2 minute read

That was the message that just flashed surreally on my TV screen, from the old U2 "ZooTV" tour. Yes, that's the one where the Edge is wearing a beret.

So, having this excellent 17-year-old advice from Bono, I decided to Google "EVOLUTION IS OVER" to see what I would find.

Here's an old article (2002) in The Observer by Robin McKie:

For those who dream of a better life, science has bad news: this is the best it is going to get. Our species has reached its biological pinnacle and is no longer capable of changing.
That is the stark, controversial view of a group of biologists who believe a Western lifestyle now protects humanity from the forces that used to shape Homo sapiens.
'If you want to know what Utopia is like, just look around - this is it,' said Professor Steve Jones, of University College London, who is to present his argument at a Royal Society Edinburgh debate, 'Is Evolution Over?', next week. 'Things have simply stopped getting better, or worse, for our species.'

There is more, including quotes from Chris Stringer noting the continuing evolutionary change during the past 10,000 years. There seems to have been much emphasis on trying to predict where things are going in the future.

Then, there is this article by Freeman Dyson in New Perspectives Quaterly from this summer:

Now, after some 3 billion years, the Darwinian era is over. The epoch of species competition came to an end about 10,000 years ago when a single species, Homo sapiens, began to dominate and reorganize the biosphere. Since that time, cultural evolution has replaced biological evolution as the driving force of change. Cultural evolution is not Darwinian. Cultures spread by horizontal transfer of ideas more than by genetic inheritance. Cultural evolution is running a thousand times faster than Darwinian evolution, taking us into a new era of cultural interdependence that we call globalization. And now, in the last 30 years, Homo sapiens has revived the ancient pre-Darwinian practice of horizontal gene transfer, moving genes easily from microbes to plants and animals, blurring the boundaries between species. We are moving rapidly into the post-Darwinian era, when species will no longer exist, and the evolution of life will again be communal.

As he explains early in the essay, Dyson is building here on the ideas of Carl Woese, referring to early microbial evolution as "pre-Darwinian" because of the prevalence of horizontal gene transfer.

Well, there's surely no harm in watching more TV...