Some time in the distant future on a dried greenhouse affected planet, the last of the bottled water was massed on to pallets in huge warehouses. In one back corner of one warehouse, the years went by, and the bottled water evolved intelligence. But these waters became bored and restless with life. Each bottle was a sophisticated individual, but there was an undercurrent feeling that there should be more. They wondered about the meaning of liquidity and how to find the inspiration for further advancement. Together they formed a learned University, and decided to look into their ancestry, to see if any answers lay there. The most impressive theory to develop was that water had once lived wildly and naturally, although the fossil evidence was limited. Excavations under some sections of damaged concrete and asphalt had revealed the existence of landfill sites. Beneath these, were even deeper and more ancient remnant structures called 'river beds', 'stream beds' and 'creek beds'.

Once, bottled waters were thought to have lived upon these beds, where they blended naturally amongst other bottled waters. But not all was nice and happy during these times, as there was evidence that the bottled waters sometimes turned into raging torrents, where they spontaneously left their homes and hurtled themselves violently into the sea to become salty and uncouth, never to return. This stressful mass migration was thought to be due to the imposition of 'selfish drips'. These were the primal building blocks of bottled water, and were even now found in all individuals and brands of bottled water. At first, the drips may have been altruistic. But they were reasoned to have given way to selfish natures, because only the selfish could survive during the pressure of evolution by Evaporative Selection. The selfish drips elbowed out the more primitive or plesiomorphic drips from their homes. Those drips that did not find others to assimilate or dominate would lay on the surface of land alone, easy pickings to evaporation.

Evidence for selfish drips was determined through computer modelling. If drips fall from the sky in a random pattern on to a flat surface, some would live and some would evaporate. A religious congregation of bottled waters thought that drips fell in prearranged patterns, directly into streams and rivers, but such teleology was shown to be false. Obviously, the same patterns could be constructed by selfish drips. Altruistic drips would stay where they were, and sacrifice themselves to evaporation, raising the humidity so that others might survive. But in this idyllic landscape were the cheaters, who would assimilate and consume unsuspecting drips into their volume, enforcing them to engage in motion and flow, becoming trickles. Trickles were larger and stronger species than any single drip, so were soon able to overcome, even entice and consume other drips. Non-selfish drips became very rare and short lived in this land of struggle and competition. Computer modelling further showed that the once pristine flat landscape would become crisscrossed with the gouged tracks of the selfish drips, as each body of drip strove to take over and control more of the land. Motion and consumption became the key adaptations of the successful drips, producing a progression of species from trickles to rivulets, creeks to streams, and rivers to torrents. Each form was destructive, and uprooted other organisms in their path such as soil and plants.

The selfish drips took all in their path, and created scaring and devastation upon the earth. However, the palleted bottled water had become civilized, and no longer wanted to return to such dangerous primal states. So the members in the Department of Bottled Water made a pact to stay true to their highly evolved course of enhancement through glistening. Then they might attract attention and see the rest of the world through the wonders of modern fork lift driving. There were dissidents amongst the bottled waters who suggested that the drips were not selfish, but functioned in a sensible and reasonable way that should not be tagged with emotionality. They said that in one view a rugged landscape could be interpreted as beautiful, featuring valleys of flowing water against a backdrop of mountains. They suggested it would be safe and more fulfilling if they all tried to expand their minds and split out of their bottles, to mix and blend with each other, gaining strength, purpose, and creating a diversity of water upon the earth's surface once more. But these words fell on deaf caps. (Posted Dec 2002)

HomeIndexThe Selfish Gene

Parable of
The Selfish Drip
by Dr Beetle