Social Darwinism

Evolution is not an absolute – survival is always relative to an ecosystem. Which means that almost any idea you come up with can fail when dropped into an incompatible ecosystem – even if the same idea has been a wild success in a different ecosystem.

The idea I described yesterday for finding the best young minds and nurturing them along to success – an idea that is being used successfully in India right now – might simply not work in the U.S. There are so many differences between the two cultures.

For example, I noticed the last time I was in India (I’m actually flying over there again tomorrow, which is probably why I’m thinking about this) that people over there have a much more intense and idealistic view of democracy than we do here in the U.S. It’s not that there isn’t corruption – there is lots of corruption. It’s more that even local elections in India are approached with an air of fierce pride. From what I saw when I was there, they take the right to vote very seriously. I think many people in India would be astounded by the fact that so many people in the U.S. have the right to vote yet don’t bother going to the polls.

That’s just one example, among many, of a difference in the way the two cultures think about things. I wouldn’t be surprised at all, given those many differences, to find that the idea I described yesterday simply wouldn’t work over here.

Darwin pointed out that every genotype requires a viable phenotype. In plain english, that just means that every generation along an evolutionary path needs to survive – not just most generations. A mutation that kills off its population at some point is a dead end, no matter how wonderful would be its final outcome three generations later.

And in the case of creating and maintaining an incentive program to find and support the top one percent of kids, there may simply be no viable phenotype – no path for growth without a fatal weakness – along the many steps that would be required for such a program to take root and flourish.

I’m not saying that this is true. But I am saying that if you did want to create such a program here, it would be a good idea to think about ways of providing it with an immune system of some sort, some way – at each stage of its development – to defend itself from its enemies.

3 Responses to “Social Darwinism”

  1. troy says:

    I think Kurt Vonnegut put the most likely path of human evolution to pen in Hocus Pocus.

    The beloved Tralfamadorians had directed life on the planet earth with one intention. For evolutionary paths to lead us to the creation of the perfect germ. All of human history, natural selection, survival of the fittest… was guided by the Tralfamodorians so that they could put an indestructable germ onto an asteroid and send life to the other side of the universe…

    So, smart or not… it’s all moot… our only purpose here is to host incurable tuberculosis.

    Submit… Resistance is futile…

  2. admin says:

    Troy, I’m disappointed that you reach immediately for the snarky comment. I know it’s really easy – I’ve quoted my share of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams quotes too – and it’s fun once in a while, but can you sort of cut the volume down?

    I like having you as a guest on the blog, but when you do this so often and reflexively, you end up stomping all over things before other readers even get a chance to focus on the topic.

    Your actual thoughts about ideas – whether I agree with them or not – are a lot more interesting.

  3. troy@yahoo.com says:

    Funny, but I never heard the term “snark” before your blog last week.

    You’re right, i’m a smart ass and wasn’t being a good guest.

    I’ll tone it down.

    Feel free to delete my comments that you feel are disruptive.

    I won’t be offended.

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