Unnatural Selection ~ 2011-07-30

In biology class in school we learned about natural selection; the process by which organisms that do no function properly are eliminated from the life cycle. An animal born with a defect is not able to obtain food adequately, or not able to run fast enough to keep from becoming food. Thus, the defective animal never reproduces and it's inferior genes are eliminated from the pool. Life balances itself; plain and simple.

Then along come people. We have these incredible minds that allow us to learn, and to keep records so others can build on our achievements. We have developed the ability to overcome many types of natural selection. Many babies that would have died had they been born "in the wild" are now kept alive and lead full, normal lives. I have a daughter who would not have lived for more than a few days without the miracles of modern science, and she is now 9 and perfectly healthy, for which I am very grateful.

However, for some reason we humans seem to feel the need to meddle with other types of natural selection. Consider some of these interventions:

  • Bailouts for banks that should have failed
  • An entire industry of police and prison systems devoted to caring for drug addicts rather than allowing them to hit rock bottom and be faced with the very real decision of dying or taking responsibility for their own recovery
  • A welfare system that keeps people from getting so desperate that they have to go find a job
  • Government grants for more hopeless causes than you can shake a stick at; all designed to keep non-income generating industries from failing

In parenting it's called 'tough love.' You love the child enough to allow them to fail. It's not pretty or fun to watch but it has to happen. The child who never has to come face to face with his or her own decisions and the consequences never really has the chance to thrive.

There is a downside of intervening in natural selection: the gene pool is never cleaned out. When we're talking about human life, we accept this. As more and more children born with defects are able to live, they eventually reproduce and thus the 'weak' genes have a greater chance of perpetuating. It weakens the gene pool and we know it, but we accept this when faced with the alternative of letting children die when they could have been saved.

However, when we do this in other areas it also weakens the gene pool, and for no good reason. Most of the time we're not helping by keeping people on welfare or sending police around to make sure that nobody is doing drugs or giving ridiculous sums of money to failing banks and businesses. All we're doing is interrupting natural selection. Yes, we feel sorry for people who do dumb things, but if we want to help them, we have to make sure they are not rewarded for their poor decisions or shielded from the consequences.

Otherwise we will someday soon come to the point where the few healthy people left are in no way capable of protecting everybody else from their consequences. And then we will see natural selection in full force as the majority of our nation's population is eliminated for its own stupidity.