Re: More Evolutionary Thoughts

Robert S. Wrathall (Wrathalls@AOL.COM)
Sun, 17 Sep 1995 02:17:02 -0400

A comment on the following exchange:

*************Start exchange
On Tue, 12 Sep 1995, Ania Lian wrote:

> On Sun, 10 Sep 1995, Richard Spear wrote:
> > the Yanomamo culture is a "failure" and that American culture is a
> > "success".
> The 200 years of American culture so far disappears between the milions
> years of human(oid) existence. And the way we go looks like it that it
> may have a short life span after all.
> ania
How can one say that one culture is a "failure" and another is a
"success". Furthurmore, I do not believe that the Yanomamo culture can
be compared to American culture.

jennifer rebecca boudreaux

**********End exchange

Sea otters have culture. On the california coast, the otters faced near
extinction just a few years ago and have regenerated from a relatively small
gene pool and culture pool. However and apparently, two different cultures
have developed, one on the coast north of S.F. bay and the other south. The
southern culture mates violently, the male biting the nose of the female to
hold her during the act. These bites are severe and can be fatal. The
northern culture mates in a more gentile fashion.

As a result, the northern culture is growing substantially faster and more
robustly than the southern culture. Will the northern culture take over the
sea otter population along the California coast? For the sake of the sea
otters, I hope so.

Do cultures evolve? Is there survival of the fitest? Absolutely. We may
not like it. The problem is that among humans, there is much more to culture
than among sea otters. We also value diversity. The destruction of a
culture weakens and saddens us by the removal of our overall diversity.

It can easily be argued that culture is like species: as old ones die, new
ones replace them which fill the same needs and fill the same
pscho-ecological niches as the old ones, only differently and maybe with a
better adaptation to changing circumstances. The overall diversity does not
fundamentally diminish with the changes in speciation or culture. The world
will not homogenize itself. (I hope.)

The future is not what you think it will be. Neither was the past.

*************Changing the subject

In an earier post I stated concerning the evolution of culture:

>We learned beauty, aesthetics, love and cooperation. We learned
>culture. We selected for culture.

which implies choice and volition in our evolution.

vance geiger replied

>Comment: Once again, language, hopefully, and not concepts.
>Besides the use of "pressure" there is the point that we as homo
>sapiens are not "bred" with abilities. Further, we did not
>"select" culture. The human capacity for culture is the result
>of the process of natural selection and the other processes of

What I am strongly suggesting is that when intelligence is mixed with
evolutionary forces, those forces become directed by intelligence. Every man
or woman who has been pleased by the choice of a "good" mate participates in
that intelligent mechanism and sets the direction for the evolution of the
species by the operation of that intelligence.

Likewise, the developement of culture can be chosen by the operation of

Overall, I believe that intelligence has been firmly in control of both
cultural and genetic evolution for the past million years, give or take.
Call it "intelligence selection," if you will, which is the conscious
selection for favorable or perceived favorable traits.

Under these rules, we did select consciously for all the above. I grant you
that some of the consciousness may have been rather dim, but conscious never
the less.

Bob Wrathall