Monday, February 18, 2008

Another stupid idea returns from the dead.

We are, I kid you not, going to be subjected to yet another round of social Darwinism.  I'm going to barf.
The process of natural selection can act on human culture as well as on genes, a new study finds. Scientists at Stanford University have shown for the first time that cultural traits affecting survival and reproduction evolve at a different rate than other cultural attributes. Speeded or slowed rates of evolution typically indicate the action of natural selection in analyses of the human genome.

The Stanford team studied reports of canoe designs from 11 Oceanic island cultures. They evaluated 96 functional features (such as how the hull was constructed or the way outriggers were attached) that could contribute to the seaworthiness of the canoes and thus have a bearing on fishing success or survival during migration or warfare.

They also evaluated 38 decorative or symbolic features (such as the types of carved or painted designs). They analyzed mathematically the rates of change for the two groups of canoe design traits from island group to island group. Statistical test results showed clearly that the functional canoe design elements changed more slowly over time, indicating that natural selection could be weeding out inferior new designs. This cultural analysis is similar to analyses of the human genome that have been successful in finding which genes are under selection.

There seems to be some subset of social "scientists" who just can't leave this alone.  No matter how many times the idea gets debunked, there they are back at it, trying to stick the round peg of human culture into the square hole of Natural Selection.  What makes them keep doing this?
Examples of cultural approaches that are putting humans at risk include "everything from the economic incentives, industrial technologies and growth mentality that cause climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity, to the religious polarization and political ideologies that generate devastating conflict around the globe," Rogers said. "If the leadership necessary to undertake critically needed cultural evolution in these areas can't be found, our civilization may find itself weeded out by natural selection, just like a bad canoe design."
They're Lefties.  Members of a political ideology that generates devastating conflict around the globe.  They can't help themselves.  Must be genetic or something. 

Clearly these people have never built anything with their own hands.  If they had they would know that tools and materials determine how the work goes.  There's only so many ways you can lash an outrigger to a canoe that will not fall off in the waves.

Alternate explanation, isn't it possible that bad canoe designs are weeded out because Polynesian canoeists were smart enough to bite their finger and knew a piece of shit canoe when they saw one?

The Genetic Phantom

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