I wish I could remember the name of this individual … he proposed something I call “giraffe neck stretching” as the way in which species evolved. That is, instead of natural selection, creatures just got slightly better at what ever it is, over the course of their lives, and passed on their learned/trained/developed advantages to their young’ns. So, if a giraffe spent its whole life stretching its neck to get the most succulent leaves, its offspring would be born with slightly longer necks.
You can apply it to any number of evolution cases with surprising results. A monkey tried to use its tail to hang onto a limb with limited success, so it kept at it? Plausible. Some poor proto-bat had to leap out of a lot of trees and flap its arms? Less plausible. A proto-rattlesnake bit somebody, trying really hard to poison its victim, and finally poison evolved? Uhh, back to the drawing board.
It’s an interesting theory, totally wrong, but quite reasonable given what this fella knew. I’m going to ask a friend of mine what his name was. Anyway, this theory is somewhere on a sort of “intellectual continuum” between “God created everything” and “creatures develop differences, and the best ones reproduces more successfully”.
An interesting thing about this theory is, when it is applied to purely technological and/or cultural practices, it is true. If you try really hard to understand math, you’ll probably learn something, and you can pass that onto your kids who will have a head start. And a misapplication of this theory causes a lot of macho dads to be really disappointed when their scrawny intellecutal sons are terrible at football. “I practiced five hours a day when I was your age to play football. Why can’t you do it?” Uhh, Dad, read Origin of Species.
Nothing I write about any person or group should be applied to a larger group.