Evolutionary Entertainment

Exploring the evolutionary foundations of popular culture.

Homo Professoris, Part IV: Survival of The Blender Avoider?

Sometimes my examples in class perturb even me.

In the spirit of this blog's title, "Evolutionary Entertainment," here is Part IV in an ongoing series on the daily life of Homo professoris.


To increase students’ attention and information retention, I make ample use of the bizarre mnemonic when lecturing. Occasionally though, a student will echo my bizarre, vivid example from class on an exam and leave me wondering, "Did I really say that?"  This is one of those times.

QUESTION: Why is "survival of the fittest" a poor description of natural selection, and who coined the phrase? (5 points)

STUDENT'S ANSWER: Herbert Spencer, popularizer and bastardizer (Kuhle, 2014) of Darwin's theory of natural selection, coined the misleading phrase. 

The phrase is misleading because it over-emphasizes the roles of strength, survival, and physical fitness in natural selection while under-emphasizing the role of reproduction, the true engine of evolution. 

As you said in class, "You can be the strongest, most physically fit, longest-living dude around, but if you can't walk past a whirling blender set to 'mince' without dropping trou and fucking it, you're gonna get selected out, right quick." 

This is because natural selection favors reproduction (and not fucking blenders) more than fitness, survival, and strength. 

In short, "not a single one of our ancestors were blender fuckers" (Kuhle, 2014).

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The student received full credit for his answer. The professor should receive full medical leave to have his head examined.  

My other posts in this ongoing series:

Homo professoris, Part I: The Nasal Groom

Homo professoris, Part II: The Email Reply

Homo professoris, Part III: The 'Show Me Your Big D' Lecture

Homo professoris, Part V: The Born Again Evangelical Atheist

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of Psychology Today and the University of Scranton, or me, and certainly not the views of my friends, family, probation officer, gut bacteria, darkest thoughts, and personal mohel.

Copyright © 2014 Barry X. Kuhle. All rights reserved.

Barry X. Kuhle, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Scranton.


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