Natural and Directed Evolution

Interesting discussion on the Smoking Section between Emily W and her father:

Her father was saying that he was not too bothered about smoking bans and the imminent prohibition of the menthol cigarettes he smoked. He saw it as a natural evolutionary process, or ‘trend’, much like traffic patterns and densities. It was just what happened, and was happening all the time. There were the same sort of trends in hairstyles, skirt lengths, music preferences. Or maybe even just the weather.

Listening to him, I could well see his point of view. Getting bothered about smoking bans is like getting bothered about people’s newspaper habits, or choices of shoes. It was changing all the time: live with it. And I think that if smoking bans were part of a natural progression, I wouldn’t be any more bothered about them than he is.

But what we’re seeing happening with smoking isn’t really a natural process of evolution at all. It’s directed evolution. It’s an eugenic social engineering programme. State power is being used to push people in a very particular direction: it’s being used to make them stop smoking.

The difference between a natural evolutionary process and a directed, eugenic evolutionary process is that a natural process is one whose outcome is unknown, while a directed process is one in which the outcome is predetermined. When some number of plants and animals in some area are allowed to grow and multiply uncontrolled, it will not be possible to know in advance which ones will prosper and flourish, and which will become scarce or even extinct. But if they grow and multiply in a controlled environment which favours the growth and prosperity of one particular plant or animal, the outcome is being predetermined. The dice are loaded. The game is fixed.

And there’s a big difference between the two. The natural process of evolution will throw up its own set of ‘winners’. The directed process will throw up a predetermined ‘winner’. And this predetermined winner is very unlikely to be the one which would have won using a natural process.

For example, imagine a number of vehicle manufacturers who each sell vehicles with different numbers of wheels. There are cars with four wheels, tricycles with three wheels, motorbikes with two wheels, and even some monocycles, as well as six-wheeled and eight-wheeled ones too. In a condition of free and equal competition, some of these vehicles will sell well, and some won’t. We might suppose that, although monocycles will be much cheaper than cars, and have lower running costs, they have an unfortunate tendency to fall over and throw off their riders, often causing their deaths. Equally, although eight-wheeled vehicles will be extremely stable, they will cost a lot more, and have much higher running costs. We might therefore not be too surprised to find that, in a condition of free competition, four-wheeled vehicles will tend to predominate, because they combine good stability with relatively low prices and running costs. i.e. most people will drive cars, because they are on balance the best buy, all things taken into account. A natural evolutionary process throws up cars as the ‘winners’.

But if the competition is fixed, with a strong emphasis placed on health and safety, so that all vehicles must have at least twelve wheels, then the predetermined ‘winner’ is the twelve-wheeler. All vehicles will have twelve wheels or more. But since we know that in a state of natural competition, four-wheelers are the ‘winners’, this must mean that the planned, directed society of twelve-wheeled vehicles will one where much more fuel, and a great many more wheels, are needed to keep the same amount of traffic flowing. People in the twelve-wheeled society will be much busier than those in the four-wheeled society, as they have to replace wheels more frequently, and acquire much more fuel to power the heavier twelve-wheelers.

So planned, directed, controlled societies will always be ones in which non-optimal choices are being made. And if everything is planned and directed, all products will be sub-optimal. It won’t just be cars, but also televisions, radios, and even cups and saucers. Everything will be sub-standard, and everything will always be getting worse. And this is more or less exactly what happened in the planned, regulated, controlled economies of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. In fact, it’s the principal reason why they are ‘former’.

The same will apply to tightly controlled societies, with lots of rules and regulations governing personal behaviour. The more controlled people are, the less freedom of action they have to respond flexibly to unforeseen events. They are being kept busy by rules and regulations. They are being kept far busier than they need be. For if there are signs in a park saying, “No Walking On The Grass”, this will mean that everyone must stick to the paths while crossing a park, and take far longer than they would if they had just walked straight across the grass. They have to walk much further, and keep much busier.

Many years ago I read a story, perhaps apocryphal, of how Genghis Khan once demonstrated to a visiting ambassador the discipline of his army by commanding a cavalry detachment to ride off a cliff to their deaths – which they duly did, unhesitatingly. No doubt this impressed the ambassador, but it also demonstrated a fatal weakness in the army, because it showed that Genghis Khan’s disciplined, obedient cavalry could not even stop themselves riding off a cliff to their deaths. This might explain why that army was eventually defeated, and Europe saved from the Mongol hordes.

And while we’re on about Europe:

The European Union evolved, devolved actually, from basically a free trade pact among a few countries to a giant, dysfunctional, overreaching bureaucracy. Free trade is an excellent idea. However, you don’t need to legislate free trade; that’s almost a contradiction in terms. A free trade pact between different governments is unnecessary for free trade. An individual country interested in prosperity and freedom only needs to eliminate all import and export duties, and all import and export quotas. When a country has duties or quotas, it’s essentially putting itself under embargo, shooting its economy in the foot. Businesses should trade with whomever they want for their own advantage.

But that wasn’t the way the Europeans did it. The Eurocrats, instead, created a treaty the size of a New York telephone book, regulating everything.

About Frank Davis

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11 Responses to Natural and Directed Evolution

  1. John Pablo says:

    “you don’t need to legislate free trade”
    The right to trade freely is a natural right. It conflicts with no other right and requires no compulsion. At all times and places the natural impulse to exchange goods and services to mutual advantage has tended to form a peaceful bond between individuals and nations, to stimulate intelligence and to promote prosperity. Governments have always denied this right, usually succeeding in persuading people to believe that the infinite series of exchanges can be directed by officialdom, using restrictions, penalties and taxes, national treaties and alliances, better than by leaving trade to the individuals concerned.
    from: “On the Rights of Man” by Frank Dupuis

  2. nisakiman says:

    That was an interesting interview, and particularly so because her father is probably fairly typical of most smokers today, in that he’s been gradually conditioned to accept everything that Tobacco Control have imposed on society, so he just accepts it as an inevitability. And of course, this is why TC have managed to get away with such incursions into people’s private lives. We, Frank, are a small minority. We resent those incursions, and we rebel against them in any way we can; but with the majority of our fellow smokers seemingly unaware of just what is being done to them, we face an uphill battle.

    And Emily, if you read this (I know you comment here sometimes), the ‘phone call ins are muffled and unintelligible on the video, unfortunately. I’m not a tech person, so I’m not sure what, if anything, you could do to improve it, but it would be nice to hear the questions.

    Interesting that he started smoking so late, and in Athens. He would have been there about the same time I first lived in Greece – 1987. When I first lived here, I was already a smoker, so I really didn’t notice any real difference between Greece and UK. Even when I moved here this last time, it was fifteen years ago, and the anti-smoking madness hadn’t yet really taken hold in the UK. But the last time I visited UK, it was like going to another planet. I was obliged to go to a pub (family stuff), and having to stand outside (it was raining) like some miscreant so I could smoke a cigarette really brought home to me how fortunate I am to live here in Greece; where smoking is still normal, and bars and restaurants provide you with an ashtray; and nobody, but nobody, looks disapprovingly at you for smoking.

    I don’t think I could cope with living in UK full time now. I’m too used to being treated like a normal human being.

    • Emily Wieja says:

      Yes, actually I had some trouble understanding the phone calls even in the studio. I’ll check to see if I can get the technicians to suggest anything to improve the quality of those. The first question had to do with the comparison between liberal drug policies in the Netherlands versus tobacco policies there. And the second caller asked something about smoking and class, which my dad took to mean stigma against smokers. I let him go with that because it was interesting and not unrelated, but I suspect that the caller meant to ask more about social/economic class and smoking, but I’m not sure.

      • nisakiman says:

        I’m sure it can’t be too complicated to sort out. They do it all the time on TV and radio, but of course they have almost unlimited budgets, so anything is possible. I would imagine a cheap fix should also be possible, though.

        If at anytime you want an update on the situation re smoking in Greece, on the street, let me know. Frank has my email. I think you’re doing a great job, and I’d be happy to help out with any info I can provide. God only knows we need to push back against these zealots in any way we can.

  3. Clicky says:

  4. Rose says:

    But what we’re seeing happening with smoking isn’t really a natural process of evolution at all. It’s directed evolution. It’s an eugenic social engineering programme

    One that goes way back, back so far that I couldn’t see it, that people don’t recognise it, I didn’t until this morning.

    Lollylulubes gave me a link this morning.
    “Scientists at La Trobe University published a study this week about a protein found in the flowers of ornamental tobacco plant that targets human cancer cells and destroys them. This raises the prospect of the deepest kind of irony: tobacco grown to produce drugs used to treat cancers caused by tobacco.”

    And in this long running jigsaw we have a match.

    Harvesting the Blossoms
    “Tobacco plants began to blossom about the middle of June; and picking then began. Tobacco was gathered in two harvests. The first harvest was of these blossoms, which we reckoned the best part of the plant for smoking. Old men were fond of smoking them.”

    But there is another much uglier match for us from our own history.
    “And now good Countrey men let us (I pray you) consider, what honour or policie can moove us to imitate the barbarous and beastly maners of the wilde, godlesse, and slavish Indians, especially in so vile and stinking a custome?”
    “In your abuse thereof sinning against God,”

    As a little child dressed up in my feather headress, I used to watch the saturday westerns and wait patiently for the Good Guys to win, but they never did. In the end, I came to the conclusion that the Good Guys never won because the men who made the films wouldn’t let them.

    Tobacco is a sacred Native American plant and the Patron Saint of Anti-smokers, James 1st hunts us, now in a white coat, making as poor a stab at science as he did 400 years ago.

  5. Smoking Lamp says:

    Frank, You are right about the central planning component of tobacco control. Tobacco control is the vanguard of the global lifestyle control regime. This centrally planned, top-down regime seeks to impose broad prohibition and control of all aspects of life. Free citizens excercising liberty gets in the way of their goals of nurturing pliable thralls. Smoking bans are the first step in this return to the gulag. They make this development seem like the natural progress (evolution) of society. They also make it appear like a widely accepted, grass roots initiative (just like the Soviets created the illusion that local soviets had power). Ir is neither, it is a deliberate movement designed to impose totalitarian control. As you have said before, tobacco control must be destroyed!

  6. jaxthefirst says:

    The main problem with “directed evolution” is that in order for it to continue, the pressure has to be constantly kept on. Whether in terms of keeping naturally-occurring weeds out of cornfields (left to their own devices, the weeds always win), or, using your example, actively preventing people from being allowed to try non-twelve-wheel vehicles, the pressure has to be kept on continuously, and ad infinitum. And that’s actually very difficult to do, because real life has a habit of throwing up distracting (and money-consuming) events like wars, or natural disasters, or financial crises, or elections etc which, once the initial impetus of the “new” pressure has gone, tends to take people’s attention away from it. Is anyone really going to be that bothered if a few people adapt their 12-wheel vehicles to only six wheels when the country is about to go to war or if a tsunami has struck? Of course they’re not. These “planned” social controls are just a flash in the pan – the product of a society having the luxury of the time and money to waste on silly single issues in the absence of having anything more important to do.

    Natural evolution, on the other hand, including in the form of social change, although it takes much longer, tends to be self-perpetuating and thus much more long-lasting. I’ve often said that, given time, smoking would in fact have naturally become something that virtually no-one did any more. A bit like snuff-taking – something which I understand used to be more common in England than smoking around 100 years ago, but which is now practised by almost no-one. And yet there was never an “anti-snuff-taking” movement with posters and campaigns warning people of the dangers of taking snuff. Neither were snuff-takers singled out for persecution by the authorities and their peers and their families. It just died out naturally and gradually became something which was fewer and fewer people did. Purist anti-smokers, of course, would argue that it was replaced by the wicked habit of smoking tobacco rather than sniffing it, and that’s probably true, but it’s probably also true to say that if smoking had been allowed to die out naturally, then that too would have been replaced by something else.

    It’s even possible that e-cigarettes would have been invented as this replacement, and this, too, would have been better to have been left to happen later, but more naturally than it has been, because there would then have been time to develop a product which was genuinely as enjoyable and pleasant to use as real cigarettes rather than the rather rushed development which has been necessary and which has resulted in a current crop of e-cigarettes which, by and large, the majority of smokers don’t enjoy as much. If they did then we’d all be using them and the anti-smoking industry would be completely out of a job!

    So, when we look back over history in 100 years’ time, it’s quite possible that the very reason for the continuation of the habit of smoking over and above its natural lifetime may very well be laid at the anti-smoking movement’s own doorstep. Now, how ironic is that?

    • waltc says:

      “…may be laid at anti-smoking’s own doorstep..” I’ve often thought so. Though I wouldn’t put money on it, I might at some point have decided to stop smoking when smoking (or not) was still a free choice. But once free choice was replaced by threat, was no longer mine –but Theirs–to make: not gonna happen. Nor do I imagine I’m alone in that. Here’s John Stuart Mill:

      “If there be among those whom it is attempted to coerce into prudence or temperance, any of the material of which vigorous and independent characters are made, they will infallibly rebel against the yoke. No such person will ever feel that others have the right to control him in his concerns..and it comes to be considered a mark of spirit and courage to fly in the face of such usurped authority and do with ostentation the exact opposite of what it enjoins.”

      Another difference between natural and engineered evolution is that even when the pace-setters are happily riding bicycles, and wearing mini-skirts and listening to rap, there isn’t a law against your still driving a Chevy, or wearing a long skirt or listening to jazz. The other thing is that in matters of fashion, the evolutionary pendulum always swings back–the world, getting sick of bike lanes and thighs that shouldn’t see the light of day, and incoherent thugs blatting not-quite-rhymes, goes back to sedans and Ella doing Scat.

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