations haven’t really been capable of wiping out the entire planet or human race.  This has changed.  The destruction now far exceeds the ability of the natural world to respond and repair the damage.  This leads to an accelerating downward spiral with very predictable consequences.

War only poses risks of destruction.   There is a possibility that we may be very lucky and escape, perhaps for several more centuries.  But if environmental damage continues to grow at current rates, the end is not just possible, it is certain.

How did this situation come to exist?

What set of events set us on this path we are now on?

This is vital information. 

In many ways, this is the most important question faced by the human race today. 

If we want a better future—or any kind of future at all—we need to understand exactly where we are in our path through time and how we got here. We need to understand our past. We need to understand history.

 

The Failures of Conventional Histories

 

The silly political histories that we are taught in school will not help us understand these things.  These histories are not objective and unbiased records of past events that the human race as a whole can use to understand what is behind us so we can work together to build a better future.  The histories we were taught in school are biased and subjective.  The worst problem, however, is that they don’t provide any foundation for understanding how the realities of the world came to work as they do. 

You need to know the basics before the details make any sense.  

If you don’t understand the big picture, learning the details is a waste of time.  You have no idea how things fit together.   Memorizing the names and dates of the wars between the countries of the world (as all of us were required to do in school) does no good if you don’t first understand what the term ‘countries’ means, how the entities called ‘countries’ came to exist on earth, and the reasons they came into conflict.

You can’t expect to understand why something is broken and doesn’t work right if you don’t even know what it is.  It would be like someone who has never heard of car engines and doesn’t know anything about cars at all except the them except the names of certain car makes and dates they were released trying to understand why his car no longer goes forward when he pushes down on the accelerator.  You need to start understanding the basic elements, then work from there. 

The histories we are taught in school don’t start with the beginning and explain how the key institutions of the world around us came to exist.  You can’t understand the things you see around you if you accept everything important somehow magically appeared, operating at its inception the same way it operates now.  You need to know about the background. 

Fact Based History is about the way the world came to work as it does now. It explain show how the key structures and institutions of our world today came to exist and then evolved into their current form.  It is designed to be a useful history, one that we can use to understand why the problems of the world around us exist so that we can have the tools we need to solve them.

 

Possible Societies

 

Sometimes, when you are trying to understand a complex problem, it helps to change your perspective and the way you look at it.  Here on Earth in the 21st century, we only have a very limited view of Earth events and, given this perspective, is hard to really understand the reason things work as they do.  I want to ask you to change your perspective and look at the world as would someone not embroiled in the struggles that are happening here and now:

The TV show ‘Star Trek’ is about a group of explorers from various worlds who live in the distant future.  They are traveling among the stars to study new life and new civilizations.’ 

From time to time, they come across a planet that organizes itself in an incredibly dangerous way, one that seems almost incomprehensible to the explorers:  The people on this world divide their population into groups and its territory into divisions that are like the Earth entities we call ‘countries.’  These countries fight over things that don’t really make any sense to the explorers, like where the imaginary lines called ‘borders’ between the countries will be located and which of the ‘countries’ has the right to govern and provide services for a certain group of people.  The people on these worlds take these fights very seriously and use whatever weapons they have at their disposal to gain advantages in these fights.  As their technology advances, their weapons become more and more destructive. 

These episodes generally start when the starship encounters one of these worlds.  The members of the crew, who are very intelligent people, seem to have a hard time accepting what they are seeing.  The people seem to be intelligent:  they have technology that makes it clear they can think on a conscious level. They can talk and make arguments that show that they are at least capable of reason.  But the system their people have built seems crazy and clearly does not benefit the world or its people.  The wars are fantastically expensive, both in terms of material wealth and human lives.  This welth would be enough to allow everyone to live in great comfort, if it were used for this purpose.  But these people don’t use it for this.  They use their wealth to kill each other and destroy the world around them.  This not only impoverishes the people, it places them at ever increasing risk of extinction.  

It just isn’t logical. 

What do they get out of it? 

What is the advantage of setting up a system like this? 

There doesn’t seem to be any. 

These systems only bring hardship, misery, death, destruction, and eventual extinction.  It hardly seems to be anything that intelligent beings would design and build. 

 

There is a very simple reason that a system could exist on a world with intelligent beings that does not meet the needs of those intelligent beings:  It was NOT designed intentionally, either by these beings themselves or by any other beings with intelligence.  It came to exist through some process other than intelligent design. In this book we will see that that virtually infinite evidence points to the conclusion that there was no intelligent design process for humans or for human societies.  Both of these things came to exist through a process of evolution.  If you go back in our genealogy far enough, you get to animals that didn’t have the ability to reason, think, and plan on a conscious level. They were not stupid (apes are far more intelligent than most Earth animals) but they didn’t have our level of intelligence.  They did, however, have organized ways of living.  They had social structures (alphas, for example were leaders and had first priority over sexual partners, ‘homes’ or ‘nest sites,’ grooming rights, and food).  There were rules to these systems.  They had ‘ape societies.’ Over time, both the DNA and the societies changed and adapted to the growing intelligence of the beings and the changing realties of their lives.  Their DNA changed into our DNA and their societies changed into the societies that we have now.  This happened very, very slowly and there was no sudden or dramatic transition.   There was no point where the evolving beings suddenly realized that they were evolving beings and that the societies they inherited from their animal ancestors no longer met their needs.  (This point has not come yet. I am hopeful we will get there soon.)

This may explain the reason that worlds with intelligent beings can have societies that are not able to meet the needs of those beings.  We know this can happen, even without being able to travel among the stars ourselves, because the one planet that we know of that has intelligent beings, the Earth, has societies that clearly can’t meet our needs.

 

The crew members on the starship discuss this among themselves.  They are looking for something about this particular system, or these particular people, that made them adopt this crazy, dangerous, and destructive system.  They never come up with anything reasonable, at least not in any of the episodes like this I have seen.   Sometimes, late in these shows (which are actually quite common:  the audience can clearly relate to this plot) some people say something like:  Well, it may seem strange, but a lot of worlds seem to have these strange societies.  The planet Vulcan, for example (home world of Spock’s father), and Klingon, had them; even the Earth had them. 

In the show, someone often says something like:  ‘yes, but they got over it.’

They don’t say how the people of these other words got over it.  If we could go to their history, to see how the people of these other worlds got over it, we could understand how it was done and we could do it ourselves.  But, of course, the story is fiction and fiction writers are allowed to skip over steps in their narrative to create a story. 

What if we wanted to figure this out? 

What if we wanted to figure out how a group of intelligent beings that become aware at some point in their evolutoin, that they had a system like the one above (one that divides these beings into countries which then fight over territory) and that this system couldn’t meet their needs?  What if they wanted to ‘get over it?’  What steps would they take?

It seems logical to start with an analysis of the system that they have inherited:  How did it come into existence? If they want to fully understand the system, they may start as early as possible, going back, perhaps, to before their world even existed. They may trace the steps that led to a world, then life, then advanced life, then proto-humans, then true humans.  They may follow the changes in the way the animals lived as they evolved, paying special attention to the past few million years, which include the final stages in evolution.  They will see that they have been on a path through time.  They can trace the steps along this path they have taken.  This will allow them to figure out where they are and understand what they have to work with. 

Then, they can plan for the future. 

 

The Importance of Understanding History

 

This book is about the way the world came to operate as it does now. It starts with the very earliest events about which we have evidence:  the beginning of the solar system.  It proceeds to the era that you will recognize, because you are living in it now. 

We have tools that can help us understand all of these things.  For example, space-based telescopes like the Web allow us to actually watch as planets are being formed:  we can see how it happens.   We can determine when the earth formed (scientists have a very good idea when this happened) and when the first solid ‘rocks’ were formed in the hot liquid that collected to form this planet.  We can locate fossils of the thing we call ‘life’ on earth and date them, to determine when they likely first came to exist on this world.  We can identify the early life forms, find currently living life forms that look the same and appear to have the same function, then sequence their DNA to get a good idea of the complexity level of these early beings.  We can then go through the fossil record and date and sequence the series of animals that existed in the past to trace a pattern of evolution. 

We can then trace changes life forms to the first mammals, which came about 74 million years ago.  We can follow them through the great extinction event of 65 million years ago that wiped out the less adaptable animals and left mammals (our ancestors) as the most advanced beings.  We can trace mammal evolution to the pan genus, our most recent evolutionary ancestors that still survive, taking us back about 6.7 million years.  Since the pans still exist, we can study the way their societies work. We will see very great similarities between the societies of the pans and the societies of humans.   (Many researchers have been accused of altering their observational data to make it appear that the societies of these apes, the pans, are more like the societies of modern humans than they could possibly actually be.  We will see that independent analysis has shown that these similarities are very real and nothing was exaggerated.)  

We can then go through the many links between the descendants of the members of the pan genus that take us, eventually, to homo sapiens denisovan (denisovan man), homo sapiens neanderthalis (neanderthal man), and finally early people with the same species and subspecies names as modern humans (homo sapiens sapiens).  We can determine when, where, and how these evolving beings reached important milestones in their development, including the ability to engineer and manufacture complex tools, the ability to use fire for lighting, cooking, and heating, and the ability make clothing, blankets, and tent coverings that would allow them to travel into areas with harsh climates.  We can go through charts of brain cavity measurements and comparative MRI scans to show what lobes developed over time and how they corresponded to the improving mental abilities of these beings. 

We can figure out how early humans lived.  For most of history, people didn’t really have any idea how old artifacts they found really were.  Recent tools have shown that their guesses were often off by fantastic amounts:  artifacts that were thought to be a few hundred years old have been shown to be millions of years old, and artifacts that were thought to be millions of years old have been shown to be fakes, created by pranksters a few weeks before they were ‘discovered.’ 

We have tools that allow us to reconstruct the past.  We can determine migration patterns by sequencing DNA, both in modern populations and in ancient artifacts.  We can analyze food residue found on ancient cooking implements to determine whether these were natural foods or had been created intentionally through cross breeding of domestic crops or domesticated animals.  This can allow us to determine the level of technology of people who have been gone for hundreds of thousands of years.  

This book undertakes this kind of analysis, but it is not simply for random knowledge.  It focuses on the specific events in our past that can help us understand the reason that the societies we have in the world today exist, the way they came into existence, and the way they evolved into their current form.  This isn’t random curiosity.  It is about the path that we, living on this tiny blue speck of a world in this vast universe, came to be on; it is about the place in this path we are now on and the forces that have pushed us down this path to our current point in time.  If we want to understand what may lie in front of us on this path, we have to understand where we are on this path and how we got here. 

We need to be objective and be willing to accept whatever we find.  We can’t understand a way forward if we are so afraid we might find out something bad about ourselves that we are going to select only the bits of history that paint us (no matter how you define this term) in a good light, and pretend the rest of the evidence doesn’t even exist.

We need to look at history as a scientist would, concentrating on evidence and facts. 

That is what this book is designed to do. 

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