Posted on | June 6, 2007 | 6 Comments
Graeme, over at Tokyo Music and (I think) the wonderfully titled, James Blunt Must Die was good enough to comment on one of my recent rants – the one about morons not being allowed to vote. He put me in mind of a long-held belief of mine that, as far as Homo sapiens is concerned, Darwinian evolution has ceased to apply.
Now, I’m not saying that our evolution has ground to a halt or, necessarily, that we have reached some sort of evolutionary dead-end. What I am saying, is that the Darwinian process of natural selection, or ‘survival of the fittest’ no longer seems appropriate to describe the onward trudge of Homo sapiens.
At it’s simplest (which is where I’m best qualified to rant about it), natural selection tells us that favourable traits which aid in the survival or procreation of an organism get passed along more successfully to subsequent generations. In this way, those traits become more common and over lots of generations become the ‘norm’. Thus, the ‘fittest’, or better-adapted survive and those without whatever these traits may have been, don’t.
So, Homo sapiens would, for instance, in the past have gained an evolutionary advantage over his neighbours through the opposable thumb allowing a precision grip. Because he had this snazzy thumb and could put it to use in getting food or attracting a mate (get your coat, you’ve pulled), he succeeded in passing on his thumb to the next generation more successfully than his buddies. The next generation, in turn, used the thumb to their advantage and passed it along. Survival of the fittest. Beautiful. For a hundred and thirty thousand odd years, Homo sapiens has progressed along this principal, the weak being eaten by sabre-toothed tigers and the strong shagging their grieving widows to pass on their (fitter) genes.
That’s all out the window now though. Now we’ve gotten too bloody nice. Our altruism has progressed to such extremes that we’re going around saving the weak from the sabre-toothed tiger instead of laughing as it eats him. Instead of letting a moron kill himself while drying his hair in the shower, we put a warning label on the hair-dryer to advise against it. Instead of letting some idiot slice his hand off in the blender we add a safety feature and put a warning in the manual – Danger, do not insert hand in rapidly spinning blades. Instead of letting a fatty kill himself eating forty Big Macs a day, we make McDonald’s sell salads and cut down the size of their portions so you have to buy two bags of fries instead of one. It’s no longer survival of the fittest, because the fittest (i.e. the ones that aren’t completely stupid) are mollycoddling the weakest (i.e. the morons). No good can come of it.
And, then we should consider attraction. Attractive traits help an organism to get a mate and secure their genes for the next generation. You can still see the vestiges of this, now largely redundant, mechanism in Homo sapiens when you notice a particularly attractive person on the bus or whatever. You might think that this is great and that your attraction to that person proves that natural selection is doing its job. Nope. It’s a vestige, a remnant. For proof, you should firstly consider how often you approach an attractive person towards which you feel the ‘urge’ and, secondly, consider Homo sapiens’ current mating rituals…
Most of our mating (in my experience anyway) is initiated in the nightclub, after the pub and after a shitload of alcohol. Inhibitions are uninhibited – askers are more likely to ask and askees are more likely to slur “yerssss, awwright then” to the question. You don’t need to be the fittest or strongest, just have a big armful of alcho-pops.
Thus, our species is barrelling forward through evolution, hand-holding the morons so that they don’t hurt themselves as they rut their stupid genes further and further into future generations, and mating on the principal of ‘survival of the drunkest’.
It’s ironic that Homo sapiens means something along the lines of wise man. Let’s see how many of the grunting morons that will likely outlast our species will be even able to pronounce their species designation, Homo fatuus.