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  #51  
Old 03-02-2017, 08:13 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
To get back to the OP - humans should not be able to turn off pain; allowing conscious control of pain levels, for example, would lead people to tune out relevant pain rather than addressing the situation. pain indicating your back is sore, you have a herniated disk - sometimes this sort of pain is intended to make you avoid placing a load on the problem area until it can heal. If you can ignore the pain and walk on your broken ankle, you are only making it worse and delaying healing time.
Except that nature is stupid sometimes. Pain and itching are both examples of this, itching even moreso than pain.

The worst thing you can do for a minor to moderate sprain is to stay off of it. Yes, it hurts, but keeping it moving, strengthening it, and keeping or increasing the flexibility of the joint will do far more to promote long term healing than rest. So if we could have evolved the ability for burns, broken bones, and cardiac conditions (the causes of pain where withdrawal and immobility are actually good) to be painful, but not sprains, inflamed joints, or nerves, that woulda been great. But it doesn't work like that.

Likewise, I can't think of a single situation in which scratching a severe itch actually makes things better. It doesn't seem to make a lick of evolutionary sense that our relief from itching is scratching. It's just one of those things that just is, because it happened in our DNA at some point, and it didn't impede us from having babies.

Not every evolutionary change is a positive one. Sometimes they're neutral, sometimes they're negative but not so much as to affect reproduction or the raising of offspring.
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  #52  
Old 03-02-2017, 08:36 AM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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It doesn't seem to make a lick of evolutionary sense that our relief from itching is scratching.
Sure it does, when the cause of the itch is some sort of parasite that can be dislodged by scratching.
  #53  
Old 03-02-2017, 08:47 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
Sure it does, when the cause of the itch is some sort of parasite that can be dislodged by scratching.
But how often is that the case? Even lice can't be dislodged by scratching, only momentarily annoyed and repositioned. Scratching just spreads scabies. Evolution "dealt" with most topical parasites by taking away our fur and fixed bedding (until we screwed that up by building houses and mattresses).

There are far more causes of itching made worse by scratching than there are causes of itching solved by scratching.
  #54  
Old 03-02-2017, 09:16 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
First stage is a patch of light-sensitive molecules on the surface of a cell.* All that they can show is that there is more light on one side of the cell than the other, but that is still useful--it can trigger the cell to ooze or rotate its cillia/flagella in a way that moves it towards or away from the light. Even bacteria have those.

Second stage is having versions of those light-sensitive molecules on the surface of patches of cells on a multi-cellular organism. Again, all they can show is that there is more light in one direction than another.

Third stage is having those patches of cells in a shallow pit, which allows the direction of the light to be more finely determined.

Fourth stage is having the pit become deeper, and partially closed over. This allows for a pinhole camera, and finally an eye that can form an image.

Fifth stage is forming a transparent membrane over that partially closed pit roof. This becomes a lens.

Every single step along this progression is useful, and earlier stages look "primitive" only when compared to later progressions.

*and at least one family of unicellular organisms has actually evolved an "eye" with a lens!
For those who need pictures, scan down to General Anatomy.

Furthermore, if you look at the comparison of human eyes with squid eyes in the Camera-type Eye section, you'll see that cephalopods got it right(er). In vertebrate eyes, light has to pass through the retina to get to the the photo-sensing layer. This is why all the nerve cells gather together in a bunch to pass out of the eyeball, creating the blind spot. Squid eyes have it the way any simpleton would have designed it, with the light sensing done on top of the retina so the conducting nerves can gather together away from the image-forming part. Intelligent design, indeed.

Don't even get me started on how primates had to kludge back one of the two lost color sensors fish, reptiles, and birds have to improve our color vision.
  #55  
Old 03-02-2017, 09:45 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
Seeing as alcohol reduces sexual inhibitions, and we're making abortion more and more inaccessible, I'd argue that natural drunks are being selected for.
...
How do you say "What do you mean 'we,' White Man?" in Mandarin? If you're going to cite irrelevant information (i.e., non-cite) at least be consistent: as a species, abortion is increasing.
  #56  
Old 03-02-2017, 10:16 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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How do you say "What do you mean 'we,' White Man?" in Mandarin? If you're going to cite irrelevant information (i.e., non-cite) at least be consistent: as a species, abortion is increasing.
I mean "we," the people of the United States of America, where most of the posters on this board live.

Abortion rates in developed countries are declining, mostly due to increased access to contraception, and that's dependent on geography, income, and in some places, social status. Rates in undeveloped countries are steady, not increasing. So overall, worldwide, the abortion rate is decreasing.

And alcohol lowers the success rate of condom use, so drunks should, in theory, be more fertile even with the use of the most common contraception. (Of course, alcohol lowers fertility rates too, so I'm not sure which has the greater effect.)
  #57  
Old 03-02-2017, 11:52 AM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Originally Posted by Haldurson View Post
Traits don't improve -- they either survive or they don't.

...

Furthermore, evolution can push creatures towards specialization to a given niche.
Of course traits improve. How else does specialization work?

Maybe a more accurate thing to say is that traits accumulate and the resulting improvement outperforms those without the trait. Thus the population as a whole fits their environment better.
  #58  
Old 03-02-2017, 01:11 PM
Weisshund Weisshund is offline
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Originally Posted by adaher View Post

1) Pain- While pain seems to be pretty good at removing us from immediate danger, it's not very good at telling us how much damage we've incurred. Stubbing your toe hurts like a mortal wound, yet your body can die from the inside out from cancer and you can feel nothing until the latter stages. .
It does a pretty good job of telling you if you have sustained any major damage.
There are multiple layers to pain.

Yea stubbing toe gives an immediate high burst, telling you hey stop, you're going to bust this nubby here.
But then it subsides after the initial warning isn't needed any more.

Snap your arm in two though, and it's a different story, it keeps firing off high alert messages, Hey there major malfunction here!

Quote:
2) Fat storage-Probably because living with such abundance is fairly recent, we might have to wait awhile for this one. Why would your body just keep storing fat until you literally die from too much of a good thing?
Because you can not Evolve out famine and similar situations, or climate.
Since all animals have this ability in some degree, and have for a very long time, i doubt mother nature is going to evolve this useful feature out of anything

Quote:
3) Better brain-body coordination- as evolved as we are, we're more of a community than a true individual. Our brain does a pretty good job of controlling our muscular system and rational thought, but most bodily functions and regulations are inaccessible to us. Not only can't we do anything about most of them, we can't even get information on them without inventing machines that can tell us.
Some people can, but on average i don't think most people would enjoy that much awareness.
It would be overload, how would you like to be acutely aware of what your intestines are doing, or gallbladder, or heart, or kidneys, at any given moment of the day?
Imagine trying to think, or trying to sleep.

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And to get back to pain, while pain can be useful, it can also be counterproductive. When nerves start firing, wouldn't it be useful for you to be able to tell them, "Okay, I get it, I'm on fire, now let me figure out how to make myself not be on fire rather than filling my brain with nothing but pain signals."
Yes, it would be very useful, that's why the human body, and other animal bodies can already do this.
People do things in desperate situations all the time where they do not realize until later how bad they were hurt, or how much pain they were actually in.

I imagine it depends a lot on your particular mental state, some people just are not capable of shutting off their panic states and would simply flail around screaming.

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Or are there limitations to the process that make certain things impossible unless a higher intelligence like man intervenes?
Intelligence does not factor in really, not the things you are speaking of.

Environmental pressures and selective breeding might, though humans only tend to do selective breeding under such lovely programs like the 3rd Reich and such.
And we know how well those lovely programs work.

Humans breed for love or lust or boredom or religion or intoxication or to get on a talk show, so i think we will always be wonderfully imperfect and pee in the face of future evolution
  #59  
Old 03-02-2017, 04:13 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
...
(Of course, alcohol lowers fertility rates too, so I'm not sure which has the greater effect.)
I don't think too many people have had success using "get blind drunk" as a contraceptive technique. Men, maybe. Not women.

The same as all these other issues; caffeine, obesity, starvation, breastfeeding, etc. - maybe lower sperm count, or inhibit ovulation, or make implantation less likely. However, considering how often humans attempt reproduction, and how erratic success is anyway, a few extra months to get to success is likely irrelevant.

And all those details are irrelevant when we use our conscious control to determine that "one or two children is plenty" and over a lifetime, there is no reproductive difference.
  #60  
Old 03-02-2017, 04:22 PM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
Of course traits improve. How else does specialization work?

Maybe a more accurate thing to say is that traits accumulate and the resulting improvement outperforms those without the trait. Thus the population as a whole fits their environment better.
Unless the population is too small and isolated--as illustrated by a new study that showed that the last woolly mammoths really sucked.
  #61  
Old 03-02-2017, 06:03 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Originally Posted by Weisshund View Post
Intelligence does not factor in really, not the things you are speaking of.
He's talking about genetic engineering, biotechnology, computer augments, etc. Glasses, antibiotics, safe municipal water supplies, vaccination, etc.

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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
Unless the population is too small and isolated--as illustrated by a new study that showed that the last woolly mammoths really sucked.
I was speaking of healthy populations. I didn't speak of all situations. Population bottlenecks are bad. Lack of genetic diversity leads to a mess - we call it inbreeding.
  #62  
Old 03-02-2017, 06:45 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Originally Posted by Haldurson View Post
The OP has a misunderstanding about how evolution works. It's not a mechanism that drives creatures towards perfection. It's about natural (and with humans, sometimes, and in the future, unnatural) selection. What happens is that if a genetic trait appears in a population, and that trait, for some reason, gives an advantage such that more offspring survive to a breeding age, then it's likely that that trait will continue to be passed on.

There are a few different ways this can happen -- a trait can increase the survival of young, it can increase the number of offspring, or it can give an advantage in the breeding process itself.

Note that this means that a trait which can help a child reach breeding age, can actually be a disadvantage in an aging organism. Your example about fat storage, for example, is not as much of a disadvantage early in life.

Also, a trait has to actually exist for it to be passed on. Traits don't simply appear because it would be an advantage. Traits may already exist in a population, or they can appear as mutations, or they can enter from other populations (mitochondrion, for example, may have become part of animal cells from bacteria). IT may be that some creature would have a great advantage within its niche if it grew wheels instead of feet -- but DNA may be incapable of producing wheels.
Huntington's disease will kill you slowly and painfully in your 40s, but it increases fertility when you are young. So it gets passed on.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0925130029.htm

Like I mentioned earlier, right now natural selection is selecting for less educated, less intelligent, less wealthy people in the human race. Evolution is just about who breeds more and whose children reach reproductive age more.
  #63  
Old 03-03-2017, 07:08 AM
guestchaz guestchaz is offline
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Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
Huntington's disease will kill you slowly and painfully in your 40s, but it increases fertility when you are young. So it gets passed on.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0925130029.htm

Like I mentioned earlier, right now natural selection is selecting for less educated, less intelligent, less wealthy people in the human race. Evolution is just about who breeds more and whose children reach reproductive age more.
bolding is mine.

The second half of your statement is true. The simplistic way to look at nature is this; Nature is effective, not efficient.
I find the first half of your statement to be almost nonsense in the context of evolution. Education and wealth are indicators of nothing but chance and circumstance not directly related to fitness to breed. Intelligence is more directly related, but intelligence is or can be a highly subjective thing and is difficult to measure. Was that chimpanzee intelligent or merely lucky at avoiding being eaten by the panther and successfully reproducing before getting killed in a confrontation with another troop of chimps?

People keep saying it, evolution doesn't select for anything except the ability to successfully produce the next generation of beings the most times.
  #64  
Old 03-03-2017, 08:02 AM
Haldurson Haldurson is offline
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Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
Of course traits improve. How else does specialization work?
Specialization can be a negative -- more specialized creatures are the first to die when there are significant changes to the environment. Think about it this way -- a creature that fills a very specialized niche is not going to do well when that niche disappears. It's wrong to think of all evolutionary change as an improvement -- that's a value judgment that has no place in science. traits that help you survive one bad winter, can kill you, or can even cause your species to go extinct the next.

Furthermore, being too good at filling a niche can be a negative as well. Normally, if a creature is a good hunter, for example, it will drive the population down of its chosen prey, and then its own population will drop because not enough food is available to feed the current population, and you can get a cycle of population yo-yoing over and over again. And that's ok... unless that hunter acquires a trait that makes it TOO good at hunting, in which case it can drive itself to extinction, sometimes taking other species with it.

Some of the hardiest creatures are the least specialized -- they may not be the brightest bulbs on the shelf, they may not be the best hunters or the best at anything. But when one food source is gone, they aren't too specialized that they can't turn to another. There are a few species like that, that have survived millennia, simply because they are NOT specialized. Hell, humans are fairly unspecialized -- hence, we can dominate any niche. And that can also be a problem, as we've seen we are capable of wiping out entire niches -- not just one niche, as in my example of the overly evolved hunter, but multiple niches.
  #65  
Old 03-03-2017, 04:36 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Haldurson, I think we are talking past each other making different points.

My point is that species population traits change over time. If those changes are neutral, the rate in the population floats without a specific direction. If those changes have an adverse affect on population survivability, they get weeded out of the population over time. If those changes provide a competitive advantage to reproductive success, they get disseminated throughout the population as a whole, unless they also contain an inherent weakness (e.g. sickle-cell anemia). The environment can change, making formerly positive traits negative and formerly negative traits positive, and that can adjust the direction of change for those traits.

The point I was making was, like the development of the eye, as positive traits provide significant survival advantage, they quickly spread to the whole population, out-succeeding the individuals that don't have those traits. So we don't find humans with half-finished eyes, but we do find a lot of different types of eye in other species, and some other eyes in different states than human one.

Remember, I was addressing this statement by adaher:
Quote:
2) It does seem that some evolution is pretty predictable. For example, whatever senses a species needs most will become highly developed, while senses they need less will tend to stay primitive.
I was attempting to explain why it appears to be that way, not explain every aspect of how evolution works.
  #66  
Old 03-07-2017, 05:06 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Originally Posted by guestchaz View Post
bolding is mine.

The second half of your statement is true. The simplistic way to look at nature is this; Nature is effective, not efficient.
I find the first half of your statement to be almost nonsense in the context of evolution. Education and wealth are indicators of nothing but chance and circumstance not directly related to fitness to breed. Intelligence is more directly related, but intelligence is or can be a highly subjective thing and is difficult to measure. Was that chimpanzee intelligent or merely lucky at avoiding being eaten by the panther and successfully reproducing before getting killed in a confrontation with another troop of chimps?

People keep saying it, evolution doesn't select for anything except the ability to successfully produce the next generation of beings the most times.
I disagree. Intelligence has been studied for a century, and it is integral to improving our collective quality of life. Intelligence is necessary for science and technology, and necessary for large social groups. If everyones intellect was cut in half, then say goodbye to vaccines, clean drinking water, international travel, the internet, physicians, etc. It is our only chance to escape the cycle of evolution, and right now natural selection is selecting against it.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 03-07-2017 at 05:07 PM.
  #67  
Old 03-07-2017, 09:01 PM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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I disagree. Intelligence has been studied for a century, and it is integral to improving our collective quality of life. Intelligence is necessary for science and technology, and necessary for large social groups. If everyones intellect was cut in half, then say goodbye to vaccines, clean drinking water, international travel, the internet, physicians, etc. It is our only chance to escape the cycle of evolution, and right now natural selection is selecting against it.
Ok, I understand that this factoid: "We're evolving to be more stupid" is very popular (particularly among certain groups). But there are strong reasons why if it's not outright wrong, it's at least besides the point:

1. Evolution slow, human progress fast
First and foremost is the simple fact that evolution is crazy slow compared to the rate we humans move the goalposts. In my lifetime we've sequenced the human genome and now we have crispr-cas9 and the first therapies that modify genes in adults already in human trials. Also in my lifetime, countless countries that had high birth rates and an exploding population have dropped right down to barely replacement levels.
As for economics, I'm typing this from an area of Shanghai that was little more than a fishing village when I was born and is now home to many of the world's tallest skyscrapers.
The world is changing much faster than evolution can keep up with.

2. Do stupid people have more children?
The correlation for the most part is between poverty and birth rates, particularly when looking at it on global scales.
And these things are clearly not the same. Take a baby out of Poorsville and raise it in Richtown and it's much more likely to succeed academically, then professionally, then choose to have fewer children.
You see it most clearly in countries like India. There you have areas of high birth rates and low prospects coexisting with areas that educate future MIT graduates. Are they genetically so different? If we swapped two kids would the kid born in Richtown but then raised in squalor still succeed?

3. You don't need to be smart for most jobs
I even want to push back against this part.
It's a standard meme of Western culture, particularly in the US, that Job A requires an IQ >= X. For a doctor, say, people might guess it must be 120+.
Here in China they emphasize hard work and good teaching and almost zero stock in IQ and I think the Chinese are more correct than the Americans on this one.

Just look at Ben Carson. I hear people now scoffing at the idea that he was a great neurosurgeon, despite all the evidence. Because, to them, a neurosurgeon must have a very high IQ (especially a distinguished neurosurgeon), and if he has a high IQ that should be obvious at all times.
As someone who has worked in neuroscience myself I'm not at all surprised to see a great neurosurgeon talking crap because I've met several that were like that. The field is not about constantly trying to think outside the box (few fields are). It's mostly following particular processes well. These processes, though complex, are well within the reach of someone with average IQ, or maybe less.
And when a neurosurgeon must do something very novel then yes, their aptitude comes into play but here aptitude involves many psychological factors beyond just IQ.

Last edited by Mijin; 03-07-2017 at 09:05 PM.
  #68  
Old 03-08-2017, 12:50 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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I think it was Freakonomics that mentioned the greatest indicator of whether a child would do well in life was the education level of the parents. Of course, like statistics, this is not always the whole story. My father was a physics professor, my uncle was a pig farmer. It seems that learning how to use your brain is as important to developing IQ as is genetics.

The whole "stupid people are having more children" was the basis for Cyril Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons" even back in 1950's, where the vast majority of society is stupid for allegedly the same reason (abetted by the excuse that the best and brightest and fittest were chose to emigrate off-planet). Of course, birth control (and abortion) are readily available now, so even the poor can skip having children when they don't want them in the first world. Plus, if we go with the concept that people are not poor because they are stupid, but rather stupid(er) because they are poor - they have the potential but due to upbringing and lack of opportunity, failed to develop their full potential.

Last edited by md2000; 03-08-2017 at 12:50 PM.
  #69  
Old 03-08-2017, 06:13 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
And alcohol lowers the success rate of condom use, so drunks should, in theory, be more fertile even with the use of the most common contraception. (Of course, alcohol lowers fertility rates too, so I'm not sure which has the greater effect.)
I believe the greater effect would be the increased fertility, due to incompetant use of condoms. Because that has an immediate effect, while the decreased fertility caused by alcohol use tends to be an accumulative effect from chronic use/abuse of alcohol, which takes longer to have an effect.
  #70  
Old 03-08-2017, 07:40 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
1. Evolution slow, human progress fast
First and foremost is the simple fact that evolution is crazy slow compared to the rate we humans move the goalposts.
If those below the average IQ are having double the number of children as those who are above it, then in one generation (if we ignore regression to the mean) you've already switched the ratio of smarts to dumbs from 1:1 to 1:2. That's pretty fast.

Not to say that this is the state of affairs. The Flynn effect, last I heard, was still marching along strong and that would seem to be a strong indicator that it isn't.

But, in theory, evolution could move quite fast if there were sufficiently strong subcultural tendencies around procreating.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 03-08-2017 at 07:41 PM.
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