Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id PAA02707 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Mon, 18 Jun 2001 15:31:49 +0100 Message-ID: <3B2E1013.839CBEE5@bioinf.man.ac.uk> Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 15:28:35 +0100 From: Chris Taylor <Christopher.Taylor@man.ac.uk> Organization: University of Manchester X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.77 [en] (Windows NT 5.0; U) X-Accept-Language: en To: email@example.com Subject: Re: sexual selection and memes References: <2D1C159B783DD211808A006008062D3101745F16@inchna.stir.ac.uk> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
> Essentially it's rejecting alternative, unique processes to cultural
> evolution, saying it's perfectly explainable in conventional Darwinian
> terms, but in terms of sexual selection rather than in terms of survival.
> Any views on this?
Yep. I'd say forget about genetics when discussing culture because (a)
the rather disparate time scales just don't work at all, and (b)
anything which was transmitted genetically can be transmitted much more
efficiently in culture, so genetic drift would 'rot away' any genetic
component. Thirdly, I'd also say that the unit of selection is *not the
individual* but the meme - otherwise we would be saying something a bit
like "one field is 'favoured' over another, by selection, because of the
species which grow in it". Conventional Darwinian evolution is
occurring, but not in the host. What that author has asserted amounts to
the worst kind of group selectionist argument.
Sexual selection is applied like ketchup to any old idea to make it
palatable; I think its employment says rather more about the worldview
of the author than anything. Biology is a minefield, and storytelling
should be avoided (because, frankly, you can make any old shit up and
find examples to back you).
Blokes do more stuff because they are (currently) the dominant gender
and therefore are more likely to have the self-confidence to assert
stuff. They tend to do this after they have grown up a bit, but before
they are distracted by the tedium of later adult life (when they tend to
rely on postdocs to do the stuff, while they wonder how the hell they
ended up as a manager, or run out of new ideas because they have
rehashed their life experience too much, without enough novel input).
Does this strike you as more parsimonious than an explanation invoking
all sorts of unproven stuff about massively epigenetic 'behaviour'
Chris Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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