Re: rant-like journalism
um, evolution is mostly dead..
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. The evolutionary landscape has changed, from the natural world to the man-made one.
Why do you think that ADHD has come to the fore as a modern ailment? Along with its more crippling relatives, Asbergers' and Autism. If you think it was just made up by medics with low moral standards to sell drugs, you are wrong.
Hyperfocus and the ability to enter "flow" can be advantageous or disadvantageous, depending on what you do. As technology has advanced, it has required more people with these mental attributes. It has rewarded them financially, but even more so it has rewarded them with challenging jobs. "The reward for a job well done, is a job well done". To a born programmer, architect, musician, ... that makes perfect sense.
Society has also been filtering these people and placing them in the same small subset of workplaces. Also they self-select as partners. Programmers have a reputation amongst the "neurotypical" for being difficult people with poor social skills. There's some truth in that. We tend to get on best with other people who think like us.
So men and women with these skills meet, and marry, and have children, and the children inherit a doubled up dose of whatever the genetic components of their parents abilities might be. And that's where survival of the fittest kicks in. What makes a good programmer, when doubled-up may give rise to either a one-in-a-million good programmer, or an autistic kid. One of whom goes on to found a multi-billion corporation, the other of whom is saddled with a crippling abnormality of mind.
If you want a clearer example, consider why it is that when Thalidomide victims grew up and married other Thalidomide victims, spomething truly shocking happened. Far too often to be chance, their children had similar abnormalities to their parents. Lamarkianism? Epigenetics? No, something more subtle.
Very many mothers took Thalidomide and did not give birth to deformed babies. The victims were by definition selected by the drug, for genetic traits that rendered them vulnerable to the drug. And then when two of these selected people had children, tragedy. The children inherited the vulnerability from both their parents, and in some cases the drug was no longer necessary to trigger the devastating consequences of their genetic makeup.
Evolution is still at work, selecting our children against an environment that is no longer natural, in ways that can be positive or negative.
A hypothesis I love because it annoys racists so much is the following. Humanity really is getting somewhat smarter than it was in the past, because of out-breeding.
It's unlikely ever to be proved conclusively. But consider this. The way a plant-breeder makes (say) a large-fruited tomato, is to selectively inbreed tomato plants, picking out the ones with large fruit compared to others from the same generation, and selectively inbreeding them , for several generations. The trouble is that the inbreeding is unhealthy and although the fruits get larger compared to the plant, the plant gets weak and disease-prone. The trick is to create a number of separately inbred plant strains, and then finally crossbreed (outbreed) them. The weaknesses (mostly) cancel out. The common genes do their stuff. You get vigorous healthy plants with very large fruits.
How does this apply to people? Well, over most of history most people lived in small rural communities and rarely travelled further than they could walk in a couple of hours. Some inbreeding was inevitable. We also consciously select our own mates. For what? Obviously: in men: strength, in women: beauty. I'd argue, in both: intelligence (as in smart, well able to provide for each other and their children).
And then along comes the industrial revolution, and you get nationwide outbreeding.
And then along comes mass air travel, and you get international out-breeding, despite the racists worst efforts.
(And if reading that has made any racists die of apoplexy, good.)