Donner MacRae

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since Jul 26, 2019
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Recent posts by Donner MacRae

A few add'l observations on the subject of 'adaptation':

What's good for the species in the long run ain't always good for the individual in the short run!

What may very well be an advantage at the species level may be maladaptive at the individual level.

That said... The very terms adaptive/maladaptive pre-suppose a larger context.
The set of external conditions which defines that context is itself subject to change. The idea that something is a disorder/ailment is at times highly dependent on normalcy bias centered around present-context.
Which perhaps is just another way of saying, an 'adaptation' is not really a complete thing in and of itself. Every adaptive trait is an adaptation to something.

For most of the history of what we call the autism phenomenon, it seems like autism (when taken as a set of behaviors) would've been viewed as more maladaptive than adaptive at the individual level. But there's that pesky 'black swan' every 500 years or so when the context suddenly changes; when half the population of Europe dies off in a plague, for example - or when groupthink dictates that running off the edge of a cliff is the optimal course of action.

[For reference, Black Swan Theory was developed by Nassim Taleb to describe "the disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology."]

If you happen to live at the cusp of such an inflection point...  The simple 'inability to hang' becomes adaptive.  Albeit, temporarily. =]
2 months ago

Sergio Cunha wrote:I wonder if autistic people is a nature's way of keeping the species alive in case of high mortality epidemic/pandemic. Since autistic people tend to live alone, it seems they're less vulnerable to highly contagious virus or bacteria.

To my way of thinking, there are two distinct/separable propositions here.

1] Will autistic people, by virtue of being 'loners', have a higher likelihood of surviving high mortality events such as epidemics/pandemics (and therefore of 'keeping the species alive' by re-populating in the wake of such events)?

2] Is the autism phenomenon Nature's work, or is it more like a fortuitous accident/windfall event created by something UN-natural - e.g., increasing exposure to various toxins which are themselves products of our technological civilization (which might well be a one-off event)?

Some research on slime molds suggests it is advantageous to have some 'loners' in your population:

Evolution selects for 'loners' that hang back from collective behavior—at least in slime molds
2 months ago

Look at it like a political office, and make a run for it.
2 months ago

Maybe you should make like a librarian and book.
Or - make like Usain, and Bolt.

Me, I'm gonna make like pectin, and jam.
2 months ago
Gimme your best 'make like a _' one-liner!
Time to make like a baby and head on out of this bitch.
2 months ago
What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino?

2 months ago
What do you call an old snowman? A glass of water.
2 months ago
My neighbor rang my doorbell at 3AM. (Can you believe the NERVE of that guy?)
Luckily, I was still up playing the drums.
2 months ago
Four from the great Steve McDonald:

Love, War, Death... Re-incarnation.
The journey of the Warrior Soul.
2 months ago
(Slight) improvement on one of Jay Angler's from p. 87:

Q: What is the best time to go to the dentist?
A: Before tooth-hurty.

This joke was actually tacked to the wall at my old dentist's office =]
2 months ago