Daryl Cagle, Cagle Cartoons

Time to Evolve Again

Bloodthirsty Competition Is Over

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
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Our species, our world, and our universe are based around the principle of evolution, in the sense that a cumulative mass is working together, whether consciously or unconsciously, to improve.

We can of course observe evolution in the traditional sense, which is the passive process by which better genes are selected and passed down. This is an example of unconscious evolution.

Dustin Slade
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Dustin Slade

However, our species has reached a point where we are able to proactively evolve and learn together. This of course encompasses advances in science and technology, but also breakthroughs in societal constructs and morality.

We, along with most of the living breathing world, are an empathetic species. We can sense emotion in others and before we are even able to walk or talk, we exhibit signs of this empathy. It is this empathy that is a basis for our morality. When we are born this behavior is unconditional, meaning the empathy felt for others is not restricted by race, religion, or even species. Now from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense that we would self-teach to limit this empathy. Separation is important for competition, the driving force behind evolution. The competition within our species took us from a cave to the surface of the moon in a relative blink of an eye.

However, now that we as human beings have reached a certain level in the evolution of our technology, it is time for us to also evolve in a different way. If we would like to be able to carry on learning and evolving together we must come to see all humans and every other living being on our planet as deserving of empathy. The type of bloodthirsty competition that got our species to where we are today is no longer beneficial.

It is now time to look at our world as a whole and make decisions that will benefit us all. We have outgrown the simple restrictions of nationality, race, etc. and preserving them will surely be our ultimate downfall. If we continue to behave with the mental capacity of a much simpler animal, while utilizing the advanced technology we have created, we will undoubtedly destroy ourselves.

Dustin Slade is a 21-year-old lifelong resident of Santa Barbara and is studying computer science at UCSB.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Definitely. Unfortunately, our advances in science and technology have demonstrated, through fMRI (functional MRI) that the part of our brain that has enabled our advances in science and technology, the cerebrum, isn't used in the type of empathy-based decision-making necessary to avoid self-destruction. Emotion-based decision-making is processed through the amygdala. Also, a decision that has been made using this emotional processing, it biases us against processing new, related information rationally, rather than emotionally, to the extent that new information that contradicts our emotional beliefs is perceived as supporting them. Excellent column and insight, thanks!

14noscams (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2013 at 8:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Empathy is a fine quality. But in the process of having empathy, we take away the incentive to work, create and produce, everyone in our society will suffer for it.

I think it's important that the empathy come from us as individuals, not as legislation from the government.

Botany (anonymous profile)
February 26, 2013 at 8:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, it's a beautiful dream. But any gradual progression toward universal empathy will be turned back by the devouring of the empaths by unempathetic groups. What would it take to convince ALL societies simultaneously to be altruistic? Think in terms of fractals: what go down on da shtreet and in corporate hq's will also happen across the planet, only more so because of racial and cultural differences. And, the past is the best indicator of the future of human behavior. Well, it always has been, ha ha.

Sorry, Dustin. You're right but hopeless. Exportation of chlorine, vaccines, asphalt, ag tech, etc, to undeveloped countries has always led to problematic population growth. If future suffering is factored into humanitarian planning, then aid would be restricted to commodities that reduce, or at least don't increase, population growth rates.

And read Atlas Shugged if you haven't already, Dustin. It's a scream, but thought-provoking.

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 12:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Clarification: Dustin is right, but his ARGUMENT is hopeless, in this instance. Audacious, too.

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 1:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Human nature is the Achilles Heel that has always stood in the way.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 1:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Empathy creates suffering and we are all up against a battle that is hopeless. Thanks guys. New low.

spacey (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 11:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It should be noted that humans as a species are getting dumber as we evolve according to some geneticists. The most popular theory for this is because we do not have to utilize our maximum potential abilities to survive as life has become increasingly easier over the past many thousands of years. Perhaps intellectual de evolution is operative...

Human Beings Are Getting Dumber, Says Study |

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 5:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@ spacey:

Empathy per se doesn't guarantee positive outcomes. When did a Harmonic Convergence improve anything but the mood of the convergers? Not infrequently, good comes out of evil or vice versa.

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
March 2, 2013 at 8:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, it's true. "mean population IQ scores correlate more strongly with economic development as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and long term economic growth than any other single factor". We're spending more on manufactured paranoia than on education, more on police officers with training a little longer than one SBCC semester and who have made it explicitly clear that their allegiance is to criminal predators on the rest of the community than to law or government (nursing is two years) than on education, more on prisons than on healthcare, etc, etc. We've chosen reverse Darwinism, and we attempt to destroy anyone who doesn't support our stupidity. Stress kills brain cells.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 3, 2013 at 8:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

All civilizations fail.

Olegario (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 12:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What interest group with any influence would support general enstupidation?

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 8:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Meahwhile the buzz of the day will be over a bunch of wierdos dressed in silly robes as we all wait for colored smoke to come out of a chimney. Koo Koo, Koo Koo.

Riceman (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Reality t.v. and gangsta rap are now considered "art" and entertainment.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 3:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Occasionally Reality TV and "gangsta rap" do indeed cross over from entertainment into Art. Let's not get too high falutin' about constitutes Art, especially in America where it's traditionally come from the streets.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 4:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken: There is a lot of true art and good music out there, but the scary truth is that much of our culture clamors for what is little more than crass commericialism and what is really a celebration of gang life and hatred of women. If I'm wrong, why are rappers and reality shows making millions of $$$ while Indie bands and independent film makers struggle? Some of it's corporatism, but the main thing is that corporatism knows where the big-dollar markets are. The comedy-noire "idiocracy" deals with this subject.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 6:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Meahwhile the buzz of the day will be over a bunch of wierdos dressed in silly robes as we all wait for colored smoke to come out of a chimney. Koo Koo, Koo Koo".

Riceman (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.

Riceman: I've been without a pope for about two weeks now, and I'm getting cranky. I might even travel to Wittenberg, Germany and nail my protest up on the wall.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 6:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I just signed onto AOL, and this is the headline:

American dumbing down? way.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 6:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

All too tragically true Bill. Heck not even Orson Welles could get financing because he was "difficult" i.e. had vision. It's an age old story really, just better at some points in history than others.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 7:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The big studios rarely finance "risky" aka original material anymore. When they do it gets buried in release. The real consistently interesting work is being done on HBO and the like.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 12, 2013 at 7:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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