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Unread 03-06-2014, 11:13 PM   #1
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Science, Genes, Pop culture

I decided to put this in here because it deals partially with cultural critique (which philosophers often do), science, and metaphors and representations. It is a bit of a mish-mash of a topic.

Recently while reading some material by David Bentley Hart I realized the depth of ineptitude apparent in the metaphorical representations of the evolutionary potential of genes by popular scientific media. Most explicitly Dawkins' talk of the "selfish gene" wherein the non-human entity is attributed certain human characteristics, such as selfishness. Genes are the controllers of humanity, and thus something else is driving evolution, it seems. DBH's contention is that it is the other way around; genes propagate precisely because entities provide the medium for them to flourish and humans, at least, do so with intentionality. This is an oversimplification.

Nonetheless, I noticed how strange more popular media presents evolution and now it is becoming an annoyance because it seems to me that it just misrepresents the whole thing. While watching Futurama there is a portion of one of the shows that has all of the characters as different animals on the Galapagos Islands. Fry is a finch. Later on in the show it presents his great great grandchild, Fry, an other finch. This other finch is different in that it's beak is curved ever so slightly so that it can get at a certain type of food much more easily. While the show is silly the dialogue attributes the change to the agency of evolution. Evolution is not an agent of will, but of mutation, whereby certain characteristic dominate because those that hold the trait are able to survive better than those without the trait.

But, in popular discourse this nuance is gone. You don't have to watch a silly cartoon. It is etched in even educated people's understanding of evolution because it seems to me that science is fast becoming the new gap explanation, a sort of magical way of explaining something. Largely devoid of content.

Just rambling.

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Unread 03-07-2014, 08:41 AM   #2
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Thrash, sounds like you have a problem with superstition.

My prescription: Take two sciences and call me in the morning.
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