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Is "Survival of the Fittest" the only underlying formula that nature follows? Are there any others?

For a long time, I have had several conversations with various demographics of age and intelligence.

The only kind of conclusion that i was able to come down to, is that, the complete randomness in the genetic crossover of "animals" which survive to reproduce, is the only underlying truth to why the Charles Darwin came up with such extraordinary words of wisdom.

On the other hand, i find it hard to agree that Darwin's statement is the only one throughout world's history which applies at such a large and varied scale in every aspect of life.

It could be plain lack of awareness, but i'm interested in finding out/ hearing more of such phrases. Please do share if you have any.

(Preferably not having a very religious influence behind it, and not a very abstract/philosophical statement, like "change is the only absolute", etc.)


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    Mar 23 2011: The idea, survival of the fittest is probably the most misinterpreted idea of our time. It has nothing to do with capitalism, self interest or even socialism. It is simply a condition in biological organisms which allows them to survive. There is no connection to ideology, politics or morality, though these things might be a consequence of evolution they are not really vital to the concept of evolution.
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      Mar 16 2011: Syd, thank you for putting into words something that my limited English would not allow me to do.
    • Mar 18 2011: Hi Sid, there is one problem that you missed out on. Environment is only the trigger, it's what pulls the trigger that will give us the answers that we crave.
    • Mar 20 2011: Forgive me for thinking Ayn Rand might have written a great deal that makes sense. It is evident that I am not an academic and could never hope to aspire to the lofty levels of intellect that such a designation might bestow upon me. I shall now drag my knuckles back to my cave.
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        Mar 23 2011: RE....How really funny. I feel that way most of the time. Whatever I say either gets squashed or else un answered. So then I crawl back under my rock.
        • Mar 23 2011: There are many pompous twits on TED Conversations. Usually I ignore what they write, but when they insult my heroine....
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          Apr 4 2011: I only just realized that you called me a pompous twit! Revett! How could you?

          Relax-I'm just ribbing you again, Revett.
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    Apr 2 2011: Even if you only consider Darwin , thats not the only formula. Darwin talked about other four as well i.e."Variation", " Struggle for Existance", "Natural Selection" & "Reproduction or Multiplication". Each of which is not standalone but closely interlinked with each other.
  • Apr 2 2011: Could it be possible that "survival of the fittest" or a predator/prey model is doomed to failure, i.e. an intelligent species governed by that law would inveitably develop and use the means to destroy itself. Would not a more stable long term model of evolution be one of passivity like a herbavore?

    Or is the predator/prey relationship instrumental to innovation portion of evolution?
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      Apr 2 2011: Evolution is based on so many contingencies. It's impossible to generalize one model as suitable for all evolution at all times,

      Sometimes cooperation works much more to the benefit of survival than competition.
  • Mar 18 2011: Hello Akash, I read most of the answers you have recieved and I am one who cannot agree with most of what is said. In the beginning when life began to evolve, it evolved for the benefit of the species, and this pattern proceeded down the ages, until now and beyond. This pattern went on benefitting the species and this guaranteed that superior intelligence would be reached. (Homo Sapiens.) Survival of the most intelligent as always been at the top of Mother Nature's plans and it won't stop there. Sometimes what seems to be; is not what is. The demise of the dinosaur was due to its lack of intelligence. Science is only theorizing when they reconstruct this demise in so many different ways. Survival of the fittest only takes second place to the survival of the most intelligent! The theory of evolution needs to be rewritten!
    • Mar 20 2011: What evidence do you have that the dinosaurs' demise was caused by lack of intelligence?
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    Mar 15 2011: I can not even try to begin answering this question without being a little bit philosophical. Because of the word "nature".
    What do you mean by that word? Everything around us? Life on this planet?

    Also I wonder what you mean by having conversations with various demographics...do you mean individuals with various demographic characteristics? Or what?

    Do you really want to know or understand anything, by posting this question, or are you just playing with words?
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      Mar 23 2011: Yeah ! Just what is mother Nature. ?Is it really a she ? Please describe her for me.
  • Mar 15 2011: Ayn Rand said that we are all driven by "enlightened self-interest". Never have truer words been spoken. The 'self-interest' part is classic survival of the fittest -- we do whatever is in our best interest at all times. The 'enlightened' modifier is what separates us from (most) animals and allows us to live together in a civilized manner. Thus we all strive to improve our personal lots in life, but we do so without trampling willy-nilly on the rights or wants of others. (Most of us, anyway.)
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      Mar 15 2011: Hi Revett!How does the mother who stands between her child and the tiger fit into this theory? Or the man who goes back into a burning building for his wife? _ And I'm sorry but I do not buy that he/she does it for the preservation of the species or his gene pool. Love and commitment often elevate the loved one above self. I do think this is another law that nature follows and it is based on something wonderful.
      • Mar 19 2011: Hi Debra. OK, I shouldn't have said "at all times". There are obvious exceptions such as your examples. But I truly believe Ayn Rand "got it" when she wrote about enlightened self-interest as the overall guide to civilized life.
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          Mar 23 2011: Revett,
          This is off topic but why is it that when I click on your face or name it goes no where and everyone else's connects to their profile? Are you a real person?
      • Mar 23 2011: To reply to your comment aboput clicking on my face... STOP IT! It tickles.

        I am indeed a real person. Maybe your computer doesn't like photochopped faces -- my smile isn't really that big.
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          Mar 24 2011: Well at least I have learned something about you- a secret weapon to use if you get out of hand with your Ayn Rand sentiments! Ticklish!
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    Mar 15 2011: Man, probably escapes the general rule of "survival of the fittest" (at least if we look at it on an individual basis). Our technology is so advanced, that we are actually able to defeat nature in its attempt to select the fittest individuals.
    Beyond that, I believe the rule applies in nature. However, we have to define what "the fittest" means ? Is it the strongest ? the most adaptable ? the one with the highest sexual potential ?, etc
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      Mar 15 2011: I think the vaugness of "the fittest" is what may make it the universal law. It is for example able to include the ability of man to survive through the use of technology as a fitness.

      I think it is important to understand "the fittest" in a statistical way too. It does not mean that the individual that at a particular moment is most fit for survival is the one that will, but only that they are more likely to do so.
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      Mar 23 2011: Hi Harald...Yes, we can technologically beat Mom Nature by using the atom bomb whever we find a cluster of the fittest.
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        Mar 23 2011: Lol......not quiet what I had in mind when talking about "beating mother nature".
        Hope we can find....hmmmm.....less drastic methods.
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          Mar 24 2011: I know I was just being facetious. Meant no harm I have a warped dense of humor