Re: death and evolution

Dave Rindos (arkeo4@UNIWA.UWA.EDU.AU)
Sun, 15 May 1994 12:29:44 +0800

On Sat, 14 May 1994, Daniel A. Foss wrote:

> Matthew Hill is quite right in telling us that evolution occurs in
> populations. But with biological evolution is not evolution *of* populations.

This is not quite clear..... are you saying that, in biology, it is NOT
the population which evolves? If so, you are wrong. Individuals are
SELECTED but populations evolve. Species are a KIND of population, but
that is not usually relevant to our discussions of cultural evolution.

> As organisms die more frequently by consequence of their carring some alleles
> rather than others in their genotypes such that their phenotypes render them
> susceptible to earlier death from lethal mutation, parasites, disease,
> predators, or whatever other reason prior to adulthood, or failure at sexual
> selection thereafter, the genotypes of the survivors spread in the population
> relative to those failing to reproduce.

This, as given, seems to be a description of selection, not evolution. In
the terms given here, it would seem that you are speaking of normalising
(or "stabalising") selection -- the removal of unadapated outliers on the
curve. Under these conditions (which in fact are the usual conditions in
biology), there can be a LOT of SELECTION going on, but absolutely NO
EVOLUTION will occur!

> Cultural evolution, if it existed, would necessarily be the evolution of
> something shared by a population, where said population has no good reason
> to be necessarily biologically related to those people wherefrom the culture
> was acquired.
yup (seem to be saying that a lot today). You ARE corect!

I'm gonna do something funny and quote meself (from the first few lines of
the Agriculture book)

The study of human cultural change is an exercise in the
explanation of variation, not speciation . . . .

Most of the errors made in the name of evolution in the study of
cultural change have arsien from a lack of apprecation for the
distinction between variation and speciation. . ..

Does that help any???