Named for Alfred Russel Wallace
, the other guy that came up with evolution, this is not a purely formal paradox. Instead, it starts from the presumption that no organism should evolve exotic abilities
unless they help it to cope with environmental pressures
. However, it seems to be the case that humans have the ability to learn to do very much harder sorts of thinking than could possibly have been useful during our evolution; Selmer Bringsjord
's favorite example is the Tensor calculus
, but you can really imagine just about anything in which you've ever taken a college-level course.
There are various responses to this (see Stephen Pinker
's How the Mind Works
for one reaction). Selmer seems to see it as a fairly strong indictment of the theory of evolution
. Personally, I don't think it's all that worrisome a challenge, because the presumption it starts with is pretty shaky-sounding to me. Honestly, though, I'm actually so unworried by this challenge that I haven't bothered, and probably never will bother, to think rigorously about just what I find to be wrong with the reasoning.
Update: I found something related, so I thought I'd put this link in here, to aid those who like this topic in finding more about it: I find evolution to be a woefully inadequate theory until it can explain the following: