Darwin-L Message Log 5:149 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<5:149>From carey@pegasus.cc.ucf.edu  Wed Jan 26 11:19:52 1994

Date: Wed, 26 Jan 1994 12:26:53 -0500 (EST)
From: Arlen Carey <carey@pegasus.cc.ucf.edu>
Subject: understanding evolution
To: list darwin-l <darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu>

I was among those who pointed out that biological evolution continues
so long as there is differential survival and reproduction.  The list
owner and another participant kindly noted that I perhaps had missed
the point of the original posting that requested a source of the notion
that the advent of cultural evolution marked the end of organic evolution.
I sent personal responses to both the list owner and the original poster
informing them that my post was not meant to be an accusation of
an error by the poster.  Rather it was intended to be a clarification
for the diverse group of list participants.  As a humble sociologist,
I am only too aware of a widespread misunderstanding of evol-
ution on the part of many social science colleagues.  E.g., the error of
asserting the end of human biological evolution is not at all
apparent to too many of these scholars.

I would have been content to let it go at that, but then comes a
rebutting(?) comment from the orignal poster that typifies the
misunderstanding.  To paraphrase, she suggests that findings of higher
fertility in the poorer countries of today's world than in its wealthier
ones may indicate that evolution has indeed been stopped.  Her point may
well be evidence against social darwinism but it is somewhat irrelevent
with regard to darwinian evolution (no, they are not one and the same).
Darwinian evolution as I understand it pertains to differential survival
and reproduction and not necessarily differential economic prosperity
(although as Betzig has noted, reproductive success and economic success
have been positively correlated throughout much of our past).

My aim here has been to clarify--not to flame.  It seems to me that
a discussion of the history of ideas can hardly ignore the issue of

*             Arlen D. Carey           *                                  *
* Department of Sociology/Anthropology * e-mail: carey@pegasus.cc.ucf.edu *
*      University of Central Florida   * voice: (407) 823-2240            *
*           Orlando, FL  32816         * fax: (407) 823-5156              *

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