Next GWAC Meeting

October 3, 2019

Michael Tregebov at People’s Co-op

October 3, 2019

Update:  I got the date wrong.  This event is tomorrow, 4th October.  Sorry about that!


East Vancouver’s homegrown progressive publisher, New Star Books, is hosting a reading and meet and greet next week with author Michael Tregebov:

“Our own, modern day, Jewish-Canadian Balzac will honour the West Coast with his presence at the end of the week. Michael Tregebov, pen and skates in hand, hand to his chest, his voice loaned to the CBC for three shows and counting (Weekend Morning, The Next Chapter, and Here & Now), will be in Vancouver to spiel and schmooze about his third and newest novel, Shot Rock: the tale of Blackie Timmerman and his curled and curling troubles.”

The event takes place on Tuesday, 8th October at 7:00pm at People’s Coop Bookstore, 1391 Commercial Drive.

“Expect shtick, curling sticks, and Trotskyite (-ist?) undertones. As well as sundry copies of his novel, available to purchase.”

Image: Pirates of Puerto Vallerta

October 3, 2019

Cultural Evolution

October 3, 2019

Edward O. Wilson

It is worth reading Edward O. Wilson’s “The Social Conquest of Earth” in which he ditches the prevailing kin-selection theory (“the selfish gene”) of evolution’s natural selection in favour of a mix of kin-selection and group selection.  In particular, he proposes that cultural and social evolution is propelled by group selection.

“In the search for ultimate causes of the human condition, the distinction between levels of natural selection applied to human behaviour is not perfect. Selfish behaviour, perhaps including nepotism-generating kin selection, can in some ways promote the interests of the group through invention and entrepreneurship … Group selection in its turn promoted the genetic interests of individuals with privilege and status as rewards for outstanding performance on behalf of the tribe.

Nevertheless, an iron rule exists in genetic social evolution.  It is that selfish individuals beat altruistic individuals, while groups of altruists beat groups of selfish individuals.  The victory can never be complete; the balance of selection pressures cannot move to either extreme.  If individual selection were to dominate, societies would dissolve.  If group selection were to dominate, human groups would come to resemble ant colonies.”

He persuaded me, a layman, with logic and good scientific examples. I am amazed that this is still considered an heretical view within biological science.

Wilson was particularly interesting on the development of religion as a human-origined phenomena requiring no external power. I was disappointed, however, with what I saw as his assumption that the homo sapiens of today is the ultimate outcome of evolution, as if evolution has now ceased.  Perhaps I read him wrong, but I had this thought at several points in the book.

Well worth reading.