1997-08-24 - Re: lack of evolutionary pressures (was Re: An end to “court appointed attorneys”)

Header Data

From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: e0c07b2d21f660615893cd12c6ad298ce73e6ee9f892e0b5878316c64c2aacc0
Message ID: <19970823221015.57855@bywater.songbird.com>
Reply To: <19970822224234.61793@bywater.songbird.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-08-24 05:23:30 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 24 Aug 1997 13:23:30 +0800

Raw message

From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 1997 13:23:30 +0800
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: lack of evolutionary pressures (was Re: An end to "court appointed attorneys")
In-Reply-To: <19970822224234.61793@bywater.songbird.com>
Message-ID: <19970823221015.57855@bywater.songbird.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Sat, Aug 23, 1997 at 10:43:19AM +0100, Adam Back wrote:
> Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com> writes:
> > In practice it seems to 
> > be the case, however, that intelligence and "evolutionary competence" 
> > are negatively correlated.  
> - DEA agents
> There are lots of things around which will kill you slowly, or offer
> you a measurable though small chance of dying young, but this usually
> doesn't affect that persons chances of reproducing.  Examples might be
> smoking, heavy drinking, overeating, etc.

There is little evolutionary pressure on anti-survival problems that
arrive in later life.

> > I think this goes a little deeper, in fact.  The kind of
> > intelligence that leads to high technical achievement is not even
> > necessarily a kind of intelligence that favors survival under
> > difficult situations.  If society dissolves it is my belief that
> > computer geeks, like us, are not the ones that will be most likely
> > to survive....
> So start collecting guns and doing target practice.  Intelligence
> includes ability to adapt and forsee likely future events.

In all honesty, I do not consider building up a massive private
arsenal a la Tim May as evidence of evolutionary intelligence -- quite
the contrary.

On the other hand, knowing how to shoot, and handle guns, *is* a
useful skill. 


> 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.

Are you falling into the teleological trap? And if that's so, then you
and I are inferior to our forefathers, and your judgement is therefore
suspect :-)


> The real problem is that the pervasive bleeding heart
> socialist/communist welfare system mentality will ensure that you'll
> never manage it.
> "The children" is a war cry which will ensure the continuance of state
> funded negative evolutionary pressures.

In general, I would say that you are describing a remarkably
simplistic view of evolution.  Off the top, two things I think you are

    - first, you make the common mistake of assuming that evolution 
    has a purpose somehow aligned with your moral view of things

    - second, more specifically, you assume that evolution favors the 
    development of highly successful individuals.  This clearly does 
    not follow -- herd behavior, for example, is a *successful* 
    evolutionary strategy.  In human terms, "never underestimate the 
    power of stupid people working in large groups".

BTW -- halfway through "Snow Crash" -- *very* entertaining, though 
hardly a society I would want to live in.  Also, if you can find 
either "Half Past Human", or "The Godwhale", by TJ Bass (I think), 
you will find a very thought provoking alternative human future.  
These books will probably be hard to find, however.

Kent Crispin				"No reason to get excited",
kent@songbird.com			the thief he kindly spoke...
PGP fingerprint:   B1 8B 72 ED 55 21 5E 44  61 F4 58 0F 72 10 65 55