The evolution of evolution.

Science, technology, and life.
Dec. 14 2007 8:03 AM

Cultural Selection

The evolution of evolution.

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You can accept or reject these particular evolutionary explanations as you like. But the underlying message is worth taking home: Much of what now passes for "natural selection" isn't exactly natural. It's social. As such, it deserves no presumptive respect as a validator or promulgator of objective fitness. Nor does the discovery of a genetic basis for this or that trait prove it's more than a social construct. In the era of cultural selection, many genes are a social construct. Which makes them no less real.

All of which poses a problem for anyone who equates genes with human nature, or who expects evolution to take God's place as judge and perfecter of humankind. It may be true that today's God a human creation. But so, in a way, is today's evolution.


Correction, Dec. 14, 2007: The article originally referred to malaria and cholera as viral diseases. They are microbial but not viral. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)