Re: Evolution, "adaptation", and what's currently adaptive

Len Piotrowski (
Thu, 22 Aug 1996 18:04:21 GMT

In article <4v93j5$> (Bryant) writes:


>Here's the deal, from my perspective: Jealous rage and sugar cravings
>both potentially lead to fitness impacts. Rage puts a fella in prison,
>and if he's not yet reproduced, that can earn him a net reproductive
>fitness of zero. Yet it's apparently a species-typical trait. Why?

>Sugar cravings, if they result in heart disease or obesity that negates
>reproductive success, also hurts fitness in modern environments, yet the
>culture hasn't been found in which people don't dig sugar. Why?

>The evolutionary psychology type of evolutionist would say (and many
>Darwinian Anthropologists would probably agree) that these instincts
>evolved when mate guarding increased male fitness and sugar cravings
>encouraged ancestral humans to seek out this limited nutritional resource
>from their environs (also enhancing fitness).

>In the short time since the agricultural "revolution" (and even shorter time
>since industrialism), the relaxed (or reversed) selection pressures on these
>traits have not had sufficient time to restructure our brains. (Some
>would argue additionally that our brains may be structured in such a way
>that we can't "un-evolve" our sugar cravings and jealous reactions; this
>is known as "constraint." Gould likes this idea a lot, though hasn't
>actually used it to explain jealousy or sugar cravings.)

>Many critics of sociobiology suggest that if a given behavior doesn't
>increase the number of babies one has, it cannot be explained in
>evolutionary terms. For the above reasons, this is a mistaken criticism.

I suppose by asserting a "jealousy instinct" and "sugar craving" that you
have, by some slight of hand, explicitly demonstrated the evolutionary
significance of these "behavioral traits" for some purported ancestral human
population. What was that demonstration? I would only note that this
explication is still open to the same criticism without such.