Newsletter # 34- The Church of Spiritual Humanism
July 22, 2016 - Philadelphia www.SpiritualHumanism.org
As Shakespeare said "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players" upon it. It seems to me that our cultural landscape is due for some great changes. Looking back at human history it looks as if every era can be classified into one of two types. Either one of stability, maybe fortunate enough to be marked with steady growth, or as a dynamic and unpredictable phase of rapid change. For better or worse I think we have entered the later.
The European Union now faces the disruption of Brexit, a huge influx of immigrants, and a new surge in terrorism. Japan withers, ages and shrinks from the world stage. China has compressed the cycle of development that took the West centuries, into a few decades. Very soon its industrial glory days will be behind it. Here in the US we have increasing protest against the abuses of the police, and of course the total wildcard of a possible President Trump.
All of this makes me optimistic. If things don't change they cannot change for the better. If we were stuck in some static phase of history we would not have the opportunity to leave the world in a considerably better condition than when we arrived. I urge each of you to use this special period to leave your mark and help make the world a better place. Follow your instincts.
IN THE NEWS
If you're worried that stupid people have more kids, don't be (yet)
...A tiny selection against education, but it's overwhelmed by cultural changes.
... a paper in PNAS this week that provides some of the first evidence of evolution at the genetic level in a reasonably contemporary human population. One of his main findings is slight evolutionary selection for lower education - but it's really slight, just 1.5 months less of education per generation. Given that the last century has seen vastly increased education across the globe, and around two years extra per generation in the same time period as Beauchamp's study, this genetic selection is easily outweighed by cultural factors.
see full story at http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/07/if-youre-worried-that-stupid-people-have-more-kids-dont-be-yet/
The headline is a bit of hyperbole. The study is essentially more about showing that evolution is still happening in humans. Many people, like famous biologist David Attenborough, have argued that human evolution has stopped because of the success of medical science at saving human life. While I have the greatest respect for Attenborough I totally disagree with him on this point.
Evolution only depends on some genes being carried more frequently than others into the next generation. Lots of people chose not have children. Plenty of others are unsuccessful even if they try very hard. With population growth rates falling below replacement levels in many countries I am sure there are many dynamic changes in the distribution of genes in the human population.
Also I don't think the correlation between level of education and intelligence is the best way to measure the overall intelligence of the population. There are plenty of very smart without any college education at all, and plenty of dullards with doctorates.
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