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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Does evolution suggest that we should winnow out those who are mentally and/or physically defective?

While this is a common statement in trying to show that evolution is cold-hearted and is not a basis for morality, it is not accurate. For example, evolutionary psychologists have suggested that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may reflect a side-effect of genes with fitness benefits, such as increased creativity. Some individuals with bipolar disorder are especially creative during their manic phases and the close relatives of schizophrenics have been found to be more likely to have creative professions. A 1994 report by the American Psychiatry Association found that people suffered from schizophrenia at roughly the same rate in Western and non-Western cultures, and in industrialized and pastoral societies, suggesting that schizophrenia is not a disease of civilization nor an arbitrary social invention.

In other words, what appears to be a mental defect can actually be an evolutionary benefit.

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