Permanent civilization presented an enduring problem: when you group people together around functional institutions, you subsidize the weaker like welfare, unions, insurance, and charity can. This means that over time, the permanent civilization drowns in lower-capability waste humans unless it culls them.
Finding a replacement for natural selection has baffled societies since the beginning. Feudalism existed to segregate the waste humans use them for labor. Welfare states essentially pay the waste humans to be neutralized in ghettoes. Eugenics offers sterilization of waste humans to reduce their number, but depends on state power and includes state error.
Very few understand natural selection, one of those theories that is so simple it cannot be understood on the surface but requires an esoteric thought adventure to examine.
Natural selection says that genetic drift, or constant mutation, is part of life, and that whatever survives this and reproduces becomes the next generation, over time spreading those genes to the whole population.
When mutations are not advantageous, those organisms that have them die at a higher rate through predation and disease, so other genetic profiles gradually take their place. Any mutations that are advantageous propagate the same way.
This means that if you take a generic animal and drop it into a new environment, it goes through a process of adaptation where genes that confer advantage in the new environment become statistically prevalent, and those that create disadvantage slowly fade away.
Darwinism is usually paired with evolution as a theory for the origins of life, meaning that Darwin saw that if you dropped a yeast on some planet, it would keep evolving and branching out into different variants, ultimately ending up at higher animals if the environment supported them.
In my view the mistake most people make is assuming that Darwinism must be tied to evolution. If we took creation literally, we could still see the Darwinian effects on populations between the generations. This is common sense: creatures are born different, and some do better than others and replace the rest with their offspring.
Most humans find it unnerving to apply Darwinism to humans. To do so would mean that there are biological winners and losers, not just people who win out by having money, titles, humanitarian accolades, and BMWs. This means that our destinies and futures are to a degree beyond our control.
Almost all of human activities past inventing fire and stable civilization have been anti-Darwinian. We use medicine to ensure the unfit survive, language and image to allow the broken to breed, and government to subsidize those who in nature would perish during a night alone in the woods.
Perhaps the entrypoint back to Darwinism would be seeing that evolution requires constant internal struggle, much like ecosystems require predation, parasites, and disease to keep their member species strong. Without constant threats, genetic drift overwhelms any species and it loses vital traits.
This shows us that unlike in nature, permanent civilization stops genetic renewal through the calculations of who survives the predators, diseases, and parasites, leaving a less capable population:
To his surprise, Stroud found that the stabilizing form of natural selection — that which maintains a species’ same, average features — was extremely rare. In fact, natural selection varied massively through time. Some years, lizards with longer legs would survive better, and other years, lizards with shorter legs fared better. For other times, there was no clear pattern at all.
“The most fascinating result is that natural selection was extremely variable through time,” Stroud said. “We often saw that selection would completely flip in direction from one year to the next. When combined into a long-term pattern, however, all this variation effectively canceled itself out: Species remained remarkably similar across the entire time period.”
“Evolution can and does happen — it’s this ongoing process, but it doesn’t necessarily mean things are constantly changing in the long run,” Stroud said. “Now we know that even if animals appear to be staying the same, evolution is still happening.”
Any new population seeks to adapt as it expands into new territories or is “created” by branching from a previous population. For example, flies that specialize in eating fruit might over time become smaller in an attempt to produce larger populations quickly during times of abundance.
The individuals that do not adapt tend to die out and be replaced by those that did adapt, and over time their genome comes to dominate in the population. At this point, the species struggles to stay fit because of genetic drift or the incorporation of random mutations:
Surprisingly, the researchers found the fruit flies collected in Sweden in the early 1800s were more genetically similar to 21st-century flies than the Swedish samples from the 1930s. That’s likely due to the older flies’ place in Drosophila history as some of the first arrivals so far north of their original range in Southern Africa. For some time, they were a small outpost, in which random mutations would make larger differences in the population—more of what’s called “genetic drift”—as the 1800s became the 1900s. Swedish flies would get less unique, though, when their numbers were reinforced from the broader European gene pool.
“There would have been a vast increase in fruit shipping between the 1930s and the present and, generally, more human transport that probably increased opportunities for longer distance Drosophila migration,” Pool says. “So, what we think we are seeing between the 1930s and the present is the effect of that migration basically homogenizing genetic variation.”
This forms the cycle described above where a population remains roughly static but does so by generating constant variation, removing that which does not fit and retaining that which does. This means that evolution runs in internal cycles in order to maintain a constant standard over time.
Like many things in nature, a seemingly static outcome is maintained through constant internal turmoil. The conflict that kills members of a species also, in the long-term statistical calculations of nature, preserves the ones that are healthiest, therefore keeping all species healthy and resisting mutation load brought on by genetic drift.
This also extends to competition between different subspecies or groups within a species, in that as fires or natural disasters wipe out populations, whichever group surges into the void will genetically predominate over the ones who have vacated:
Natural selection and spatial sorting each change the likelihood that specific traits will be passed to future generations. With natural selection, change plays out over decades or even millennia as traits become more common or less common depending on which individuals survive and reproduce. With spatial sorting, change occurs when species move into new territory, and traits become more common or less common depending on which individuals are at the leading edge of range expansion.
“If everybody is moving at different rates, the ones that move the fastest will always tend to end up at a higher density at the range edge,” Egan said. “So right at that range edge, you have just a subpopulation of the fastest dispersers. And when they mate, there’s a tendency for them to have even faster dispersing offspring. So there’s this kind of accumulative, increasing rate of dispersal as the range front moves outward.”
In other words, natural selection values high reproductive rates leading to quickly making a subspecies into a majority, allowing them to conquer whatever was there by replacing its genetics with their own. Whatever was there previously ceases to exist even if some of its genetics survive in the new hybrids.
This means that when permanent civilization exists, thanks to lower rates of death, whoever reproduces fastest takes over the genome very quickly even if other elements are present.
Then we must consider how permanent civilization changes how people select mates based on the sexual liberation that the anonymity of cities and moving around a large society provide:
“Our data indicate that strength and humor are independent in their influence on women’s preferences, though we continue to show that women prioritize men’s strength in short-term relationships and affiliative humor in long-term contexts,” said Mitch Brown, psychology instructor in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. “These data provide evidence for how women navigate mating markets through various fitness cues.”
The researchers sought to determine how women evaluate the desirability of strong men employing affiliative and aggressive humor across short-term and long-term contexts. Affiliative humor was defined as benevolent, a type of humor that attempts to connect or associate rather than offend or alienate. The latter type of humor, aggressive, was emphatically undesirable for women in long-term contexts.
The researchers found no interactive effects between physical strength and humor. In other words, strength and humor operated independently in their influence on women’s preferences.
Let us assume that for a moment this does not apply solely to women but sexual selection in general. People date for physical traits and marry for harmlessness, such as “humor that attempts to connect or associate rather than offend or alienate.” These are socially advantageous traits even if not biologicall advantageous.
After all, healthy men tend to be fairly muscular since they are active and this correlates with better overall health and most likely, intelligence, since it tends to track with physical health. This means that over time, populations get weaker and more pacifistic as sexual pressures favor the harmless over the capable.
Despite the denial of such populations of the influence of genetics, it turns out that similar pressures produce similar appearances across cultures despite a difference in underlying DNA, showing that selection finds multiple paths to the same outcome:
Herein, we have characterized in detail a set of “look-alike” humans, defined by facial recognition algorithms, for their multiomics landscape. We report that these individuals share similar genotypes and differ in their DNA methylation and microbiome landscape. These results not only provide insights about the genetics that determine our face but also might have implications for the establishment of other human anthropometric properties and even personality characteristics.
Interestingly, sexual competition creates a counterbalance to the aggression it inevitably engenders. When the violence becomes too intense, homosexuality appears in complex species in order to lessen the intensity of the competition:
The study found same-sex sexual behavior, both male and female, was more common in more social species. This suggests same-sex sexual behavior was selected for in social species.
The frequency of male, but not female, same-sex sexual behavior was also correlated with the frequency with which animals of the same sex attacked and killed each other. This supports the hypothesis that homosexuality evolved to mitigate male–male aggression in mammals.
In other words, nature puts the brakes on sexual selection because it produces too powerful of a motive for violence, and internal violence hamstrings societies. We can see proof of this in the early cities where without institutions to lessen the impact, people clobbered each other on a regular basis:
The researchers put the increase in violence in the 5th and 4th millennia BCE down to the agglomeration of humans in the first, still poorly organized, cities. The rate of violence only reduced significantly once legal systems, a centrally controlled army, and religious institutions (for example, religious festivals) developed. Trade also increased in the eastern region of the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia in the Early and Late Bronze Age, as can be seen from clay tablets with cuneiform script, which were used as delivery notes and invoices.
While this may counteract sexual selection violence, it will also lead to the situation where people choose partners who are good at manipulating the system, instead of those who are good at physical violence or physicality at all.
This shows us that over time, per Darwin’s principles, civilization itself erodes the competence of its people and replaces them with docile oversocialized and autodomesticated nerds.
To limit that, civilizations need a general culture which emphasizes physicality although not necessarily violence, and to reduce the bureaucracy that makes moist pasty nerds into powerful people.
Early Anglo-American civilization did this by emphasizing the “well-rounded man” who was both a physical athlete and an intellect, effectively weeding out the eggheads before they could take control.
Seemingly this reversed once that society defeated its competition, because at that point, it no longer needed strength and per Darwin’s principle of degeneration, it left the civilization.