[ExI] Recent human evolution repost

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Mon Apr 18 00:31:50 UTC 2011

On Sun, Apr 17, 2011 at 10:10 AM, Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:


> If I had his facts, my thesis would be:
> "Sufficient money increases your chances of surviving and reproducing
> and keeping children safe into adulthood."
> It does this by the reproduction of "success" memes. When a rich
> literate father ensures that his son also becomes literate, he further
> insures his "success". When a rich mother encourages thrift in her
> daughter, she reproduces the "sacrifice today for success tomorrow"
> meme which leads out of poverty. If these memes don't reproduce in a
> Malthusian trap, then the next generation is more likely to become
> poor.

On average, the next generation of rich parents *was* poorer.
Whatever exceptional characteristics the parents have, chances are
that the average of the next generation will suffer "regression to the
mean."  Not to mention the well known business of a worthless playboy
who through impulsive acts burns through the money he inherited.  A
person I know is from a family that was very wealthy a century or so
ago.  As he put it, his branch was into fast women and slow horses.
So whatever memes and genes they started with, they didn't stay

"You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in
a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of
asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my
mother told me when I was young."
[Ford Prefect:] "Why, what did she tell you?"
[Arthur:] "I don't know, I didn't listen."

:-)  So much for memes.  You need a personality to pay attention to
them as well as a source.  (Not that I don't appreciate memes.  Google
memetics "keith henson")

> His facts fit the memetic evolution much better in my mind than the
> genetic evolution. He doesn't state what the rich traits are, except
> in memetic terms. "Thrift, prudence, negotiation and hard work" are,
> after all, primarily memetic.

I *very* much doubt it.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_study
Personality characteristics are very much determined by genes as you
can see by how similar raised apart identical twins are.   Also see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nurture_Assumption  Memes don't
particularly come from parents.

> So, in conclusion, I don't find the hypothesis of Dr. Clark to be
> supported by his facts, because there is an alternative hypothesis
> that fits his data even better. Again, I strongly encourage you to
> read Rosen's book.

I have read dozens of books on the rise of technology during that
time.  It's a major hobby of mine.

But Clark's hypothesis can and almost certainly will be verified at
the genetic level.

We can get DNA out of bones thousands of years old, and there are lots
of old human bones in the UK.  The detailed changes in the variations
of genes will be plotted over the centuries.  If there are changes in
genes over the centuries that relate to human personality
characteristics we will figure them out.

About in time for it to have very little application.


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