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As regular readers know, I can mention any idea whatsoever and a dozen of you will leave comments telling me who already thought of it, or who wrote the fascinating scifi book with that plot. This post is a test of that phenomenon.

Today's hypothesis is that the evolution of sentient creatures is influenced by their aspirations. In the simplest example, if a creature wishes its entire life that it could reach tasty fruit that is higher in the trees, it slightly increases the likelihood that its offspring will be taller, or have longer necks, or be able to leap higher, or climb better. In other words, the longings of the parents affect how their genes get passed on.

I'm not saying the hypothesis is true or false, just verifiable. And it doesn't conflict with the fact that some traits improve survivability of the species.

Who already thought of that hypothesis, and who wrote the book? (Don't say Lamarck.)
 
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Feb 18, 2009
The current Guinness "Rhythm of life - Evolution" campaign fits your bill.
The desire for the perfect drink has in fact been the evolutionary goal of all creatures since we crawled out of the primordial soup, and now we have that perfect drink flowing forth from St. James' Gate.

Either that or it's saying that Guinness is marginally better than swamp water.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OjkEOdZj3A
 
 
Feb 16, 2009
you know,you should make a series were dilbert gets sucked into an alternate universe.alice is nice,wally has hair,the boss has a name,and dogbert is sane!he loves it,but after awihle dilbert misses the old world and goes to the garbagman(he`s still a geneus) for help.he returns and all is well.eh?eh?
 
 
Feb 16, 2009
What monkey would want to become human? cmon, this breaks your entire point. Now show me monkeys dressed as cowboys, that could prove your point, since its even closer to perfection, and monkeys abviously want to look cool.
 
 
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Feb 13, 2009
from the dawn of time men have wished for their extra leg to be longer. their aspirations, like this theory, have shriveled.
 
 
Feb 13, 2009
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarck

Tough - Lamarck was there long before as you well know although I notice that Lamarck is slowly evolving into Lamark and dropping the silent c... Lamarckism in progress.
 
 
Feb 13, 2009
I wouldn't be surprised if we, living beings, had some kind of mechanism so that acquired traits modified our vital information (I don't to narrow it down to genes yet) so that that information were passed to offspring and maybe ultimately genes were modified as a result.

No, I can't name any book or author but I remember reading some 5 years ago an article in scientific american about how complex the working of genes and other associated proteins really is compared with the utterly simplistic theories that we are taught.

As a result I believe that pure darwinism is unlikely to be all to it.
 
 
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Feb 12, 2009
Not that "aspirations" aren't compatible with natural selection. What do living creatures want? They want to survive, they want to reproduce, they want to win fights, they want to hide from bigger enemies--all of their aspirations have been formed by natural selection working upon genes: THE SELFISH GENE, Richard Dawkins. Genes evolve to meet their aspirations--too bad if that makes YOUR life a living hell.
 
 
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Feb 12, 2009
If a giraffe evolves a longer neck because it wishes to reach higher trees, maybe it's the trees that are getting their wish--to not be eaten by short giraffes. That's a Darwinian arms race plus teleology.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 12, 2009
By the way, if I wish really hard can I evolve a way of posting to this site without deleting cookies every time? Telepathy perhaps?
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 12, 2009
Terry Pratchett's THE LAST CONTINENT does just the opposite in a parody of the "tales we tell children" version of co-evolution. On the island where the God of Evolution lives, plants rapidly evolve fruit to fulfill the wishes of animals and people. Want a cigarette? A bush will grow cigarettes. Need a light? A tree will grow inflammable twigs. In a way, mediocre Darwinians have come up with the "aspirations" theo
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
Isn't this like the time where Wally tried to grow a tail by grunting or something like that?
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
Forget the idea that someone's already thought of it....someone's already proved it!

The researcher is Larry Fieg. Read more via http://geniusblog.davidshenk.com/2009/02/remember-this-day-february-4-2009.html
 
 
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Feb 12, 2009
I don't know who wrote the book, but I do know that no matter how much I visualize having sex with Christie Brinkley, my grandkids won't have any chance of that. Unless her avatar is still around, that is...
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 12, 2009
hmm? why can't I say Lamarck? I think that's exactly what he proposed.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 12, 2009
The Practice Effect by David Brin is similar. http://www.amazon.com/Practice-Effect-Bantam-Spectra-Book/dp/055326981X

It isn't JUST evolution though. Entropy works backwards there. They make prison wall stronger by making prisoners wack them with tools. RIch people employ servants to sleep in their beds and wear their clothes because the more they are used the nicer/silkier they get. If they quit using them, they start to revert back to the rags they started as. Prisoners plan jail breaks by systematically avoiding parts of the prison walls.

They never develop technology because they didn't need too. No wheel because dragging something over the same path over and over caused the path to become nearly frictionless.

At one point, a character "Evolves" out of necessity to save the teams. Something residents of the world had heard legends of but never seen happen before.

It was a fun read.

 
 
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Feb 12, 2009
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100057939&sc=nl&cc=progserv-20090212

this isn't exactly on subject but still interesting
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
Here you go:

http://io9.com/5083673/princeton-scientists-discover-proteins-that-control-evolution
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
Happy Darwin Day, Scott!

Here's two that are more truly Lamarckian, in that the critters ACHIEVE his ambition (or at least the trait), and then passes that trait on to the species:

1) Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling. Best known of the stories is "The Elephant's Child", where once upon a time, elephants had short, stubby noses, until Crocodile wispered to Baby Elephant (who leaned in close to hear), then grabbed her nose and pulled and pulled until her nose was all stretched out. And from that day, ALL elephants had long trunks. Just so.

2) The Bible, Book of Genesis: God punishes ONE "serpent" by removing its legs, and from then on, ALL snakes (alone among higher animals) have no legs. God punishes ONE woman, and from then on, ALL women (alone among animals) have painful childbirths. Just so.

Most scifi authors tend to do a bit of hand-waving, and use the term "inbreeding" to cover up the Darwinian vs. Larmarckian mechanism for the evolution they want. Sort of like, "Horses living near tall trees inbred to become giraffs, while horses living in tall grass inbred to become zebras". The author is usually just interested in the cool feature, not the mechanism for getting it, on a cellular level.
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
No-one thought of this idea before. Your readers don't know what the !$%* they're talking about. And regardless, it's a cool enough idea to be repeated again, and you deserve props for cooking it up yourself (unless you in fact heard it from another source and you're just messing with us, which I'd never rule out).

What interests me about the idea is that it sounds just as plausible as evolutionary theory's more common explanations, such as traits that provide an advantage. What if cells and DNA added up to form a "brain" of sorts that prefers some things to others, and acts on these impulses to modify itself? Check it out: <i>they already do</i>.
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
Lamark

(You're not the boss of me)
 
 
 
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