lack of evolutionary pressures (was Re: An end to "court appointed attorneys")

Kent Crispin kent at
Sat Aug 23 22:23:30 PDT 1997

On Sat, Aug 23, 1997 at 10:43:19AM +0100, Adam Back wrote:
> Kent Crispin <kent at> writes:
> > In practice it seems to 
> > be the case, however, that intelligence and "evolutionary competence" 
> > are negatively correlated.  
> - DEA agents
> There are lots of things around which will kill you slowly, or offer
> you a measurable though small chance of dying young, but this usually
> doesn't affect that persons chances of reproducing.  Examples might be
> smoking, heavy drinking, overeating, etc.

There is little evolutionary pressure on anti-survival problems that
arrive in later life.

> > I think this goes a little deeper, in fact.  The kind of
> > intelligence that leads to high technical achievement is not even
> > necessarily a kind of intelligence that favors survival under
> > difficult situations.  If society dissolves it is my belief that
> > computer geeks, like us, are not the ones that will be most likely
> > to survive....
> So start collecting guns and doing target practice.  Intelligence
> includes ability to adapt and forsee likely future events.

In all honesty, I do not consider building up a massive private
arsenal a la Tim May as evidence of evolutionary intelligence -- quite
the contrary.

On the other hand, knowing how to shoot, and handle guns, *is* a
useful skill. 


> The problem is that from a purely scientific evolutionary point of
> view, the human race is surely regressing, the masses of negative
> evolutionary pressures are certainly pushing this way.

Are you falling into the teleological trap? And if that's so, then you
and I are inferior to our forefathers, and your judgement is therefore
suspect :-)


> The real problem is that the pervasive bleeding heart
> socialist/communist welfare system mentality will ensure that you'll
> never manage it.
> "The children" is a war cry which will ensure the continuance of state
> funded negative evolutionary pressures.

In general, I would say that you are describing a remarkably
simplistic view of evolution.  Off the top, two things I think you are

    - first, you make the common mistake of assuming that evolution 
    has a purpose somehow aligned with your moral view of things

    - second, more specifically, you assume that evolution favors the 
    development of highly successful individuals.  This clearly does 
    not follow -- herd behavior, for example, is a *successful* 
    evolutionary strategy.  In human terms, "never underestimate the 
    power of stupid people working in large groups".

BTW -- halfway through "Snow Crash" -- *very* entertaining, though 
hardly a society I would want to live in.  Also, if you can find 
either "Half Past Human", or "The Godwhale", by TJ Bass (I think), 
you will find a very thought provoking alternative human future.  
These books will probably be hard to find, however.

Kent Crispin				"No reason to get excited",
kent at			the thief he kindly spoke...
PGP fingerprint:   B1 8B 72 ED 55 21 5E 44  61 F4 58 0F 72 10 65 55

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