As I sat on my back porch recently and finished eating a box of fresh strawberries I'd picked up at the local grocery store, I had an interesting realization. When I first cracked the box open, I dug and searched for the best-looking strawberries to eat: the ones without the bruised spots and small imperfections and strange deformities. But once the best-looking strawberries were expired, being yet unsated I went ahead and ate the best-looking of the deformed strawberries--ones that I discarded as unworthy of being eaten just minutes before. Still hungry, I continued descending down the hierarchy of strawberries. By the end, the box was empty, and I had eaten even the worst looking strawberries: the ones with the soft black spots and patchy white goo. In my school days, when I ate lunch, I would always save the best for last, and would start with the greens or with the carrots. But this berry eating trend flies completely in the face of the "save the best for last" theory. What subconscious workings were at play as I ate those strawberries? Why was it that even though I ended up eating all the berries, I insisted on eating the best-looking strawberries first? Looking back, I realize I've done the same thing in the past when eating the same type of food: the "good" grapes have been eaten and I have put the rest back in the fridge for a few days, and later I've gone back to the originally uneaten and unworthy grapes and eaten them. I doubt that this is a universal phenomenon; but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it is very common. Now that I've thought about the habit, the symptoms probably won't be so severe. But I'm intrigued (yes, perhaps too easily) with the steady lowering of standards with respect to berries. The implications of this observaton are perhaps grander than you or I might think at first glance. You may pass this off as just silly, which is fine, but to the point, this idea is important because it:
  1. distinguishes, on a microcosmic level, the idea that living things tend towards choosing the best from the available field. Take peacocks for example: the female will choose the "best" male based on his plume. The males that are taken are unavailable. The same priciple is applicable is human mating situations. Also, chipmunks will gather acorns that will suffice in feeding them for the winter. Plants will do better if the available growing conditions are good.
  2. It brings about the following question: can the field as a whole be improved? Darwinists among us would say that, yes, the field naturally "improves" because the species with the attributes most favorable to the living conditions will thrive. The human condition, however seems to not be improving. Intelligent people or athletic people (the CEOs or baseball players) may be thriving, but they rely on the less intelligent people and less athletic amoung us (laborers and baseball fans) to thrive. Grossly generalized, yes, but very true. The same applies to the best actors and actresses: they act while we lesser actors and actresses go to see them, and they thrive (that is, bring in more revenues) depending on how well they act. Therefore, in Darwinist terms, the human field is not improving because the best actors and the worst actors live and thrive concurrently. The weakest would normally be weeded out, but because of the counterpoint established, they survive. Which leads to my next point
  3. That all sorts of strawberries exist because we eat all kinds of strawberries. If we were to eat only the best strawberries from here on out, theoretically, they would be weeded out, because they would never fall to the ground and start a new plant with it's "good" characteristics. Instead only the "bad" strawberries would reproduce, therefore proliferating more "bad" strawberries. Conversly, if we were to only eat "bad" strawberries from here on out, the field of strawberries would gradually improve. Because we eat all qualities of strawberries, the strawberries that do not get eaten will be of varied quality. Of course, there is the possibility that much of the unfavorable characeristics found on some strawberries are caused by influences beyond strawberry genetics (i.e. sunlight, water, soil type, etc.); but theoretically, the best strawberries would be the strongest by comparison to any other genetic line of strawberries.
Back to the question at hand. The interesting part is not that I ate the best looking strawberries first; taking the most preferable out of any given medium is something that seems almost any human would do. The interesting part is that I ate the less favorable after I had passed them off as unworthy of eating. In the end, I ate them all: is there really freedom of choice?