Posted by: graemebird | August 20, 2009

Human Evolution And Implications For The Good And Creative Society.

From Catallaxy

Compare what I said above about the implication of our evolved rationality. This is in a line of argument, wherein I say that the process of evolution is by no means the way that its cracked out to be. Or thought of in the mainstream. It appears rather that the creationist critique is not right. But that it is right MOST OF THE TIME. Nearly all pf the time in fact.

The creationist says that evolution doesn’t happen. That what we see rather is ADAPTATION. And that a species can vary backwards and forth between certain limits but it always stays the same species.

Now this sentiment is TOO ABSOLUTIST. Because we can see times and species where this is not the case. The Intelligent design people are not so absolutist as this most of the time. But you’ve got to give even the creationists a fair shake. Indeed the record seems to show that this is a good description (ADAPTATION NOT EVOLUTION) of what is going on 99% of the time.

Its important to listen to the better examples of the people you disagree with and not heap contempt on them right off the bat. Because this is a powerful criticism of the contemporary picture of evolution, if at once you discard the absolutism inherent in what the creationist is trying to pull off.

My reading of the record then is that evolution is hard yakka. And it fundamentally needs to be beaten out of the species. It has certain requirements.


Partial but not total isolation being one of these requirements. Since if the isolation is total then the species will split apart and not really evolve so much but rather drift and become two different species without appearing to have evolved a great deal.

And if there is no partial isolation the gene pool will be unmoved and the stress placed upon the species will not squeeze serious change out of it. The stresses may squeeze a bunch of adaptation. But nothing we might seriously call “evolution” in the traditional sense.

How do we get this partial but not total isolation? and the change which comes via subjecting the partially isolated organisms to like stresses?

How do we allow for an innovative change at the fringes of the group, to be be introduced into the group in general, but only after the trait has reached a level of manifest success?

Well there seems to be two different ways that this is achieved, and therefore essentially two and only two different types of evolution. Three if you were to count intelligent design.

1. New-Niche-Morphing Evolution.

2. Pulsing holocaust evolution.

3. Intelligent design.

The rest of the time it really does seem we act more in accordance with the creationist critique. Its more adaptation and not evolution at all.

We suspect new niche morphing evolution in our case but we have not the paleo records for it. When the glacial period comes life on terra firma gets pretty scarce. But ocean life picks up since the colder water can now absord more Oxygen and the very lord of life; Carbon Dioxide.

So now the hominid starving and cold, if he lives, must usually find himself on the Coast. Down on his hands and knees and grabbing at plentiful shellfish. A food supply for which HE HAS NO SERIOUS COMPETITOR. The plankton is washed up on the beach and it brings the shellfish. Almost as convenient as the supermarket. Yet though incredibly abundant the hominid almost alone has to tools to exploit this wonderfully nutricious food. The descendant of the tree-dweller is capable of taking this food off the shelves and no-one but his own kind crowding him out.

The fossil record shows us nothing of this. The sea level is much lower during glacial periods than the sea level of today. Our fossil record is almost exclusively of the slim pickings and hard yakka which was surely involved with tracking the surviving game inland.

So here we have the majority of the human race freezing the whole time as it gets its sustenance from the sea. But why not go the whole hog like the ancestors of the hippo and whale? Well every so often the ice melts and the INLAND GAME multiplies much faster than the hominid can. So he is driven inland by the new garden of eden.

The need to get ones nutrition from the sea in freezing conditions, and to therefore fashion tools to fashion clothes to deal with the constant chill factor, is where the new niche morphing evolution comes in. But with we humans we also have the pulsing holocaust evolution to cut us off one from the other and to provide the partial but not total isolation needed for full-blown evolution as opposed to the more normal adaptation.

Here the warm conditions come. The ice melts. And the shorter-lived game multiply to garden of eden levels. But it is just Gaia fattening the hominid for the slaughter. The warm period lasts just long enough for the hominid to spread out to his greatest extent and populate into the millions, ready to crowd out his food supply and hit up against Malthusian restraints. But then the wall of ice comes. Bringing with it the drought, the freezing conditions, the low CO2-on-land that reduces the plant growth and therefore the animals that would have fed on that plant growth.

Now the bustling hordes of hominids are mercilessly slaughtered by kind, gentle, Mother Nature.

Such tribal groupings that had formed are totally destroyed until all survivors become a band apart. Just a travelling group of perpetually frozen sons of tree-dwellers trying to get along on their wits. Having to talk it out, the half dozen key adults. Like some endless series of desperate shivering board meetings. But carrying more life and death weight. Or like a group of boxers who have to be able to think straight even when they are exhausted and punchy.

This is what I said earlier:

“The evolution of rational faculties would seem to suggest that the times when the main evolutionary stress weighed upon us were times when we got about in small groups or clans rather than tribes.

Since the clan of hunter-gatherers needed to make decisions the whole time. Not just follow orders. They would have had to discuss and theorise and survive based upon their thinking. And this would have had to be the biggest stress for the longest time when the species was having change squeezed out of it.

It is for this reason and also reasons of neotony that we assume that the glacial-interglacial period have something to do with it. Only a band apart lives or dies on the ability of all its members to think and act during the long disaster of ice age conditions.”

Now juxtapose the above with the thoughts of a somewhat obscure intellectual. But I must ask you to ponder what I have said above. And ponder what the obscure intellectual says below. But do this WITHOUT searching for the other fellows identity. And if you cannot help yourself don’t blow his identity for the others. I think in this one point at least this fellow is right. And I think it has implications for the sort of policies that reformer-libertarians ought to prioritise. Its not about persecuting big business at all. Its just about prioritising the liberation of small businesses from their shackles of varying degrees of subtlety.

“Autonomy as a part of the power process may not be necessary for every individual. But most people need a greater or lesser degree of autonomy in working toward their goals. Their efforts must be undertaken on their own initiative and must be under their own direction and control. Yet most people do not have to exert this initiative, direction and control as single individuals. It is usually enough to act as a member of a SMALL group. Thus if half a dozen people discuss a goal among themselves and make a successful joint effort to attain that goal, their need for the power process will be served. But if they work under rigid orders handed down from above that leave them no room for autonomous decision and initiative, then their need for the power process will not be served. The same is true when decisions are made on a collective bases if the group making the collective decision is so large that the role of each individual is insignificant.”



  1. Logged post from elsewhere:

    “Comment from: Graeme Bird August 21st, 2009 at 9:11 am

    “That is a very interesting analysis Ian Mott. It is easy to slip into false impressions (like I did) when we base our perceptions on a small part of the facts. I think part of the change in family size may have something to do with improved life expectancy. My mother lives alone on an 800 metre block and she will kick-on into her 90’s. The average person like her 60 years ago would have died 10 years earlier. New technologies like Vital Call are also extending this sort of thing.”

    You know what I think it is? I think its the transfer of the function that gold-linked money had as a “store-of-value”…. from gold and silver at interest…… TO REAL ESTATE. I think its the paper money making us be able to be stooged that we are a lot richer. But in fact being a lot poorer in terms of being able to get a single unambitious paycheck… as an unstressed bloke not reaching for the great heights…. and take that paycheck, turn it into a big house with very little ongoing payment stress, and use that one paycheck to get your new girl to quit her job and look after you and constantly keep her up the duff.

    I think we are deluded as to how much progress we’ve made materially. You can surely spin it that way. The marvels of capitalism are indeed marvellous. You can talk about the theory of how things get better all the time and thats a historical truth. But its all delusion if you think you can apply that theory to the reality of life under socialist fiat money.

    One man. Not particularly ambitious. Leaves school at 14. Gets a pretty normal and not too high-pressured job. Gets a paycheck delivered by a van. Opens it up. That money backed by gold and silver. Got a savings account and a checking account. The two types of banking separated. One for convenience. The other type of bank to build wealth and to enrich the community.

    That one paycheck buys a 30% deposit and pays for a house and lets the girl quit work and pays for one child following the other in quick succession only separated by gestation and breast-feeding. If he didn’t like the look of his girl boosted up with milk like that he’d probably shorten the time between kids and have them at an advanced rate. And he’d do it all on one paycheck.

    I tell you straight we are being mortally ripped off.

  2. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Government spending does indeed make recessions worse. but we cannot get anywhere with this argument with any story about GDP.

    Simply because GDP is C+I+G+-M and if we use this metric then increasing the depredation on the private sector directly increases this foolish metric that we are judging success by. It may be hard to believe that the economics profession are so dull as to fall into this mistake. But indeed they are that dull. And its helpful to their paymasters to be this way.

    No one metric is perfect. But if we were going to use C+ GROSS I -G + X -M the problem would be easier to see. Because then by cutting government spending, which is a cost to the private sector, then we’d get a more honest figure of how the private sector is getting by. Then when we slashed government spending our metric would increase and we’d say LOOK HERE. WE HAVE ECONOMIC GROWTH.

    The embarrassing fact is that the way we count ourselves as being in recession really does boil down to being foolish about the metrics we are using.

  3. It has been thought that there have been several Ice Ages on the Earth. It has even been said that tropical and hot areas like the Sahara, Africa, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Australia, India, Madagascar, and South America were covered with a large continental glacier tens of millions of years ago. The latest Ice Age is assumed to have started “just” about 500,000 years ago and ended 10,000 years ago. The ice sheets are believed to have covered at their widest 55 million square meters, and the thickness of the ice was at most over 3 kilometers (about 1.8 miles).

    What should we think about the Ice Age? Have we any reason to believe in it? Maybe the signs that have been interpreted as signs of an Ice Age were caused by something else?

    More info:

  4. Yeah telson thats interesting. I’m not saying you are wrong. But the standard interpretation is that the ICE AGE PROPER has been going for 39 million years. And by ICE AGE here we mean that there is permanent ice at all times somewhere on earth. And in our case in the Antarctic

    And under this standard interpretation the glacial-interglacial cycle for the last 2.5-3.5 million years has been about 100,000 years in duration in accordance with one of the three Milankovitch cycles. And prior to that the cycle was held to be every 40,000 years in accordance with another of the Milankovitch cycles….

    And the relative change in the importance of the once versus the other was thought to come about by the formation of the Isthmus of Panama. Cutting off circulation and therefore cooling the entire planet vis a vis Stefan Boltzmanns (my own contribution as far as I know beginning with me) and somehow flipping the relative importance of the two cycles ……. And this something to do with the Atlantic thereafter being more salty then the pacific, and probably the exact nature of the landed-ice growth, or possibly something to do with how the SEA-ICE WHICH EXTENDS FROM THE LANDED ICE INTERACTS WITH THE PARTICULAR OCEANIC CONVEYOR BEFORE AND AFTER THE CHANGE.

    You see if landed ice that flows into the sea obstructs the Gulf Stream in such a way that now this obstruction will be ended within 100 000 years then that will wind up determining the length of the main cycle.

    But with an entirely different oceanica conveyor then the ice obstruction relevant to the flow of that conveyor might have been something that could definitely be cleared prior to the 40 000 years being out.

    This is such an obvious pointer to focus research upon to tell us how the climate system works. To gauge the difference in the before and after.

    But you have another version of the timing of glacial and interglacial. And I won’t say its wrong. But rather will be interested in the evidence for this point of view over the more standard view.

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