Re: Warning EVOLUTION Discussed!

Danny Yee (danny@ORTHANC.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Tue, 22 Feb 1994 14:01:00 +1100

E J Ford writes:
> 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.
> 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.

Please read some evolutionary biology before you start raving on about
"adaptive evolutionary frameworks" being able to explain everything.
I'd recommend Lewontin and Gould's _The Spandrels of San Marco_. Or
Maynard Smith's _Evolutionary Genetics_.

I understand what you say about not being a sociobiologist; what you
write has more in common with strawman accounts of sociobiology
constructed by its *opponents*. Perhaps this is actually a devious
*attack* on the application of evolutionary theory to anthropology?

Danny Yee.