<< TV On DVD: Battlestar Galactica | Roving Reporter >>
Natural Selective Hearing

Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet Chevalier de Lamarck (or "Petey" to his friends) was one of the earliest proponents of evolution, publishing his conjecture on the subject more than 50 years before the advent of The Origin of Species. The most prominent theory formulated by Lamarck was "the inheritance of acquired traits," stating that traits acquired by an organisms during its lifetime will be transmitted to its dependents. For instance, Lamarck postulated that giraffes spend their lives stretching to reach ever-higher leaves to eat and then pass their elongated necks on to their offspring. This principle, now known as "Lamarckism," was later refuted and superseded by Darwin's theory of natural selection.

Still, I can't help but think that Petey may have been onto something. After all, The Queen and I had been dating for 10 years before she mastered the ability to completely ignore me when I was saying something that she didn't want to hear, and it took me 10 years to learn how to do likewise for her, but The Squirrelly has had the ability to tune either of us out since the get-go.

Posted on July 05, 2005 to The Squirrelly


Babies that cute make me want to rethink things.

PS: Really really loved that photo shoot a while back, with The Squirrelly watching the cat walk by. I sometimes think of it in the car and laugh like a maniac.

Posted by: sunny on July 6, 2005 9:46 PM

Sunny, you should check out some of the faces that kid makes then.

Damn, that kid's cute. I've said it before and I'll say it again - The cuteness, it burns!

Posted by: hdc on July 6, 2005 10:18 PM

My wife's Uncle Lawrence was stone deaf for thirty-something years. When Aunt Yvonne died, Lawrence somehow miraculously regained his hearing. The darndest thing...

Posted by: Doug L. on July 6, 2005 11:14 PM

It is kind of amazing isn't it? She's also inherited the ability to cause us agonizing pain with her dagger-like nails. OK, maybe that's not an inherited trait. Maybe I just need to cut her nails.

Squirrely is SO adorable. I love the look of apprehension when he's getting his hair cut.

Posted by: miel on July 7, 2005 12:44 AM

I actually had the ability to tune my wife out almost immediately after we started dating ("...then Jeannie said she'd NEVER do that if she had kids, can you believe THAT? drone, drone, drone..."). It took me about eight years to learn how to evaluate what conversations I could tune out without risk of extreme personal discomfort (i.e. none of them).

Of course, now that we have our own version of Squirrelly, he's the topic of 99.87 percent of all conversation, and there's no topic that isn't interesting when it comes to Inky-dink.

Posted by: Lost Poke on July 7, 2005 8:11 AM

Almost every time I think of evolution (really, not all that often), I think of the giraffe example you gave -- but I've always attributed it to Darwin. I feel like I've learned something while doing what started out as "taking a break from work to see what's going in the world."

So, I've gone from wasting time to actually educating myself.

I have three Squirrellys -- all boys -- as they get older the 'tuning parents out' trait transforms itslef into something a bit different, becoming the , 'oh, when you said that I thought you meant this ... ' trait.

Eg: I said -- "We're leaving in a minute, don't get dirty."

The boys heard "We have time to wrestle in the mud out back."

Posted by: Delmer on July 7, 2005 9:45 AM

check out www.brucelipton.com

He is a Stanford scientist who has proven that we can change our own DNA with our thoughts. We can evolve ourselves, and yes, children can immediately pick up skills learned by their parents because their brain's wave patterns allow instant unconscious learning. Thats' why kids can learn to speak 3 languages at once if they are fuly imnmersed in a multilingual environment (and they won't get them mixed together).

Posted by: J on July 7, 2005 1:24 PM

What'd you say?

Posted by: David on July 8, 2005 8:05 AM

Delmer: "yes, children can immediately pick up skills learned by their parents because their brain's wave patterns allow instant unconscious learning"

Sorry, Delmer, but this isn't the way it works. For starters, the reason kids can pick up languages so quickly when they're young is because they can pick up just about ANYTHING qickly when they're young, if they're submersed in it.

Any time we learn something, our brain gets a new wrinkle. Whenever we re-enforce that particular knowledge (or habit), the deeper and more expansive that wrinkle gets. The more wrinkles you have in your brain, the slower your learning goes because you have more wrinkles than before. Also, wrinkles can't really be un-done, although I'm sure they can be de-emphasized. (Ever hear that your brain stores ALL information you ever run across? That's why.) A baby has a brand new brain, and therefore very few wrinkles in that brain. Learning is easier for them because wrinkles get formed much easier. In your example, you use languages. The parents know 3 languages (say, Spanish, English, and French), and the kid, according to your example, would automatically learn those languages because the parents knew them. I'll contend that the kid will learn those languages because the parents spoke the language around the kid. The learning patterns were therefore set in to place and, as a consequence, the kid willlikely be able to learn more languages more easily througout his life. Petey's learned/passed on trait crud got booted out of evolution because, frankly, it didn't make any sense. (And still doesn't.)

Here's an example: I used to teach violin and had students of all ages (over 7 -- I don't do Suzuki). The youngest students, if you could get them to practice, would leave older students eating rosin dust. The younger they were, the faster they picked things up. Of course, they had less life experience to draw from, so when they learned something they learned *that*, and didn't abstract it by comparing it to something else. Older students would say stuff like, "Oh, holding this bow is a bit like holding a pencil." They would then develop the bad habit of holding the bow like a pencil. The younger students would say, "ok, hold it like this?" After a little instruction, the younger student would have a more advanced bow hold than the older student.

Ok, I realize that if you're not a violinist or something similar, that example didn't make much sense. Sorry about that.

Matthew: I think The Squirrelly simply picked up your powers of -- uhm -- ignoring (? ignorance? ignoramousing??? correct me, please) by observing you and the Queen. Either that, or The Squirrelly simply has an advanced sense of selective hearing. (Given the age, I'll put my $$ on that second one.)

Posted by: gnorb on July 9, 2005 4:27 PM

Sorry, Delmer. That was meant for J.

Posted by: gnorb on July 9, 2005 4:28 PM

Actually, there is *some* evidence for lamark's theories: the offspring of maze-savvy rats are better mazers (as are those rats injected with brain bits of maze-savvy rats, uck); and evolutionary "momentum" not explainable by natural selection ... apendices shrinking, smaller (and less impacted) wisdom teeth in developed nations where these wouldn't be life-threatening. However, he appears to be 90+% wrong, which doesn't mean he wasn't a bright cookie.

Posted by: bug on July 9, 2005 8:51 PM

1) As for the offspring of maze-savvy rats, if the rats were maze-savvy to begin with, it might have more to do with the breeding of intelligent rats to breed rats of higher intelligence than with acquired "evolutionary momentum." Of course, these could end up being one and the same. As for implated brains -- "yuck" is right. I don't know anything about that, but it sounds like the plot line of a somewhat entertaining B-movie.

2) As for the "evolutionary" traits of people in developed nations, that sounds more like environmental evolution than anything else. In fact, here's another (and a prediction): Attention Deficit Disorder. People with ADD and ADHD will become the "norm" within the next 50 years, thereby making THAT the next "step" in human evolution. With technology increasingly forcing us to multitask, a person with the natural ability to jump from one focal point to another quickly and without detriment is better suited for situations that demand a an understanding of organized chaos than those who work primarily in a linear environment. Dunno if you've noticed, but we're moving to such a world. (Ever see a 14 year old talking on the phone while listening to TV, IM'ing a friend, listening to music and doing their homework all at the same time? 'Nuff said.)

3) I don't doubt the guy was a smart cookie. A lot of smart people got a lot of things wrong (ex. Ptolemy). And even if he was 10% right -- well, that's more than I can say for myself when it comes to stuff that no one's ever really thought about before, now doesn't it? ;-)

Posted by: gnorb on July 9, 2005 11:05 PM