Antoinette Tuff, Social Darwinism and Survival of the Fittest

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Good afternoon:

Antoinette Tuff got me to thinking about social darwinism and white supremacy.

Scientists tell us that our human species (homo sapiens sapiens) began approximately 200,000 years ago in South Africa, and after declining to a near-extinction population of approximately 15,000 people, emerged out of Africa 60,000 to 70,000 years ago. The population decline to near extinction is referred to as a “bottleneck” and many scientists believe it was caused by climate change precipitated by the catastrophic supereruption of Mount Toba in Indonesia approximately 73,000 years ago.

The Toba eruption was the largest volcanic eruption in the past 200,000 years.

This eruption was the last of the three major eruptions of Toba in the last 1 million years. It had an estimated Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 (described as “mega-colossal”), or magnitude ≥ M8; it made a sizable contribution to the 100X30 km caldera complex. Dense-rock equivalent (DRE) estimates of eruptive volume for the eruption vary between 2,000 km3 and 3,000 km3—the most common DRE estimate is 2,800 km3 (about 7×1015 kg) of erupted magma, of which 800 km3 was deposited as ash fall. Its erupted mass was 100 times greater than that of the largest volcanic eruption in recent history, the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which caused the 1816 “Year Without a Summer” in the northern hemisphere.

The Toba eruption took place in Indonesia and deposited an ash layer approximately 15 centimetres thick over the entirety of South Asia. A blanket of volcanic ash was also deposited over the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian and South China Sea. Deep-sea cores retrieved from the South China Sea have extended the known reach of the eruption, suggesting that the 2,800 km3 calculation of the erupted mass is a minimum value or an underestimate.

The vast amount of ash in the atmosphere blocked sunlight for many years resulting in a much colder and drier climate in the area of Africa inhabited by modern humans. In order to survive, they had to cooperate. Those who did not cooperate perished.

Modern humans spread throughout the world by land and sea relatively quickly as a lengthy period of global cooling commenced a new ice age. Modern humans survived that ice age. Neanderthals and Denisovans did not.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution teaches us that genetic mutations occur at predictable rates. Some mutations cause changes that reduce an individual’s ability to survive and reproduce, eventually leading to the extinction of the line of individuals who inherit that mutation or trait. Other mutations cause changes that improve an individual’s ability to survive and reproduce. Some changes are neutral and do not affect survival and reproduction unless the environment changes in a manner that favors or disfavors the mutation.

Most right wing fanatics, including the Nazis and other white supremacists, believe in survival of the fittest, an intellectually impoverished and narcissistic doctrine called social darwinism that is based on Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Social darwinism was developed during the late 1800s to provide supposedly scientific support for a belief in the existence of a master race.

The intellectual flaw in social darwinism is that survival of the fittest is a prediction of the outcome of a fight to the death between two individuals. It is not an accurate description of genetic change over time in changing environments, which Darwin accurately described as the engine that runs evolution.

Modern humans adapted to and survived catastrophic climate change by cooperation and reliance on each other. They sympathized, empathized and sacrificed for each other. Sometimes they even gave up their lives so that others might live. These are the characteristics that define us as human beings and we would not be alive today, if our ancestors throughout the many thousands of years before we were born had not exhibited those characteristics.

Antoinette Tuff exhibited those characteristics as did the teachers who sacrificed their lives at Sandy Hook.

They did not have to do what they did and that is the quintessential characteristic that defines who and what we are.

28 Responses to Antoinette Tuff, Social Darwinism and Survival of the Fittest

  1. colin black says:

    Thanks for your posts Fred you may be only the second Lawer Ive ever encountered that I respect an trust.

    The first being my Lawer whom thankfully though still friends with.Ive had no use of his services for decades.

  2. Tzar says:

    Prof. this was an excellent and stimulating article
    thank you for writing it

    One thing I want to add is in regards to this statement

    The intellectual flaw in social darwinism is that survival of the fittest is a prediction of the outcome of a fight to the death between two individuals. It is not an accurate description of genetic change over time in changing environments, which Darwin accurately described as the engine that runs evolution.

    another intellectual flaw is in not recognizing that empathy is an evolutionary asset and part of the “fitness” of mammalian life on this planet

    (you implied it generally with the article but I wanted to say it out loud)

  3. Two sides to a story says:

    There’s no way humankind going to survive the present and the immediate future without close cooperation. We’re entering – have been transitioning for some time – into a critical period of human history, facing climate chaos and overpopulation, and the potential demise of most species on Earth, including our own.

  4. Kelly Payne says:

    that’s because people back then weren’t selfish and petty like they are today.

    • Soulcatcher says:

      My two cents…..I agree with Kellys post and expanding. Back then we made due with what we had. If it was a deck of cards and some kool-aide and make some popcorn, that was great. Or all sitting in together watching Dark Shadows. Taking the tent, marshmellows, hot dogs to the campground. We’d find a can, and play kick the can for hours, get in the tent and tell ghost stories trying to scare the crap out of each other. We didn’t have much, but that was okay, we didn’t sit around complaining.

      I see alot of blame nowdays towards broken homes where 2 parents aren’t in the household. Yes and no. My parents divorced when I was 5, I went with my mother, my brothers woth my father. I was shuffeled between my mother, gtandparents, aunt and a friend of my mother for the nect 7 years, and stayed with father every other weekend. I never heard my parents argue, and they never talked down about each other to us that happens often when parents divorce. We didn’t live together, but always had each other, if that makes sense.

      Anyways, as we move forward into the new world of technology, so did money. We now had more money to spent, and more we did, the more we made, the more we wanted, and credit, chaaaaargeeee itttttt. New car, house, boat, if your friends had it, you had to have better. Made do flew out the window, and give me and I want married. Can you imagine a kid nowdays looking forward to kick the can and telling ghost stories. Oh hell no, they have their hnd out for a new video game and money to go to the show. And if they want it, they will get it one way or another. Working for minimum wage, maybe, but more and more, walmart is around the corner, and taking is easier than paying., and selling way more profitable and you get to be your own manager.

      Answer is Money. Imo, those were the good ole days, moving foward progressibly worse. Whats ironic, is at my age, I could pretty well go out and buy anything I wanted. I could shop at the best, never do, you’ll find me at the thrift store with great pleasure. There are some things in life all the riches cannot buy.

      • Soulcatcher says:

        Oh and my thought of where I was going with the two parents in the household, is none of us turned out to be killers. Good example is Trayvon’s case. I would award Taffee’s “When you plant corn, you get corn”, and the Zimmermans a perfect match.

  5. cielo62 says:

    >^..^< I've said that together we stand divided we fall.

    • Xena says:

      @cielo62. Man has yet to understand that all of mankind is one spirit. That’s the concept behind loving the sinner but hating the sin. Evil should never be encouraged but mankind justifies evil by using unrighteous judgment against other men. What saith Wicken along these lines?

  6. MDH says:

    Survival of the fittest is moron science.

    It ignores the obvious fact that the small tribe or band wherein each individual within contributes their own unique talents to the group has been the dominant social construct throughout 99% of the genetic time span of Homo Sapiens.

    The genome and linguistics point to the San as being the present group most closely related to us all.

    Six hundred miles to the south, “survival of the fittest” produced civilized man 🙂

  7. acemayo says:

    Remember Cowboys and Indians guess who was the thugs(bad guys) who wanted only to rape white woman, thee only good
    Indian is a dead Indian. By the way we pray in school and call
    ourselves a Christian nation this country did a lot of things
    wrong in the name of God are thee the “good ole days” you

  8. fauxmccoy says:

    great post, professor leatherman!


  9. Girlp says:

    Great post. That is why I don’t understand the tea party members and their love of Ayn Rand. They don’t seem to understand if we don’t take care of each other we perish.

    • crazy1946 says:

      Girlp, It amuses me when members of the GOP/TP start talking about taking our country back to the “good ole days”. It would seem that in their memories of those times they have very selective memories, and only remember the good parts and forget about the parts that were not only bad but in many was horrendous.. I can only suggest to them that they open their collective eyes and look around and understand that they are actually living in what will soon be the “good ole days”!

      • Girlp says:

        They most definitely have a romanticized view of the past. They lack empathy, they also lack vision they are stuck.

        • Rob_UK says:

          Right-wingers are also very sadistic. They have an insatiable appetite for human misery. They feed on human misery the way vampires feed on blood. They love it. They seem to get an almost orgasmic pleasure from denigrating, humiliating and destroying the groups they despise and consider subhuman worthless undesirables – black people, poor people etc and delight in their suffering. I’ve seen right-wingers in complete ecstasy when attacking black people and poor people. No matter what policies are implemented by the government that further marginalizes these groups and increases their poverty and misery, it is never enough for them, they always want more. They are fanatical and relentless. I think sadism is at the heart of much of what they do, along with their greed and selfishness.

          • cielo62 says:

            Rob- absolutely! It’s an amazing sickness. Relentless and destructive. And the only way to stop it is at childhood. By adulthood the taste for pain is entrenched.

            Sent from my iPad

    • Intellectual Impoverishment. They are selfish and stupid.

    • aussie says:

      yes they do — the want to visit the perishing on the “other” people and thus keep more for themselves.

      The missed that about the butterfly fluttering its wihgs…….

  10. crazy1946 says:

    Too bad we humans have stopped improving upon our species. What do they call reverse evolution?

    • Rob_UK says:


      • crazy1946 says:

        Rob_UK, “Conservatism” Hmmm, I suppose that would depend on how you define the word.. There are many like myself that could not be covered by that word, we are simply liberal on the social issues, yet conservative on the fiscal issues. I would think that the word Libertarian would come closer than your choice… That is if a political description was to be made.. In this nation, as it exists today, I’m not sure that there is truly a person that could be factually labeled as either a pure conservative or liberal. The terms have become so intermingled that they are so similar in action that the terms are actually somewhat meaningless. Don’t look at our congress to define the term, as those folks are bought, paid for and owned by special interests, and are slaves to the system they have wrought upon all of us…

        Time for another pot of coffee, it is too early to expect a brain (especially an old one) to function!

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