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Instant evolution?

  1. Nov 27, 2004 #1
    is there any info out there about this. this might have to go in the philosphy section(well part of it) but i was just wondering if there is such a thing as instant evolution and the only reason im asking, is the basis of the subjective power of the mind over the body. so far this appears to be undeniable, how far it can be taken is obviously unknown but what if? what if you could think yourself into a stronger more healthy body, not just feeling a little healthy and going on your new age way, but i mean literally creating an immune system strong enough to kick aids ass by simply believing. yes it sounds like new age b.s,but that doesnt deny the physical(biological)aspect of it and if this is possible, as most people who practice the art of mind/body believe and as test have shown. what does this say for evolution, does evolution also have its ground in the mind and this also kinda goes back to my other thread about the body in the mind, i mean can we actually physically(biologically) evolve and not mentally evolve, they go hand in hand right, so why not look at the mental aspects of evolution and the power that might hold in the mind and its evolution of the body.
    sorry if this is in the wrong place.
    so basically, can we think ourselves into a new body, or to better put it. can we think ourselves into using our body to its real potential, which in turn would be a sort of instant evolution, right?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2004 #2


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    I'm going to break your question down into the two questions it really is, and answer the second one first, because that's a quick one.

    Can we "think" ourselves to evolve: no. This question is based on a misunderstanding of how natural selection and evolution occur. Essentially, what you're getting at resembles one of the theories that preceded natural selection, and that was Larmark's Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics. This just doesn't happen and pre-dated any understanding of genetics as we know it now. Evolution requires changes at the level of DNA, and thinking isn't going to change DNA.

    The first question sounds like you've been spending a lot of time arguing with philosophers, but I'm going to discuss it also from a biological perspective because this is the biology forum. First, in philosophy, they often speak of things such as a mind/brain duality, the idea that the mind is something separate from the brain, that consciousness is something distinct from our physical being. This is not the prevailing belief in biology. So, from a biological perspective, your idea about creating healthy body just through mental functioning is still a pretty big stretch, but on a more limited scale, it is quite reasonable. Think of the brain as the central dispatcher of the body. Via the nervous system and endocrine system, the brain is continuously monitoring what is going on in the body. This information gets processed and neural and neuroendocrine signals are dispatched accordingly to respond to this information. Thinking is part of the function of the brain, and involves very physical and measurable changes in the growth, shape, and chemical content of neurons and glial cells in the brain. So, it is quite reasonable for there to be connections and communications in the brain between thinking "centers" and "centers" involved in homeostasis of the body.

    That said, the concept of curing AIDS by thinking about it goes too far. While, yes, it seems we can influence our recovery from certain illnesses or disorders via the placebo effect, which at this time can only be interpreted as an effect of positive thinking on recovery, there are limits to this. For example, in AIDS, the problem isn't the response of the immune system, but that HIV attacks the cells of the immune system directly, and renders them non-functional. One way to think of it is the brain as the central office, which communicates to manufacturing plants, and then the product of the manufacturing plant gets out to customers (target cells). The central office gets a call from the customers that they aren't getting enough product. The central office determines that production needs to increase, and puts a call out to the manufacturing plant. But, despite the lines of communication being intact, there is nothing the manufacturing plant can do, since one of their machines is broken. No matter how many times the central office calls and tells them to boost production, there is nothing they can do to respond to that call. I don't know if the analogy helps or just complicates it more.
  4. Nov 29, 2004 #3
    That said, the concept of curing AIDS by thinking about it goes too far. While, yes, it seems we can influence our recovery from certain illnesses or disorders via the placebo effect, which at this time can only be interpreted as an effect of positive thinking on recovery, there are limits to this

    not to be nit picky, but we dont really know the limit to this effect and how far it can go. for all we know, a "powerful mind" could think its way into making the body do something we thought was not possible without external help, but your whole reply was nice. thanks
  5. Nov 29, 2004 #4


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    From a matter of semantics, no, we don't know all the limits of the placebo effect, and we know very little of how it works. However, we do know something about what illnesses are susceptible to improvement due to the placebo effect, and which are not. Since stress has influence on the immune system, I think it is reasonable to consider the possibility that we could exert mental control over at least part of the stress response, thus alleviating some symptoms of disease, but I think it's over-reaching to argue much beyond that. I don't have a crystal ball that provides me a view any further into the future. :wink: The placebo effect is only recently gaining credibility and being studied, so let's wait to see where the evidence leads us as it's gathered, otherwise we risk speculating too much and forcing the evidence to fit our beliefs rather than letting the evidence lead us.
  6. Nov 29, 2004 #5
    Jimmy, It sounds like you need to gain some basic understanding of science before you try to come up with original scientific ideas.

    PhD's are merely doctorates of philosophy, but if they are not grounded by science then they have no place debating scientific ideas.

  7. Nov 29, 2004 #6
    it sounds like your just being antagonistic, because my thread just simply asked a question and it got answered, but in the mist of the answer i wanted to simply point something out. so maybe you sir should be quiet, rather than post an irrelevant reply, thank you.
  8. Nov 29, 2004 #7


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    Not so. You replied with "we don't really know" and "It could be that.." which are not just pointing something out but arguing from ignorance, a logical fallacy. You need to study up on critical thinking as well as biology. And anybody is free to hop in on this forum.
  9. Nov 29, 2004 #8
    we dont really know, so what do you want me to say. if we dont know then we dont know, its as simple as that. yes i could have went into details about why we dont know and why this and why that, but i didnt feel like it, plus it wasnt really that necessary. if you want to find out why, then go google it and pick up a book, other than that your just still be antagonistic, to me.
  10. Nov 29, 2004 #9


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    jimmy, you're the one who started this thread. I provided an explanation and your response amounted to, "Yes, but no." I saw nothing antagonistic in either nautica's or selfAdjoint's responses to this thread. They are simply pointing out some things you should work on. However, if you're going to respond by telling people to "go google" when you're the one asking the questions in the first place, I could be tempted to tell you to do the same. This is a discussion forum, hence we will discuss. If you disagree with me, then you must explain your reasons if you want us to consider them; we will not be trying to guess at your meaning.
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