Evolution

Darwin the Softie!

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If ideas such as "natural selection" and "survivial of the fittest" leave you cold, Skeptic publisher and Scientific American columnist Michael Shermer says you ought to read your Darwin more closely.

In 1902 the Russian anarchist Petr Kropotkin published a rebuttal to [T.H.] Huxley and [Herbert] Spencer in his book Mutual Aid. Calling out Spencer by phrase, Kropotkin observed: "If we… ask Nature: 'who are the fittest: those who are continually at war with each other, or those who support one another?' we at once see that those animals which acquire habits of mutual aid are undoubtedly the fittest." Since that time science has revealed that species practice both mutual struggle and mutual aid. Darwinism, properly understood, gives us a dual disposition of selfishness and selflessness, competitiveness and cooperativeness.

Whole col, marking the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, here. Via the indispensable Arts & Letters Daily.

And check out Reason.tv's interview with Shermer, where he discusses "evolutionary economics" and "the Google theory of peace":