Re: ruffled feathers

Charlie Stross (
Tue, 30 Nov 1999 16:48:33 +0000

On Tue, Nov 30, 1999 at 04:17:47PM -0000, Rob Harris wrote:
> You've missed my point. I never said that the same and only the same unfit
> deviations are produced - hence "New deviants will.....". I used
> homosexuality as a classic example of an evoutionary dead-end. It just so
> happens that this trait is very common and repeating.

You might want to ask _why_ it is "very common and repeating". There is strong circumstantial evidence that it is "very common and repeating" for the same reason that most female honeybees are sterile workers; it is to the long-term advantage of the genome to express a phenotype that is not optimized for reproductive success but that enhances the reproductive success of its close relatives. There's no "just so" about this sort of phenotypic oddity; it's an evolutionary adaptation that is or was useful to us.

A good starting point if you want to read about this is "The Extended Phenotype" by Richard Dawkins. If nothing else, it may make you question the many facile over-simplifications of Darwinian theory that we are constantly bombarded with because they support various ideological positions.