Rule Five Darwin Award Friday

2016_11_25_rule-five-friday-1Ever seen anyone doing anything stupid while posing for a selfie?  You’re not alone, and some folks manage to kill themselves in the process.  But now there are folks trying to help prevent that.  Excerpt:

Now a team of computer experts has analyzed the causes of selfie deaths and they think they have a solution: an app that would warn people they are in a death-by-selfie zone.

“We found that most common reason of selfie death was height-related. 2016_11_25_rule-five-friday-2These involve people falling off buildings or mountains while trying to take dangerous selfies,” Hemank Lamba of Carnegie Mellon University, Ponnurangam Kumaraguru of the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology and colleagues wrote in their report, which was published online at the open-access site arXiv.

Drowning and being hit by trains run a close second, the team found.

Kumaraguru, who studied computer science at Carnegie Mellon, said he and the team noticed news reports about the trend and decided to try to use data mining techniques to do something about it.

2016_11_25_rule-five-friday-3“It is important because people are losing their lives because of taking dangerous selfies,” Kumaraguru told NBC News.

Now, think on that for a moment; I’m all in favor of humanitarian instincts and all that jazz, but none other than Robert Heinlein once pointed out that the real cure for hemophilia was to let hemophiliacs bleed to death before they bred more hemophiliacs.

Could we – should we – apply the same logic to would-be Darwin award winners like selfie-taking idiots?

Personally I’ve never understood the compulsion some people have 2016_11_25_rule-five-friday-4to continually photograph their own grinning mugs.  Recently when Mrs. Animal and I were mooching around the Sustina river valley north of Anchorage in some of Alaska’s more scenic country, I encountered three Millennial-looking kids posed on the edge of the river with a range of gorgeous mountains in the distance.  They were, of course, taking pictures of themselves.

But back to the point at hand.  It’s a standard tenet of the modern neo-Darwinian synthesis in biology that, on balance, individuals in a population that have greater fitness to withstand the rigors of their 2016_11_25_rule-five-friday-5environment have greater reproductive success.  That’s what leads to evolution – genetic variation, genetic drift, random mutation and differential reproductive success.  Is it the worst thing for the human species to lower the reproductive odds of someone that is stupid enough to try to snap a selfie at the edge of a raging, flooded river, or while driving on a winding mountain road?