Cultural evolution produces hot garbage

Evolution is not a ladder. Even the tree metaphor is flawed because it gives the faulty impression of ‘progress’ upward. Evolution is only change in whatever direction leads to the most reproduction.

Cultural evolution is the idea that our ideas and way of life evolves generation to generation much the way an organism does, based on how easy the ideas/traditions/etc are to imprint on the next generation.

In much the way that you could sit down and design a self replicating organism that is way better at existing than a lot of life on earth, you can also come up with ideas and art that are way better than whatever music/art/entertainment gets passed on and on and on.

If evolution produces junk so often, maybe it’s time we start trying to influence it. Biologically, we can do this by editing our own genes. We are well on the way to doing this already.

But culturally, how do we do it? How can we change what is popular so that it’s something beautiful and meaningful that is gets created, instead of Transformers 8, season 10 of Jersey Shore, or a billion copies of 50 Shades of Gray?

The answer is probably education, as it seems to be with almost every problem in society. Someone who’s read history’s greats, and seen the most elegant art and been taught enough about the world to appreciate its most amazing creations, is going to have a lot less interest in the basic, surface level schlock that floods the market every day.

 

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