11 December 2007

Survival of the fittest does not mean what you think it means

People will often throw out the non-Darwin phrase survival of the fittest in order to indict modern social tolerance. The logic goes: we accommodate the disabled both great and small, they are free to reproduce, therefore their flawed traits are spread through the gene pool when they should be removed.

The "should be removed" part is where the greatest flaw lies. Darwin's idea of natural selection was not purposeful or directed to an end point. Whatever traits are best for the current environment will be the the ones selected. Humans have survived and currently survive through varying environments, each different one requires different and possibly discrete characteristics. Discussions in a recent /. article--stating that mutations, and therefore diversity, have increased in the last 10,000 years--reemphasize this point. A poster early on posits the fumbling we-coddle-the-weak-so-we've-killed-evolution argument and quickly gets smacked down. There's hope.

[ posted by sstrader on 11 December 2007 at 10:23:39 AM in Science & Technology ]