Evolving Towards Murder: The Hare, the Tortoise, and the Aurora Madman

Evolving Towards Murder: The Hare, the Tortoise, and the Aurora Madman

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From David Barash’s post, The Hare, the Tortoise, and the Aurora Madman, in reaction to the tragedy in Colorado, from The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Brainstorm blog:

Far more than any other critter, we Homo saps are stuck between two worlds, biological evolution and cultural evolution. The former is a Darwinian, genetic process, necessarily slow because it cannot proceed more rapidly than the replacement of genetic alleles by alternatives; hence, it is limited by generation times as well as selection coefficients. The latter is Lamarckian, a process of cultural change that occurs via the non-genetic “inheritance” of acquired cultural/technological characteristics; hence, it is several orders of magnitude more rapid, with dramatic changes often occurring during one lifetime. …

Our ancestors are biologically ill-adapted to inflict violent death on each other, what with our recessed jaws, laughably small teeth and absent talons, lethal poisons, etc. We are, however, inordinately capable of doing just this because of our cultural “advances.” Accordingly, we are more threatened by the evolved adaptations we lack than by those we possess: especially, by our relative lack of inhibitions (appropriate to a biologically non-lethal species) combined with our extraordinary technological “advances” when it comes to killing, at distance, and with very little physical effort.

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