The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?  (Read 11115 times)

Offline Nizzle

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 964
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Extropian by choice!
    • View Profile
    • Carnivorous Plants
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #25 on: 21/12/2011 12:37:14 »
The Barbie&Ken generation would maybe became reality, but only in the "high society" of the world, since these procedures will undoubtedly be expensive (at least in the beginning).
If anything proactive gene splicing will only widen the gap between the rich and the poor.

And if we take it further: why would we only tinker with appearance once we master the art of Gene Manipulation? We could create immunity for any thinkable disease, we could become resistant to radiation, we could increase our retina's resolution, our muscle density, our skin's wound regeneration speed, ...
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #26 on: 21/12/2011 18:19:46 »
What about genetically enhanced and international sports?

It would be complicated, but one could at least induce mild forms of polycythemia, even now.  But undoubtedly we'll learn more about muscle genes and development in the future.
 

Offline Gordian Knot

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 165
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #27 on: 22/12/2011 01:47:36 »
It is interesting to me that a topic about the natural evolution (or lack thereof) of humanity  thread has warped into a humans tinkering with human evolution thread.
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #28 on: 22/12/2011 02:32:47 »
It is interesting to me that a topic about the natural evolution (or lack thereof) of humanity  thread has warped into a humans tinkering with human evolution thread.

Yes, we do wander a bit...

The point is that if you look at the population of 7 Billion people, it would be difficult to see much genetic drift. 

There will be a few local effects such as selection of phenotypes adapted to higher elevations in the Andes and Himalayas, perhaps over the most recent few thousand years.

Skin tone was also an adaptation to a balance between Vitamin D production and Sunburn, Melanoma, and etc.  Again, more or less a local adaptation.  We've reduced some of the selective pressures on skin tone by racial mixing, better foods, vitamin supplements, lotions, and etc.

It is believed that some diseases such as Malaria, and various European Plagues have left their impact on the Human genome by selecting for heterozygous Sickle Cell, heterozygous Cystic Fibrosis, and other genes.  Undoubtedly the AIDS epidemic in Africa will select for some more HIV resistant genes.  In fact, it is believed that some of the European AIDS resistance genes may be attributed to selection from earlier plagues.

For a large genetic shift to occur, one has to consider lethal conditions (or lack thereof) such as presented by AIDS or Malaria, or conditions that would cause certain genetic traits to reproduce more or less.  In fact, socio-economic and racial traits do impact current, and potentially future birth rates which will impact the racial distribution on the future Earth.

Modern medicine is now saving millions of mothers and babies that would not otherwise be viable.  The impact of procedures such as C-Section on the human genome has yet to be seen.  Fertility treatments are also allowing otherwise sterile individuals to reproduce.

Undoubtedly the future will bring some genetic tinkering, but probably only a drop in the bucket of the current 7 billion people, and at least initially it will be limited to either genetic repairs, or redistribution of already existent genes in the human gene pool.

What about genetic manipulation for fighting a virulent disease?
 

Offline Nizzle

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 964
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Extropian by choice!
    • View Profile
    • Carnivorous Plants
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #29 on: 22/12/2011 13:43:42 »
It is interesting to me that a topic about the natural evolution (or lack thereof) of humanity  thread has warped into a humans tinkering with human evolution thread.

It's only a natural evolution of this topic ;)

The problem with "natural evolution" is that it has to infer an advantage in reproduction somehow. I think that we've reached the "natural" limits of our success rate and that "unnatural" evolution (read technological/scientific) is taking over.

You could view it like this: we have "naturally" evolved to be more proficient in using/discovering/inventing new technologies and scientific breakthroughs ;)
 

Offline lightspeed301

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 26
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #30 on: 03/01/2012 17:48:48 »
In the United States, at least, large numbers of us improved the gene pool by not reproducing.   When I ask others about this I almost always get the same response. One unsatisfying family experience is more then sufficient for one lifetime. 

Back in the baby boom years it was almost completely unknown for married people not to have kids. There was only one such family in our town of about 1,500 people, and sometimes there was some light gossipy criticism they were somehow 'selfish'.  I do not detect much stigmatism these days.

The results seem dramatic to me.  For instance, I know hardly ANYONE from my cohort [early baby boom] who did not want to get the hell away from home as soon as possible.  Now parents sometimes complain they can't get their kids to leave.

In summary, individual temperaments have significant genetic component.  If you don't need kids to work the farm, and you do not have the requisite temperament anyway. The choice is easy. In fact, is suspect there are a fair number of grandparents who have four or fewer grandchildren.

, and those components that tend towards
 

Offline Gordian Knot

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 165
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #31 on: 03/01/2012 18:10:00 »
Lightspeed, I have to disagree with your basic premise, that large numbers of us have improved the gene pool by not reproducing.

***Warning. Completely, Totally, Utterly Politically Incorrect Statements to Follow***

From what I see here in the U.S., the part of the population with more learning has had a sharp drop in reproduction rates. The classes with a much lower level of learning, however, are spitting out babies faster than ever.

By "learning" I mean to say people who have a desire for knowledge, whether it be from a college education, or self taught. They are capable of deductive reasoning, which may or may not overcome unfounded biases they may have.

"Lower" level of learning, as I am using the term, is that group of people who see no real value in education. Who have no understanding of deductive thinking and who base their decisions on their own biases first, facts second.

End result is that it has skewed the level of intellect in this country downward by a significant margin.
 

Offline lightspeed301

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 26
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #32 on: 03/01/2012 21:42:21 »
GN

Recent evolutionary pressures include, as you point out, potentially deleterious forces as well.  You specifically mention basic IQ. 

I have two responses. First, you don't need to be a smart person to be good and contributing citizen. Second, I suspect Marx, Engels, Lenin et all were way above normal intellectually speaking. They seem to have believed it themselves and worshiped their own intellects to the point of killing anyone who might have an inferior thought.
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #33 on: 03/01/2012 22:18:18 »
you don't need to be a smart person to be good and contributing citizen.
True,
If you read Aldus Huxley, he invented classes of workers from Alphas to Epsilons.  In a sense, I think we still do that with racial discrimination.  However, machinery is now taking over some of the simpler tasks... 

One might think of "Progress" in genetics as being:
Increased Intelligence
Increased Strength & Fitness.
Disease Resistance,
Longevity,
Is beauty a long-term characteristic?
etc.
Unfortunately, they may not always work together. 
 

Offline lightspeed301

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 26
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #34 on: 03/01/2012 23:23:36 »
Cliff - You wrote:  "...In a sense, I think we still do that with racial discrimination..." I really wish people would get off this hobby horse.  Half the entire Democrat Party proclaimed The Tea Party to be racist. Until Herman Cain became their darling. Cain is three times as black in every way then is Obama.

Jezzua Cliff.  I was trained to fix typewriters by a black guy back in 1967. I then became a congressional investigator and BOTH my immediate supervisors were black. I NEVER had a black guy work for me.

However, the Huxley hierarchy of Alphas etc does not need to be engineered since already it exists in nature.  One problem is WAY too many people believe raw IQ somehow justly confers a linear Alpha/Zeta status.  I can just about  guarantee Marx, Engels, and Lenin  ALL had really really high IQ.

So high in fact, that some of them seem to believe anyone who expressed an inferior thought should simply be killed.  The Alphas will do all the thinking and the rest should simply become members in 'The Dictatorship of the Proletariate'. THE STATE simply whithering away as the proper order of society took its natural and just end. Scientific Materialism.










 

Offline lightspeed301

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 26
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #35 on: 03/01/2012 23:28:44 »
PS

The planet is in the most peaceful and prosperous era in its entire human history. Read "Better Angles of Our Nature". http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0670022950/ref=sib_dp_kd#reader-link [nofollow]

In this book Plinker points out that violent deaths per 100,000 population today could not even be shown on his timescale chart since it is less then one pixel.  In  some hunter/gatherer societies it sometimes approached one third of all deaths.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2012 23:31:28 by lightspeed301 »
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #36 on: 03/01/2012 23:44:01 »
I disagree that there isn't a type of racial hierarchy now.  It is just more complicated than it was in the past.

In some places, 90% of the roofers are Hispanics, and quite likely undocumented.  Likewise, many of our seasonal farm workers are undocumented Hispanics. 

The creation of a semi-permeable boarder is of benefit to the USA by bringing in many people to do menial, and sometimes hard labor tasks for little pay.

Likewise, we have enjoyed a period of prosperity by paying Chinese a fraction of minimum wage to produce our everyday disposable items, and paying Thai workers even less to sit behind a sewing machine all day to sew together our clothes and shoes. 

I fear that this blip in prosperity will come to an end as we eventually discover that we have nothing left to pay them with.  Yet, we will be able to "industrialize" other countries in the future for the same purpose of serving our needs rather than improving their domestic infrastructure and standard of living. 

Eventually  computers and automation will take over some of the tasks.  We could sew our clothes together with robots, it is just cheaper to pay Thai workers at this time.

If we do develop autonomous robots in the future, how we deal with them and their "rights" is still to be determined.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2012 23:45:55 by CliffordK »
 

Offline lightspeed301

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 26
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #37 on: 04/01/2012 00:17:58 »
Cliff

Almost all labor now goes towards non essential products.  For instance, I believe one single farmer now feeds one or two hundred fellow citizens. In addition, we now have more housing then people who can afford it; even though almost no one goes without a roof over their head. 

The single most serious health problem for 'the poor' in America is morbid obesity. Fat people on food stamps. Sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit. The best thing we could do for poor people is to replace food stamps with very large bags of rice and soy beans. Fat Chance. Pardon the humor.

As for Chinese slave labor?  Its SORT of  analogous to the weaving mills of New England two hundred years ago. Farm girls move to dormitories with long hours in difficult surroundings. No one seems to notice they had left isolated farming communities with long hours and difficult surroundings.

Someplace I have actual correspondence where one such young woman wrote home about the wonderful experience of having Sunday off in the big town of Lowell, lots of friends, and the prospective joy of being promoted to bobbin girl at age 16.

Chinese girls, of course, do not have Christian Social Organizations to look over them. The Chinese girls seem to have more difficult lives. Apparently they have an embarrassing high level of suicide. Probably the result, somehow, of American Social Imperialism.


 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #38 on: 04/01/2012 10:16:07 »
As far as evolution.
I'm not sure where we are with it...
But, consider the basic differences between pelvic shapes in Male and Female Humans.

The Female pelvis is necessarily wider for childbirth.
The Male pelvis presumably is narrower for added strength, and perhaps speed.

In the past, having a narrow pelvis might have been lethal for both mother and infant.
That is no longer the case in western society.

Will we see basic structural changes because of this, and perhaps a move towards an androgynous structure?
 

Offline imatfaal

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2787
  • rouge moderator
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #39 on: 04/01/2012 12:04:18 »
General Mod Note

Can we stick to the science and make fewer sweeping generalizations about peoples/populations/races and their proclivities please. 

Thanks

 

Offline Gordian Knot

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 165
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #40 on: 04/01/2012 17:50:10 »
GN

Recent evolutionary pressures include, as you point out, potentially deleterious forces as well.  You specifically mention basic IQ. 

I have two responses. First, you don't need to be a smart person to be good and contributing citizen. Second, I suspect Marx, Engels, Lenin et all were way above normal intellectually speaking. They seem to have believed it themselves and worshiped their own intellects to the point of killing anyone who might have an inferior thought.

Actually I never mentioned IQ! IQ is an artificial (and I would suggest arbitrary) measure of intelligence. And many of us know people with very high IQs that are incapable of functioning in day to day society. A high IQ, in and of itself, is not a good measure.

And I never mentioned being smart either. In fact I pointed out that people who are "learned" can be college grads, or people who are self taught.

Let me use myself as an example. I have 3/4ths of a four year college degree. So I never finished a bachelor's degree. Yet I have read extensively all my life, and continue to do so. Learning is important to me so I go out of my way to do that.

It is shocking to me how many people in the U.S. do not have a high school diploma, or worse, have one that is essentially worthless. The majority of these people, from my observations, do not value learning, and are not going to take it upon themselves to do so.

As to your responses. No, one does not need to be smart to be a useful, contributing citizen. There has to be something there though, call it wisdom, street smarts, whatever.

Secondly, yes learned individuals have been led down the wrong paths like the Communists you mentioned. Learning IS a two edged sword. Still, overall, I believe someone who is learned has a better chance of being a useful, functioning member of society.

As a matter of fact, it is the learned ones who follow an "evil" path that are so dangerous when the society in which they live is predominated by people who do not value learning. The examples of this in America the last decade are too numerous to mention. Our supposed leaders make the most asinine claims, and too many people accept those claims without question.

One cannot run a civilized society this way, and we see the negative results all around us.
 

Offline Gordian Knot

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 165
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #41 on: 04/01/2012 18:12:39 »
PS

The planet is in the most peaceful and prosperous era in its entire human history. Read "Better Angles of Our Nature". http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0670022950/ref=sib_dp_kd#reader-link

In this book Plinker points out that violent deaths per 100,000 population today could not even be shown on his timescale chart since it is less then one pixel.  In  some hunter/gatherer societies it sometimes approached one third of all deaths.

Light, I'm not picking on you. Promise! LOL.

I DO have some real issues with this guy's book, but cannot make much in the way of statements without having read it (which I fully intend to do!). Just looking at his premise though, that violent deaths are minuscule today compared to past centuries, seems to me to be a huge over simplification.

Of course hunter/gatherer societies would have a very high violent death rate. When one is hunting animals that can kill you, that will lead to more violent deaths.

When groups of people are completely dependent on the fickleness of nature, violent death is going to be higher.

Finally, when these people have no medical knowledge to speak of, any injury that would be considered mundane today would likely have meant death in primitive societies.

Modern industrial society has progressed to the point that most of us acquire our food already slaughtered, slabbed and packaged for us. Advances in agriculture has allowed us to feed huge populations that never would have survived in earlier times. And medicine has advanced to the point that many life threatening situations of even a generation ago are no longer necessarily fatal.

I haven't even started on violent death by warfare, which I cannot until I read what the author has to say. Seems to me that survivors in Rwanda, Somalia, Angola, though, would have a different opinion!
 

Offline CliffordK

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6321
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • Site Moderator
    • View Profile
Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #42 on: 04/01/2012 20:40:53 »
The planet is in the most peaceful and prosperous era in its entire human history. Read "Better Angles of Our Nature".
http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0670022950/ref=sib_dp_kd#reader-link

Here is the main figure from the preview of the article.

Figure 2.2
Percentage of deaths in warfare in non-state and state societies.


Now, there could be somewhat of a bias for the archaeological digs depending on what was actually dug up. 

For example, if you did an archeological dig at:
Gettysburg,
Arlington National Cemetery,
or Little Bighorn,

You might conclude that we are a far more violent society.

However, considering the effects of the Iraq war on the USA.  While many people may know someone that has been deployed, maimed, or killed.  However, the vast majority of us are relatively insulated from the battles. 

Industrial accidents have been minimized in the 21st century in Western nations. 

How violent was the "old west"?  Certainly most people aren't packing 6-shooters anymore.

One of the big differences in "Modern Society" is the ability for mass destruction.  Two bombs dropped in 1945 killed over 100,000 people in Japan. 

With some estimates of WWII deaths being in the range of 60-80 million (but, still only 3-4% of the global population.  However, some countries lost between 10 and 20% of their population, and some locales loosing far more.

I would agree that much of the world is in a period of "prosperity".  The life expectancy in many countries is now around 80 years.

Yet, depending on the estimate, the life expectancy in Swaziland, Angola, and Zambia is still in the 30 to 40 year range.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy


« Last Edit: 04/01/2012 20:46:39 by CliffordK »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Has There Been Any Significant Evolution in Humanity?
« Reply #42 on: 04/01/2012 20:40:53 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums