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Is de-evolution taking place?

  1. May 22, 2003 #1
    is "de-evolution" taking place?

    is it possible that in our modern human enviornment we are digresing in our evolutionary progress?

    it's a little comlicated but for an example let's suppose a man had a weak immune system. this genetic defect may, for some women be a turn-on, (you know, the old sympathy act) and land the man with a mate where as a perfectly healty man may have been born into (another vauge example) poverty.
    i'm sorry, these are, like i said, vauge and confusing examples, and i can guess the counter-argument: whatever course our evolution is taking it is always toward the beneficial because a non-beneficial gene cannot continue, but one must admit, our society will be changing the way nature has evolved for millions of years, a process of physical attributes succeding over weaker ones.
    ohh, another example: it's probobly too sticky of a subject for some but HOMOSEXUALITY (in strickly scientific, non moralist terms) is a genetic defect that in nature would have elliminated it self.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2003 #2
    No, it's not possible. Change that occurs because of the agents of evolution is evolution.

    You're just picking things out and saying that indeed they're negative. But if they resulted from evolutionary agents, then they're evolution.

    Evolution, being objective and scientific, makes no statement about one thing being "good" or "bad".
  4. May 23, 2003 #3


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    As LA said, evolution is change. It is hard to says at the present time that the change occuring are beneficial or detrimental to us (weaker immune system could be beneficial in the future who knows!). In my opinion, natural selection in rich country as decrease in importance as an agents of evolution compare to third world country and in the past human history.
  5. May 23, 2003 #4
    is "de-evolution" taking place?

    I do not believe that it is de-evolution but a consequence of our social condition. To be sure biological mechanisms play a part but the pressures exerted by our societal mechanisms are the true culprits. If you recall the experiments conducted by psychologists beginning the mid 50s and extending to the 80s-using rat over crowing, mirrored social deviations of today.

    If you believe this then, what is happening regarding our evolution? If we are to believe this, that is we are evolving, then to what?

    I submit evolution is a direct result of the pressure created by existing activities and needs. In our case we are primarily cerebral therefore we should be making strides to evolve mentally, but to what?

    If we consider the diversity in present human kind, we find all things are possible, especially in third world countries. I find so many social groups clinging to dogmas that lock their evolution. Its easy to exist when there are no outside pressures and your social structure is simple and laid out, such as several hundred years ago. Probably not may of those still in existence.

    You want to know what really scares me? Since all species of life have a life span where they die out or evolve, right? Well, our demise may be linked to our ability to evolve through self-imposed processes such as Universal tolerance, economic equality, education, health and welfare.

    Our destruction may be linked to intolerance and lack of cooperation.

  6. May 23, 2003 #5


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    maximus - As other said, technically speaking, evolution is simply "change", not "progress". "De-evolution" implies a preferential hierarchy or path, which is only a subjective thing and not part of the theory. Modern day bacteria are just as "evolved" as modern humans.

    Individuals that are "less fit" tend to be selected against vs. individuals that are "more fit" for the current environment. Perhaps human society/altruism is pulling along the bad with the good, but it's all part of the overall success of our species. If we become less hardy or whatever, then we'll face stiffer competition from other species (or isolated groups within our own species, if that situation ever occurs again). Looks like germs and ourselves are our biggest evolutionary challenges at the moment.
  7. May 23, 2003 #6
    Evolution makes no claim as to good or bad, better or worse. It is merely the result of evolutionary agents as a whole.

    De-evolution cannot possibly occur. It's just a play on letters. End of story.
  8. May 23, 2003 #7
    obviously evolution does not choose its pathes, or favor one trait over another. what i simply meant is: is this society creating a enviornment where more non beneficial traits are suceeding. (and don't say there is no beneficail or non benificial traits becuase its obvious that if a virus mutates to evade a vaccine it was beneficail and if a person is born with an extra arm, it probobly isn't) (beneficial is not a personification of evolution, it is a term humans use to describe it from our perspective)
  9. May 23, 2003 #8
    Still this doesn't make sense to me.

    What you're saying I think is that, a given trait which is considered a trait of health, thus one that you would want to mate with, is in fact a non-beneficial trait.

    Like saying that those with more fat on their bodies are more attractive, and thus this having this trait makes one more likely to reproduce. When in fact having this trait makes one less healthy.

    But I don't understand the claim or question. Is this happening? Well, no.

    Give a specific example. And even if there is examples, it's just a few out of many.
  10. May 23, 2003 #9


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    You see, you can't make this distinction here. The natural selection element of evolution selects according to the context so the most survivable survive and proliferate. Society cannot make evolution favour less beneficial traits - it simply changes the landscape so that traits that were disadvantageous now are beneficial. So evolution is still going towards the surivivable in general, though the survivable has changed - not devolution, just adaptation to a changing environment.
    It is arguable that the environmental criterions are constantly changing, and there is nothing particularly special about changes which result from social action, as opposed to say other animals, or global catastrophies.
  11. May 23, 2003 #10
    Evolution may not be voluntary

    Evolution a biological imperative:

    We who have observed life and it’s manifestations and see the diversity must draw conclusions sometimes get it right. Not many of us but some. Birds have evolved to have all of the things necessary for flight, light bones, a brain that dumps unused memory, prey or predator. Whatever the mission fly and swim, fly, swim and dive, deep in land or coastline, eyes to see very long distances. On land animals like long horned sheep claim the heights, mountain lions claim the sheep. Dolphins that breath air and live in water have maximized their capabilities and live well.

    All of these animals have created an unknown biological imperative to improve their existence by evolving, probably 95 percent physical and the mental, just more in control of the new capabilities. Only Man has decided by default to evolve into a self-destructive life tract.

    We dump things into the environment disrupt our lives and more importantly the life that we depend on, trees, kelp, microbes, UV exposure, etc. So on the one hand we disrupt the environment that may cause SARS, AIDS etc. Additionally We decide not to get involve in other countries affairs until millions have died by their countrymen’s hands. In some cases caused by the pressure exerted by our contracts with their corrupt governments. Commerce, American greedy business poison other countries environments because their laws allow it and the lions share of the profits that goes to the country goes into their pockets.

    Our inability to know the difference between right and wrong is causing our evolution to become short and conclusive. We must evolve in the mind and the heart so that our choices benefit all or none. It must be good for all life or we destroy ourselves. Remember the Incans, Anastazi, Easter Island? Don’t think because some glib scientist says, “ they were ignorant savages that exploited their environment till they destroyed themselves”, Maybe the scientists weren’t so ignorant.

  12. May 24, 2003 #11
    Something to note...the body only has so many resourses at its disposal. Therefore, it must 'focus' on those triats that are more important. Evolution is often about eliminating wasteful processes, to free up system resourses. Therefore, certain physical traits may become less needed for survival, so those defects creep into teh population.
    In humanity, the most important trait is often intelligence.
  13. May 24, 2003 #12
    There is no such thing as de-evolution. You may think that the fact that we have the technology to correct very poor vision only contributing to placing defective genes in the gene-pool. However, you should remember that evolution is about changing so as to be best suited for the environment. In our environment, modern-day society, one does not need to be born with perfect vision in order to thrive. Therefore, this is no longer an issue from an evolutionary point of view.

    So, we are becoming more and more dependent on our technology. But, as time progresses, we are also evolving our technology. Pretty soon, we will be able to manipulate our own genetic code for optimization. I find this last point to be quite interesting. We humans are the only creatures on Earth who have ever evolved to the point of controlling the biological aspects of evolution.

  14. May 26, 2003 #13
    Originally posted by Zero:
    ...and someday we may actually achieve it.
  15. May 26, 2003 #14
    In my opinion, the only possibility of de-evolution taking place could occur is if the exact opposite of evolution occured. So to take a very simplified approach, instead of:

    Mutations in genes causes diversity, and then characteristics of survival get rid of all but the most adaptable mutations,

    There could be

    Mutations in genes causes less diversity, and then survival ensures that as things die, this produces more diversity.

    This of course is ludicrous.
  16. May 26, 2003 #15
    Evolution, De-Evolution and Us

    Evolution, de-evolution, and humanity

    If humankind is evolving then I must assume the evolving traits will be the most used ones. Our primary attribute of course is the brain. As we study more diverse disciplines we must be calling on new paths and connections in the brain. Some of us focus our attention on more complex concepts and abstractions. This use of the brain causes the intellect to grow and as we grow our brain changes so we would hope the biological mechanisms that recognize the need for new brain functions and power will write it to our genes for passage to our offspring.

    Is this how it works?, probably not exactly but somewhat. Enough truth to say that our primary physical attribute is our brain and we need it to be improving in its capability. Hopefully evolution in our case is towards an enhanced mental capacity.

    As regards de-evolution, probably our actions do not support the best use of our capabilities and we are therefore suspect of de-evolving. However, biologically according to most scientists, we are evolving. For the best? Best use? Those are value judgments. As regards textbook explanations and accepted theory, I believe we are evolving.
  17. May 27, 2003 #16


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    maximus - I guess you've heard enough from us that technically speaking, there is no distinction. But subjectively, yeah, with current society/technology, people with hereditable problems are able to get medical help and be cared for (etc.) and have more chances and having their own family thereby weakening the gene pool (if your subjective criterion for strength is rock-solid health). The evolutionary question is...will that hurt or help our species in the long run? Seems our current track is set on intelligence and culture, not physical health (although that is still a major factor in sexual selection of course). Stephen Hawking is not the model of health, but he has a lot to contribute to human society. In general, reproduceability is key to evolution. But human may be unique in that part of our lives (culture, knowledge) are stored outside of our body (society/rituals, libraries, etc.) and can be passed on to future generations without actual direct breeding.

    Perhaps we'll become more susceptible to diseases over time...but perhaps we'll also find better ways to fight disease through technology at the same time.
  18. Jun 4, 2003 #17

    Yes there are spelling errors, yes I am too lazy to fix them.

    Personaly,I think that de-evolution is happening. Not, however because of bad mate selection (because I believe the better genes from both parents will be expressed and therefore they won't lose as many advantages). But because the more "intelligent" individuals of civilization tend to be breeding fewer and fewer.

    Meanwhile... The coach potatoes on welfare tend to be growing by the dozens per family! I am not saying that poor people are the problem. I think that the poor intelligent will probably also have fewer children. Instead, I am talking about the idiots who happen to have only survived by out breeding everybody else. And thus since they only could survive by outbreeding because so many of them died of genetic defects, not enough food because of their weakness, or just getting in criminal activities or acidents. These people are breeding in far too great of numbers. Meanwhile the more intelligent people tend to be slacking off.

    In the old days it was a moral obligation to have a large family of people. This insured that the more successful and generaly the more intelligent would out number the idiots. Things seem to have reversed themselves.
  19. Jun 5, 2003 #18


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    check out some of the previous replies, Kylon
  20. Jun 5, 2003 #19
    Howdy Phobos

    I think you make some really good points.
    Didn't the 'Hitler group' among others believe it was harmful to the human race to allow such things to continue?
    Yet, it's not like we really 'know' where evolution is 'supposed' to be taking us, is it? If millions of years of breeding produced the couch-potato, then maybe that's what the whole darn thing was about in the first place, haha.

    Are we not somewhat rudderless in the direction of evolutionary changes, with some groups simply claiming "it ought to be this way..."?

    I think it would be facinating to see if humans actually evolve and end up losing their toes or earlobes. Sometimes I don't know which I'd like to know more; where did mankind come from, or where will mankind end up.
  21. Jun 5, 2003 #20
    alright! that you for the feedback! (even if much of it was repeatative) :wink:

    but now let me elaborate on my original idea using some ideas i posted in another thread:
    if we do not believe that we are 'de-evolving' (by which i mean gaining more non-benifical [to humans, not the evolutionary process!!!! let's get that clear!] than benificial ones, than might we agree that in our society there is potencially less benificial traits than there would be in a enviornmentally stressed society. as we all know, in a stressed enviornmemt, such as microscopic activities) many mutations become more noticable than they would in a relaxed enviornment like ours where your survival doesn't hang in the balance. i'm not saying that more mutations occur (unless the enviornment is near a nuclear power plant!), but only that a benifical trait might become quickly noticable and its effects more helpful. i do consider many of your posts saying that sexual traits have the most sway in this enviornment but there still are others.

    any input?

    p.s.= i am allowed to deffer my own thread, aren't i?
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