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« How does Hierarchical Control Systems Theory help us? | Main | What does it profit...? »

February 27, 2008

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Andrew Staroscik

I enjoy your blog and wish I had more time to participate in the discussion you are working to generate. In this post, I am troubled by your use of evolution. The larger point that organisms tend to be well adapted to the environment experienced by their parents is useful because it makes the point that evolution is not forward looking. However, trying to use evolutionary theory to explain changes in human social structure over the past 10,000 years is fraught with danger.

Your statement: "They respected the wise ones precisely because they had lived so long and therefore, by evolutionary definition, were successful." can't be accurate. Evolutionary success is based on reproductive success, independent of longevity.

Since evolutionary processes are not forward looking, I think it would be easy to make the argument that evolution is not necessarily our friend in this situation. Two reasons are 1) The presence of a random, non-adaptive component to evolution and 2) the fact that evolution is myopic.

On the most basic level, these two point mean that evolution contains a substantial random component, and adaptations that improve short-term reproductive success will be favored independent of longer-term consequences.

Take your potential bottleneck. Applying these two factors to the bottleneck:

1) There is no guarantee that the 'wiser' members of society will be selectively favored in such an event.

2) After the bottleneck, short-term reproductive success might favor many traits over some deep, forward-looking form of wisdom.

It might be better to pose the question: "How might we overcome the many challenges we face in spite of the influence of past and present evolutionary forces?" Whatever the answer to this question, the type of wisdom and rational thought you promote ought to play a role.

Moncler Jakke

Go for someone who makes you smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright.

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