vendredi 3 février 2017

Is there any Evolutionist Book I Like?

Yes, one very much so, and I even believe most of the content.

Someone - I just looked up, his name is Michael Pollan - wrote a book where the premiss was this: evolutionists often study wild species, so as to ascertain natural selection, but the survival of the fittest seems to be with species domesticated by man ... there are far more dogs than wolfs. There is no question that in fact we are using both dogs and - more importantly for the book - plants. But could plants be "using us" as a mechanism of propagation?

Well, he thinks they are, evolutionarily speaking (I hope he sees it is a metaphor, since they are not conscious!) using us, by offering us some baits.

He selected for plants to study, offering four different baits, these being : sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control.

For sweetness we have apples, for beauty tulips, for intoxication cannabis sativa and for control the potato.

By sweetness, it seems apples are more likely to offer alcohol than sugar. Especially the often not very sugary apples that grow directly from pippins without grafting, as was the case with the trees planted by Johnny Appleseed. To Michael Pollan, it is evident that 18th-19th C. desire for sweetness doesn't mean candy, but slight euphoria from alcohol. He considers that what farmers got from planting apples was, for one thing, a stake in the land, and for another, apple jock.

I suppose apple pies were a way to make women and children enjoy apples too, since they were hardly supposed to drink apple jock. Note, in the vein of apples grown from pippins without grafting often being "spitters" if you bite in them*, apple pie has added sugar and cinnamon and heat before consumption : this he didn't clarify himself.

In his tulip chapter, I learned what I needed to know about the craze for Black Tulips. Unlike white, yellow, red tulips, the black ones don't have their colour due to a tulip gene, but due to a parasite. Sorry, it was actually my bad memory. It was multicoloured tulips which were due to the mosaic virus. Anyway, the tulip craze came after the synod of Dort and its five point Calvinism. Probably the craze for the virus infected Semper Augustus (remember, Caesar Augustus was a pagan god, an idol!) came as God's comment on the synod of Dort : my reflection, not Michael Pollan's.

The illegal cultivation of cannabis and the legalised transgenic cultivation of potatoes by Monsanto gave a weird perspective on our own century.

And, aptly, Monsanto's program for making potatoes which cannot be sown again (if it was potatoes and not a side view on a related matter), come with a perfect timing to my mind as CMI today has an article about a woman who sought similar control over men. I have named Margaret Sanger.

Even with potatoes, I resent such measures, or whatever the crop was. I prefer a farmer being free to keep part of his harvest for sowing the next, without his having to depend on an ultralarge company like Monsanto.

I hope you realise that the theme of Michael Pollan has nothing whatsoever to do with man evolving from apes or vertebrates evolving from microbes. Nor with any millions of years, all of the adaptations (of mosaic virus as well as of the plant species) occurring within fairly recent history.

As far as I recall the preface (but that was back in 2004), Michael Pollan thought he had refuted the creationist tenet of fixity of species. He has, but fixity of species is not exactly a creationist tenet. And he didn't show any apples developing into potatoes or inverse, nor tulips developing to cannabis or inverse. Despite potatoes being called "ground apples" and despite both tulips and cannabis having a Dutch connection.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Blasius

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
by Michael Pollan

* Apple chromosomes recombine in very complex ways. Without grafting, no two apple trees are alike. Versions like Cox Orange or others which give a sweet taste in the mouth if you bite in them are rather rare, comparatively.

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