the nature of evolutionary change in human groups

From: RFaussette@aol.com
Date: Mon Mar 17 2003 - 08:02:45 EST

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    In a message dated 3/17/03 6:49:43 AM Eastern Standard Time,
    oleary@sympatico.ca writes:

    > "In group theory, there are discrete and continuous groups. Discrete
    > groups are those studied in crystallography and solid-state physics and
    > the elements of the group cannot be obtained by means of infinitesimal
    > changes. However, the continuous groups are such that finite
    > transformation can indeed be made up by infinitesimal transformations.
    > Of course, it seems to me that mutations would always involve finite
    > changes rather than truly continuous changes."
    >
    > This is an important point. You have captured exactly the problem that
    > many of us have about Darwin's slow series of steps. No one doubts that
    > gradual warming causes the river ice to break, or that it can suddenly
    > start to crack up on a given day, having been warmed for some time.
    > However, some group happenings are, as you say, "discrete."
    >

    I am trying to understand your arguments and find a relevant analogy - I do
    not understand how the behavior of crystals can tell you anyhting about
    human gorup behavior, but I can suggest a book, Paul Colinvaux's Fates Of
    Nations, A biological theory of history (cambridge u press, 1980). He
    provides excellent examples of how advances in technology change the nature
    of human competing groups - sudden advances in technology force the response
    and refocus of the discipline of a human group as it embraces the new
    technology gaining an edge over its competitors. Strict Darwinism only works
    at the level of the individual - group behavior is governed by ecology and
    niche theory - as individuals specialize in a group they become group
    dependent and leaving the group and their niche specialization would cause a
    catastrophic drop in their fitness relative to other individuals who are in a
    specialized group - its talked about in wilson's book - but colinvaux
    provides examples of niche theory at work throughout history
    rich



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