Ask A Genius 205 – Gould, S.J.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
June 21, 2017
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Rick Rosner: As we’ve said a gazillion times, we have tried to pin down when it gets weird like a thousand times. We can try to pin down when the phase changes will occur. We can look at evolution, which is a gradualist theory.
Speciation takes place over huge stretches of time. Species are stable for huge stretches of time. It is the accumulation of change. 100 years after Darwin. Stephen jay Gould and his research partner came up with a modification to evolutionary gradualism with punctuated equilibrium.
The evolutionary changes still take a long time, but they don’t all take place at the same rate. If you look at the fossil record, you can find endless instances of extended periods of species stability and short periods of species change and adaptation.
The change will happen at shorter time scales than periods of species stability, but there seems to be more time for species to be stable, except for certain hallmarks of a well-adapted species. A lot of species that are good fits in their environment.
They are successful across centuries, which is the domination of jocks in a niche, basically. The well-adapted species tend to be the dominant species over time. The members of the species that are bigger and dominant drive things to be bigger and more dominant, but other things are stable.
When new species bud off, that happens relatively quickly. It is across hundreds of thousands of years, typically, but not like the hundreds of thousands and even millions of years in which species can be stable.
You can kind of look at changes in our culture from that same perspective. That things tend to be stable for a long time and then they have a stable period of technology. The era of writing and literacy extended for a long time.
Depending on what your criteria are, whether you need 20% literacy for the population to say their literate or 50%, whatever your criteria; however, you define the era of the written word. You’re going to get something that has been not too unstable for centuries.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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