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images-35In the evolutionary lottery, it is sometimes easy to see why the winners won.  Birds — most of them at least — can fly from danger. Those consigned to walking — the Dodo, the Moa — exist only in museums, Alice in Wonderland, or crossword puzzles. Some animals — crocodiles, alligators, Newt Gingrich, Mike Tyson — survive by being very mean and very ugly.

In other cases, however, it is difficult to understand why species survive despite mutations that should have bumped them off long ago.  For example:

Low-Trouser-Man (LTM)LTM is predominantly urban, where crime and violence are a way of life.  His baring of his posterior is not a fashion statement, but an aggressive display, like that of the male Red-Ass Baboon of the Upper Nile, which produces massive gang fights, lifetime scars, and short-term-memory loss.

Engaging in that kind of behavior with one’s trousers at mid-thigh, when fancy footworkimages-25 and a speedy getaway are essential, would seem highly maladaptive, even moreso if at least one hand is engaged in preventing what social scientists call The Gravitationally-Induced Sartorial-Fibular Concatenation (transl: pants around the ankles).

Why do they flourish and why have we not seen a counter-mutation — a cinching of the waist, perhaps with a strip of leather, or use of two elastic straps, fastened front and back, passed over the shoulders, either of which (but not both together; that’s asking too much) would hold the trousers firmly, employ the buttocks for natural support, and allow unobstructed movement of the hands and legs for fight or flight?  A mystery.

Smart-Phone-Person (SPP):  Unlike LTM, whose habitat is limited, SPP is ubiquitous, found even among isolated populations like the Rather Small and Innocently Naked People of the Ituri Forest.

Unknown-7SPPs characteristically:  Text while driving the Indy 500.  Send pictures of drunken, birthday-suit frolics with small, naked forest-persons. Check e-mail while crossing Broadway at 42nd against the light. Tweet intemperate comments about Newt Gingrich and Mike Tyson to Newt Gingrich and Mike Tyson. Look at incredible pictures of Mt. Everest while climbing Mt. Everest.  Walk on little-used, but not abandoned, rail-lines while listening to very loud music and checking the results of the Indy 500.  And yet, they too flourish.

Run-Lights-and-Stop-Signs-at-Full-Speed-Bicycle-Person (RLSSFSBP): RLSSFSBPimages-40 adds to his life-threatening repertoire the characteristics of LTM, with its risk of wardrobe malfunction (especially cuff-in-chain syndrome), and the distractedness of SPP. Amazingly, despite frequent injuries and a few fatalities, RLSSFSBP/LTM/SPP continues to chance the Broadway at 42nd Triangle.

How could so many people, exhibiting behavior that in an earlier era would have made them Mastodon fodder, so blatantly violate Darwinian principles and survive?

Unknown-15Social scientists have given up the search for rational answers and turned to religion:  God did not end the experiment when Adam and Eve hired a snake as life-coach, when the Israelites refused His offer of the cheap, perfectly safe Red Sea Ferry, or when the Italians elected Berlusconi for a third time.  So, who are we to question?