Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pinker, again

Pinker made a very silly argument in How the Mind Works. He said that our ideal of a beautiful landscape are shaped by mystery: "Paths bending around hills, meandering streams, gaps in foliage, undulating land, and partly blocked views grab our interest by hinting that the land may have important features that could be discovered by future exploration."

I have a better explanation, using his paradigm, which he almost hit upon. Hills create usable water. Hills means springs and streams and ponds. Such an environment, where the water is channeled and concentrated in many areas, is much more conducive to human life than flat land where, as it is in the flat areas of the African savanna (and in the American West when we still had enormous herds of wild bison), water is concentrated in a few pans which are highly polluted by animals and highly vulnerable to predation by those same animals.

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