Cancer, invasive species, natural selection and artificiality

I have been thinking for years about this issue of cancer and its generalization as invasive species. In nature invasive species are rather rare, because by failing to maintain equilibrium with the ecosystem that feeds them, they end up destroying their “nourishing substrate” and die with it.

Misunderstanding of natural selection

This reflection led me to reconsider the question of natural selection and its extensions such as social Darwinism. The very principle of social Darwinism is not fundamentally false, but the application made by some to justify social inequities clearly demonstrates their fundamental incomprehension of these mechanisms.

Natural selection is not just the elimination of the weak and the selection of the strongest. Natural selection is a much more complicated mechanism, in three ways:

  • To begin, we must see the ecosystem as a system (almost) zero waste. Whenever a residue accumulates, a new species appears to consume it.
  • Second, we must not consider that they are species that are fighting for survival within a single ecosystem, because in reality, the systems are intertwined, and a species can disappear because that she was too strong and that she killed the system that housed her. It is this last point that those who claim social Darwinism to justify their social position have failed to see.
  • Finally, natural selection does not choose or eliminate, not just species. It chooses or eliminates (or even regulates, also, in fact) also the productions, the concepts and the principles put in place by the species that it chooses, eliminates or regulates.

Natural selection and cancer

As a result, the fact that an invasive system such as cancer disappears with its host is a limiting factor for the success of the concept. As a result, “natural” invasive species are more likely to be caused by accidents (such as, for example, contact between two systems that did not communicate before), but invasiveness can rarely persist. Either the host system “finds” a way to regulate the invader, or it is itself eliminated by natural selection, and carries the invader or cancer with it.

One could of course object that as long as the cancer appears after an organism has reproduced, it does not pose a problem in terms of natural selection, but organisms that have already reproduced are also the memory of the group and are an element important for its ability to build complex social structures that persist over time, which is also a factor in the survival of the species.

The invading system position is also the situation in which man finds himself, in relation to nature, and probably also the situation in which are the “human diseased cells” which appropriate all the resources in our economic system that they are destroying (see, my article on our pathological construction of private property) – the question then is whether our weakened economic system will still be able to destroy or regulate this cancer that gnaws at it; some argue that according to their simulations, he has already only 3 to 6 years to live.

Cancer and artificiality

So what does it involve? It seems obvious to me, by the mechanisms described above, that cancer is a mechanism that has been spontaneously eliminated by hundreds of millions of years of natural selection. A study on dinosaur fossils, for example, showed that only one family of dinosaurs to the exclusion of all others, was significantly affected by cancer, and it was thought that the cause was its inadequate diet. So, if it reappears importantly with the modern man and his animals, it seems to me just as obvious that it is because we massively “polluted” the system that feeds us, with substances, principles and species that have never crossed the barrier of natural selection.

All of these production / principles and species have been selected by humans, but we have never asked ourselves how this fits into the whole ecosystem. In the early days of civilization, the volume of this problem was anecdotal and resulted in a relatively bearable increase in the problem. But now, the volume of “successes” of Western civilization and the monstrous increase in population that has resulted, but all that is simply not tenable anymore.

Re-define artificiality?

This should lead us to a redefinition of the distinction between natural and artificial. I have often seen scientists argue that the notions of “chemical” and “artificial” are arbitrary without purpose because everything is composed of atoms that are chemical and that the man who creates the artificial is himself natural. Moreover, reject the artificial for the sole reason that it is created by the man is a little “free”. On the other hand, the idea that the artificial is dangerous, because it has not crossed the barrier of natural selection, and therefore of integration into the ecosystem, is a very relevant distinction.

In the same logic, is not “chemical”, which is composed of chemicals, but what is derived directly or indirectly (through the living system, for example) from the chemical industry.

The foolish solutions, towards more artificiality

So, do not imagine that simplistic ecological pseudo solutions such as veganism will solve the problem. It is nothing more than an outgrowth of Occidentalism, which simply propose to move the problem elsewhere but are just as, if not more deleterious, to the extent that it is only a flight forward, towards still a little more artificiality (replacing wool, leather, honey, eggs, cheese and meat with industrial substitutes are only artificial plasters on a plastic wooden leg).

Let the ecosystem restore natural balances

If we want a viable solution, we must start by restoring the economic balance by destroying the principles that make profitable for individuals and businesses, the destruction and replacement of the environment by always more artificiality; and on the contrary, to restore collective value to the understanding of the natural world around us, to restore its place even to the bacterial level, to the wild environment that has much more natural resilience than anything we are able to create . We must relearn to ask nature to give us what we need, rather than replace with our creations all that does not suit us (This is what the cultures – particularly shamanic – traditional ones did. In this respect, the example of the substitution of fermented traditional preserves by wild bacterial ecosystems, by faster imitations to produce, with similar tastes, but no more the same nutritional properties, is symptomatic of the harm we are doing. to ourselves by artificiality.

After that, I do not pretend that technology is a bad thing. I am saying that we must absolutely refrain from substituting it for nature, whose R & D (research and development) section is hundreds of millions of years ahead of us; and always submit our innovations to natural selection, before wanting to graft them massively on a system that they may be able to contribute to destroy.

Edit: At the latest news, this article has just been rejected by an administrator of the group “From all but Science! The universe, life, consciousness. “. it gives an idea of ​​the resistance we have to face if we want to get out of it …

(1): In fact, the formula “it appears” is misleading: In fact, new species appear permanently, especially at the bacterial level. There are billions of billions and even more, on earth. Even though DNA is an extremely stable construction (probably of the order of one error every 10 million copies), the number of bacteria that reproduce at every moment, make billions of bacteria defective which are produced every second, and that on these billions, it regularly appears one for which the residue that has accumulated is a resource, and that will proliferate, because it is the only one able to consume this resource.

The creation of new species is rarer at the level of complex organisms, but the mechanism of sexual reproduction, not being based on random error, but rather being a recombination mechanism of genes that have already been proven, makes “mutations” both more frequent and more systematically viable.

After that, living still provides other mechanisms for creating new variations, such as recently discovered mechanisms, transmissible activation / deactivation, pre-existing genes (epigenetic), or, more rarely, occasional transport by viruses, genetic material from one individual to another.

Author: Falmir Truck


“Falmir Truck is a member and / or administrator of several Facebook groups dealing with topics as varied as the relationship between science and belief, and pseudo skepticism (the art of questioning the beliefs of others and not his own); politics, economics and society; nutrition, fermentations and fasting; Japan, its culture and its language. He is an eternal student who practiced electronics successively in the 80s, at a time when electronics was still fun; then computer science since the 90s; he is currently finishing studies in psychology; and still has a curriculum for the next 300 years, including physics, chemistry, medicine, philosophy – if he lives long enough for that … He regularly animates his facebook wall with “essay topics” For those who frequent it, and occasionally publish feature articles on topics as diverse as its scattered interests. “

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