Change and Survival
Tomorrow is the birthday of Charles Darwin, I suspect he won’t be around to celebrate it having died 130 years ago. Darwin is an amazingly interesting individual who brought an observation to the forefront of our world that now seems blatantly obvious but for his time it was something deeply debated.
I’d be silly if I acted like it wasn’t still being debated, I’m not sure why, but it is. The picking and choosing of what facets of reality we will accept and what we won’t is something most peculiar to me. I would think that reality would be an all or nothing package. Either we accept that Magnets, tides, wavelengths, and evolution are all things that are well studied and understood or we pull a full Hamish and live in homes without any of the amenities that the sciences that study these realities provide.
That’s perhaps the most insulting part, people enjoying the luxuries of biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics while also lampooning them. It is one thing to hate the internet and not use it, but to fiercely debate the age of the universe while still having a microwave in the home is mind blowing on so many levels. If anyone is curious how those two things are related, I would highly suggest reading up on both topics.
The quote I most enjoy that is attributed to Darwin is “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones who are most responsive to change.” You still hear the line “survival of the fittest” when people discuss capitalism and the vicious demons of its function. But it is not a physical fitness that dictates the long term survival of a species, it is the mental fitness and biological flexibility.
So when people fight hard to not expand their horizons I wonder if they catch the humor, especially when that closed minded stance is taken against a topic such as evolution. It’s a level of comedy that wouldn’t be easy to believe if written in a book.
It has been humanities ability to adapt and to change the landscape itself that has kept us alive. We’ve become increasingly good at altering our habitat to perfectly fit with our biology. This will continue to be the true saving grace of the species for the foreseeable future. While a (relatively) small contingency of people is trying hard to witness the end times, the rest of the world will continue to live and adapt. I highly doubt that there will be nuclear war. I’ve said before that people crazy enough to do it don’t have the power and people with the power aren’t crazy enough. They might act like they are but this is largely to get very real perks like food and money. But at the end of the day none of them believes enough to play the ultimate gamble.
Ironically it is one of the most recent famous deaths that lead to a quote that I find most applicable to the above. “No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there, and yet, death is the destination we all share.” – Steve Jobs. The evidence seems to point to this being true, the amount of people who believe strongly enough to risk death are so far and few between that they are like gryphons, things of fairytales.
The biggest challenge that we have now as a society is to require that those with great power share also great intellect. Letting foolish people guide science is a dangerous practice, the average General hardly has a strong enough grasp of radiation to be allowed to invest in scientists to perfect neutron bombs. The average politician knows far too little about particulate matter to be guiding investments into clean air or water bills.
The current practice is to give them advisors, but it is human (perhaps even animal) nature to buckle under pressure from your superiors. The people making these decisions should be fully educated by themselves, they can still reach out for counsel but each one should be fully versed in the policies they want to push.
If they are not, they should become so. We expect children to study subjects as far ranging as creek biology, history, mathematics, chemistry, physical fitness, and foreign languages. Yet once people are put into the position of running entire countries we no longer feel it is fair?
This is an error that has had consistent results for the history of America. It’s become practice for bad ideas to be passed, and the pressure of education to fall upon the citizenry long after the damage is done. We shouldn’t need to wait for the next Jungle to be written, our expectations of world leaders should be as harsh or harsh as our expectations of a university professor. The congress should be a diverse realm of well educated men and women, not a bunch of people who know more about business and law than they do of the importance of bees.
I shouldn’t end up crosseyed when I listen to elected officials speak. I’m not a genius by any metric but the things that these people consistently say on television is so stupid that you’d get worried looks in Junior High teachers had you said it as a teen. People who are 3-4x the age of teens should not be saying things that would cause a cafeteria to break out into laughter and finger pointing. This is embarrassing and damaging.
There is a desperate need for change, not the cliché advertising of the last presidential bid but earnest change. I would love to see basic high school level quizzing at these presidential race debates. I want people to see the sweat beading on the head of a potential candidate when they are asked to solve a math problem, or to explain how a fish breaths, or to describe the planets in our solar system to the best of their abilities.
Even better, give them a puzzle to solve on the air.
Don’t just make them argue with words, put these people in chairs and make them play checkers, chess, or even connect 4 against one another. Give them games that require thought and see how they each react. Who just moves pieces? Who actively is thinking about their next move? How well do they follow instructions? These are important things to know, these people are making decisions that can literally kill people.
Who cares how many ways they can lie about their feelings on the poor? I want to know if they know that the Earth orbits around the Sun and not the other way around (not getting overly technical about it actually being a point at the center of both objects and both objects orbiting around the center of the Galaxy).
Put these people at a table with a game of Chinese checkers, I want to see the cog work of their brains turning. I want to see that bird burst from their forehead and start squawking when they finally clock out.
Once I do run I will play any board game against anyone. I might not win but I’d love for people to see how I think in the heat of spontaneity. Even earnest dialogue these days is lost because of the clichéd lies of politics, lets start seeing actions of substance.