1997-08-23 - Re: lack of evolutionary pressures

Header Data

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
To: cypherpunks@Algebra.COM
Message Hash: d58a931cd0990e472c9b3bfd2d0bdb9a8b7d07c49aeee27d953f3070a8671719
Message ID: <v03102800b024c40254a7@[]>
Reply To: <19970822224234.61793@bywater.songbird.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-08-23 17:18:18 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 24 Aug 1997 01:18:18 +0800

Raw message

From: Tim May <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 1997 01:18:18 +0800
To: cypherpunks@Algebra.COM
Subject: Re: lack of evolutionary pressures
In-Reply-To: <19970822224234.61793@bywater.songbird.com>
Message-ID: <v03102800b024c40254a7@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 2:43 AM -0700 8/23/97, Adam Back wrote:

>There are a few evolutionary pressures, but they are insignificant
>compared to all the negative pressures.
>Positive examples?
>- motorbike riding
>- aggresive drivers
>- manic depressives
>- mountain climbers
>- hard drug takers
>- drug pushers
>- DEA agents

I have no idea if the traits associated with these activities are to be
considered good or bad, bright or not bright, heritable or not heritable,
etc. Does the slightly greater tendency of mountain climbers to die earlier
than philosophers mean anything? I doubt it.

>Have lots of children .. to counteract the welfare cases tendencies.
>Mormon polygamy?  Harem?
>(Again not following own advice, only two children ... so far).

Main point: The human genome is now "weighed down" with more than 7 billion
persons, a large fraction of them still capable of reproducing. Bluntly
put, it ain't going _anywhere_, at least not very fast. Changes in the
characteristics of a species, loosely speaking, "evolution," happen faster
in small populations. The tribe of hominids forced out of trees by loss of
forestation in the Rift Zone, for example, will undergo rapid changes over
a few hundred generations.  Billions of humans in the modern era, with
essentially everyone reaching reproductive age, will not. The human genome
is like a supertanker being hit by tennis balls: it just won't move.

Minor point: Adam's children will most likely tend toward the mean. Smart
people tend to mate with other smart people, more or less. Dumb people tend
to mate with other dumb people, more or less. Lots of reasons for this, but
look around and confirm it. So, this will lead to an ever-broader Bell
curve of intelligence, right? Nope. For whatever complicated reasons, the
curve has essentially reached its "normal broadness," to invent a phrase.
Or so I think is the case. Certainly there are ample statistics to show

Other minor point, possibly major: The ROI on the human genome for Adam to
have more children, so as to counteract the stupid breeding more stupid
people, is virtually nil. If Adam likes children, or wants them around him
for whatever reason, fine. But any notion that 2 or 3 or even 5 children
will affect the genome is wishful thinking. Look at the math.

(And not even the infamous "But what if _all_ smart and educated people
thought this way?" applies. First, what Adam or Tim or Blanc does about
having children will not affect the decisions of others. Magical Thinking
101 again. Second, the aforementioned tendency to the mean, for complicated
biochemical/genetic reasons.  Third, even if Adam's children inherited a
persistent "gene for intelligence" which passed on undiminished with time
(or at least in proportion to other such genes from other reproductive
partners in the future), think of how many generations until Adam's magic
gene is in just 0.001% of the population. Hint: a lot.)

Have children if you personally want them, but don't think your having or
not having children has anything to do with saving the species.

>The problem is that from a purely scientific evolutionary point of
>view, the human race is surely regressing, the masses of negative
>evolutionary pressures are certainly pushing this way.

I doubt this in the strongest possible way.

Australia was populated by the common criminals of England, the louts and
scoundrels and thieves and murderers. (Perhaps some "political prisoners,"
but mostly common criminals.) And yet within a generation or two, Australia
was thriving, and today nobody would argue that the descendants of convicts
are dumb or backward.

We aren't changing the genome.

--Tim May

There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
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