18 Oct 2006

Morlocks and Eloi

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The BBC reports on the speculations of Oliver Curry, a research associate at the London School of Economics who is pursuing the somewhat-anachronistic career path of applying Dawinism to human moral, social, and political behavior. Hello! it’s been done. Ever hear of Herbert Spencer? Or William Graham Sumner?

He has certainly read H.G. Wells.

Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years’ time as predicted by HG Wells, an expert has said.

Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics expects a genetic upper class and a dim-witted underclass to emerge.

The human race would peak in the year 3000, he said – before a decline due to dependence on technology.

People would become choosier about their sexual partners, causing humanity to divide into sub-species, he added.

The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the “underclass” humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.

But in the nearer future, humans will evolve in 1,000 years into giants between 6ft and 7ft tall, he predicts, while life-spans will have extended to 120 years, Dr Curry claims.

Physical appearance, driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility, will improve, he says, while men will exhibit symmetrical facial features, look athletic, and have squarer jaws, deeper voices and bigger penises.

Women, on the other hand, will develop lighter, smooth, hairless skin, large clear eyes, pert breasts, glossy hair, and even features, he adds. Racial differences will be ironed out by interbreeding, producing a uniform race of coffee-coloured people.

However, Dr Curry warns, in 10,000 years time humans may have paid a genetic price for relying on technology.

Spoiled by gadgets designed to meet their every need, they could come to resemble domesticated animals.

Social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be lost, along with emotions such as love, sympathy, trust and respect. People would become less able to care for others, or perform in teams.

Physically, they would start to appear more juvenile. Chins would recede, as a result of having to chew less on processed food.

There could also be health problems caused by reliance on medicine, resulting in weak immune systems. Preventing deaths would also help to preserve the genetic defects that cause cancer.

Further into the future, sexual selection – being choosy about one’s partner – was likely to create more and more genetic inequality, said Dr Curry.

The logical outcome would be two sub-species, “gracile” and “robust” humans similar to the Eloi and Morlocks foretold by HG Wells in his 1895 novel The Time Machine.

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Dominique R. Poirier

The fact is that style and discourse of Oliver Curry resembles this of a XIXth century columnist, as if the man just stepped off his time machine.

Being from time to time BBC listener, I can testify that this kind of singularity occurs sometimes on this English radio. Last year, while riding my car, I heard the BBC talking at lengths with dedicated praise about a said to be famous management professor whose achievements, in England and abroad, pushed Peter Drucker’s into the background. No more, no less, the man was said to be the founding father of the modern Japanese management. Once at home, ashamed by my ignorance, I literally jumped on my computer keyboard to know more about the guru; til I discovered that if the eminent scholar never published any book, his courses were available on VHS cassettes each sold for a very expensive price on his business website!

I remember also of a burlesque interview, which occurred in 1999 on LCI, a French news TV channel, of the then CEO of Bull, a French computer company. It just sadly happened that the interviewee didn’t know a bit about computers and proved unable to answer nearly all questions the embarrassed TV caster asked him. I hope this CEO, which also happened to be heir of a famous family of the ancient French noblesse (perhaps not coincidentally), took some courses since then.

Since these media are not supposed to be paid, or even to accept to be paid, for such kind of publicity, I cannot but suppose that those oddities owe to shortcomings sometimes encountered from one country to another in the frame of the “circulation of the elite”, as the Italian sociologist Vilfredo Pareto describe them in his authoritative book: Mind and Society.


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