Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Darwin Modifier

                                 Darwin Modifier: 1

In comments both at Bayou Renaissance Man and here, yesterday, the topic of "How can people be so effing stupid to not prepare?" came up.

I opined that this was explainable by this IQ graph:

And it is, because there can be no doubt that the 16.1 percent of the population - any population - over there on the left is under a pretty severe handicap. Except that wasn't the entire explanation.

Because predictably, someone mentioned an educated friend who was nonetheless loathe to actually, y'know, make any sort of prudent preparations, and it was then I realized I forgot to mention an important part of the intelligence formula:
The Darwin Modifier.

The Darwin Modifier is simple: take any person's IQ. So far, so good.
Multiply it by their Darwin Modifier.

"Huh? What's their Darwin Modifier?"

It's a variable that ranges from 0 to 1, inclusive. Multiply IQ by that variable, and the product is a person's actual intelligence.

Some people think that survival gear is the most important thing in survival, and while it is important, and can make a huge difference, gear is secondary, and always decisively trumped by the Darwin Modifier.

Let me demonstrate this with something everyone can understand.

                             Darwin Modifier: 1

                             Darwin Modifier: 0
Thus, in a survival situation, Gear X Idiot = Dead Idiot

This is how you get nearly every episode in every season of Rescue:911 (if not of C.O.P.S.).
Intractable Forces Of Nature X Human Stupidity = melodrama.
 E.g.: left toddler unattended in yard, in region well-populated with rattlesnakes: what could go wrong?
Drank 32 shots of tequila, drove home past police cruiser, got pulled over: hmmm, what's going to happen next?!?

Or one of my personal favorite actual events, a local incident from 2005 which I wrote up at the time for a Darwin Award (the hero received an Honorable Mention that year, scrubbed since for website space considerations, near as I can tell):
The pair, best friends since kindergarten in Cerritos, had spent the day moving Hashimoto’s belongings from McGee’s Rancho Santa Margarita house to an Irvine apartment. 
They took a break for dinner and were driving to meet friends at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery in Laguna Hills when they crossed the bridge and noticed pillows and a bag near the center guardrail – items that had fallen from the truck they had used. 
“Those are some of my expensive Crate & Barrel pillows,” Hashimoto told McGee.
So they turned around and parked on the bridge. They decided that it would be safest to walk in what they thought was the median and lean over the guardrail to retrieve the items, McGee said. 
Iris McGee suggested they get a flashlight. 
McGee and Jennifer Lee Hashimoto had been standing on a Santa Margarita Parkway bridge Sunday night, trying to retrieve some lost belongings in the road, when Hashimoto jumped over a concrete guardrail onto what they thought was a walkway.
Hashimoto, 35, instead fell into the space between the eastbound and westbound lanes, and plunged 75 feet to her death onto the bed of Trabuco Creek.
“It was pitch black, so you would have no idea if it was just 2 feet deep or 3 feet,” said McGee, 35. “Neither of us had the wildest concept in our mind that there would be nothing there.” 
A moment later, she watched in horror as her best friend disappeared into a dark void.
“I saw her go over the edge … and I didn’t hear anything for a while,” McGee said. “And then finally I heard when she hit the ground.”

Moments after Hashimoto fell, McGee started screaming her name and dialed 911.

Hashimoto earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from UC Irvine and was a project engineer for Kingston Technology, where her family said she had many close friends.
Diagnosis: Failure to fly. Last thing to go through her mind: bushes.

This is what happens when someone with a bachelor's degree from UCI, and an IQ near the median of college grads (somewhere around 110), but has a Darwin Modifier approaching zero. Even if only for a moment. Math is like that. So is gravity.

The guy who went to Alaska to be one with the Kodiak bears (and did so, when they ate him), the video of the guy taunting the bear he was hand-feeding when he was out of peanut butter, the lady who wanted to swim with polar bears, and every dipsh*t in human history who ever said "Hold my beer; y'all watch this..." is now scientifically and statistically explained.

You've seen someone like this on-screen, the archetypal idiot-savant of all time:
Raymond Babbitt. The Rain Man.

Just like people who won't prepare, he's high-functioning in some things.
"How many toothpicks, Ray?"
In others, not so much:

Just like RainMan, the world at large is full of thousands, even millions of idiot-savants who know that they could have drinking water for weeks s, even when the stores are out of bottled water, just by filling up their bathtub, or nearly two months extra food set aside if they just bought eight days' food every seven for a year, and then rotating it forever, but at maybe $10/week the first 52 times, "it costs too much".

Then there's a disaster, shelves empty, and it costs them everything, because they die. Not even necessarily from thirst or starvation; maybe there was a riot, but they needed groceries, so they wandered out, ended up at the wrong place and time, and got a cinder block dropped on their head as punishment for White Privilege. Or they thought their car was amphibious, and on the way to the market, they went brown-water rafting in their Camry, and found out that cars aren't watertight, and learned that they don't have gills either.

Either way, Darwin Modifier of close to zero.

Serendipitous linguistic discovery:
Language (before Common Core public education became all the rage), and particularly English, used to be precise and expressive. Calling someone a moron, an imbecile, or an idiot had an actual meaning in each case, and they weren't all synonymous. Each one had a bounded set of applicability.

(They also measured them with metal rings, but then someone got the ring stuck, and subsequently wandered off, so the measurements fell out of favor, and the language slid into sloppiness.)

But for those of you who wish to use pejoratives with more flair and rhetorical precision, here is a helpful chart diagraming the exact limits for each subgroup.

Now you can tell people you work with morons, but not idiots, and be blisteringly accurate.
You can also see, from waaaaaaay back, that it was recognized that only someone below idiots couldn't even handle self-preservation.


loren said...

Enjoyable read as (mostly) always.
I suppose we've all been in situations where the Darwin Modifier would apply. In a long life "God protects angels and fools" and "Pure blind luck I wasn't' killed" have come up more than once for me.
One thing I forgot to mention about my non-prepped friend is she spends her life traveling the uncharted places in the world. She's been charged by Silverbacks in Rwanda, built rafts to float miles down some Asian river to a village that's never seen a tourist. Traveled through most of the Australian outback in an old 4x4 for months on end and in general done things you and I never though of doing on 6 continents. She reminds me a lot of those Victorian explorers who charted the world for the rest of us. Her particular Darwin Modifier is perhaps +1.5.
Maybe she thinks a gas station will always have gas and water will always flow out the tap is based on her prior experiences. There's the world she lives in where things work and will work and the third world she travels to where nothing is taken for granted and she does a work around.
Course she has no clue how any of that comes about and how fragile those systems are.

George True said...

Some years back at my moonlighting bartender job, I worked with a nice young guy named Paul, single and no kids. He seemed reasonably intelligent and he was likable. Then one night he went out barhopping, got rip-roaring drunk, and then decided to get on his quite fast motorcycle and go blasting down the freeway at 130 mph. Lost control on a curve, came off the bike and went under a guardrail, which decapitated him. "Won't be contributing to the gene pool" was one of the first thoughts I had when I heard thw news.

I think back about when I was young and did dangerous and/or stupid things, and why I never died or even got hurt. And the reason is, at some point FEAR would always kick in. Whenever I wanted to see how fast my souped up car would REALLY go, whenever I wanted to see how much of the margin of safety I could pare away when climbing or whitewater kayaking or skydiving, at some point along the continuum, fear and a natural concern for self preservation would always kick in and I would back off. One of my skydiving instructors used to say at least a little bit of fear is what keep you safe. It wasn't the skydiving student who was somewhat fearful that he worried about. It was the one who had no fear that he worried about, and sometimes would turn away.

I thing these Darwin Award types are the ones who have little or no fear until it is too late. People make preparations when they know a hurricane is coming because there is at least a small amount of genuine fear operating within them, however deep down or controlled. This is normal and healthy. It is the ones who lack this small glowing ember of fear deep within them who are the ones we end up reading about in the paper.

lineman said...

Very good article problem these days are we are subsidizing stupid so one they don't learn from their mistakes and two they are allowed to breed...