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Lecture 3

CHYS 2P10 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Theodosius Dobzhansky, Metaknowledge, Fallacy


Department
Child and Youth Studies
Course Code
CHYS 2P10
Professor
Anthony Volk
Lecture
3

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1. CHYS 2P10- Evolutionary Developmental Science
September 23, 2016
Breadth and scope of theory- “Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of
Evolution” - Theodosius Dobzhansky
Evolution is the ONLY unifying scientific theory in the study of life
Observational methodology gives very contextual, and highly valid, data
Evolutionary Perspectives
Evolution is a theory that explains the diversity and function of all living things
Evolution is a theory, but so is electricity or gravity
Evolution is the most powerful, and widely accepted, theory in biology
Charles Darwin
Darwin was interested in explaining the wide variety of lifeforms that existed
Earlier theories existed – e.g., Lamarkianism (inherit traits that change during lifespan; e.g.,
lifting weights will give you stronger children)
Darwin came up with the theories of natural and sexual selection
Five Components of Darwin’s Evolution by Natural Selection
1. More offspring are born than survive to reproduce
2. Individual vary on different traits
3. Certain traits are more likely to pass on offspring (via genes)
4. Offspring likely inherit those traits
5. Environmental conditions have changed, leading to new species
The Meaning of Life Biologically
It is simply to pass on one’s genes to future generations
Evolutionary Fallacies
Survival of the fittest fitness in biology means # offspring; evolution is really survival of
those who produce the most successful lineages
Group selection – evolution acts at the level of the individual, not the species
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Evolution progresses from simple to complex life forms
Fit vs. Unfit
Ultrahealthy, live to 200 years of age, requires more resources to maintain these “fit
bodies
Poor health, live only to 50 years, requires fewer resources to maintain these “unfit” bodies
Biological fitness is about how well you can pass on genes
Group vs. Individual
Old zebra are 4-5 years old
5 year olds are weaker, and make the herd weaker on average
“Dies for the good of the species” at 4
Produces 1 child/yr
Individual turns 5 and sees lions charging
If he escapes, can breed, but his presence makes herd weaker avg.
Says “Screw dying!”
Lives to age 5
“Higher” and “Lower” Organisms
Evolution has a goal – it moves towards ever more complex forms of life
Evolution is random – a mutation is as likely to retreat from greater complexity as it is to
move towards it
More complex forms of life are better
According to Tooby & Cosmides, Evolutionary Psychology
1. Involves domain-specific mechanisms
2. That are at least partly inheritable
3. That solved problems in the E.E.A. (the past evolutionary environment)
Note that this allows for experience, nurture, and culture to influence the cognitive
mechanisms
Critiques of Evolutionary Psychology
Doesn’t typically reveal specific cognitive mechanisms; it’s more of a guide than a manual
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