No, it’s not “Darwin’s Law”

darwinThis one’s been irritating me for a while.

First some antisocial yokel with a poor education and possible low intelligence, along with their peers, decides to flout social distancing or isolation protocols, and stomp out into a densely packed public space in the middle of a viral outbreak as a form of ill-informed protest. The response? Someone sneers “oh well, that’s Darwin’s Law, isn’t it?”, as if the spectacle of social irresponsibility was evidence that an ironic social Darwinism was selectively afflicting the right wing.

Aside from being conspicuous mostly coming from lefties who aren’t supposed to be in for that kind of eugenic fantasy, supposed irony not withstanding, it barely stands up to scrutiny. Natural selection doesn’t work like that.

Put simply, if alleles for a hereditable trait give an organism a reproductive advantage in a given environment, then through that increase in reproduction the hereditable trait will flourish compared to its competing alleles that don’t share the advantage, or don’t possess it as strongly. Conversely, alleles that confer a reproductive disadvantage inhibit their own reproduction, comparatively speaking.

The end result: the genetic makeup of a population shifts towards being more conducive to reproduction within a range of environmental settings.

But there’s no Trumpist bleach-drinking allele, nor an allele for politically particular cabin fever. As far as I know, there’s no Florida Man allele either.

Perhaps then, what people mean is a more general “allele for stupid white trash-like behaviour”. That seems to be the inference right? Leaving aside the questionable politics of eugenic fantasy and classism, this still doesn’t translate to even half-decent Darwinian speculation.

Any allele (or alleles) that purportedly predisposes people to bad life decisions of the redneck kind may, hypothetically, in addition to life-threatening acts of social disinhibition, also predispose the redneck organism in question to contribute to an overabundance of unplanned pregnancies, and hence an abundance of descendants. So even if the entire population of the genetically redneck were infected with a pandemic infection due to genetically predisposed behaviour, if the mortality rate were more than offset by an associated increase in fecundity, then there’d be a resultant net evolutionary advantage, not a disadvantage to said allele (or alleles).

None of this considers the practical epidemiology either. There’s nothing to say that after a day at the 5G-Conspiracy Theorist Congregation, a Southern Neo-Brownshirt won’t go on to protest educated multiple “Libruls”, in person, and with much spittle-flecked gusto. There’s nothing to say they won’t travel back to their communities to infect more sensible neighbours through further acts of neglect – that the spread of the disease won’t go on to infect and kill indiscriminately regarding politics or intelligence.

Ask yourself; frontline workers – nurses, doctors etc. – how many of them are of of above average intelligence and education? What happens if they have to take care of sick protestors and get infected themselves? It’s hardly self-evident that this or any other viral pandemic is going to selectively exterminate the witless and their descendants.

So yeah, smarmily claiming “it’s Darwin’s Law” is hardly the best way to differentiate yourself from the ranks of the ignorant. It also isn’t a great way of differentiating yourself from an asshole.

If you have already, please re-consider before trotting off this nonsense again.

~ Bruce

Big waypoint

I’ve been to hospital before, but I’ve never been in surgery. As of writing, I don’t know how this all is going to pan out, but at some point I’m going to have my gut stitched up soon.

I’ve had an umbilical hernia for years and it’s been getting bigger. Occasionally, my intestines are poking through and starting to get caught, which is dangerous. I’m off to see the surgeon tomorrow and I’ll know more afterward.

What I do know, is that the recovery is supposed to be painful. I’m not looking forward to that, but I keep telling myself that the other side of it all is going to be worth it.

Like a lot of other folks with depression, I’m prone to self neglect and this, as in the cases of a lot of other people with depression, has involved my normalizing the aches, pains and reduced function associated with an accumulation of injuries.

One thing that has stood out as conspicuous, despite my normalizing this kind of thing, is my inability to do a single sit-up. Leg raises? Can do them. Crunches? Ditto. A single sit-up? Nope.

I hadn’t noticed until recently that I actually can’t sit up in bed – I roll out in the morning, and I’ve just got used to it. At one point when I was younger, I’d raise my legs, and just bounce from the bed off of my shoulders, landing standing in what felt like one fluid motion. I can’t recall when that stopped but I can’t do it anymore.

I’m not at all sure how much mobility I’m going to get back, but I expect to at least get some. Obviously the extent of improvement will depend largely on exercise post-recovery, but I’ve already got plans for that.

No doubt during my recovery I’m going to want to write more than usual, which of course will be difficult; I’ll be on my back, mostly. I’ve watched more than one YouTube video of an individual post-hernia repair warning against sitting for extended periods.

At the very least, I’m looking forward to removing one of the largest persistent distractions I’ve had in the last six years, even if it does take me out of the game for a little while.

Hoping to see folks on the other side.

~ Bruce