Monday, March 14, 2005

Evolution: Why Sex Feels So Good

Upon reading this excellent refutation of the absurdist Intelligent Design theory by the venerable H. Allen Orr, Doctor Biobrain has this nugget to consider:

Evolution is a good example of supply and demand. And the law of supply and demand is as real as gravity. You just can't fuck with it. Just as evolution is only concerned with creating more of whatever works best, the stock market is only concerned with putting money where it will best be used. We might not agree with everything the market does, but we cannot dispute its power.

Looking back over the past fifty years, it is obvious which companies succeeded. In hindsight, it is obvious that Coca-Cola and Microsoft were good investments; as was IBM, GE, and Berkshire Hathaway. The obviousness of this might make some get the impression that the success of these firms was inevitable, and perhaps even planned. Coca-Cola is just like lots of other sodas, one might reason, so what could explain why their stock did so much better, unless someone planned for that to happen.

And yet nobody seriously considers such an idea. While there is certainly some level of "fixing" going on in the markets, it is unfathomable by any serious person to consider that the stock market could possibly have been designed to be this way in the long-term. In fact, our modern economic thinking dictates that it would not only be unlikely that the stock market would be designed, but that it would be inefficient and foolish to attempt to do so. According to our current theories, which I largely subscribe to, market pressures have a much greater ability to judge where money should flow than any command structure which dictates economic needs. In our own lives, the times when we don't want market forces to determine the course of our lives is when they create a direct conflict between what is best for the market and what we choose to have in our lives. I'm speaking of issues such as pornography, illegal drugs, healthcare, and starvation. In these and other issues, we choose to reject what the market prescribes solely due to its unseemly aspects. And yet despite taboos and laws against them, the market forces continue to flow like flood-water over a dam, allowing pornography, rampant drug-use and needless deaths to occur daily.

And the similarities between evolution and economic laws are not accidental; they are in fact the same pressures. In fact, economic law is simply an evolutionary stepping stone from the advent of man's modern mind. No longer relegated to hand-to-hand or weapon combat, we now have constructed more efficient means of acquiring our needs. It is obvious to even the most dense that mankind organized according to economically efficient functions will be far more efficient than animals or significantly less efficient men. Economics is essentially the harnessing of the basic laws governing all of nature.

And the irony is that any intelligent fiscal conservative will tell you this exact same thing. No, they won't couch it in terms of evolution, but they firmly believe that economics should be used to determine who will live or die. They believe that starvation and poverty cannot be cured, nor should they be; because they are part of the forces which dictate who will be a better breeders (that's a rough paraphrase, of course). Even lesser conservatives believe that market forces are smarter than man, and that it is not only unwise, but downright dangerous to mess with this stuff. And to some extent I agree with that point-of-view, though I have some serious disclaimers about it.

I've gotten to the point at which the rest of my argument should be self-evident. Which is great because I'm really kind of tired and I would like to go to bed. Before doing so, I should point out that I am not claiming that, because economics is real, that this somehow proves that evolution is real. Nor am I suggesting that my arguments prove Darwinism in any way. I am simply pointing out the connection between evolution and economics and the implications of that connection.

My argument can also be used to deflect Intelligent Design arguments, which I think was my original point but I'm tired and I might have strayed off-course. I was trying to argue that because our current stock market leaders look so obvious now, that one might wrongly conclude that this is proof of Intelligent Design in the markets. But that relies upon the same assumption that the ID'ers use against evolution, ie, because things look set in stone now, that this is the only outcome that we could have had and that the odds were low that evolution could be likely to be particularly effective at getting this exact set of events. Yet the results of decades of stock market activity are obviously not set in stone, nor is it particularly obvious beforehand which stocks will do better than others. And in fact, it is due to obvious market forces that we have obtained these results. It's not that market forces were the best way to get me to drink Coke; it's that Coke was the drink that the market found for me to drink. Similarly, it's not that evolution is best suited for our current situation, it's that it is the sole cause of it.

Anyway, I am now even more tired than I was when I wrote about my tiredness last time, so I'll be calling it quits. I know that if I save this post until tomorrow I'll never finish it. And if you don't understand what I'm talking about by now, then you're a complete douchebag and you'll never get it. Good night.

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