If there is one thing humans can be, it’s adaptable. I was reading some of “feral children” cases collected from around the globe this morning. Wow. If a child was raised with wolves, it lived like a wolf. If the child was raised by dogs, it lived like a dog. If raised by chickens, it lived like a chicken. By birds, it lived like a bird. So much so that the children would run on all fours and growl, permanently tuck their arms under their side and walk like a chicken (until their tendons were permanently shortened), or chirp and flaps their arms like a bird if raised with birds. The stories are disturbing, and insightful.

Human beings have a proclivity to culture. We find ourselves in a certain environment, and we watch, we listen, we impersonate and we adapt. There was a study done comparing a 1-year-old child and a chimp’s reaction to a changing puzzle box. The deal was that the child or the chimp would watch a scientist figure out a puzzle box (maybe pull a lever, press a button) and then they would be able to pull out a little tray near the bottom of the box and get a candy as a reward. The child or chimp was to mimic this process, which they both did in a similar amount of time. The next time around, the box was made entirely transparent and it was revealed to the chimp and child that there was no apparent connection between pulling the lever or pressing a button and getting the candy. The experimenter went through the same process to get the candy, and the chimp looked at the scientist like he was an idiot and took the candy. The child looked up at the scientist, puzzled, and went through the process anyway, even though there was no apparent connection between the mechanisms of the box and reaching their end goal, the candy.

Most people believe that the chimp is simply smarter than the child, but that isn’t the case. The child has a proclivity to culture. Their means of survival is trust and impersonation. We see this all the time in children as they grow, all they do is play all day. We think it’s cute, but it is actually essential to their survival in the world, children must play, because when they play they are enculturing themselves into their environment. No play means no development. And this couldn’t be more clear in the feral children cases. The children were disconnected from the human world, and their answer was to adopt another way, the culture of their environment. For many of the children, if engrossed in their environment for long enough there was no going back. Many of the children died shortly after being discovered or failed to develop in several other socially normal aspects such as linguistically.

Humans act and adapt, all the time. We think acting isn’t “real”, well, acting, mimicking, culture, adaptability, these features are inherent to mankind, and they are as real as everything else. The stories we tell ourselves and listen to seriously become the reality we live because they are the things we observe and embody. If you want to be someone, or learn something, maybe try placing yourself in the appropriate environment, soon you may not be able to tell the difference between it and you.

Hustle it up!

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