Warning EVOLUTION Discussed!

Sat, 19 Feb 1994 09:13:06 -0500

Seeker, sex chat lines, pet rocks, etc. are just as much cultural
survival tools as waste removal systems. Those things which lack
apparent utility can be explained within an adaptive evolutionary
framework. For example, toys and other diversions can serve several
functions, from reducing stress, to providing opportunities for
educational play, to providing opportunities for socialization. What's
non adaptive about that? Your comment about socializing the litle
nippers describes a symptom, but not the disease. Yes, we do socialize
the rugrats, but why? We do it so that they fit into a system that seems
to work. Are all kids perfectly socialized? No, but this is probably
good because it provides the cultural (gloss genetic) variance needed to
ensure diversity.

Our society is particularly delusional about this relationship between
mechanistic culture and individual free will. The concept of free will
is a handy one in an economic system guided by the demands of an
industrial socialist society fouunde on the backs of small business men
and farmers. Why? Because it provides a handy ideological tool which
reduces stress and rationalizes the suffering that many of us feel.
Why? Because our system seems to work OK with power controlled by a
relative few over a misguided many. Read Chomsky, anything about US
foreign policy or it's use of the media.

I think this is why some people hesitate to use the meme concept. I
don't think ides are really self-replicating. I think that the ones that
inspire positive response from other levels of society, economic, social,
etc, are curated, the others die.

Why do ad slogans survive? Well, perhaps there is a
psychological/cultural disposition toward certain sound/information
groupings. In such a case, some slogans would survive better than others.

One last comment about evolution. True, other antropoids have attained
adaptation based on systems less dependent (not NON dependent) on
culture. But, unfortunately, many of them are becoming extinct,
primarily due to human contact. Which is the more effective adaptation
strategy? From where I am sitting, well-fed and self-delusionally happy,
I would say the humans and not our close cousins the apes. It is
interesting to note that now, in many cases with endangered species, it
is human culture that is forestalling extinction.

I don't think that there is a value judgement to be placed on this. It
is an evolutionary inevitability: Some things will survive others will
not. The extent to which those things survive is the extent to which the
organism is capable of adapting to its environment. With humans, this
adaptation is spearheaded by culture.

EJ Ford