It's been a year ... 210 postings, 70 more in draft form and 130 more scattered through electronic shoeboxes, shifting, matching, coalescing, and mutating almost on their own. And I hate to write and I embarrass easily.
What have I learned and why bother with evolutionary chatter?
First, I could spend a life, cat nodding on my desk, puzzling through questions from Brian Robinson or John Fentress or finding surprises like Sarah Kingan and her troop (see entries below on the Aquatic Ape Theory) and be fully happy.
Second, 8 meg of RAM will lead to message truncations, regardless of service providers and a lot of swearing; thus, my former need for essays in 5 sections. Meanwhile, home pages about life are sprouting everywhere, magnificent works of color and animation. The icons, displays, and cues at this site must respond to the excellence seen elsewhere on the Internet.
Third, we are all squishy stacks, Leggo structures, formed by old contests and alliances of varied intensities and durations. Serotonin, for example, has been with us over a 1 billion years, starting perhaps with digestive regulation and through fractal events assuming control functions for sleep, temperature, and the lavender masterpiece of guilt and rejection sensitivity. Psychological Adaptations are thought to be sturdy, tested in many ways and by many adversaries. The implication is that we don't have to worry about transient memes, whether mismatch, Islam or managed care. Natural selection and evolution will proceed regardless of our explanations.
I cannot believe that the acceptance mode is the safe one. There is still too much r-selection in my spirit, the K-selection ethics of Buddha bore me, however adaptive they may be in California. I sense risks and a shifting environment and feel an overwhelming need to DO SOMETHING with the ideas of evolutionary theory. The labored descriptions of adaptations and EEA, the tension about missing links, the hypothecated mechanics of Mismatch, should give all of us a survival edge in the meadow, the changing field of ideas as well as those of goods, services, and organizational structure.
After this past year, I still believe in a "psychology informed by information from biology" (evolutionary psychology) and in the biological analysis of social behavior (sociobiology). I sense a Paradigm Shift (Kuhn) or a Phase Shift (Kauffman) in how we organize ourselves. And, I strongly believe that sociobiology has fundamental contributions, contributions different from any other belief system, to make to our understanding of ourselves, our relation to other life, and our ways of helping each other.
Sociobiology is moving into clinical practice even if unacknowledged. We need close scrutiny to our treatment of one another and to design organizations, whether schools or health care, in smaller modules, with greater local autonomy, and with greater allegiance to the people coming through them. We can systematically use information about our parents and grandparents in order to plan our lives, set goals, and alleviate discomfort. It will happen eventually. Perhaps a few of us can ease the transition.
Thomas Kuhn distinguished between Normal Science (that of journals and puzzle-solving and peer review, gleaning consistency from hay mounds, that of mentors and collaborators defending a territory while ignoring data that are inconsistent with fundamentalisms) and Extraordinary Science (that of newsletters, late phone calls, telegraphic speculation, skepticism of prevailing labels and models, and long periods of isolation from those in Normal Science). Kuhn would likely include the Internet as an arena for Extraordinary Science. So be it, I like the honor and want some small part of the contest to be here.
Kauffman, S. (1995) At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. NY: Oxford.
Kuhn, T. (1992) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (3rd Ed), 1992, Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press