Darwin-L Message Log 5:150 (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.

<5:150>From SMITGM@hawkins.clark.edu  Wed Jan 26 11:30:25 1994

To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: "Gerard Donnelly Smith"  <SMITGM@hawkins.clark.edu>
Organization: Clark College, Vancouver WA, USA
Date: 26 Jan 94 09:33:36 PST8PDT
Subject: Re: tools

Have tools caused any noticable evolutionary change?  Or what changes
might we expect because of technology?  I recall a sci-fi hypothesis
that someday we'll be nothing more than brains in little scooters,
because technology will make our limbs unnecessary.  Hyperbole, at
best.  Obviously any change in the species will be in detail,
rather than in substance.   Have our eyes gotten weaker or stronger
because of "print" technology?  Have we become less dexterous because
we no longer need to hunt to survive?  Can weakened immune systems be
linked to central-air?  How does medical technology figure into this
hypothesis?  Can immune system evolution be damaged by medical
intervention?  Has this happened, or is this happening now?

We know that the bubonic plauge caused drastic changes in behavior.
People began to live more cleanly.  Didn't the phrase "cleanliness is
next to Godliness" originate in the 13th century?  Would we have
eventually adapted biological defenses to the bacteria, if we had not
used our intelligence to affect social/cultural behavior?  A more
pardoxical question: has medical technology suspended or dampened
adaptation?  Will we develop immunity to AIDS through science or
through evolution?

"If a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again.  I
would know that a fool follows it, for a knave gives it."

Dr. Gerard Donnelly-Smith            e-mail: smitgm@hawkins.clark.edu
English Department, Clark College

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