Evolution In Action

It's true that you can't save people from themselves. But then again EvolutionInAction is no argument against medical intervention ...

When I see people (often teenagers, but not always) doing things which can only be described as stupid and dangerous, I just remember a line a friend used once: Just think of it as evolution in action. -- KeithDerrick

I suspect the correct attribution for the quote is LarryNiven and JerryPournelle's OathOfFealty. -- KenMeltsner

The phrase was in common use at Caltech in the early 80's, certainly before Niven's book was published. -- PaulSteMarie

The book was published before "the early 80's". JerryPournelle certainly thinks they coined the phrase (see the Amazon page).

"Darwin got him" and the retort "It only counts if he gets them before they breed" were common when I was in college in the late '70s. -- DaveSmith

For humorous diversion related to this topic (sort of), search any of the big web search engines for "DarwinAwards". -- GabrielWachob

A friend of mine did line of duty cases for the army. He showed me the standard casebook of prior judgements he was issued. Most deaths occurred in bar fights of one form or another. Others were a real hoot. I particularly remember the fellow who tried to open a 55 gal drum, clearly marked flammable, with a cutting torch. The judgement: In the line of duty. -- WardCunningham

This really sounds more like NaturalSelection in action. A major component of evolution, to be sure, but only half the story. To be EvolutionInAction, you need enormously large numbers of mutations for NaturalSelection to act upon.

I had an uncle who liked to ride motorcycles in a dangerous fashion. Relatives referred to him as MayhemInMotion?.

Could it be that that which survives "pays attention"? -- MarkRogers

Doubtless. It's a rite of passage to do unnecessarily dangerous things. I survived uncounted such things as a teenager by paying very close attention to what I was doing, which did in fact compensate for doing such dumb things in the first place.

There are evolutionary psychology roots in why teenagers do such things; Darwin rewards not just those who are prudent, but also those who pay attention.

See HowTheMindWorks (for quite some explanations and references about this topic).


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