Aspirations and Genes - Scott Adams' Blog

Aspirations and Genes

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I wonder if anyone has done an experiment like the one I’m about to describe. Let me know if you have heard of it.

The experiment would involve one set of slightly underfed mice that are not tall enough when on their hind legs to reach some extra food on a ledge in the cage. They’d smell it and want it, but they couldn’t reach. The food would always be there, day after day, just out of reach.

You’d need a control group of mice who are similarly underfed but have no shelf of food that is frustratingly beyond their reach.

I’m curious if the mice that have the shelf of food just above their reach would produce taller offspring, on average, than the control group.

If so, I would call that Aspirational Evolution. My hypothesis is that creatures with brains have evolved in a way that allows one generation to influence the genes of the next based on what the parents imagine they need to better survive.

I do know that if one generation of humans lifts weights, for example, it doesn’t automatically make their kids have bigger muscles. But going to the gym has no immediate survival advantage in the way that extra food has to a hungry mouse. Exercise registers to us as more of a rational decision that might pay off over the years. Hunger is right now, and emotional.

When humans get stressed, their bodies automatically produce one set of chemicals, and if they fall in love they produce another. There’s a lot going on in our bodies, chemistry-wise. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that our minds – and specifically our aspirations – positively influence the design of the sperm and eggs that are formed by our bodily juices.

Has anyone done that experiment?