Our very own American intellectual concentration camp — the lovely but antediluvian state of Kansas school boards — has fought furiously to protect their children from the facts of Evolution. With all good intentions, they may be fighting the wrong fight. That’s because Darwin’s ideas are indisputable when it comes to how plants, primates and people evolve throughout their lives.
But shout the alarms, for now some anti-Kansas marauders have rescued Darwin from Kansas to make him emperor of the world. Not satisfied that Darwinian thinking already rules when it comes to explaining how we attract, mate, procreate, think up symphonies, and select gods to adore…now SCIENCE has published an important new paper by professors Alexander Petersen and Joel Tenenbaum about how evolution even explains the vocabulary we use.
Now if you assumed, like I did, they are professor of linguistics, you would be wrong. They are physicists, and they argue “our vocabulary, like virtually everything else about us, exists in an inherently competitive, evolutionary environment.”
Look out Kansas, these are only two among thousands of scientists who are using the template of evolution to explain damn near everything about everybody. When you read their impressive charts and graphs about “the evolving birth and death rate of everyday words” and study the way “synonyms have to fight Darwinian battles to survive the assaults of stronger new words,” well you might want to stop reading Dostoevsky, Hemingway and Steinbeck as lofty literature…
…and instead take statistical note of how their choice of words may owe more to Darwinian paradigms than to heavenly inspiration. My hope is you resist your evolutionary urge!
Filed under: Uncategorized