Climbing as Cultural Evolution

Last week in my honors Beyond Darwin course, we presented on a subject of our choosing as a form of cultural evolution. If you’ve read anything I’ve posted on this blog, it should be obvious that I chose rock climbing as my subject. My professor was even kind enough to record all our presentations so we can observe our embarrassing habits over and over again. Yippee! Unfortunately, the mic attached to my jacket didn’t pick up all the questions others asked at the end, so I’ll paraphrase them here.

“Have you ever deepwater soloed?”

“For the solo climbers, how do they get… down?”

“… So they have a little reasoning behind their brain even though they’re completely insane?”

“What’s next after that? What’s the holy grail of climbing?”

“How do they have food for that long? (19 days of climbing)”

I tend to cringe watching myself making presentations, and this video is no exception. I’m stumbling over myself trying to fit all my ideas on the subject into a projected five-minute time limit, which somehow results in me frequently repeating myself or otherwise speaking redundantly and only shallowly touching upon a few of the more salient points of my argument. Nevertheless, I’m happy to share this presentation, as it represents one of my greatest personal interests: the evolution of rock climbing. If you want a much more developed form of the same ideas, read my ten-page essay on the subject right here. ClimbingCE_Essay

My next post will either be on the subject I’m about to present in the same wonderful course, the liberalization/modernization of the Catholic church, or just a personal reflection on the development of sports safety inspired by the upcoming movie Concussion. I think the divergence of sports from more violent imitations of combat is an excellent marker of cultural evolution, and counter-arguments such as the recent explosion of MMA just make the discussion all the more intriguing. Anyway, I’m saving that for another post. Watch me nerd out about climbing in the meantime.


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