Archive for March, 2011

The Wealth of Neurons

March 30, 2011

Your thoughts and feelings don’t count for anything.

As social creatures human beings are judged by their actions. The Christians disagree, for our thoughts can also be evil and God may judge us sinners for the crimes of our neurons. But, if you are like me you will agree that what transpires in our brains is our own business (so, not only is there no God, I am also relieved).

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not commit adultery.’  But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 27-28

The distance afforded by social networking is fraught with benefits and danger. On the one hand, the lack of personal touch allows us to minimise the effects of the emotions of others, and to examine dispassionately whatever it might be they are saying. On the other, the lack of body language and other cues can on occasion make it difficult to pick up on jokes, sarcasm, or irony. Then again, it can also inhibit the genuine expression of thoughts for confusing them with said levity.

However, I am morally certain that in the wake of recent tragedy in Japan that the cries of support and venting of personal turmoil were entirely genuine. Sprinkled amidst the feed were also jokes about Mothra and the other ironic parallels playing out in the East Asian catastrophe. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether such jokes are born of cynical indifference, or are a just another means of coping with the horrors of the world.

But but but but… we are defined by our actions. All reasonable people agree. What wells up in me when I see “My heart goes out to the people of Japan” scrawling across my Twitter or Facebook, is not a sense of commiseration or feelings of human solidarity, but thoughts of “Oh yeah? What are you doing about it?”

I don’t mean to be cold or dismissive of people’s feelings. Life in so many respects is about feelings; emotional responses, coping, and revelling. Nor do I think that because someone is coping with a public tragedy with an expression of sorrow that they therefore must follow through with an action – that they have somehow taken on more responsibility than someone who is mute.

However, what does it mean to really care about something? If a mother claims to love her child and yet neglects and abuses the child, does the mother love the child? The mother might express extreme sorrow for having her child taken away, fight to the last to keep her child… but is that love or a response to maternal instincts? I say it isn’t love. We are defined by our actions.

So I am at a loss to reconcile the vast majority of the response to public tragedies with the words “I care.” Tragedy that is so far away as to be but mildly emotionally effective at first, and then an intellectual puzzle second and permanently.

I’ll end with this brilliant quote from Adam Smith:

Let us suppose that the great empire of China, with all its myriads of inhabitants, was suddenly swallowed up by an earthquake, and let us consider how a man of humanity in Europe, who had no sort of connection with that part of the world, would be affected upon receiving intelligence of this dreadful calamity. He would, I imagine, first of all, express very strongly his sorrow for the misfortune of that unhappy people, he would make many melancholy reflections upon the precariousness of human life, and the vanity of all the labours of man, which could thus be annihilated in a moment. He would too, perhaps, if he was a man of speculation, enter into many reasonings concerning the effects which this disaster might produce upon the commerce of Europe, and the trade and business of the world in general. And when all this fine philosophy was over, when all these humane sentiments had been once fairly expressed, he would pursue his business or his pleasure, take his repose or his diversion, with the same ease and tranquillity, as if no such accident had happened. The most frivolous disaster which could befall himself would occasion a more real disturbance. If he was to lose his little finger to-morrow, he would not sleep to-night; but, provided he never saw them, he will snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren, and the destruction of that immense multitude seems plainly an object less interesting to him, than this paltry misfortune of his own.

Robin Lindsay

rockrobinoff[at]gmail.com

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One Concession

March 28, 2011

The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth. – John Gray

One way debates between the religious and atheists run aground is over the question of faith. A standard argument might go something like this:

Atheist: Having faith is a form of intellectual dishonesty. To claim you believe in something without evidence is to remove yourself from the discussion before it even begins.

Religious: Scientists have faith that the universe is intelligible. That the laws of physics held true since the beginning of time. That there is a connection between what our senses tell us and objective reality. All of that requires a leap of faith.

I was for a very long time satisfied with what amounted to a syntactical argument, i.e. to call religious assumptions about the nature of god faith in the same breath as scientific assumptions about an intelligible universe faith, is to reduce the word faith to no definition. That is, faith becomes a useless word.

But dude’s quote above has me re-evaluating my once staunchly held belief in the absence of faith in science. No Darwinian would dream of arguing that the human brain arrived at its current form due to an evolutionary process that selected for ‘maximum truth acquisition.‘ No, the Darwinian would insist that the human brain is the way it is because it defeated other types of brains in an evolutionary race, and the qualities that evolution selected for would be linked to truth accuracy only coincidentally at best.

Furthermore, whatever the universe is made of, it is not made of sights, sounds, smells, tactile sensations, and tastes. Those means (our senses) with which we interact with the universe exist only at the level of the brain, and any other type of information that might transmit to us requires a wholly different type of brain to receive. Therefore, the most generous we can possibly be about our knowledge of what can only be called objective reality, is that it is flawed due to fidelity of transmission. At worst, the universe is barely at all like we think it is, that our senses while giving us a practical means with which to interact, are grossly inaccurate.

So, there you have it, a leap of faith is required to believe that the universe is understandable by our prehistorically selected brain, and that even if our biological equipment is uniquely suited to exploring objective reality, it is an assumption to believe that the universe is understandable – that it is cogent, consistent, and always has and will be.

I’ll make that leap.

Robin Lindsay

rockrobinoff[at]gmail.com

Bribing Conrose in Summer

March 24, 2011

You can’t play basketball with broken fingers…

Background

I caught a few minutes of  The Sopranos the other day. The rotund Bobby Bacala made casual mention of how the recently deceased New York boss Carmine Lupertazzi “invented point shaving.” I knew that point shaving was something related to match fixing, but other than that I was clueless, so I looked it up.

When two teams are matched in a sport’s book, the odds on favourite is assigned a number of points they must win by. That statistic is called the spread. So, if The Boston Celtics stand to beat The LA Lakers, and the spread is 10, the Celtics have to win by at least 11 points in order to ‘beat the spread.’ So, if you place a bet on Celtics, they must not only the win the game, they must beat the spread for you to collect.

Points shaving is the act of manipulating the outcome of a game by the participants (and often backed by the Mob). Normally, this translates to the odds on favourite intentionally committing errors resulting in either the loss of the game, or failing to cover the spread. Basketball is particularity prone to this sort of manipulation, for it only takes two or three dishonest starting players to control the fate of their team – and it is very hard to detect.

Henry Hill (yes, that Henry Hill, from Goodfellas) wrote a fascinating, if grammatically suspicious, piece for Sports Illustrated on the 1978-79 Boston College points shaving scandal he perpetrated with James Burke (yes, De Niro’s character from Goodfellas). As an aside, why those events were not portrayed in the film is at least somewhat surprising. An elaborate plot to fix games, big money won and lost, fresh faced but cynical athletes who know they are never going to make it to the NBA, and all happening within days of the Lufthansa Heist. I suppose one must pick and choose.

A problem to solve when fixing games is how to bet large amounts of money without raising suspicion. Bookies can’t normally accept very large bets or too many small bets on single games (if they do, they will normally “lay off” some part of the wager(s) with another bookie, hence limiting risk). If betting patterns indicate an abnormal spike in wagering (especially against a favourite) the mobsters will have tipped their hand – the fix is in. The way the mob solves this, is to make very many small wagers with very many bookies across a very large geographical area, thus making it very difficult to detect the hanky panky.

The Point

Apple pie Christian family values America is a fantasy, and yet that ideal still holds great sway in both the political arena and the cultural discussion. The attitude to sports gambling is a case in point. According to a 1999 Gambling Impact Study, $2.5 billion a year is wagered legally on sports in Las Vegas casinos. Compare that to the $380 billion wagered illegally on sports across The United States, and the economic reality becomes clear. The argument to legalize sports gambling and collect the considerable taxation revenue, for gambling that will and does happen with or without government sanction, is only countered by very tenuous slippery slope arguments – impossible to prove, and rarely persuasive regardless of the context.

Fascinating is the disconnect between the idealized American and the actual American. Not so much for the Americans’ failure to live up to an unattainable ideal, but for the importance placed on the ideal. Americans would prefer a $380 billion dollar a year industry go unchecked and mob run, then to publicly acknowledge that Americans, including the average Joe with a job and a mortgage, like to put a few dollars on a game now and then.

Blame Jesus. Whether you are a biblical literalist or a wet behind the ears Christian liberal, Jesus Christ plays a role model. Even within Christian scholarship, the way to cope with the Old Testament sewn into the same leaves as The Sermon on the Mount, is to read the bible “Always with Jesus in mind.” If Jesus would have approved, then it is okay. If he wouldn’t, then it isn’t. This also serves to combat accusations of cherry picking (unsuccessfully in my mind, but that’s another topic).

Religion informs American values like no other culprit, and Jesus Christ is their number one dude. Jesus would never bet on a Knicks game, therefore, for the government to condone such a thing would be a gross transgression of values (won’t someone please think of the children!). That might seem like an oversimplification, that I am ignoring the social impact of gambling, that serious and secular arguments against legalized gambling can be made. Secular arguments against gambling are beside the point, for no secular person argues that the very act of gambling is amoral. That argument can only be made by the religious.

In conclusion, if it is political suicide for a politician to get up and say: “Let’s legislate away a $380 billion a year industry from organized crime, regulate it, make it safe, and add to the public coffer,” then we need an explanation as to why. My guess: it is the notion of the idealized American cloaked in a blanket of religiously informed values. How pathetic.

Robin Lindsay

rockrobinoff[at]gmail.com

Utopia in the Gunsights

March 21, 2011

If you can’t abandon your ideals the moment better ones come along, you’re insane.

There are three types of libertarian. The first, which I  call Double L Libertarians, or LLers, are both socially and economically libertarian. LLers believe that government involvement in the personal and business lives of the people should be kept to the barest possible minimum. Ayn Rand would be such a libertarian, a cops, courts, and the army, type.

The second kind I call Business Libertarians, or LBers. These libertarians desire an unfettered laissezfaire free for all economy. How a man makes his crust is nobody’s business, and if he is going to die in a gutter or in bed at home on giant pile of riches, is up to him. Life is dangerous and unfair. Tough. However, these same libertarians are socially conservative. They believe the government has a role in preserving traditional values and behavior.  Glen Beck and the Tea Party are LBers.

The third kind of libertarian I call Social Libertarians, or LSers. These libertarians believe government should play a large role in shaping the economic life of the people. They believe in a safety net for those who might fail in their endeavor to feed themselves, and that in no way does a business have “rights” in the same sense a person does.  However, the LSers are socially liberal. They believe the government has no place in the cultural discussion over traditions and values. If forced to choose, I would be an LSer.

What all three types of libertarian share is that individual liberty is paramount. However, the LBers and LSers believe that in some contexts more collectivist thinking results in the greater good.

Alright, now that the floorboards are nailed in tight, we can begin.

*

Ideology is an ugly word. The notion that a person should look to a code to define their actions strikes at our deepest integrity. For what do we have if not our capacity to think for ourselves? Are books of religion or philosophy there to think for us or to inform and facilitate? If one does not, in an instant, abandon a belief as soon as they can no longer reconcile it with new information, then one is deluded, and by definition. Nothing is so holy that it cannot be trashed.

In a debate between brands of libertarian, a simple yet salient point is often forgotten. The LBer will shout at the LSer “Businesses are made up of people, and people have rights.” To which the LSer will respond “But businesses are subsidized by the people. We train the workforce, build the infrastructure, and defend the business with the army, therefore, we have the right to stick our beak in.” Then the LBer might say “Yes, but businesses pay taxes too.” Then the LSer says “New businesses haven’t yet paid taxes, they couldn’t have gotten their start without the efforts of people. Why should I subsidize a new business if I don’t get a say in how it’s run?” And so on and so on.

The point they have forgotten, is that the goal of political discourse is not to defend a philosophical position… to put ‘individual rights’ on some sort of pedestal and thwart all attempts at tearing it down. The goals must be to inform the decision making process, to build a state that… what?

There’s the rub. We all recognize before a political discussion starts that for a political philosophy to count, it has to translate to policy. That, ultimately, pragmatism rules. However, pragmatism to what end? What imperfect but best real life scenario, independent of whatever philosophy informs it, is the goal?

In The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris argues that if someone thinks an action resulting in “the maximum possible misery for all sentient creatures” can be called moral, then “I don’t know what you mean by moral, and don’t think you do either.” If you agree with Harris, then it simply follows that morality is no longer solely in the domain of personal opinion. The natural inference, is that anything that maximizes happiness in sentient creatures, is moral.

Harris achieved a meaningful definition of morality, but what is lacking in the political philosophy discourse is a similar, ideologically independent, real world semi-ideal to strive for. Sure, a LLer can describe a Libertarian Utopia, where the rules are designed to keep rules to a minimum, but such a definition says nothing about human well being, happiness, prosperity, thriving etc. Can we borrow from Harris’ thoughts on morality and agree that any political ideal that results in negative well being, happiness, prosperity, and thriving, can and should be discarded? That to continue to believe in such an ideal is deluded?

Clearly, most LLers, LBers, and LSers, are not ravenous ideologues eager to stamp out any hint of contrary sentiments. I am sure the rank and file libertarian of any stripe is eager to maximize well being, happiness, prosperity, and thriving, and that they see their political ideals as just the way to do that. What I am unsure of, is if they are capable of being convinced of radically contrary fundamentals that might go against their core beliefs, no matter how compelling.

To end, ask yourself this question. Which is more dear: Free Speech, or the maximum possible human happiness? If it was demonstrable that in order to maximize human well being that it was necessary to introduce severe speech laws, would you vote in favour of such laws? If the answer is No, I think you are crazy.

Robin Lindsay

rockrobinoff[at]gmail.com

Hitch Slap the Lefties

March 16, 2011

I can ask the question 50 times as well as you can, and answer it 50 times as comprehensively

My social group consists mainly of lefty and guilt ridden white people. Eager to recognize the crimes of the west, the sun had not yet set on Sept 11th 2001 when I heard my first what part did we play to bring this upon ourselves? The Americans had spread empire and, if I may be permitted to borrow an apposite if tired idiom to describe the attitude, their chickens were coming home to roost.

I can’t do better than Christopher (in fact, I can’t do it half as well) in dispelling the self hating fantasy of educated liberals. However, perhaps I can add something to the picture. Let’s start with the most common fallacy:

Poverty and cultural imperialism breeds terrorists. Access to education and the prospects of a decent standard of living are the way to fight terrorism.

The Sept 11th hijackers were university educated to the man, and many had PHDs. They came from wealthy Saudi families, traveled abroad and experienced the west first hand. They came from a land that can be safely described as isolated – money flows in and oil flows out being the extent of the cultural interchange between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world. A disenfranchised young man with no future may describe the typical Palestinian suicide bomber, but does not describe the sophisticated Al-Qaeda terrorist, or inform his motivations.

Islamofascism is a neologism born of not wanting to have to say “Fascism with an Islamic face” every time. Still, its a perfect description of the world’s most dangerous death cult. Religiously motivated (what else?) and desiring to return the world to some infantilized 7th century Islamic paradise and restore the caliphate. Well funded and armed, and peopled not by the down trodden, but by well fed Saudis raised believing there is only one book.

“…we need to establish true Islamic states, implement sharia, and rid the Muslim world of any non-Muslim influences, such as concepts like socialism and nationalism.  “…we need to rid the world of treacherous Orientalists and world Jewry who plot conspiracies and wickedly oppose Islam.”

Speaking above is the founder of Qutbism and father of the Islamic revival of the 1970s, Sayyid Qutb. His writings and teachings are the philosophical backbone of Al-Qaeda. Sayyid doesn’t make mention of downtrodden Muslims needing to fight back against corporate America lest their cultural identity be squashed, but the monolithic method and goal of  “armed Jihad in the advance of Islam.”

Let’s end with this simple point. Islamic terrorism is not a response to American foreign policy. It is a response to Islam, however twisted.

Robin Lindsay

rockrobinoff[at]gmail.com

The Virus of Mediocrity

March 11, 2011

To comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable – Cesar A Cruz

There exists a conflict of idealized peaks in the world of art. Take a moment to chew on the following:

What you don’t read  (or watch, listen to, etc) matters as much as what you do read.

If you are like me, you think the above pretty much the case, that exposure to the lesser arts can only make you dumber, less interesting, corrupted, and soft. Many think that danger doesn’t exist, that one can move freely and without consequence between doses of  Goosebumps and Gore Vidal.

Imagine you are charged with picking one of two extremes for a high school student. In the first, the student is exposed to nothing but the lowest common denominator from the world of arts. Popular young adult situation comedies, top 40 radio hits, and mass market fiction. Their high school career spent ignorant of anything but what is easily digestible and then forgotten. In the other extreme is challenging literature, film, and music, all of which serve to enhance the students understanding and appreciation for the human experience. Your pick.

Now, those extremes are unrealistic and unfair, and it is obvious that one cannot spend 100% of their time in either the intellectually stimulating ivory tower, or caked in Pizza Pop residue and plopped in front of Melrose Place. However, if you accept that one extreme is preferable over the other (or even a more moderate version of the above scenario that nonetheless emphasizes one approach) then you must acknowledge that it matters what we watch/read/listen to.

However, the above is almost beside the point. The question at hand is whether anyone can be worse off for what art (or craft) they have been exposed to, not for what they have missed. Can the brilliantly erudite aficionado of the complete works of the artistic greats be somehow damaged for attending a Coldplay concert? I will argue he can.

Coldplay are catchy. They are also nauseatingly sentimental, two dimensional, obvious, uninspired, and totally lacking in anything  substantive. The fact that adults listen to this worthless and altogether trite dredge is a tragedy, but they are catchy. Catchy isn’t a problem, and nor is it easy. Many a band attempted little more than to compose a single head-bobber and failed. But Coldplay’s catchyness is the musical equivalent of thinly veiled propaganda serving as a vehicle for  shallow poetry and cynical contrivance.

But here I was not six months ago walking along and idly muttering a melody “Look at the stars, Look how they shine for you…” They got me. Stuck in my peon brain is this tired dreck. It took no conscious effort to summon the lyrics and melody – they are with me forever, potentially inserting themselves into whatever other endeavor I attempt, musical or no, and maybe even without my knowledge.

No artist exists in a vacuum is obvious to everyone. What might not be so obvious, is that maybe they should do their best to do just that.

Robin Lindsay

rockrobinoff[at]gmail.com

Yes or No or Neither

March 8, 2011

If someone says to me “I think the Yankees will defeat the Red Sox” or “I think Obama will be reelected” I don’t know what to think. Or, more precisely, I don’t know what they mean, and I don’t think they do either.

Yesterday, I watched a variety of golf pundits bandy about percentage chances of Tiger Woods surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ 18 Major Championship record (30% to 50%). Two years ago, if you asked just about any golf guy the same question,  they considered it a foregone conclusion that Tiger would beat it, and perhaps by many.

What does the above say about the golf pundits? One might defend them by saying “with the available information, the conviction they held two years ago was justified.” To which one might respond “without all the facts, they had no business prognosticating with such certainty.” But what of these 30 and 50 percent guesses?

Does a 30% guess meaningfully translate to: “I do not think he will?” One might make the argument that any estimate of anything that falls below 50% means I don’t think so and any guess above 50% means Yes, I think so. Then again, one might argue that outside the world of bookmaking, humans demonstrate a very vague relationship with probability.

10% – Not very likely but more than technically possible.

20% – I won’t be shocked, but would would feel hard done by if I was betting against it.

30% – A solid chance, but not very likely.

40% – Might as well be 50-50 for all I know. Worse than a coin flip, but only just.

50% – A coin flip.

60% – Might as well be 50-50 for all I know. Better than a coin flip, but only just.

70% – Its pretty likely, but don’t bet the farm.

80% – Still don’t bet the farm, but bet heavily and feel wounded if it goes against you.

90% – It’s practically a lock.

The above is my personal vague relationship with numbers. I do my best to struggle against those instincts, but am nonetheless subject to my guts and what they think about probability. The reason I fight against my intestinal conviction is the simple and obvious fact that things that happen ten percent of the time happen… ten percent of the time. ‘Ten percent’ doesn’t imply anything other than ‘not some other percentage.’ Yet, I, and by my experience just about everybody else, heap all kinds of implications upon the bare facts of probability.

Contextually, probabilities do take on all kinds of meaning. If someone offers you a one in ten chance at a million bucks for a buck, and you can afford to lose the buck, you take it. If they offer you a one in one million and one chance at a million bucks, you decline. Not because one in ten is “reasonably likely” and not because one in a million and one is “astronomically unlikely” but because a buck and million bucks, and 1 in 10 and 1 in 1000 001, have a mathematical relationship that proves  if you play the first game you stand to win in the long run, and in the second, you don’t. Put another way, it is possible to make a bet that wins 99% of the time, and have the bet be wrong. If you bet a thousand dollars to win a dollar on the spin of a 100 space wheel that contains only one losing space, you’re an idiot.

However, it might be completely impossible to manage life without some kind of instinctual, if vague and bizarre and perhaps very silly, relationship with probability. If there is a 70% chance I will die if I go on vacation to Cambodia, then I am not going to go. If there is a 1% chance, then I might. Most of us will have a similar reaction to similar circumstances, but there is no logic being applied to the vacation decision other than 1% is lower than 70%. Why is 1% low enough? Would 2% be too high? 5%? Why not 0.5% as the threshold?

The other day in Slate there appeared an article estimating Sarah Palin’s chance at running for president at 40%. What does that even mean?

Robin Lindsay

rockrobinoff[at]gmail.com

Shout it from the Highest Mountain

March 7, 2011

There is little less interesting, more boring, more inappropriate, less accurate, and as utterly and completely and universally irrelevant, as sharing your estimation of yourself.

Last night someone I barely know suggested, in all seriousness, that their IQ was very high. Amongst the most crass statements I have ever heard, and invariably uttered by those whose IQ is nothing to be bragged about, this socially challenged peasant proved no exception. The principle crime committed was not one of arrogance or inaccuracy, but of reducing the assembled to staring at the floor.

“What do you expect me to say to that?” he thought, assuming the rest of the company was sharing a similar train. “I had absolutely no indication of your superior intelligence until just now. Thanks for setting me straight.” The only other option, aside from an unlooked for miracle segue rescuing the conversation from the elephant, “bullshit.”

I can sing, or, I am pretty, or, I can write, or I am charismatic, or, I can act, or I am smart, or, I am good at sports, all fall under that umbrella of statements noone has any business making. There is little doubt that a heaping dose of self confidence is likely a necessary component of success in all but the blandest of endeavors, but whether anyone is any good at anything, is up to either a) everyone else, in the case of the arts, or b) the scoreboard, in the case of sport or business. Proclaiming competence get’s you nowhere outside of a job interview.

You’ll know, and they’ll know, and the quiet confidence so universally attractive, regardless of gender and romantic or not, follows. Loud confidence isn’t confidence at all, it’s arrogance. Universally condemned for suffering from the most unforgivable quality: being boring.

Robin Lindsay

rockrobinoff[at]gmail.com

Because I Said So

March 6, 2011

Innate doesn’t have to mean always has and always will be, only that it is so right now.

Innate morality is a well grooved standard of many a secularist when faced with the equally gouged interrogative: without God, where do you get your morals from? and the corollary how can anything be called right or wrong without an outside agency setting a standard?

For a time I was satisfied with the genetic argument; that it was necessary for our species to possess predispositions toward fairness, fidelity, and  kindness to those around us (our family, group, tribe, town, city, and nation, in about that order of priority, and commonly referred to in evolutionary terms as kin selection). Without an innate desire to help your neighbour (and for he to help you) our chances of surviving the harsh prehistoric landscape would have been very grim indeed. On the surface, a perfectly cogent argument defeating any argument for the necessity for a codified and objective morality.

But but but. Let’s return to the notion of genetic, or, more precisely, evolved morality. There is a germ of implication here that my chromosonally challenged and prefontally retarded mind cannot reconcile with the notion of innate morality (or ethics, I use the terms interchangeably).

If we are evolved and evolving* hominids, then the hominids we are evolving toward may very well lack innate morality.

Innate implies genetic, and genetic implies gene, and genes are selected for. Therefore, it is conceivable at a minimum that environmental factors in the future may be such that a lack of moral intelligence will be an evolutionary advantage. It is also conceivable that due to environmental change, that a wholly foreign, radically alien, social behavior might become the moral standard of non homo sapien hominids.

Before I am accused of moral relativism, let’s make this point perfectly clear. One can argue for a universal moral standard as it applies to human beings, regardless of culture or creed or nationality, and think that same morality does not apply to, say, earthworms, spiders, rabbits, lions, or lemurs. Those species seem to want something somewhat different out of life, and so may the creatures we evolve to be.

So, here we are left with the danger, if it can be called a danger, of moving away from a species that emphasizes fairness, courage, love, kindness, etc. to a species that may no longer value those traits. Is that a problem? I think a perfectly reasonable case can be made for either side of that debate. If a conclusion is drawn that such a state of affairs is a problem, then what that species will need is a book saying what is right and what is wrong. A bible, divine or not.

*Whether or not human beings are still evolving may seem like an obvious question. Of course we are. We are animals subject to our environment. But that process may very well have slowed to a trickle. I ask you to reflect on what Darwin said about islands, and the necessity of quarantining groups within a species so the same sets of genes are not passed on endlessly. Nowadays, the Earth is one giant breeding harem.

Robin Lindsay

rockrobinoff[at]gmail.com


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