Note: The origin of my harshness was this, ON the day we laid Tyre Nichols to rest, I was commenting on a police report of a double amputee being shot to death by the police. Trolls have to troll. After my rebuttal, I heard nothing else.
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Star Trek
A common trope in science fiction is a misunderstanding, intentional, or unintentional, of evolution. Over time we get smarter, more peaceful, better, or something like that.
The definition of evolution given at the outset of this entry is very general; there are more specific ones in the literature, some of which do not fit this general characterization. Here is a sampling.
Although the work of Charles Darwin (see the entry on Darwinism) is usually the starting point for contemporary understandings of evolution, interestingly, he does not use the term in the first edition of On the Origin of Species, referring instead to "descent with modification.” In the early-mid 20th century, the "modern synthesis" gave birth to population genetics, which provided a mathematization of Darwinian evolutionary theory in light of Mendelian genetics (see also the entry on ecological genetics). This yielded a prevalent—probably the most prevalent—understanding of evolution as "any change in the frequency of alleles within a population from one generation to the next." Note, however, that this definition refers to evolution only in a micro-evolutionary context and thus doesn't reference the emergence of new species (and their new characteristics), although it is intended to underlie those macroevolutionary changes (see the entry on philosophy of macroevolution).
In a popular textbook, Douglas Futuyma gives a more expansive definition:
[biological evolution] is a change in the properties of groups of organisms over the course of generations…it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportions of different forms of a gene within a population to the alterations that led from the earliest organism to dinosaurs, bees, oaks, and humans. (2005: 2)
For one hour of fictional products, it has to be shortened: over time, things get better.
Over time we will reach nirvana. Over time science will solve the mysteries that vex us. Over time we will learn to "live together as brothers and sisters" or perish as fools, per Dr. King. Both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gene Roddenberry were optimistic evolutionists. They could see a future where we conquered our prejudices along with the stars. We worked together across skin tones as one humanity, in peace (at least on Earth), expanding our survivability on other worlds. Particularly for King, Nichele Nichols represented our people would survive into the future, a detail sci-fi writers like H.G. Wells (an enthusiastic eugenicist) conveniently forgot, and H.P. Lovecraft was openly racist and hostile, a reality that still plagues both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. It is why African American speculative fiction writers like Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin is important in an era of projection, obfuscation, and, ironically, "cancel culture." Afrofuturism came from the same well as women's fiction, queer fiction, and studies centered on each genre: to be seen. Florida might as well call February Blank History Month. Frederick Douglass, a Republican, orator, and abolitionist can't be mentioned in "DeSantis-Stan."
Things, over time, don't necessarily get better.
Are we living in [the] age of stupid? The era of the idiot? The answer, of course, is yes, with examples of monstrous moronicism everywhere – from climate deniers to the "plandemic" crowd who believe Covid-19 was cooked up in Bill Gates' basement. On the other hand, human beings have always been incredible creatures. A better question is whether we are, as a species, becoming dumber. If this is already the era of the idiot, what comes next?
An "Idiocracy," according to filmmaker Mike Judge. The Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill, and Silicon Valley creator's dystopian 2006 comedy (which he directed and co-wrote with Etan Cohen) arrived with its own terminology to help us prepare for the upcoming reality T.V. special that we may call The Collapse of Reality Itself.
Idiocracy: a disturbingly prophetic look at the future of America – and our era of stupidity, Mike Judge, The Guardian
To get to the "get better" part, fictional Earth and Vulcan two millennia before, had to go through, and survive their global nuclear conflicts (not an easy trick - so far, we have no models). The Vulcans discovered "o'thea": a philosophy of logic/reality-truth after massive savagery and infighting. Earthlings, after MAGA, went through a few things that aren't for the squeamish.
Leon Festnger studied an apocalyptic UFO cult in the 1950s – a precursor to the Heaven’s Gate Cult of the 1990s. They were sure the world would end and had a date. The faithful sold all their worldly goods and waited for the apocalypse, and waited, and waited. Some of the former faithful felt discouraged and left. Others felt their “vibrations” had saved the Earth from destruction. Simple Psychology defines it thus: “Cognitive dissonance (CD) refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. CD produces a feeling of discomfort, leading to an alteration in attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance, etc. “For example, when people smoke (behavior) and they know that smoking causes cancer (cognition). “Festinger’s (1957) cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we have an inner drive to hold all our attitudes and beliefs in harmony and avoid disharmony (or dissonance).”
"Party of Apocalypse" - Reginald L. Goodwin
Jordan Klepper turns the crazy into a shtick on the Daily Show. Crashing Trump's first campaign rally in South Carolina, he ran into a fanbase that has not only still stayed faithful to their cult leader, but they also do not accept Joe Biden as the current president. In their minds, Trump is still president, and they probably wouldn't mind if he suspended The Constitution, elections, and REMAINED president, plugging in his children and grandchildren. This rule by royalty is what Europeans left Europe for. Jordan himself is worried.
We used to have two Americas based on a social construct of race. We now have two Americas based on logic, and illogic, reality and nonreality, fact, and fiction. The purveyor of 73% of election misinformation on the planet was suspended from social media after a filmed, live insurrection on January 6, 2021, that he encouraged, where people died, excrement spread at the Capitol. But, those were "crisis actors," Black Lives Matter, or Antifa (again, which means anti-fascist, and I can't imagine anyone but a fascist having a problem with that). He has now been re-platformed by Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. Misinformation is their business model, and the bottom line is far more important than citizenship and a federal republic. The College Board, in a move of abject cowardice, dumbed down the African American AP curriculum, piloted at 60 high schools, and released stripped down nationwide because it hurt the feelings of the High Potentate of DeSantis-Stan!
This is probably what a "Collapse of Reality Itself" looks like.
And it didn't take 500 years, rabid procreation, or a nuclear holocaust to get there.