Re: Warning EVOLUTION Discussed!

Mon, 21 Feb 1994 09:47:50 -0500

>Seeker, sex chat lines, pet rocks, etc. are just as much cultural
>survival tools as waste removal systems.

"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?

Absolutely nothing. But then there's nothing "adaptive" about it either. I
sincerely doubt that any of the above items increase *biological* fitness
one iota... the "reducing stress" is a laugh... any data that pet rocks and
sex chat lines are actually effective for this purpose?
Perhaps you can also explain the "adaptivity" of grown men wearing
infant pacifiers (a fashion trend I see quite a bit of lately), or piercing
their nipples with needles, or sadomasochism. (These examples may be a bit
tougher. The last one is not likely to reduce stress.)
To me, these behaviors demonstrate 1) that humans are choosing
animals and that 2) their choices do not always fall into some simple
rationalizing framework (economic utility, biological adaptivity, etc.)
although often 3)their choices are chosen because they *signify* something
to others.

>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.

My comment was that "culture turns little animals into human beings." This
could be interpreted as 'socialization.' But I was simply pointing to the
fact that humans raised without culture ("feral children") behave like

>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.

OH, I LOVE CHOMSKY! I'm a leftist, don't ya know? I think U.S. foreign
policy stinks, and I wrote an article on the control of the media called
(real original) "Manufacturing Consent" based on the film...
But I'm a non-mechanistic, non-materialist, non-determinist leftist.
(Izzat possible?) A so-called "utopian socialist," I guess, because I
happen to believe in a socialism that is 'idealist,' nonviolently achieved,
and incorporates the importance of individual dignity.

>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.

There is no doubt in my mind that *power* has a lot to do with which memes
are propagated. And that *class* has a lot to do with which memes are
accepted. I'm merely pointing out with the meme concept something that
observers of ideology have often noted: it takes on a "life" of its own,
apart from the ideologists themselves.

>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.

The key word: REPETITION.

>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.

There is no doubt that culture has changed the whole nature of the game.
Like Dawkins says, the memes are doing a better job than the genes. That's
why for hairless anthropoids, there hasn't been much genetic change in the
last 40,000 years or so. But before culture existed, which was my point,
there were anthropoids (hairless and otherwise) surviving without it. Not
as well, maybe.

>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.

I don't disagree with anything in this paragraph. But I think that while
this is the reason culture/memes *began*, they have begun taking on other
functions. I think it is entirely necessary to consider *social* existence
as a matter apart from *biological* existence. Otherwise, why would exile
be a punishment? (A person could always go and live with a better-adapted
group!) Or anathema or excommunication? Or censure in the U.S. Senate?

>EJ Ford
Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
Anthropomorphist, Metanoid, Lerian, MatrixWanderer, HyperRealist, etc.
Rhipidon Society, VALISystem A, Sol Node 3
"Philip K. Dick is dead, alas/ Let's queue up and kick G-d's ass." --
Michael Bishop, the Secret Ascension