Evolutionary psychology Intelligent Design

Darwinism at work: Being an addict might be an evolutionary advantage

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Here’s a marvellous example, from a behavioral neuroscientist, of the way Darwinism simply follows popular culture without adding anything to it:

It’s nearly impossible to imagine, but there could be an evolutionary advantage to the addictive tendencies that cause many to throw away relatively safe and undisrupted lives to walk on addiction’s perilous ledge. As a former addict who is now a psychology and neuroscience professor at Bucknell University, I’ve dedicated my life’s research to learning the root causes of addiction…

A core attribute of addictive drugs is that they are neurologically newsworthy, and for sensation-seekers, they may satisfy a craving like scratching an itch. Though a tendency to spend the rent money on a transient solution to boredom might be hard to fathom as a parent or partner of such an individual, from an evolutionary perspective, such tendencies may be a real asset. The population benefits by having a mixed pool of risk-averse and risk-seeking individuals—some to caution us to remain secure in what’s familiar, and others eager for the unknown. Which is better for survival clearly depends upon the particular conditions; at least some of us will survive if the group expresses tendencies toward both strategies. Judy Grisel, “The Evolutionary Advantages of an Addictive Personality” at Scientific American

First, good for Grisel that she is getting her life together and thanks to her or sharing! May all addicts do the same.

Now, as to her thesis, if we left out the gunk about evolution, what would we have? Instead of

Though a tendency to spend the rent money on a transient solution to boredom might be hard to fathom as a parent or partner of such an individual, from an evolutionary perspective, such tendencies may be a real asset.

we would have

Though a tendency to spend the rent money on a transient solution to boredom might be hard to fathom as a parent or partner of such an individual… such tendencies may be a real asset.

No. The existence of groups like Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics is testimony to the “real asset’s” real outcome: destruction.

Her basic thesis is that, because we don’t lead such exciting lives today, addicts ingest harmful substances instead. Maybe.

One can almost hear a local addiction recovery group chuckling quietly in the background. If we had all appeared a millennium ago on a deserted planet, some people would still get hooked on substances. Few of them show much creativity as a result — except maybe in finding different ways to be sick or die. People recover when they decide that wellness is worth the struggle. If that idea (recovery) evolved at all, it must have evolved a long time ago, when we didn’t notice.

And if we had all come into existence a millennium ago, that’s be the supposed reason some people wreck their lives by addiction: lack of rootedness, not knowing one’s background, etc. There is always a culturally comprehensible reason; count on it.

Note, however, that nonsense becomes apparent sense once the concept of “evolution” is thrown in. That’s what has become of Darwinism today (which is what people like Grisel mean by “evolution”—guys running around, throwing spears on the savannah). No other theory in evolution (convergence. horizontal gene transfer, hybridization, epigenetics, stasis) attracts this load of pop psych. Is there more hard math involved in the less popular theories? More need for actual evidence?

See also: Here’s A Bunk Detector For “Evolution” Claims From Therapists And Counsellors

and

“The evolutionary psychologist knows why you vote — and shop, and tip at restaurants”

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