18 thoughts on “Ten Rules Of Evolution

    1. DaveP.

      If you’re gonna engineer them anyway, why not go for the whole package? After all, there is funding to consider…

  1. George Turner

    They could’ve mentioned Dune where DNA also doubles as an ancestral HDTV video recorder or something.

    1. Robert M Mitchell Jr.

      Now, now. Dune made more sense then that. DNA was open to manipulation from the Spice, opening one to various mind powers, depending on usage and training, one of which was, yes, “past sight”. And there was rather a high cost to using the Spice in that fashion, as the Navigators showed. Silly, yes, but far better thought out and sensible then any of the Wells stuff……

  2. Paul Milenkovic

    “They could’ve mentioned Dune where DNA also doubles as an ancestral HDTV video recorder or something.”

    (mixing metaphors)

    I find you lack of faith . . . disturbing.

  3. cthulhu

    To be fair, it’s really more like evolution has been misunderstood by almost everybody not doing research in the field until the Richard Dawkins, Stephen Pinker, and Matt Ridley oeuvres hit the shelves in the last 20-30 years; at least, I’m not aware of any other scientists (Dawkins, Pinker) or scientific journalists (Ridley) who have been able to explain what evolution is and isn’t, especially at the genetic level (and I don’t count Stephen Jay Gould’s books as particularly explanatory, especially since his Marxism colors his viewpoint so much). I consider myself to be pretty scientifically literate, and I was shocked at how much I misunderstood about how evolution really works after reading, say, Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale or The Selfish Gene, or Ridley’s The Red Queen. So I’m cutting the SF writers some slack on this one (another good one the article doesn’t mention is Larry Niven’s take on the origins of humanity in Protector that permeates his entire “Known Space” canon; it’s still an entertaining story though).

    However, it is impossible to cut H. G. Wells slack for the abysmal quality of his writing or the obscenity of his politics; I’ve tried to read War of the Worlds and The Time Machine several times, and just can’t make it more than about 20% in before giving up in total despair. And it’s not that the works are old; Dickens, for example, is compulsively readable.

    If you were to read just one book about evolution, make it The Ancestor’s Tale; it’s a long book, but by the time you get to the end of it, you will have a real appreciation for some of the subtleties of evolution that even some of the so-called “experts” miss regularly.

  4. Godzilla

    H. G. Wells is one of the early sci-fi writers together with Jules Verne. That is pretty much why we cut him so much slack. The ideas at the time were interesting and novel and often are still are used today in new works. I did not find War of the Worlds that hard to read although I have not read any of his other works.

    1. Daver

      I’ll cut Verne some slack. His stuff was entertaining, he had to fudge some of the numbers to get a story. Wells, not so much. Social propagandizing from what I remember.

      1. Godzilla

        Well RAH also spent a lot of time with social propaganda in his stories. But I still liked reading them.

        1. Daver

          Yeah, I like reading Heinlein. I don’t like reading Wells. I made it through several and gave up. I guess some people feel the same way about Heinlein.

          I don’t regard Heinlein’s societies as propaganda, but maybe that’s because I like reading about them. Wells strikes me as about as realistic as Captain Planet (you might not have seen that. Ecological propaganda masquerading as a superhero cartoon).

          1. Godzilla

            I did see Captain Planet. That series was pretty pathetic. There was no shortage of ridiculous cartoons back then including My Little Pony and the Care Bears. But we were watching Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats, Centurions, Captain Power at the same time. So it kind of evened the odds.

  5. Alan K. Henderson

    “X-Men”

    I’d like to see a try at the meme that’s not quite so fast and loose with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, one in which the mutants channel power not from within themselves but from an alternate dimension.

    “Humanity is the pinnacle of evolution.”

    Well, fictional aliens are disproportionately humanoid, but there are beings evolved beyond that stage, usually an energy/non-corporeal being. (Doctor Who once saw a man evolve from humanoid to energy being during a single episode, in the classic series.)

    1. ken anthony

      Zero point energy is supposed to be the real deal, not just a Stargate Atlantis plot point.

      Apparently, we know it exists in enormous quantities; but have almost no clue about how to tap into it.

      1. George Turner

        Vacuum energy exists in enormous quantities, but is extremely diffuse. I once calculated that a ZPM installation the size of a giant sports arena could approximately power a laptop or a coffee pot. However, physics advances so maybe there are some tricks yet to come.

        1. Daver

          Hmm. I thought it was incredibly more concentrated than that, leading to the question of why the universe continues to exist, rather than collapsing to a lower energy state.

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