It’s a term I prefer to artificial selection, but really, in some ways, comparison of those two ideas about selection, and I’m talking about evolutionary selection, that thing that Darwin and Wallace described, is what this is all about. And it might seem kind of nit-picky, making that distinction, but I think not, because oddly enough, I once spent, like, half a graduate seminar, discussing with folks from the natural and social sciences just WTF natural meant.
Humanity and its folly. Rather than trying to define natural, we should probably have been focusing a whole lot more on artificial, because really, the entire intent of that conversation, and yes, now I’m quite sure that there was intent there, was to convince us that artificial and natural meant exactly the same thing.
After all, humans are part of nature. Ergo, anything we contrive is natural. We can throw that world “artificial” right away, remove it from the dictionaries, no longer have any use for it, at all. We natural humans can select whatever we want to select from the gene pool, remove what we want to from it, kill off however many species we choose to, shape the planet to suit our needs.
What brings this to mind is the idea of eugenics, and gene therapies, and GMOs, and sterile hybrid roses, and virus infected tulips that prove incredibly unfit, and of course, nature. The natural world, that thing over which humanity thinks it has dominion, godlike creatures that we are.
We can decide what the gene pool will look like. We can determine which other species are necessary, which are “pests”, which can go, which might stay. And certainly, we can design our children, blonde hair, blue eyes, high IQ, no disabilities, cute and smart and maybe even fit.
Sorry, artificial selection, and yes, there is such a thing, has pretty much proven quite disastrous. That pug which cannot breathe, that breast heavy chicken, boxed, can’t do much but sit, those clonal plants that all succumb to the same pathogen, boom, all our clever manipulations of the gene pool, many not so clever after all.
And not only disastrous, just how bloody arrogant can we get? That we can decide what genes should stay, what genes should go, how much that one is worth, and there are some, quite valuable, at least in terms of that artificial (such a handy word) thing called money.
It sounds a whole lot worse than artificial selection, doesn’t it?I kind of like it, that it sounds so much more like exactly what it is. But that’s me. Achtung, Baby.