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Evolution and doorways

October 25, 2013

Years ago I ran the audio-visual department for a small private college.  Being a small operation, I frequently moved equipment around the campus myself.  That is when I learned that human beings have a predilection for standing in doorways.  Something about a doorway makes a human being crave standing in it.  It also has a deleterious effect on their hearing.  I know this because I’d come to a classroom to bring in a slide projector, for example, and there’d be 2 or 3 people standing in the doorway talking.  “Excuse me,” I’d say.  Nothing.  I’d repeat it louder.  Nothing.  I’d have to virtually shout in their ears to get them to notice someone (me) was trying to get through the doorway.  It’s probably a trait strengthened by evolution.  Prehistoric humans who chose to stand in doorways during earthquakes were more likely to survive, and so their traits became dominant.  And the degraded hearing might have some connection to the adverse audio qualities involved in the shape and/or position of doorways themselves.

What makes me think of it now is a series of occurrences at the gym I go to.  The entrance is 2 glass doors that open wide like suicide doors on an old Lincoln Continental.  People don’t stand in these doorways, perhaps because they close by themselves.  Instead, when outside, they stand in front of one, to open the other, thereby blocking both.  So the person inside – which seems to be me a remarkable amount of the time – has to wait while they open the door they want to use, while blocking the door I want to use.  Again, I suspect there is an evolutionary, survival mechanism at work here.  They’re trying to frustrate me to death, thereby increasing the chances that their DNA will survive, while mine die by increased stomach acid.

 Ah, science.

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One Comment
  1. I wouldn’t put that all on evolution. It is almost certainly a modern phenomenon. It is a subtle indication of privilege. Power. “I control access to this building” or just plain assh*leism. Nicely thought out hypothesis though. If you give up acting you can always take a shot at writing scientific papers.

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