What is the goal of human evolution

  • #26
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eh, human will sounds all special and you hear angels singing in monotone in background whenever you hear it, but how is it really different from "insect will"?
Mmm, insect will does not seem to prevent yourself from getting sick, eaten by your predators, or allow you to have the same survival and reproduction chances as your 'fitter' 'rivals' in your own species. It may not be different in fundamental essence, but it makes a difference in practice in the context of overuling natural selection.
 
  • #27
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I was under the impression that evolution took a really, really long time for new discernable traits in organisms to actually appear. Humans haven't even been around long enough (much less been long enough with the relevant technology/habits) to have any real effect on the overall path of evolution of species... right?

Then again, I suppose domesticated creatures blows that logic out of the water single handedly.
 
  • #28
jim mcnamara
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@Gerinski - do you have any kind of research citations to backup your speculations? Books? How do you know that your assumptions are useful? I would commend to your attention

E O Wilson: 'Sociobiology'; and the 'Social Conquest of Earth'

The second book speaks specifically to the topic this thread has degenerated into. Consider some reading.
 
  • #29
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I was under the impression that evolution took a really, really long time for new discernable traits in organisms to actually appear. Humans haven't even been around long enough (much less been long enough with the relevant technology/habits) to have any real effect on the overall path of evolution of species... right?

Then again, I suppose domesticated creatures blows that logic out of the water single handedly.
It doesn't take that long when it is assisted. A couple of tens of thousands of years has been enough to turn wolves into any of the sorts of dogs you see today, or to turn ancient rice into modern rice.
 
  • #30
jim mcnamara
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@1milecrash - the "speed" if there were to exist some measurable velocity in evolutionary processes, is dependent on generation time.

"Speed" is also a vector. Vectors have direction. Evolution does not have a direction.
 
  • #31
Pythagorean
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@1milecrash - the "speed" if there were to exist some measurable velocity in evolutionary processes, is dependent on generation time.

"Speed" is also a vector. Vectors have direction. Evolution does not have a direction.
trivial point, but speed is often used as just a magnitude of velocity (which itself always is a vector with direction).
 
  • #32
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@Gerinski - do you have any kind of research citations to backup your speculations? Books? How do you know that your assumptions are useful? I would commend to your attention

E O Wilson: 'Sociobiology'; and the 'Social Conquest of Earth'

The second book speaks specifically to the topic this thread has degenerated into. Consider some reading.
Thanks for the suggestions. Sorry not sure of what of the things I said are speculations that need back up?
I'm not making any 'useful assumptions', only debating the previous claim that modern species evolution is still governed by a blind and random process of mutation and natural selection (I assume it was referring to the kind of traditional 'random genetic mutation and survival of the fittest' mechanism). I argue that that is not the case any more for a significant part of the individual organisms living on Earth right now.
 
  • #33
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More trivial even, but even if technically debatable, the term 'speed of evolution' is commonly acceptable, for example people may say that evolution went through a 'fast' period during the Cambrian Explosion, or that Punctuated Equilibrium maintains that the 'speed of evolution' in a species goes through periods of long stasis followed by bursts of fast evolution. We understand what we mean by the expression.
 
  • #34
Pythagorean
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Survival of the fittest is itself a misnomer. It's more like reproduction of the fittest and "fittest" just means able to reproduce sufficiently, so the "est" is out of place. It's a poor summary of evolutionary processes.

Anyway, from my perspective, your argument came down to relying on human will somehow being special or different than animal will which is not testable in the first place. But more importantly, there's not even really an established definition of will or a need for it as an explanation of animal (including human) behavior. It's not a very useful thing to make scientific arguments with.
 
  • #35
Pythagorean
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More trivial even, but even if technically debatable, the term 'speed of evolution' is commonly acceptable, for example people may say that evolution went through a 'fast' period during the Cambrian Explosion, or that Punctuated Equilibrium maintains that the 'speed of evolution' in a species goes through periods of long stasis followed by bursts of fast evolution. We understand what we mean by the expression.
Actually, when punctuated equilibrium was first brought up in my known history, it was by anthropologists who were only looking at morphology of bone structure. It ignores all the other gradual changes that could have been occurring to eventually support the dramatic change in bone structure.

So I don't think everyone understands what they mean by the expression. I think people often conflate morphological changes as embodying all other changes, when that's simply not the case. So when people talk about the "speed" of evolution, they're really only thinking of changes that are noticeable and significant to them.
 
  • #36
Pythagorean
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Note: also Darwin's criticism of punctuated theory... that these abrupt morphological changes could be a result of migratory patterns. That is, we're only looking at one spatial slice over a long time, so we're limiting our perspective.

Regardless, we're still only talking about bone morphology here... which is a drop in the ocean compared to all evolutionary changes that can occur in an organism. What about when a receptor drops/adds a subunit, or some other signalling pathway changes in a way that is subtle morphologically, but significant systematically? Morphology is just something humans can see, and I think we place too much emphasis on it as a result...
 
  • #37
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I don't have any agenda, really. I do not believe that 'there is a purpose for humans' or any thing of that sort. The question is a purely scientific one for me.
Someone said that evolution is a process governed by a blind random emergent process of natural selection and I just argued that this is not the case anymore. As simple as that. Of course you can make a regression and say that human-directed evolution is also an ultimately random process, but I think that would not be very helpful in this context.
For sure I would be interested in discussing what are the implications of the fact that humans have developed this ability to consciously alter the evolutionary path of themselves and of other species for the future evolution of our biosphere, but nobody seems interested in that, as if that was not a respectable scientific topic but some esoteric theism, some ethical taboo or whatever. No problem, peace to the world.
 
  • #38
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Pythagorean said:
Morphology is just something humans can see, and I think we place too much emphasis on it as a result...
I certainly agree it happened so, but modern evolutionary science is more and more based on analyzing the genetic similarities and divergences so that emphasis on morphological aspects has been overcome.
 
  • #39
Pythagorean
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Someone said that evolution is a process governed by a blind random emergent process of natural selection and I just argued that this is not the case anymore.
Which is incorrect :)

At least... you haven't sufficiently proven your case. Intelligent human contribution to evolutionary forces are largely insignificant. If you want to show they're significant, that's on you.
 
  • #40
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Which is incorrect :)

At least... you haven't sufficiently proven your case. Intelligent human contribution to evolutionary forces are largely insignificant. If you want to show they're significant, that's on you.
Really?
Does the animal world, the plant world, the microbial world you see around yourself right now look as what you may guess it might look like had humans not evolved? do they really look the same to you? if that's not a significant difference I don't know what 'significant' means for you.
And don't say again that also other species would have affected the course of evolution in any other ways. Intelligent contribution is qualitatively different.
 
  • #41
Pythagorean
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Do you not recognize your reliance on anecdote? Specifically on what I "see" when I "look around myself"? This is an appeal to my own anecdotal biases!

Do you also not recognize that "had humans not evolved" is not the same as "intelligent contribution"?
 
  • #42
Ryan_m_b
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There are plenty of examples of natural selection having an effect on humans. Short on time but see the evolution FAQ in this forum for examples.
 
  • #43
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Do you not recognize your reliance on anecdote? Specifically on what I "see" when I "look around myself"? This is an appeal to my own anecdotal biases!

Do you also not recognize that "had humans not evolved" is not the same as "intelligent contribution"?
Sorry but with all my respect that sounds as trying to escape my argument. That humans have acted "intelligently" (i'd prefer to say "consciously") is a given. If humans had evolved but remained as intelligent as chimps they would not count as "humans" for the current purpose of the discussion.

And I don't need to appeal to any of your biases, I can ask the question to myself or to any other of the humans in the planet, I bet few of them will say that the world they may imagine had humans not developed intelligence looks the same as the world they see around them today.

Btw, I'm genuinely surprised at seeing so much reluctance to my statements in a scientific forum, I thought that the statement that Darwinian natural selection is not the only force governing evolution since humans developed was an undisputed assertion. Really surprised...
 
  • #44
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"Speed" is also a vector. Vectors have direction. Evolution does not have a direction.
This doesn't even make sense, "speed" isn't inherently a vector. Speed of motion is a vector, because motion is a vector. The speed of a temperature drop is a scalar because temperature is a scalar. The speed of an object deforming is a 2nd order tensor because deformation is a 2nd order tensor.

Whether or not evolution has a definable/meaningful "speed" has nothing to do with it not "having a direction."
 
  • #45
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I never meant that evolution has any "direction", only that humans have a special (qualitatively different from what other organisms have) influence on whatever direction the evolution of species is taking and will continue taking.
 
  • #46
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I never meant that evolution has any "direction", only that humans have a special (qualitatively different from what other organisms have) influence on whatever direction the evolution of species is taking and will continue taking.
That really doesn't have anything to do with what I said or what the quote I was responding to said. The term "direction" being used by Jim and I is the mathematical "direction" of a vector, in other words, requiring multiple numbers to describe. It has nothing to do with a literal "direction" that you are talking about.
 
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  • #47
Ryan_m_b
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This discussion has come to an end.
 

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