nielsen lab, occupy, and berkeley protests
I don't have much to say about the Occupy movement itself. People can differ in their opinions about the causes of the current economic malaise, and to argue about them. But, I will comment on a point:
We’ve thus been taking part in multiple ‘Occupy’ activities, starting the first meeting of Occupy Oakland in mid-October, marches in SF, and the Nov 2 Oakland general strike. This was a great moment – young and old, blue and white collar workers walked and rejoiced together the whole day. Our sign said ‘rEvolutionary Biologists say: Capitalism Reduces Fitness!’
Well, it’s the objective truth. An flyer distributed in the demonstration was pointing out that an African-American boy born in West Oakland has 15 shorter life expectancy than someone born up in the hills. If that’s not reduction in fitness, what is?
A reduction of life expectancy by 15 years is not evidence of reduction of fitness. Fitness is measured in offspring, it is not measured in years lived. African countries, for example, have very high population growth rates, and very low life expectancies. That is fitness. Fitness is not a comfortable long life, but having lots of babies and living long enough to ensure their survival as independent entities.
It is strange that evolutionary biologists from a top institution would make such a simple mistake. Perhaps public spending is not the best way to advance science and education?