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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 580)...

    I have always questioned whether natural selection is still working on "our culture" at the present time. I do realise that it will always have the last word, despite our behavior, but I am still unclear on its current action regarding "us." What are your thoughts on this?

    ...and the response:

    Your question is somewhat ambiguous. By analogy to the biological concept of natural selection, evolution by the selection process works on our culture in many ways. Our political systems are subject to evolution via the selection process in this analogical sense. Monarchical systems, less "fit" (where, in this case, "fit" refers to people's willingness to participate) than republican systems, have become largely extinct. Silent motion pictures, less "fit" (where, in this case, "fit" refers to people's willingness to pay) than talking motion pictures, have become extinct. Every day millions of products struggle for success in the marketplace, and the less "fit" become extinct. In the biological sense, the human species evolved through natural selection because the more fit (where, in this case, "fit" refers to people's ability and probability to survive and reproduce) individuals were slightly more likely to contribute to the gene pool through reproduction than were the less fit; the people of our culture have largely eliminated the connection between biological fitness and contribution to the gene pool through reproduction. In this sense, it's difficult to see how natural selection could be working on us. Should some significant change occur in our environment (for which we could not compensate), then conceivably biological natural selection would then come into play again.


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