the two most misunderstood words in “Survival of the Fittest” are ‘Survival’ and ‘Fittest’

February 27, 2009 at 9:58 am | Posted in Rants | Leave a comment


Michael Shermer has an article atScientific American A Skeptic’s Take on the Public Misunderstanding of Darwin.

“Two myths about evolution that persist today: that there is a prescient directionality to evolution and that survival depends entirely on cutthroat competitive fitness.”

In the one biology class that I took, my instructor spent a good part of the first class lamenting about how, unfortunately, the phrase Survival of the Fittest has given people the impression that giraffes survived because they chose to grow long necks and moose are good fighters because they chose to grow large antlers.

I don’t think that the phrase is really to blame though. I think it’s more the wish that people have to believe that they have much more control over their own existence than they actually do. If you believe that the physical barriers that your body presents are of your own choosing, then you may be down on yourself, but at least you won’t have to acknowledge the inherent unfairness of the human condition.

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