How we evolve

Seed has an article about How We Evolve. It’s a fantastic read that I won’t try to break down since it’s already written in an enormously friendly manner. I do, however, want to focus on one part.

“Intelligence builds on top of intelligence,” says Lahn. “[Culture] creates a stringent selection regime for enhanced intelligence. This is a positive feedback loop, I would think.” Increasing intelligence increases the complexity of culture, which pressures intelligence levels to rise, which creates a more complex culture, and so on. Culture is not an escape from conditioning environments. It is an environment of a different kind.

There’s the pervasive notion that human evolution has stopped because we have this flat-seas type of environment where no selection pressure is applied except in the most extreme of circumstances. Indeed, this is a major subject of the article (I guess I did break it down a little). I just find it tremendously unfortunate that even biologists have it in their heads that humans face such limited evolution; the recent comments from Steve Jones are especially disheartening. It’s just something everyone needs to face: evolution happens and nothing stops it except extinction.

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