Education and Genetics

From: Reed Konsler (
Date: Thu 29 May 2003 - 12:57:40 GMT

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    1) Memes benefit the species. The proliferation of memes seems mutualist with the spread of the genes held in common by all members of the human species. After all, humans are host to both. The more humans, the more replicas.

    2) Hypocrisy is successful. From the perspective of an individual, spreading a meme can be mutualist with the individuals genes. The same meme can be parasitic if obeyed. For example, monogamy is, from a genetic perspective, best to preach and ignore.

    3) Memes don't act in a vacuum. Monogamy can be a successful strategy for a male in an environment dominated by females using reliable birth control. In such a case the risks of becoming a known adulterer may exceed the potential rewards.

    4) Few individuals are able or willing to recognize the (dis)connection between genetic imperatives and their memetic symbiots. Even fewer know what to do, as individuals or as a society, with this knowledge. When you realize that the cut-throat competition for power you have been part of is motivated by a genetic desire to reproduce, what next? Do you seek a better quality of life, or deeper introspective wisdom...or are those also genetic dead ends? If you step outside the genetic cut-throat competition a poorer lifestyle than the others?

    Desire for education does seem to be a meme that is, from a genetic perspective, best approached hypocritically. By spreading the meme "get educated" one hopefully produces a caste of highly effective cuckolded workers. This allows the rest of the species to become genetic free riders; taking advantage of the products of the educated to proliferate their own genes.

    This is true even under circumstances where wealth and power are unevenly distributed favoring the educated, even exceptionally so. In fact, wealth and power might be seen as the booby prize offered as an illusionary deception. A host of memes that dramatically restrict the ability of an individual to use wealth and power to forward their own genetic interest render these prizes, well, impotent.

    Why does everyone want their children to be educated, then? If you poll parents asking them what they wish for their children, by far the most common response is "I want them to be happy". In a modern society, education is certainly one path towards this kind of general fulfillment.

    My position would be that wealth, power, and education are not memes that act in opposition to their hosts genetic imperatives *except* in the case where the host seeks them as an end in themselves and not a means to genetic proliferation.

    Of course, this all assumes that it is the purpose of an individual human to proliferate their genes. I don't think that is necessarily the case. That certainly isn't my primary purpose.



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