People get very confused about evolution, which is a shame. Although your article means well, it is unfortunately not free of common misapprehensions.

Darwin’s choice of the word “fit” has caused problems ever since he first used it. What he actually meant was “most fitly adapted to its environment” not “strongest.” All the resulting confusion could have been avoided if Darwin had said “survival of the best-adapted” but he couldn’t have known how a word that had one primary meaning in his time would change its primary meaning down the road. Nor could he have foreseen how some would co-opt an incorrect reading of his intention to support their own political ideologies.

Darwin’s insight was that species adapt to their environment, and those that adapt best thrive. This has nothing whatsoever to do with competition or cooperation, as these two things are merely tactics suited or unsuited for particular circumstances. Cooperation and competition are equivalent to strategies about having fur or not having fur; having color vision or not having color vision. It’s all about what is most adaptive to the environment the species finds itself in. It is an enormous intellectual error to imagine that nature “favors” any single strategy, because evolution is not teleological nor in possession of some politically correct notions about “what ought to be the case.”

Furthermore, we humans are not “the most evolved species.” There is no such thing. If we count by size of genome, we’re far from the most complex. If we count by longevity, we’re likewise far from the pinnacle. It’s an enormous intellectual error to continue to think in the old “hierarchy of being” mode whereby we are above animals (but below angels…).

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Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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