Evolution

…and how it can explain most of the ways people work

Jeff Escalante
Oct 28, 2015 · 13 min read

Romantic Relationships

This is a simple and relatable example, and a case in which the impact of evolution is super clear. We will dive into some heavier topics later, but let’s get started with a little romance.

What could be more romantic than a pigeon-lady? My girlfriend’s first cameo ; )

Greed

One important characteristic of evolution that I remember learning way back in the course I took was that evolution is not forward-looking. That is to say, evolution will almost always take the course that is most immediately beneficial to it, regardless of longer-term consequences. A great example of this is HIV. As you may know, HIV is such a difficult virus to cure because of it’s extraordinarily fast rate of evolution. So while you can devise a drug that will kill most of the HIV virus, it replicates and mutates so quickly, that almost every time at least one virus cell will be have a mutation that makes it resistant to this drug, and this cell will continue living on happily and replicating until the virus is back up to it’s former glory, resistant to that drug entirely. The typical remedy for HIV is “drug cocktails”, which reduce its numbers to be very low and hold off its advance, but never entirely kills it off. But each time it survives and re-populates, it’s entirely resistant to a slew of new drugs. Eventually, as this cycle continues, the virus becomes resistant to all drugs in our arsenal, and unfortunately for the person who has it, it carries out its course, becoming more and more efficient until it kills its host.

Political unrest typically stems from government greed and corruption.

Generosity

Let’s take a break from such a heavy and relatively depressing example and end on a high note. Many people point to generosity as a counter to evolution. Why would anyone be generous if we are only looking out for ourselves after all? How does “giving things away for free” fit into the model of “survival of the fittest”?

Olena Shmahalo/Quanta Magazine
Kids from a Building Tomorrow school wave goodbye

But Wait, There’s More!

This is just a small selection of a few core tenants of human life that can be explained entirely by evolution. I hope at this point you can trust that these are not the only parts of our lives explainable by the same theory. Over the course of this blog as we discuss and break down many different areas of decision-making, we will inevitably encounter evolution time and time again as a driving influence on human behavior, and each time you will find a convenient link back to this article.



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Pragmatic Life

Adventures in Learning, Life, and Happiness

Jeff Escalante

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Pragmatic Life

Adventures in Learning, Life, and Happiness