Home
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.)
 
Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  0
  • Print
  • Share
  • Share:

Comments

Sort By:
Feb 12, 2009
Does one's desires really drive one's species' evolution? Or does one's species evolution drive one's desires--i.e., perhaps the desires are the result of genetic programming, and it's all just part of one big program.
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
"Wyrms" by Orson Scott Card is yet another book that makes use of the concept. Prior to picking up this book, I'd only read a few Ender's novels by Card. I'd imagined that since he was a good Mormon he'd avoid certain topics that were explored in this novel.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 12, 2009
I saw an article a couple weeks ago suggesting they may have to take another look at Lamarckian theory because of some creature they'd been studying recently. Some kind of insect, I think. The gist of it was that the children had exactly the same DNA as the mother, but sometimes the children were born with (or developed) spiky helmets, and sometimes they didn't. Since the DNA was the same, random mutation couldn't account for it. They found instead that whether the children were born with this spiky defensive helmet was related to whether the mother had been attacked prior to giving birth.

(Now somebody with a better memory than me can fill in/correct the missing/wrong details.)
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
Histoire naturelle des animaux sans vertèbres, présentant les caractères généraux et particuliers de ces animaux...
Lamarck
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
Sight of Proteus (1978) by Charles Sheffield. In the 22nd century, aided by technology, humans are able to achieve what is described as purposive form change; in fact , any creature unable to achieve this is not human!
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck had an early theory on evolution which stated that characteristics where influenced from generation to generation through "use and disuse". I've read that he used the example of the giraffe's neck being long due to each successive generation stretching higher to reach the leaves on trees, thus working the neck muscles, and passing those traits onto their offspring.

It's nonsense of course!
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
At some point you have to admit there is a gray area between aspirations and necessities. Studying that gray area, Darwin wrote the book.
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
I cannot believe what just happened.

Just yesterday, I read about how a dog's intelligence seemed to improve based on incentive: http://www.montecook.com/cgi-bin/page.cgi?montejournal

Already our aspirations can increase our own abilities to do certain things- when I really want something I find myself incredibly driven, motivated, and even smarter. I think animals behave the same way.

Perhaps this theory can even extend to people physically- I remember moving everything out of my apartment by myself when I was 20. When I moved into another new apartment at 21, and made friends, I found myself asking, "How the hell did I move this dresser by myself?!" as my friend and I struggled with it together.

I moved that dresser by myself because I didn't have any other choice.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 12, 2009
It's part of epigenetics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics), a vibrant field of academic research.
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
Trofim Lysenko came up with the idea (or a variation on it), and Donald A. Wollheim wrote a great SF story about it called "The Lysenko Maze."
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
If it's not, we'll be the first species to do it with genetic engineering.
 
 
Feb 12, 2009
Just from a theoretical standpoint, if you desire certain qualities, wouldn't the decision of what mate you chose be reflective of that desire? So rather than environment effecting your genes, it has an effect on what genes you want to mesh with yours.
 
 
 
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog