September 23, 2010

Survival of the what-est?

Herbert Spencer coined the phrase "survival of the fittest." He doesn't look all that fit to me.

It is a great irony of contemporary politics that social Darwinism is alive and well amongst political conservatives who believe in a literal six day creation.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Darwin's ideas--or what people thought were Darwin's ideas--were first seized upon by people on the political right. Such people were quick to draw public policy conclusions from the "survival of the fittest."

As the idea was popularly conceived, evolution worked for the good of all--or at least all the survivors--by weeding out the weak. Therefore, any aid to people who were poor or otherwise disadvantaged was counter-evolutionary.

What is missing from this picture is the fact that one thing that has enabled humans to survive and thrive is our tendency to care for the sick and weak. After all, every human is born pretty helpless and stays that way for several years. Women in or near childbirth are pretty much out of the game and anyone at any time may become sick or injured and require the help of others.

There is even some interesting archaeological evidence along this line from our human ancestors. A severely deformed skull of someone at least five years of age was found dating back to around 530,000 years ago. This finding suggests that early humans at least some of the time cared for the disabled members of their group despite deformities.

This suggests that at least some early or pre-humans knew some things that some modern humans have forgotten.

SPEAKING OF EVOLUTION AGAIN, one researcher thinks our Neanderthal cousins were smarter than generally thought.

MILESTONE. Today marks six months since the passage of health care reform. Some key changes kick in today.

UNEMPLOYMENT. West Virginia's unemployment insurance system could avoid going broke by making key reforms.

TALKING REDNECK. Here's an excerpt from Joe Bageant's new book about the white underclass.

REALLY NOT WANTING TO TALK. Massey Energy officials have filed suit to keep from being interviewed in the Upper Big Branch disaster investigation.


1 comment:

Zack said...

There is nothing wrong with believing in a 6 day creation by God. The main point I always raise is this. What is a day to God? A day to him could be 100,000,000 years. Personally I believe that there is an evolution and a form of creation. But social darwinism is awesome. If we practiced it not many would be left, well I supose things would be great on goat rope farm. You know how to raise crops and vegies.