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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dangerous Speculations

Historically, what I intend to do this evening has resulted in unspeakable cruelty and arrogance.  Nevertheless I feel the need to address what I think are reasonable possibilities.  I wish to speculate on human breeding and intellectual traits.  Is it not possible that the search for marital compatibility is an important factor in breeding and in the reinforcement of selected personality traits?  Today we watched the movie Babe originally released in 1995.  My wife and I agreed that this was a very good movie.  Somehow, the fact that we agreed about this movie brought us closer together—confirmed that we had made the right choice in selecting a mate.  Certainly on one level the movie can appear silly.  But somehow this movie based largely on talking animals touches a profoundly fundamental nerve—the themes find as commendable assets a solid preference for mutual respect; the preference of persuasion and love over intimidation, fear, and force; and the importance of openness to innovation.  We found ourselves crying in joy over the triumph of these qualities.  If either my wife or I had been cynical and ridiculed and trashed the film, then we would have felt more separated and alienated from one another.  From ancient times storytelling has been an important aspect of the human experience.  Could not affinity for the themes of these stories be a way for couples to find each other and to propagate and favor the tendencies affirmed in the stories?  They would prefer mates who found that the same cords resonated within their souls.  Could not the predominant tone and character of the society—the traits of the society—have been in large matter genetically self-selected based on appreciation of the mythology of the culture?

The Russian experiment (began in 1959) with foxes demonstrates that domestication of wild animals can occur very rapidly (decisive results showing in 50 years).  Foxes though breeding selection quickly demonstrate preference for affection rather than aggression: The result is that Russian scientists now have a number of domesticated foxes that are fundamentally different in temperament and behavior from their wild forebears. Some important changes in physiology and morphology are now visible…” (Source).

It may well be that mythology selects for predilections that touch on many bases—from emotional and intellectual to political and religious.  I joked with my wife that only democrats should be allowed to breed.  This, of course, would quickly result in everyone being democrat—in name only.  I make no plea for “planned parenthood,” but I do wonder often about the influential dimensions of romantic love.  Under this custom people engage in the self-selection of mates during which ideological preferences and temperaments are often key considerations.  After all, the beginning of my own happy marriage began in Sunday school—among a self-selected group of people sharing many deeply held prejudices and beliefs.

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