Posts Tagged ‘Culture Drives Evolution’

CULTURE DRIVES HUMAN EVOLUTION

June 20, 2021

In the most advanced species, evolution is culturally driven. Far from being solely blind, and driven by chance, evolution can be smart and willful. A restricted theory of evolution called “Darwinism” promoted that idea, which originated with Lamarck, as soon as it claims that mate selection is driven by choice… And that choice will itself be driven by cultural values, in advanced species. This is why evolution has been accelerating since cultural species have evolved.

Culture is so strong that zoos trying to save species in extreme danger of extinction have discovered, to their surprise, that rare animals tend to adopt the culture of animals of other species they see, or hear, at the zoo. So zoos are now trying to save animal cultures, not just the species…

Evolution by chance dominates the simplest species of animals, but the apparition of powerful brains change everything…

Indeed, there are CULTURAL SPECIES. One could say an animal species is advanced if it is cultural. By definition, cultural species can’t survive without culture

What is a cultural element? Figuring the reality of that element from communication with other animals, in contrast to figuring it out by oneself.

The notions of cultural species and intelligent species are distinct. Cephalopods are very intelligent, but their mental achievements as a species are limited, because they have to learn everything through personal scientific experimentation. Bees, although individually much less clever than cephalopods, can exploit far fetched resources, thanks to cultural communications (their famous dances which convey where exploitable flowers are).Bees, as a species, can do much more than cephalopods, pollinating much of the world of terrestrial plants.   

Humanity is the supremely cultural species. Not only this, but humans have been created (by evolution) to discover as much truth as possible, in all directions imaginable. We are truth machines.

For more than a million years, human supremacy has been fed by truths and the alternative to supremacy has been extinction: most human subspecies were exterminated (whereas Denisovans and Neanderthals contributed to today’s human species in mergers and acquisitions).

Humans are truths machines, so obsessed by truth that, when they don’t have it, they make their own. Humans kill for truth. It is an official fundamental belief of a religion followed by hundreds of millions: unbelievers shall be killed. Truth is that important.

It is likely that life evolved on Venus, for billions of years. The planet seems to have had oceans for three billion years, computer models show. Then a runaway greenhouse killed that biosphere. Right now, the situation of Earth is cataclysmic: recipes for many sorts of extinction have been applied and are simmering…Truth is not an option now, it has become the crucible of existence. And how do we get to truth? Through culture.

The way out is supreme, vastly superior thinking. Immensely not just progressive, but progressed thinking. Truths unveiled. Cultural supremacy running amok.

We are the scientific species. We have been doing science for two million years. Interestingly, the latest archeology reveals that full bipedalism preceded huge brains by hundreds of thousands of years, and maybe millions of years. This means that we got huge brains because there was a demand for them, and they presented an opportunity… and that opportunity arose from the way of life our ancestors had chosen… culturally. In other words, the cultural choice of bipedalism made intellectual demands which in turn imposed a superior, more diverse way of life which gave an advantage to superior intelligence, and superior brains provided an advantage they would not have had if bipedalism had not been chosen. Yes, supremacy everywhere: some evolutionary paths are superior to others and bring the extinction of inferior ones. 

Just as superior culture provides an evolutionary advantage, inferior culture brings extinction. An excellent example is Nazism. Nazism may have brought the death of 15% of native German speakers. Thus culture enables us to also go the other way, down the drain. And not just as the Nazis did.

Darwin famously wrote in 1879 that “the rapid development as far as we can judge of all the higher plants within recent geological times is an abominable mystery” . By “higher” he meant angiosperms, the flowering plants. Since then the mystery has become much more abominable. The solution? Culture! A recent invention of evolution… At least in insects…

Flowers are cultural achievements. Flowering plants would not exist without the culture of pollinators. Evolution had to wait billion of years for intelligent pollinators to appear before it could grace the universe with blossoms… 125 million years ago

An argument exists, which holds that Neanderthals, faced as they were with a more difficult life, needed bigger brains… as observed (they seem to be a fifth of a liter bigger). Humans beings could do later with inferior genetics and smaller brains, because human culture became so superior, it could act as a crutch to the more dim witted.

The Earth biosphere is all primed up for several extinctions in a snap geological instant at this point. Only superiorly intelligent culture will save us, and others. It’s not just about smarts anymore, it’s about survival. But smarts have always been, ultimately the final solution for survival.

Humanitizing lore, traditional humanism, love to oppose the world of “culture”, and the world of those who don’t have it. That’s racism and class supremacy in disguise, and also an illusion. In truth, flaunting a restricted culture is a trick to hide that culture is, first of all, a tool and also… a weapon. 

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” said Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, who completed six years of graduate studies beyond high school to become a teacher, third in his class. The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party were smart and worldly (some of the principals, Chou En Lai, Deng Hsiao Ping, had been educated as workers in France by French Communists, themselves quite smart).  

Culture has grown guns. Culture was always about Lebensraum, vital space, to use the Nazi expression. Not just this, but wild chimpanzees seem prone to evolve the culture of going to the next valley over to massacre the neighbors.

Here is most of the conclusion from a review article, Long-term gene–culture coevolution and the human evolutionary transition, by Timothy M. Waring and Zachary T. Wood (2 June 2021) from the Royal Society:

….”group-level cultural evolution is more adaptive and more rapid than genetic evolution in humans. This difference has caused an increasing fraction of human life to be mediated by culturally evolved group-level practices and technology, and a decreasing fraction by genetic traits. Available evidence suggests that this trend is ongoing and accelerating. We note that both cultural and environmental change are far from equilibrium… We speculate that, in the long term, culture will continue to grow in influence over human evolution, until genes become secondary structures that hold human biological design blueprints but are ultimately governed by culture. If genes hold culture on a leash, culture is dragging them straight off the trail.”

The idea that culture and intelligence drive biological evolution in advanced animals originates with Lamarck. In a way, it is obvious, and was already well-known by the Greeks who made artificial selection of horses, and a mix of artificial and natural selection of cattle, one of Greece’s main economic exports, 25 centuries ago. The philosopher Xenophon, the first economist, retired as a horse breeder.

Even strict Darwinism in the most restricted and naïve sense, held that individuals select mates in the selection of the fittest… Thus even strict Darwinism assumes that intelligence was a driver of evolution. Recent studies on monkeys show that the females can be very subtle in their choices.

Life perished on Venus. This will not happen on Earth. Cultural intelligent life on Earth is getting ready to spawn throughout the universe… or at least the galaxy. 

Whether this cosmic expansion has merit or not, is besides the point: it is happening, it will happen, it is a force which cannot be contained, even the oldest state, China, is all for it … and this cosmic expansion is the expansion of culture… culture is the exact opposite of basic and base instincts. 

Thus, criticizing this cosmic expansion, this expansion of culture, is criticizing what is most human, what made us most humans. Far from a noble critique, then, attacks against cosmic cultural expansion denote the base aspiration of becoming sewer stew again. It is not just hypocritical, vulgar and sadistic, but it is bound to fail, because, remember, culture, superior culture, is the supreme weapon.  

The preceding lofty considerations may seem not to have practical consequences. But they do. We don’t know why Venus became hell, with a 460 degree centigrade ground temperature and the pressure a kilometer down an ocean. Several probes will be launched to figure all this out: Venus has become a much bigger mystery than Mars and a poignant one: Earth’s sibling was steamed alive…

However, it is clear that, one the present trajectories with various forms of pollution, Earth is heading towards hell at an amazing speed. Just in greenhouse gases, we are at a density not seen in twenty million years (only 5 millions if one looks only at CO2, neglecting NOx, CFCs, etc…). And there are several other types of pollution and attacks on going.

We have to evolve out of that incoming holocaust. Culture will do it: we know how to modify genes, even to bring rejuvenation. Dramatically superior culture is the only way out, and it should give the boot to tragic inferiority.

As the Romans did not say, and it is because it was not a Roman proverb that their culture failed:

If you do not want evil, prepare for higher culture: Si vis ne malorum, para superior cultura.

Patrice Ayme

***


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