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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?      Home login  
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 CallmeKen
Joined: 9/4/2009
Msg: 3
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?Page 1 of 6    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
No, we are still evolving. All our technology does is shift selection pressures.

Two hundred years ago (1709), if you were lazy, your crops failed and the colony died. Starvation was a selection pressure. Now, if you are lazy or unthrifty, you don't succeed at a job interview, and cannot afford more than 1 or 2 children. The niches are different, less extreme maybe, but they're still there.
 janedoe16
Joined: 8/10/2008
Msg: 4
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/26/2009 5:33:24 PM
In the world humans live in today we do as you said ,select the ones who are more studious,more business oriented, more agressive...The ones who will be able to clothe and breed and excel.When discussing evolution it does not consider these as catalysts.Imagine if we had a nuclear war or some catastrophe that destroyed the structure of our civilization and we were all thrown back into nature....imagine then who would survive.That's what darwinism talks about.Just my two cents.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 5
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/26/2009 6:01:55 PM
Evolution no longer works in humans as it does in animals. In animals, the more successful species lives, and the less successful species often go extinct, because there is not enough food for all.

In humans, we preserve the less successful humans. But as others pointed out, they don't get as much food or as much resources. So evolution is put somewhat on hold, because we don't get the extinction processes that it depends on.

The other side is that extinctions now depend on mental skills, which can be learned by previously less successful groups of humans, like the Chinese, making them set to be the next big superpower. So the process of evolution doesn't work the same way at all. It becomes dependent on mental development of skills and ideas, which can be transferred via books, or the internet, which is the meme's equivalent of reproduction, or may occur naturally, which is the meme equivalent of mutation. But unlike gene mutations, where we assume that if 2 people have the same gene, they share its inheritance in a reproductive line, from a shared ancestor, in humans, many humans can have the same ideas around the same time, even if they never met, and never shared their ideas. Meme mutations are much more common than gene mutations. Also, meme mutations don't have the same fixed error-correction process like genes. Memes are filtered according to the ideas of the mind that has the meme, selecting only those ideas that are consistent with that mind. Then when memes are spread elsewhere, like when ideas are suggested in a meeting, they can easily be shot down, or liked, just because of how the minds in the room will find them, how threatened others in that meeting are by how that idea's acceptance will raise the profile of the proposer and by consequence lower the profile of the other members of the room, and even just how much the boss likes it because it reminds him of something he likes. Overall, the process has a lot more potential for random selection, and for selection by rational reasoning, and for selection by sentimentality. So the whole of evolutionary processes changes so much in memes, that it has the potential to look nothing like how it works in genes.

However, social evolution can be seen in large groups over centuries. We've moved from monarchies to representational democracies, in countries that were the most successful, via capitalism. In weaker countries, they tend towards despotism.

But on a small scale, things are so random, that they are very difficult to predict. It's rather like looking at 2 gorilla babies, and trying to guess which one will be more successful. Even if one is slightly bigger, there are so many factors that could affect them, you really couldn't tell.
 merelymortal
Joined: 11/24/2009
Msg: 12
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/27/2009 1:08:34 AM
I don't think that survival of the fittest really fits in to prosperous times for a species and I fairly certain that Darwin didn't either.

Only when variation truly matters for survival does the "fittest" part really matter.

Right now our species is gaining in number quite quickly and when we reach a bottleneck, then there will be a showdown between the fittest.

For now, the grater the number the better, as far as survival of the species is considered.

If the question is if we are devolving... well... thats a subjective question based on opinion... I mean, it depends on what you mean by working contrary.
 merelymortal
Joined: 11/24/2009
Msg: 13
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/27/2009 1:16:14 AM
and to further my point... very few people don't reproduce by their own will now-adays.

When it comes to social evolution, on American terms, only about 3% of individuals don't have sex in their life (and that came straight from Katie Morgan the porn star btw), and some of them do that by choice, so when you factor in that, social evolution has almost absolutely nothing to do with the guiding of our species, except for the matter of who decides to pair with who and for what reasons, and that is what leads to variation.
 kornbluth
Joined: 12/25/2006
Msg: 14
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/27/2009 4:57:03 AM

We permit substandard breeding to occur, which in turn, weakens us as a species.

Not sure about that. While more weaklings survive, the more vigorous advance further than they might have 5,000 years ago.


In many ways we act contrary to evolution, so my question is will this ultimately be to our detriment?

It's the over-breeding and over-population that's going to do us in. Most animals can't control their numbers, but humans could. And humans are not doing that. So, expect more fighting over jobs, living space and eventually air and water.
 etjusticepourtous
Joined: 9/18/2009
Msg: 15
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/29/2009 4:49:25 AM
if we were to discard the sick and the mentally ill we wouldn't have gotten to the point we are now, technologically and artistically.
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 17
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/29/2009 8:57:40 AM
the species which can best work together has the best chance of ensuring its own survival.

Actually, the implication goes the other way:
The species that has survived MAY be the species that has best worked together. (until it has survived and we have a reason to ascribe the survival to the trait of cooperation, we'll never know whether or if the trait enhanced the survival of the species). We can't "lead" evolution by the nose by determining in advance what is or isn't a positive trait, or by directing it in advance to produce a trait we only believe to be positive based on our "faith" that it is.

There are counter-arguments about how becoming too specialized is also a death-knell

It could be. Diversity is the foundation of evolution, as it increases the chances that one or more of the differences might be more adaptable to a given situation.

not allowing evolution to do it's job means a weaker species on the whole.

That depends on your definition of "weak."

Must we become harder and colder to ensure the success of the species?

It could be argued that promoting diversity will increase the chances of our species surviving unseen and unknowable future circumstances.

We certainly cannot go on as we are.

I agree with that statement, but question what, or even whether we should be arrogant enough to deliberately force our own evolution. I'm quite certain that our genetic evolution has "stopped" for the last several thousand years, which has increased our diversity as formerly maladaptive traits have promulgated thru our species. I feel we are looking at a catastophe that will only allow some small subset of humanity to survive. I don't yet know, (and I'm not arrogant enough to suggest) what traits that subset will have; that will be entirely dependent on the nature of the as yet unpredictable catastrophe.

Consider a (possible?) scenario of the not too distant future:

A genetic mutation has produced a highly virulent, long latency (a year?) form of ebola. The entire planet is covered and most of it infected before the researchers are even aware and people start dropping like flies all over the world. Within a period of perhaps months almost everyone is dead, except those who might have been totally isolated on say, small islands and some small percentage of people, whose genetic structure gave them a natural immunity. These people prove to be the most "fit" to survive, and the "strongest" of our species. Obviously, if we'd known in advance, we'd have been working feverishly to increase their numbers, knowing they were the most valuable people on the planet. Wouldn't the joke be on us smartass humans to find the people with Downs Syndrome represented the survival of our species and the future of the human race? Good thing we didn't breed them out & abort the fetuses, considering them as "inferior." Had we done that the human race would have gone extinct.

Before we start any arguments regarding the plausibility of my little fable, I'd just like to say that if you plan to, you have missed the point entirely.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 18
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/29/2009 9:34:04 AM
RE Msg: 10 by LeCutter:

In humans, we preserve the less successful humans. But as others pointed out, they don't get as much food or as much resources. So evolution is put somewhat on hold, because we don't get the extinction processes that it depends on.
But isn't that an overall detriment to the species? Yes, for the multitudes who get sick and die, or starve to death we may - possibly - miss the next Einstein, but we may also miss the next Hitler by the same rationale.
It's not clear. As far as I understand it, the theory of evolution was only applied to physical characteristics in animals. It was expected that the same would be true of mental characteristics as well. But people don't seem to address that there might be factors like "reverse evolution". For instance, many people succeed greater due to adversity.

One of the problems that might have been due to the acceptance of the theory without due consideration that it might not be all-perfect, was that for a long while, doctors argued that catching diseases would only make you sicker. Children used to play in dirt. But parents were told to stop them doing that, because that would expose them to more germs. For the same reasons, we used antibiotics everywhere. We now have studies that show that people who played in dirt, seem to have a stronger immune system. We also keep finding that many diseases that were treated heavily with antibiotics now show signs of being resistant to them, sometimes even very quickly. A recent worrying example is that there have been 5 cases of Swine Flu in the UK, that are resistant to Tamiflu.

It seems that empirical studies are showing that actually getting sicker for a short while, can make you healthier in the long run.

Regardless, that sort of presupposition does nothing to address the real facts of a segment of the species living longer than it should by artificial means with no apparent benefit to the species overall. From a strictly evolutionary point of view, it's a waste of resources that could be put to better use elsewhere.
Problem is, what is a better use of that resources? Going into space? That's really difficult to do, and horrendously expensive. Watching TV? That's just entertainment. Not helping the species. Feeding people more HFCS? That's making them obese.

Things really don't seem to be quite cut and dried when it comes to evolution. That's why I advocate using maths to work out what systems are more efficient, as that's what it's there for, to give you clear answers, when things aren't clear-cut.


Overall, the process has a lot more potential for random selection, and for selection by rational reasoning, and for selection by sentimentality. So the whole of evolutionary processes changes so much in memes, that it has the potential to look nothing like how it works in genes.
But that is contrary to how natural selection is supposed to work. Random selection that works is an abberation overall, not the rule.
That's how science learns. You come up with a theory. It seems good. You test it in the lab. It still seems good. Then you assume it's true, and you just continue with your life. That's when the REAL testing begins. You let your ideas compare with your observations in your life. Invariably, you find that your theory doesn't match at all with what happens. That's when you go back to the drawing board, and stop working with theories, but start looking at what actually happens, and just build theories off that. Then, you build up another theory, and go through the process again.

Random selection that works is an abberation overall, not the rule.
We like to believe that we KNOW what happens, that random selection is not the rule. But it most often is. It's usually just that the Central Limit Theorem applies, that given enough random selections, that we see that overall, things move towards a pattern.


But on a small scale, things are so random, that they are very difficult to predict. It's rather like looking at 2 gorilla babies, and trying to guess which one will be more successful. Even if one is slightly bigger, there are so many factors that could affect them, you really couldn't tell.
This is a false anaolgy, because it presupposes that the apes have the higher brain functions and ability to adapt to their environment that humans do. There is always going to be the X factor in survival that any living creature would have survived if he had zigged and instead of zagged. That's not a survial trait, but random chance - which of course factors into survival, but isn't key to a species survival. However evolution would say that the ape with a better pedeigree is more likely to survive because of selective breeding.
It doesn't matter what you use. If you have 2 ape babies, and one has a better pedigree, you cannot really be all that sure which one will become the leader of the pack. We just often say that the reverse is true, that the one who became the leader, must have had the better pedigree. We keep changing the goalposts to suit the results. Really, we cannot be sure.

It doesn't. Those who survive the random pitfalls of life - injury and disease - are exactly nature's way of saying who is worthy and who isn't. This is both the beauty and horror of evolution in action. You could say cancer has claimed millions of lives, the vast majority of no great worth, and a small minority of those who have benefited mankind greatly, yet natural selection doesn't discriminate about intelligence. And even if it meant we were still sitting around in caves because only the brainy and weak died off, the species still endures. So than, whos is the greater benefit the species enduring? A ditch digger who never gets sick, or a scientist who dies from a weak immune system in his early 30's? Granted that's a bit of semantical game, but I'm talking about absolute survival here, not what we "wish" for.
A lot of people think of nature or evolution as either beautiful or horrible. These things don't adhere to our moral values. Our moral values are an irrelevancy to the system. It's sociopathic. It has its own rules, and many of them are random. We don't like it. But it doesn't care. It does what it does. We are just bystanders. We are horrified because we realise that we have almost no control over our lives. We see it as beautiful when we accept that it doesn't care about us, and so allows itself to become harmonious in all its parts.

Also, I have a question:

Most people I know seem to think that "survival of the fittest" means that whoever was the most successful in the current environment, will always be the most successful, in all environments, and so will their descendants. To be honest, I don't know anyone who has a different take on it. That seems to be totally against Darwin's theory. Yet Darwin adopted the phrase in his later editions.

How could Darwin agree to a concept that so clearly contradicts what he said? Was the man fallible even in regards to understanding his own theory?
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 19
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/29/2009 10:02:41 AM

there might be factors like "reverse evolution"

There is no such thing. To propose it only buys into a false assumption of what evolution is. Of course, you must already know that or you'd not have enclosed it in quotes.


Random selection that works is an abberation overall, not the rule.

I think it should be clarified what is meant by "random selection that works", as it sounds very much like the process of natural evolution itself, which would make it the rule and not an aberration.

evolution would say that the ape with a better pedeigree is more likely to survive because of selective breeding.

True ONLY IF we can control the future environment in which they live. Otherwise it is an erroneous assumption, wherein we try to predict the future environment.

How could Darwin agree to a concept that so clearly contradicts what he said? Was the man fallible even in regards to understanding his own theory?

Hardly!...What darwin meant by "fittest" was the best adapted to a given environment; not to be confused with those organisms most "worthy" of survival, which is how many seem to take it.

Thinking a little more about my "survival of the fittest" scenario, it occurred to me to wonder what the future would hold for humanity if The Downs Syndrome types survived. What traits would they carry forward, genetically speaking? They seem to be generally very happy and I've never met one with a malevolent bone in his body. While I have no doubt we would return to the stone age, with extended family groups or small tribes struggling cooperatively to survive, I suspect that the human race would be a generally happy one, that no longer made war on "outsiders", but welcomed strangers as brothers.

Happiness, brotherhood and an end to war... stuff we only dream about... What a glorious future and destiny might lie before us if we could let our arrogant & prideful hair down and put the Downs Syndrome people in charge today!
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 20
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/29/2009 11:29:37 AM
RE Msg: 23 by JustDukky:

there might be factors like "reverse evolution"
There is no such thing. To propose it only buys into a false assumption of what evolution is.
Sorry. It's my understanding that the theory of evolution is just that, a theory, mainly devoted to the premise that species become more adapted to their environment by selection. It's therefore my understanding that it's one potential motivation for change, but not necessarily the only one. It just occured to me in writing this, that what I was proposing was not in line with typical evolution, and evolution isn't magic, and so doesn't have to be treated as if everything ever found was a part of it. Thus, to me, it doesn't have to be the only factor.

Of course, you must already know that or you'd not have enclosed it in quotes.
Sorry. I have a habit of just looking at data, and coming up with my own hypotheses. A lot of people don't like it. They tell me that the only people who should propose scientific theories are people who are called Professor, or Doctor.


How could Darwin agree to a concept that so clearly contradicts what he said? Was the man fallible even in regards to understanding his own theory?
Hardly!...What darwin meant by "fittest" was the best adapted to a given environment; not to be confused with those organisms most "worthy" of survival, which is how many seem to take it.
I can agree with that, if not for a few things. Darwin could not have been so ignorant to not know how his words might be misunderstood, not about such an easy phrase, that any Englishman would have immediately understood. It boggles me that someone who so clearly wrote a book for the people, and wanted his ideas to be understood by the people, would choose to adopt an expression that was bound to be misunderstood by those same people.

Thinking a little more about my "survival of the fittest" scenario, it occurred to me to wonder what the future would hold for humanity if The Downs Syndrome types survived. What traits would they carry forward, genetically speaking? They seem to be generally very happy and I've never met one with a malevolent bone in his body. While I have no doubt we would return to the stone age, with extended family groups or small tribes struggling cooperatively to survive, I suspect that the human race would be a generally happy one, that no longer made war on "outsiders", but welcomed strangers as brothers.

Happiness, brotherhood and an end to war... stuff we only dream about... What a glorious future and destiny might lie before us if we could let our arrogant & prideful hair down and put the Downs Syndrome people in charge today!
I can sympathise with that. I've been to a lot of meals where one kid had Downs. To be honest, they're not any more trouble than other kids, just differently trouble, and they're usually in a much better mood.
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 21
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 11/29/2009 12:01:45 PM

I would suggest that it could equally well be that our prevention of what we perceive to be 'substandard breeding' could be the biggest threat to our continuing evolution.

...Which was my point. Smart people become smartasses when they see intelligence (or anything else) as an optimal trait to be carried forward and would like to "play God" with our evolutionary development via eugenics, or "master race" theories of what is really their "ideal" human. Momma Nature doesn't play by those rules and probably laughs at our misinterpretation of evolution as some sort of striving to be greater than we are, when It's really just a matter of what works in a given environment. If we want to ensure our survival as a species, we should be doing everything we can to encourage and spread diversity (and to avoid homogeneity like the plague).
 kornbluth
Joined: 12/25/2006
Msg: 24
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/2/2009 4:13:23 AM

others have posted about natural selection related to jobs/intelligence/career... but in fact, none of those things are given preference.

That's right. In the visible world, preference is given to the insects.


In fact, the more educated and affluent someone is... the less likely they are to have offspring. Natural selection in humans only rewards getting to the procreation part. Hence all the stupid people breeding like rabbits.

...which brings up my favorite si-fi story _The Marching Morons_ by Cyril Kornbluth around 1951. Thesis is that intelligent people recognized overpopulation as a real threat and curtailed their breeding. The morons did not, and as a result the average/mean/median IQ in the world is around 80.
 kornbluth
Joined: 12/25/2006
Msg: 26
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/2/2009 11:38:28 AM

Although there is much talk of a dumbing down of society, I think it will mainly be restricted to those in the political arena; a place where appearing dumb will excuse one from the insidious acts of malice often required to fulfill certain political agendas.

In that case it won't be "restricted" to the political areana, because politicians survive on votes. So for every dumbed-down politician, you need a lot more, maybe a majority of, dumned-down voters.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 30
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/2/2009 10:48:03 PM
RE Msg: 25 by quietjohn2:

A lot of people think of nature or evolution as either beautiful or horrible. These things don't adhere to our moral values. Our moral values are an irrelevancy to the system. It's sociopathic. It has its own rules, and many of them are random. We don't like it. But it doesn't care. It does what it does. We are just bystanders.
Not bystanders, victims and consequences.
I only meant bystanders, in that we aren't in charge. We don't dictate to nature. It dictates to us. It does what it does, and it forces it's actions on us.

You raise a very interesting point here. Evolution has brought us here and will continue to operate upon us, regardless of what we do. Yet we have trouble accepting the process which brought us about. If our human morality causes us to behave in ways which oppose evolution, doesn't that suggest that it is our morality that is wrong, or is it perhaps our (incorrect?) perception of evolution?
Why not both?

1) We seem to have a view of morality as if nature was like an over-indulgent mother, a bit like the Hollywood version of Santa Claus, who gives everyone a present, even the naughty boys.

But the mothers that seem to raise strong independent kids, especially in countries in Africa or the Caribbean, seem to be mothers who are extremely stern, but also fair. I've seen a fair bit of successful Afro-Caribbean actors on TV talk about their family upbringing. They love their mother. But they do admit she's strong, very stern, doesn't brook no trouble, and have convinced them that they NEVER want to cross her rules, no matter what. Somehow, such an upbringing seems to raise these men to be confident, very attractive to women, yet strongly moral, giving them all the advantages of "bad boys", with all of the advantages of "good guys".

Conversely, there are loads of men and women who were raised by liberal parents, who have abused the advantages they were given, and made a thorough mess of their lives.

It seems that liberalism, while good in practice, is not good when it is not in moderation, just like discipline is only good when not taken to extremes.

2) On the other side, we seem to treat evolution as if it is automatically going to make things better, or even that it will always ensure a long-term future for any species. But that simply isn't true. It only works on what's going on at this moment in time, based on factors like if there isn't enough food for 2 animals, so one will die, and based on if there is only one female to mate with, or if there are 2 females, but one of the males drives the other male away completely so he can mate with both. Basically, adaptability is a function that depends on how you behave, and how others behave, based on the exact conditions of right now, that change what will happen in the next moment, and that has to be constantly re-applied. That makes evolutionary processes behave more like a chaotic process, something that could easily present totally unexpected results.

For instance, suppose there is a really cold winter, with very little food. Only the animals that are adapted to survive in cold climates with little food, could survive. That could eliminate the animals that do better in heat. That could easily be followed with an extremely hot summer. The animals that are good in cold climates likely won't survive. The animals that would do well in hot climates got killed in the previous winter. The only animals likely to survive both, would be animals that could survive easily in both. But as these are 2 diametrically opposing climates, that require the opposite sets of biological functions, there are almost no species that would do well in both. So that scenario would guarantee extinction. There could be animals that do survive. But they'd probably have to be animals that weren't especially adapted to either, but were simply such puny animals, that they always avoided the extremes like the plague, and survived on the most meagre rations, by staying in their burrows, and doing as least movement as possible, to conserve the most energy. Thus, in such scenarios, the "most adaptable" animal would actually be the least successful of all.

Evolution doesn't go in a straight line, and can easily produce animals that are the least adapted to their environment. It simply requires a changing environment for that to happen, and that's what environments do often, they change.

We need to stop thinking about evolution as this nice ordered process, that drives species ever forwards as being more and more successful. It doesn't run by OUR perceptions. It runs the way it runs. We have to learn to change our perceptions to suit it, not the other way around.

Another major contributor to evolution is gene duplication, providing additional genetic material for evolution to work with. Down's syndrome is a symptom of extra gene copies in humans. Who knows what the future potential of such people will be as those extra genes offer the potential to further mutate and evolve? The perceived result of Down's syndrome, as with other perceived 'disabilities', is a reduction in survival potential, but the social response to such people is to care for them and nurture them, thus preserving their genetic potential. Ironically, it could be a misplaced sense of evolution which makes us discourage breeding among those we perceive as disadvantaged. In direct opposition to LeCutter's OP, I would suggest that it could equally well be that our prevention of what we perceive to be 'substandard breeding' could be the biggest threat to our continuing evolution.
I can still see that animals select the more healthy of species. So we are in keeping with nature for selecting healthier mates. But what animals do that we don't, is they'll breed no matter what, even with an unhealthy mate, if no healthy mates are around. But we'll often reject a less attractive and less healthy mate like a disabled person, even if there is no-one else interested in us. We supress our desire to reproduce behind our desire to have a mate we desire.

What's more, animals will always mate, even if it means they themselves have to eat a lot less. But they'll only rear as many litters as they have food. But we do the reverse. Many wealthy couples are choosing to not have kids at all, and in the wealthiest countries, we see a negative birth rate. But the poorest families will often have 10 kids each, and in the poorest countries, we see a population explosion. Animals with more resources seem to have more kids and animals with less resources have less kids. We do the reverse. Humans with more resources have less kids and humans with less resources have more kids. We do this, because in poor families, more kids mean more workers, and more workers mean more food for all. In rich families, more kids mean more workers, but the kids cannot earn as much as rich adults do, and so overall the wealth is less for each. We suppress our natural tendency to have kids in proportion with our resources behind our desire to ensure that the resources we do have will be maximised for each of the family. It could be that's a desire to make sure the kids overall do the best. But that's only when the resources are maximised amongst the kids alone. That would account for a minimal birth rate of one kid per family. But it doesn't account for the large numbers of rich people who want no kids. It also doesn't account for the fact that large numbers of poor people have 20 kids, even if some will have to be sold into child slavery, and that many of those kids will have to work for many hours a day. That all suggests that the emphasis is not that our kids will do better, but that we will have more resources to enjoy if we are rich and choose to not have kids, and we will have more resources if we are poor and have more kids working for us. That's not the only consideration, because some parents do everything for our kids. But clearly, just like with attractiveness, the evolutionary desire to reproduce as successfully as possible can and is often subjugated to our own desires.

We have a natural desire to have kids, and the most successful kids we can. But unlike animals, we have the ability to suppress those urges in favour of what makes us feel good, and humans often do suppress our biology in favour of our ego.

A final thought would be that humans seem to be innately far too conservative and opposed to change to be good candidates for further evolution. Will our conservatism be our demise?
Interesting that you wrote that. I was looking up about the Iraq War a year ago, and I came across a lengthy paper written by a military man, ranked quite highly, who claimed that the only future for the American Military was if they learned to be flexible above all else.


They tell me that the only people who should propose scientific theories are people who are called Professor, or Doctor.
Then you should ask them if they ever heard of Michael Faraday - and I'm sure you could come up with many others.
I did for myself. But I always felt that others would not respect them. Faraday is an excellent example, as everyone regards him as a great scientist. Thank you for that.

RE Msg: 33 by VolcanoBoy:

Evolution no longer works in humans as it does in animals. In animals, the more successful species lives, and the less successful species often go extinct, because there is not enough food for all. In humans, we preserve the less successful humans.
If the more successful humans need the less successful humans they can use their skills to enhance the survival rate of the less successful.
But we don't need to keep the less successful humans alive. We only need a few to survive, the healthy ones. The rest we could easily do without from a survivalist POV.

In the animal kingdom this is less obvious but predators will try to maintain a territory to keep other predators out.
That's to protect their own food supply, not to keep less successful animals alive.

Mothers will kill children if they do not have the food or space needed to survive.
That's exactly what I'm saying. Animals would do that. We would not.
 merelymortal
Joined: 11/24/2009
Msg: 32
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/2/2009 11:40:32 PM
Lecutter:
Well, morality is a delusion at best, and it many ways it does have us acting contrary to general evolutionary principles.


How? How can mores lead us to act in any way contrary to evolution when they arose from our evolution? Even if you are machiavellian and think there is no real right or wrong, you have to see the truth that our mores are a product of our intelligence.

Even if you disagree that unattractive, weak, and feeble-minded people should be allowed by society to live, you have to agree that society's mores on not killing them off arose from some sort of social evolution.

One could say the Aztecs were a great civilization, but I don't morn the cultural demise handed to them by the Spanish, because I think they were a horribly ignorant society for brutally murdering people in sacrifice.

Do I think society as it works now is perfect, no, but as time has gone on, society guides our evolution with its collective conscience.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 33
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/2/2009 11:41:24 PM
RE Msg: 39 by VolcanoBoy:

But we don't need to keep the less successful humans alive. We only need a few to survive, the healthy ones. The rest we could easily do without from a survivalist POV.
Ah, but yes the powerful need the weak, and the smart need the dumb. Cheap labor has benefits for them [those on top]. Being involved in countries with lax environmental laws have benefits. The book Brave New World brings up the idea that we can not all be geniuses. Until robots are used for every one of these kind of tasks we will need dull entry level jobs to be filled by those who can accept that condition of existence. A genius with much higher dreams cannot be satisfied with menial work. His performance will eventually drop and stability will fall apart. We cannot all be leaders either. There needs to be followers or else there is higher chances of anarchy which threatens the survival of those on top.
Ah, the master-slave dichotomy. It's not really a true dichotomy. The powerful need the weak. But the smart don't need the dumb. Intelligence merely needs fulfilment, an opportunity to engage itself in intellectual stimulation. There are plenty of smart people in rather low-paying jobs, as long as the job has some form of problem-solving that satisfies the smart person's need to think. Moreover, the smart tend to be less ambitious, choosing jobs with greater intellectual fulfilment, even if those jobs are rather low-paying, over the much higher-paying but less intellectually fulfilling jobs. Moreso, there are plenty of healthy people who deliberately avoid thinking as much as possible. So we'll never run out of the dumb. The same is true of the leaders and the followers. Most want to be followers. The few who want to be leaders, are more interested in leading than power itself. It's really only the ones ambitious for power that have the problem. They aren't interested in intellectual developments that can help the dumb, or in providing leadership to followers. They desire only to be on top, without providing any recompensing benefit to society. But since they aren't really providing any service to humanity, they are a drain on it, and are really diminishing the capability of society overall. They only want to encourage everyone unlike them to be weak, so that no-one will challenge their lack of contribution and remove them from their positions of opulence and power.

Brave New World addresses that. Bernard and Helmholtz both are highly intellectual. They could easily do much better. But they settle for the jobs that let them use their minds, even if it does mean a rather menial existence. The ones who want to lead, like the Savage, eschew the trappings of power. The ambitious ones are the ones who really feel they need to keep the populace dumb enough to accept the status quo, in order that the populace will not seek the power they clearly crave.


That's to protect their own food supply, not to keep less successful animals alive.
But by protecting their food supply from predators they reduce the number of predators and thus keep the prey alive. It may not be a 'conscious choice' but it has the same results. I won't be splitting hairs this time, sadly.
It's still just a straightforward motive to protect their food supply. An alpha male in a pride of lions will chase off any other alpha lions from entering his territory to protect what is his. He keeps the betas around as backup. But when one of the betas challenge him, he'll attack the beta until the beta backs down and returns to submissive behaviour, or he'll kill the beta. It's much simpler than you're making out.
 merelymortal
Joined: 11/24/2009
Msg: 36
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/3/2009 1:18:43 AM
scorpiomover:
There are plenty of smart people in rather low-paying jobs, as long as the job has some form of problem-solving that satisfies the smart person's need to think. Moreover, the smart tend to be less ambitious, choosing jobs with greater intellectual fulfilment, even if those jobs are rather low-paying, over the much higher-paying but less intellectually fulfilling jobs. Moreso, there are plenty of healthy people who deliberately avoid thinking as much as possible. So we'll never run out of the dumb.


This kind of echoes Socrates, somewhat reminds me of the allegory in the cave...

really intelligent people realize that fortune and things are not real, that in many ways dirt is worth the same as money...

Socrates said that the first things that intelligent men think is real are money and things, then they realize there is something better, and more after that, and that the truth is nothing like those who value money and things and god can ever really grasp...

Socrates to Glaucon: "Wouldn't he remember his first home, what passed for wisdom there, and his fellow prisoners, and consider himself happy and them pitiable? And wouldn't he disdain whatever honors, praises, and prizes were awarded there to the ones who guessed best which shadows followed which? Moreover, were he to return there, wouldn't he be rather bad at their game, no longer being accustomed to the darkness? <- this is why intelligent people lack a drive to make money like stupid people

from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave
 Kohavah
Joined: 11/4/2009
Msg: 39
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/3/2009 7:39:23 AM
We are enterring into a new phase, in order that we may abort that which is mutated and therefore, defective. My Father calls this time frame, The Sifter. This Sacred and Divine Mindset, is a more Balanced, Centered and Beautiful Form of Intelligence, that has now entered into this Atmosphere. The inhabitants of this entire Universe, will be forced to adhere to and adjust their lives, to properly accomodate this Higher Order of Conscience Awareness, pertaining to Genuine Justice and Practical Morality.

Kohavah
 Kohavah
Joined: 11/4/2009
Msg: 41
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/3/2009 7:58:12 AM
Pertaining to evolution then...what shall die, in order for Righteousness and Justification, to unfold, in this evolutionary process?
 merelymortal
Joined: 11/24/2009
Msg: 45
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/3/2009 9:48:30 AM
volcanoboy:

I said successful humans rather than rich ones- and I consider it a success for an intellectual person to find mentally stimulating work. Scientists get a lot of props in particular- not a ton of individual limelight usually but they get stuff done. High paying business jobs do often demand intelligence to get there and to maintain it too though. Dumb heirs are a different story...


I agree with your basic idea too, there is a common misconception among the poor and middle-class that their wealthier peers somehow got there by blind luck, but there is a difference between the really intellectual people and the rich, which is that the wealthy have a drive to get their reward because they aren't really very intelligent. They think that money or fame will gain them some sort of permanence, safety, but it really just provides them a delusion of immortality and it gains them access to a large amount of excess. Must the rich by clever? Yes. Must they really be intelligent too. No. Can they be? Sure. Are more of them likely only clever? Probably.

Dumb heirs are everyone's favorite, even intelligent people enjoy them, because they lack the cleverness of their parent and they demonstrate the futility of hoarding money, things, and fame. They show how impermanent the legacy that their family struggled so hard to build is. The irony of it is amusing to me at least.

In Plato's republic, which the allegory of the cave is from, Socrates basically walks around Athens explaining to everyone that wants to talk to him why their lives are pretty much not worth living... The first man who's life he sums up is a wealthy man. He explains to him what we have already discussed, that money and things are not real and that they only provide a delusion of success. The man cannot grasp that he is not a success, because his only concept of what success is, is wealth.

Wealthy people are not more successful at anything other than gaining wealth, and it is not a very valid way of measuring intelligence.

If wealthy people were really better for surviving from an evolutionary standpoint, then why don't they reproduce like the poor? Impoverished families tend to be much larger than wealthy ones because they have more children. One reason is because children cost money to raise, so families who have money have fewer children purposely to reduce the burden, another reason is because poor families need more children to work or to be sure that at least some will live to adulthood.

The poor are better at surviving than the rich ironically, they are better at surviving, just not thriving. Wealth is no measure of evolutionary success.
 merelymortal
Joined: 11/24/2009
Msg: 49
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/3/2009 10:16:16 AM
Yes the poor do reproduce more rapidly and are safer because of it- as well as their ability to survive on limited resources. The wealthy do have advantages of their own in terms of evolutionary success however. They have fewer children and fewer numbers but if overpopulation severely restricts the resources of mankind (food/water/land), as long as the basic government and economic infrastructure remains the rich will have a much greater rate of survival. The only other point is that while the rich depend on the poor if there is no massively increased robotic labor, the poor do not need the rich. They can survive without government, or economy- and could even fall back on more ancient forms of civilization such as agriculture based societies.


Yes, so in a survival situation the wealthy vs the poor becomes a story of foxes vs. wolves, with foxes being the wealthy, and wolves being the poor... and in that situation I'd say advantage wolf... not that I want the poor to win evolutionarily, but thats how it seems it would go.

I'm not saying the rich wouldn't survive, the fox can escape the wolf, he just can't defeat him, the wolf will survive for sure.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 52
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/3/2009 11:42:36 AM
RE Msg: 42 by VolcanoBoy:

Bernard and Helmholtz both are highly intellectual. They could easily do much better. But they settle for the jobs that let them use their minds, even if it does mean a rather menial existence.
But Bernard and Helmholtz are Alpha class humans and they were made to be appropriate for their work and they are in the top class of human just below the Controllers. They do jobs that let them use their minds but the work of Delta and Gamma humans do not use the mind and they could not do it. The work of Delta and Gamma for the most part needs to be done and without someone to do it a problem arises. When I mean the less successful humans are needed for the the upper-middle / upper classes I mean the Gamma and Delta are necessary. For those that didn't read it this is like University graduates (Alpha) working in shipping, moving boxes. Shippers, low-level factory workers, cashiers, dock workers are all examples of Gamma or Delta class work.
It's true that Huxley suggested that the intellectuals were in the Alpha class. But that is because that's how it was when he was writing it in 1931. The Gamma and Delta classes were not given the option to study, and there was no option for an intellectual to find work except in the Alpha class. That's changed now. The Gammas and Deltas of our time have been given the chance to study for themselves, and there are plenty of smart people working in MacDonalds (I knew people working there).

What we can see, is that now that intelligence doesn't have to mean an Alpha-class job, that many intellectuals aren't in Alpha-class jobs, and many are in Gamma and even Delta-class jobs. We can also see that now that non-intellectuals are in Alpha-class jobs.

Huxley was working according to the old class system. In the new class system, the rules have changed, and Brave New World would be different if it was written today.

RE Msg: 44 by Kyle4phun:
This kind of echoes Socrates, somewhat reminds me of the allegory in the cave...

really intelligent people realize that fortune and things are not real, that in many ways dirt is worth the same as money...
It's not just smart people. A lot of people in the UK have discovered that high-paying jobs that keep them at work until 8 or 10, stop them from spending time with their kids. Many are now realising that it's just not worth it to work like a slave for a lot of money, if you aren't enjoying your life anyway. So a lot of people are changing to lower-paying jobs that give them greater job satisfaction and more time with their kids.
 merelymortal
Joined: 11/24/2009
Msg: 54
Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/3/2009 1:02:11 PM
scorpiomover:


It's not just smart people. A lot of people in the UK have discovered that high-paying jobs that keep them at work until 8 or 10, stop them from spending time with their kids. Many are now realising that it's just not worth it to work like a slave for a lot of money, if you aren't enjoying your life anyway. So a lot of people are changing to lower-paying jobs that give them greater job satisfaction and more time with their kids.


True, just because someone doesn't strive hard to make money doesn't also mean they are an intellectual, but the same goes for those who strive to make money... so I think we are in agreement that financial success means little to nothing toward evolution?

The only way I see that wealth could possibly effect evolution is in how it effects mate selection. Females like males with wealth, probably even more than they like males with health, and definitely more than they like males who can and like to think... it seems counterproductive... at least from a philosophical standpoint, and also from a logical standpoint, but the practical reasons a female would want a wealthy male are almost limitless... so it probably factors in to evolution most in that way, that it effects a male's ability to mate with who he chooses... how does that effect evolution? how could we know? Even if a male achieves getting his choice-worthy mate it doesn't mean that will actually be beneficial evolutionarily, or that it will do anything other than diversify a portion of the gene pool that will be selected out of existence in the next bottleneck.

Also, I would like to clarify what kind of wealth I'm talking about... I'm talking about really rich people, not middle-class, upper middle class, or anything near what most people probably even know. By any lower standard, anyone with money is smarter by any meaning of the word smart you can find than are poor people (in the same population, lets not get into comparing populations in the USA with sub-saharan africa where even a genius is poor). When I say "rich/wealthy people", I'm talking about Tiger Woods rich, lol.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 55
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Are we working contrary to evolution as a species?
Posted: 12/3/2009 5:29:04 PM
RE Msg: 64 by VolcanoBoy:
Well you could slave away for 5-10 years in a high paying job keeping your expenditures low and then stop working or work a job much easier and then make smart investments with the saved wealth. Then as long as you don't blow money on luxury you are set with only having to sacrifice a handful of years?
I knew a lot of young people who said that was their goal. I've since watched a few programmes about rich people. They all said the same thing, and it was very surprising. They all said that it took them so much time and effort to become rich, that it became something they couldn't live without. They all had the money to retire. But their focus had changed, and now being rich was no longer their aim. It was just making more and more money.

That's not how they start out. But that's how they all seem to end up.

Of course, you could always be the exception to the rule. There's always at least one.
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