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Biotech Science

Geneticist Claims Human Evolution Is Over 857

Posted by samzenpus
from the flame-on dept.
GogglesPisano writes "UK geneticist Steve Jones gave a presentation entitled Human Evolution Is Over. He asserts that human beings have stopped evolving because modern social customs have lowered the age at which human males have offspring, which results in fewer of the mutations necessary to drive evolutionary change. Apparently the fate of our species now depends upon older guys hooking up with younger woman. I, for one, welcome this development."
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Geneticist Claims Human Evolution Is Over

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  • by caller9 (764851) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:41PM (#25309415)

    If human evolution is slowing, it isn't because of old dudes having mutated sperm.

    * Historically most people and any animal I've heard of reproduced as soon as possible, old fart mating doesn't really make sense. People are actually reproducing at an older age(TRUE)...we get autism(*WILD SPECULATION*).

    * Stupid people have more kids, raise them to be stupid.

    * Smart people have fewer kids, raise them to reproduce responsibly(less).

    * Health care, safety measures, and social medicine keep stupid people alive to the age of reproduction.

    This guy is waaaay off. We're devolving...at least mentally, has nothing to do with saggy old balls.

  • by adamchou (993073) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:41PM (#25309419)
    I don't see how his claim for men having children earlier can possibly be true.

    According to the article, he cites one guy who was a ruler at his time so obviously that person had lots of women to foster children.
    If anything, men today are living longer than they were before due to better health care and medicine.

    I don't have quotations on this, but I remember reading that in the olden times, if they lived past 50, that was amazing.

    I call bullshit on this guy. He's just trying to hook up with young girls.
  • by Trip6 (1184883) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:48PM (#25309463)
    It used to be that you had your kids within a year after reaching puberty. And you died by 40. Today society outlaws this behavior, and even people having kids in their 20s are deemed "too young." So what is this guy talking about?
  • by Ruke (857276) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:50PM (#25309475)
    It's not like evolution just stops because of technological advances. We're just evolving within a different environment, with different selective pressures. Remember, evolution isn't driving us towards a "best," it's driving us towards a "works for now."

    Besides, society and technology have only been around for a few thousand years. If you're an optimist, the future of the human race looks really hot, and is fairly promiscuous. If you're a pessimist, society collapses, and we're back to the good ol' fashioned try-not-to-die for a while.
  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:53PM (#25309501)
    Bacteria, for example, reproduce at age 1 hour, say, and have no trouble evolving. This thesis is just another example of denying we are animals [wordpress.com],
  • Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrSkwid (118965) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:53PM (#25309503) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, were under no evolutionary pressure. The world is in stasis. There will be no more pandemics like Spanish Flu that wiped out tens of millions of us a couple of generations ago.

    What a fucking tool.

  • by tibman (623933) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:54PM (#25309507) Homepage

    It's not devolving, there's no such thing. People will evolve to best adapt to the environment over a long period of time. If the best way to survive is have the "talking shit and lying out your ass" trait then you'll start to see it more. If rich & smart people aren't reproducing as much then apparently there is a level of stupidity and poverty required for reproduction. Though that is not necessarily a bad thing. Nature doesn't give a fuck about money or intellect, only the ability to survive the longest and create the largest amount of progeny.

  • by Fieryphoenix (1161565) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:56PM (#25309521)
    Utterly wrong on so many levels. Natural selection is going along just fine and dandy, thank you very much. The human environment has simply changed. The hemophiliacs now are fit, because their environment no longer kills them. Evolution is only ever relative to a species' environment, and many traits formerly selected against due to lethality are no longer relevant in this brave new world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:56PM (#25309525)

    Also, our global society and rapid global travel means the entire species is a single breeding population. Speciation is nigh impossible, and genetic drift is (ISTM) unlikely due to the incredibly large population.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:57PM (#25309529)

    50 year old don't marry 14 year old as often these days, though...

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @11:59PM (#25309547)

    This is absolute garbage science of the highest order and I'm surprised it is even mentioned here.

  • Idiotic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xonstantine (947614) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:03AM (#25309569)

    Evolution of a species only stops with extinction. Period.

  • Re:Dysgenics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:10AM (#25309619) Journal
    I would hope against all evidence to the contrary that human beings' lives will eventually be valued by society and most humans in general more than their ability to create money.
  • by davolfman (1245316) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:10AM (#25309621)
    I thought the average lifespan was so low mostly because it was a mean with high infant mortality.
  • by Amiga Trombone (592952) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:14AM (#25309651)

    Yes, but OTOH smart people have more opportunities to meet each other that they didn't have in the past. If you were born on a farm in 1900, chances are you'd stay there all your life, even if you had an IQ of 160. Now, most reasonably smart people have the opportunity to go to universities, and work in environments where they're going to meet other smart people. Of course, the children of smart parents tend to regress toward the mean, so genetics may play a lesser role in intelligence than you might think.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:18AM (#25309669) Journal

    It's difficult to see how a geneticist could actually make such an absurd statement. I suspect either there is major misrepresentation going on, or he's about to have his proverbial testicles handed to him by any number of researchers showing that the claim is factually false and conceptually retarded.

    All sorts of species evolve in spite of any particular start or length of reproductive capacity. Since the vast majority of what diversity between members of a population happens during conception, the evolutionary engine is largely fueled at that point.

  • by happyDave (155169) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:18AM (#25309673) Journal

    Oh my. Someone on the Internet understands evolution through natural selection, and the definition of fitness in relation to environment. The world's about to end.

    It's so frustrating to see so many other comments that treat "fitness" as something that exists outside of any context, as if what they value as fitness is what the selection process used.

  • by courseofhumanevents (1168415) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:20AM (#25309677)

    Are males really having children younger?

    I don't know about you, but I'm worried that men are having children at all.

  • He is almost right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Plutonite (999141) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:21AM (#25309683)

    Disclaimer: IANAEB

    This has nothing to do with older men and younger women.

    I say we will stop evolving any significant changes fairly soon because:

    A) We have interracial mixing on all continents and in almost all genetic populations due to advances in human transportation.

    B) Our other technological advances mean that we are highly capable of surviving due to the nature of our innovations as opposed to radical changes in our bodies (that in other species' histories may have been the major factor of eliminatig the unsuitable). This includes fighting natural disaster, possible predators, and food supply/type changes (industrialized production of food).

    C) Welfare. We have organised the distribution of our resources. The weak will not flourish, but they won't die.

    D) We are highly selective physically (males at least, females to a much lesser extent) due this time to communications technology and the entertainment industry broadcasting good genes everywhere, so we are less forgiving in terms of physical absurdity that may occur in our corner of the world.

    E) He just wants to bang young girls. The hypothetical secretary in his office, to be exact. Slashdot is being used. Again.

  • by solanum (80810) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:40AM (#25309801)

    Not really true if you look beyond the recent past. Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers and in pre-agrarian hunter-gatherer communities reaching 70+ wasn't uncommon. There's plenty of documentation on the health and lifespan on Australian Aborigines (prior to the almost entirely negative effects of Westerners spreading through their country). Plus, the general rule was that the culturally more powerful older men had most of the women with the younger men largely having to wait their turn. You're right about the women having kids young though.

    Personally, I don't know about the changes to this system affecting evolution, but I suspect there isn't much going on in humans. Look how we're breeding fertility problems into our species by the use of IVF (not that I oppose the use of IVF). Plus, most evolution is mainly viewed as a punctuated equilibrium these days, so we need a major change in our environment to push significant evolution.

  • Intensely wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by horatiocain (1199485) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:44AM (#25309833)

    I call shenanigans. The process of evolution has not stopped in the least.

    What has happened is that the criteria for fitness in our population has changed. No longer do we select for the strongest, cleverest, fittest individuals.

    The criteria for selection is now much less genetically determined. Those who survive to adulthood, elect to have children, and raise their children to grow up to be adults who have children are more likely to pass on their genes.

    Those who live in safer areas with better access to healthcare are more likely to survive to have children will experience some benefits to selection, but those who live in areas with pro-breeding cultures (where children are more desired or birth control is not present) will be vastly more selected for.

    In short, we're experiencing artificial selection to a much greater degree than that of natural selection. But so long as human beings are reproduce and are born with mutations, we will continue to undergo evolution in some form.

  • by novakyu (636495) <novakyu@member.fsf.org> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:45AM (#25309857) Homepage

    The way I see it, problem is not a matter of fitness---it's a matter of desirability of the outcome.

    In today's society, we have highly educated people in developed cultures (hence "successful" and "desirable" to some degree) producing fewer and fewer children, while the less educated in under-developed world continue to grow in population.

    By definition, this would make those who are less educated "fit". Not that there is a problem with that, but if we are to assume that human evolution should point in the direction of higher intelligence, this is definitely not a desirable outcome.

  • by BungaDunga (801391) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:51AM (#25309893)
    You just invented the feudal system, basically.
  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:58AM (#25309929)
    As far as I can see, following this "story" from the start in different news reports - it has evolved from "evolution in humans is slowing down" to "evolution has stopped". I expect that in a couple of days the news will be that evolution is slowly reversing...

    As an FYI even the original claim is incorrect as the number of mutations in the population is overall increasing, due to the fact that the effect of natural selection is reduced. If anything we should be worried that the increase in harmful mutations in the general population is going to result in increased birth defects / genetic diseases.
  • Re:How convenient! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lysergic.acid (845423) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:22AM (#25310087) Homepage

    and with ever greater populations and intermingling of cultures, i think it's safe to say the human species has plenty of genetic diversity at the moment.

    there's also no shortage of genetic illnesses and cancers which are the direct results of genetic mutation. heck, people are probably exposed to more carcinogenic influences today than ever in human history. just look at all the mutant three-legged frogs that are turning up here in America.

    biological reproduction is inherently imperfect, thus creates copying errors that introduce genetic mutations. the lack of mutations is not something that we'll ever have to worry about. and i'd argue that it's unethical to try to conceive children after a certain age just as it's unethical for closely related individuals to have children since their children will be at much higher risk of having congenital illnesses or other health problems.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by isBandGeek() (1369017) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:41AM (#25310179)
    Well, at the current rate, with technological advances keep more people alive that wouldn't have otherwise survived (that's a good thing, except in the case of Paris Hilton and her gal pals), genes will not matter as much. Our evolution will certainly slow, and maybe even stop.

    But if anything, mutations should be increasing with all the potential nuclear devices. That should keep the evolution going.
  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peeteriz (821290) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:48AM (#25310211)

    Well yeah, the mechanism by which evolution has always worked is having lots of mutations; and ensuring that the 'faulty' mutations don't reproduce.

    Nowadays our advanced medicine is ensuring that people with many of possible genetic defects are able to live a more or less normal life. It is very good for those people and their relatives; but it does mean that such defects will be becoming much more common in future.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:51AM (#25310227) Journal
    If the economy gets worse then having a lot of kids might not seem so silly when you reach old age.
  • by Merusdraconis (730732) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:52AM (#25310243) Homepage

    Yes, but that's balanced by the possibility of smart kids being born from dumb parents via genetic mutation. How else did the smart parents become smart?

  • by niktemadur (793971) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:59AM (#25310277)

    People "with low IQ" are breeding more than smart people.

    That could be a matter of memetics, instead of genetics.

    Here's the brunt of it: many children grow up in a family and social environment lacking in intellectual stimulation, where even asking questions and/or searching for answers may be taboo.

    I'll keep it apolitical and mention a friend who, when caught at a very early age reading comic books by his mother, was chastised for "reading garbage". Well, guess what, that person has never read for the sheer pleasure of it, his intellectual curiosity was stomped lifeless by his stupid fucking mother, who probably had the TV on all the time, and probably "thought" the proper thing for her offspring was to start reading on their own with The Illiad, The fucking Book Of Acts, Milton's Paradise Lost, or not at all.

    This may more common than one thinks, in varying degrees, through different circumstances. In my twenties, in vacation from college, my fundamentalist mother tried to take Hesse's The Steppenwolf from me, but I told her she would have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. Later that summer, I noticed my Philip K Dick paperbacks had disappeared from my bedroom.

    So, to reiterate my point: nascent memes in individuals collide with established memes in others, sometimes the "willfully ignorant" memes persevere in the end.

    I'd rater have more smart kids being born.

    Yeah, that's quite a painful paradox, isn't it? It comes down to "memes of openness" to new ideas, found in the educated segments of the population, embracing contraception, while "memes of closed-mindedness", found in most religious segments, repudiate birth control. Guess which segment's gonna have more babies.

    If the religious establishment had accepted contraception when it came out, things would have be a whole different shade today, yet what the educational system currently reflects is exactly the opposite. The viewpoint that contraception begets immorality has resulted in a spike of teen pregnancies as well as venereal diseases like gonorrhea, syphilis and herpes in the Bible Belt and beyond, go figure, like they went straight from the nineteenth century to the twenty first, and the twentieth never happened.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cp.tar (871488) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:03AM (#25310305) Journal

    Not to mention that nowadays boys do not regularly become fathers as soon as they start maturing sexually; if anything, the onset of reproduction is moving forward, to mid- or late twenties.

  • by Tom (822) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:05AM (#25310313) Homepage Journal

    I don't have anything against pursuing what you wanna do with your life, but I'd rater have more smart kids being born.

    Given that as a species we still have an overpopulation problem, wouldn't less dumb kids being born work the same, just better?

  • by bussdriver (620565) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:06AM (#25310325)

    -its hard to measure 'smart' and there are multiple kinds of 'smart'

    -'smart' parents may be poor at bringing up children properly

    -'smart' may require certain things to 'trigger' it which differs as well as the age range etc

    -many genetic traits we know about skip generations etc. This could be more complex than the simple stuff we know about now

    -developmental problems could contribute; where infant health could inhibit brain development or indirectly impact it

    -'smart' people could just be lucky and there are more than we realize (even they don't realize it) I'm not just suggesting environment, but also luck, and timing. There are plenty of physically capable people who just lack the diet, exercise, motivation, where there is clearly SOME genetics but its also other factors

    -LONG TERM trends were what got us here

  • by distantbody (852269) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:38AM (#25310473) Journal

    people "with low IQ" are breeding more than smart people

    ...Oh, I don't know, I think there's also alot to be said about occupied having less children than unnocupied people.

  • by Loki_666 (824073) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:38AM (#25310475)

    It can probably be shown that the average IQ of the average Slashdot reader is somewhere far in excess of 100.... however, when they post on Slashdot they suffer a temporary rapid decrease in IQ to the level of a caveman (hmmm... temporary devolution anyone?).

    On topic - it was mentioned that due to the large population of earth our genes are not being mixed so well... however, i would disagree because of increased travel and mobility of populations.

    For example, i am 100% british (meaning i probably have german, french, scottish, irish, viking ancestors) and my wife is 25% Korean, 25% Russian, 50% Estonian, and there is definitely some Polish in there as well. As we have two kids their genes are therefore made up from an even crazier mix from their parents diverse backgrounds.

    In addition to the points raised about life expectancy in the old days being much shorter i call bullshit on the whole article.

    If there is a reason for slowing or stopping of evolution it is because we no longer need to evolve. Evolution is a response to external pressures and natural selection. These days we change our environment to suit us and have been doing this for many centuries.

    As for the creationists, in the words of Bill Hicks: "You ever notice how people who believe in creationism look really unevolved?".

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:42AM (#25310493)

    Don't have a cow, man!

  • Re:Idiotic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by steevc (54110) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:46AM (#25310509) Homepage Journal

    I've thought for some time that evolution in humans must be stagnating. There is very little natural selection if most humans are likely to grow up and reproduce regardless of their intelligence or physical attributes due to medical advances and states caring for their citizens. This probably means that many genetic disorders will not die out as they might have in the past.

    You start wondering if some people should be allowed to reproduce, but that gets into dodgy territory.

    Are their any societies where 'selective breeding' takes place on a wide enough scale to have a chance of producing evolutionary changes?

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:50AM (#25310541)

    but you're missing one important point. Say that someone comes up with a treatment for some serious problem with the atp cycle (for an extreme example). Sure it would mean that when civilisation falls a lot of people who need the drugs will die but there's also a chance that you can get a 2 stage mutation which otherwise would never have been possible.
    Think in terms of
    Change X: you die.
    Change Y: you die.
    Change X and Y: new extra effecient solution to a problem.You live.

    It doesn't really matter if 99% of the population dies after civilisation crumbles due to genetic problems etc since 1% of 6 billion is still loads.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by umghhh (965931) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @03:01AM (#25310589)

    No amount of evolutionary changes will remove the basic trait of human being - stupidity. From that perspective it does not matter whether evolution actually stopped, accelerated or reversed - we will continue to be stupid, gullible species and it is enough to look in the news any particular day in a year to see that it is so.
    Gosh, maybe it is actually better for survival of the species if they are stupid and gullible. Now if mr Scientist clarified that - I would be impressed.

    TFA is just confirmation that humans are stupid and this including mr scientist - fact that we reach maturity earlier does not mean we procreate earlier too in fact the opposite seems to be true. He mentioned Glasgow in his article which well says a lot...

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @03:47AM (#25310835) Homepage Journal

    Humans did not evolve from apes but from a common ancestor.

    And that common ancestor was what, a donkey?

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @03:59AM (#25310913) Homepage Journal

    You think there is no selection pressure? It may not be based on the same criteria, but there is still definitely pressure for males and females to meet certain criteria before they will be allowed to mate successfully. As any geek should well appreciate!

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rts008 (812749) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @04:09AM (#25310971) Journal

    I read those comments also.

    'John, WR, USA' had me looking for the 'reply to' button:
    "Does anyone not notice how often evolutionists change their stories to fit the latest finding?"

    I think he misses the point that science works this way. "Elementary, my dear Watson!" Sherlock Holmes would say.

    Bah! Most of my fellow citizens are scaring me now days.

  • by StrawberryFrog (67065) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @04:17AM (#25311017) Homepage Journal

    1000 years ago, a child who developed diabetes would probably die long before they were able to reproduce. ... now a diabetic child can grow up to live a happy, healthy, normal life, including raising a family

    You cannot stop natural selection, you can only change the selection criteria.

  • by rts008 (812749) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @04:33AM (#25311083) Journal

    "I, for one, believe kids (and adults) should play outdoors and get dirty to help boost their immune systems and reduce the likelihood of allergies.

    Eat more dirt"

    I happen to agree 100% with you, but I could not resist...Sorry!

    If you want to grow a strong, healthy child, you need a lot of dirt, fresh air, and sunshine to allow for strong roots.
    It also was way cool to grow up on a farm with room to explore and discover my world on my own.

    Sadly, this is becoming a rarity for kids now.

    I guess times change though, and before I start a 'Get off my lawn!' rant...
    I have always kept in mind something my grandfather used to tell me:
    (rough paraphrase)' Life is like a river- water and life are connected for a reason- a river has falls, slow pools, eddies, whirlpools, boulders, sandbars, rapids, all of those things and more. Remember, stagnant water breeds mosquitoes. Who wants that?'

    That wisdom he passed to me has enabled me to keep faith in the good overall fate of the human race lately.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:00AM (#25311169)

    I would say that the common ancestor we shared with the other apes (Chimp, bonobo, gorilla, orang) would be described by most taxonomists as an ape. Not any living species of ape, but having enough commonality with its descendants to be classified as an ape. It would have probably shared the common characteristics by which we group its descendants - tailless, grasping hands and feet, relatively large brain etc.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Weedlekin (836313) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:29AM (#25311305)

    "There was a time where the life expectancy was my current age"

    There was a time when _average_ life expectancy was your current age, because average life expectancy is calculated on figures that include infant mortality, which was (and still is in some parts of the world) around 90% for much of our history. Those who survived to the age of twelve years did however live just as long as people do today.

    "We are getting older"

    We're getting older _on average_ because birth rates in nearly all Western countries (and some Eastern ones such as Japan) have dropped below the levels required to maintain historic age ratios, so their "native" populations are declining. This does not however mean that our typical maximum ages are longer than they were historically, hence the Old Testament passage which says that men (no figures are given for women) live 70 years, and some reach 80 or more, "but they have little joy of it", i.e. men who live more than 70 years were likely to suffer from age-related health problems, just as they do today.

    "Also, our collective cognitive skill (as measured by IQ) is steadily increasing."

    IQ tests only measure the ability to pass IQ tests. There is a correlation between that ability and intelligence, but it's nothing more than a correlation, so an increased IQ in a population over time could just as easily be due to changes in the tests themselves as changes in those being tested.

    "IQ is influenced by environment to some degree"

    But intelligence isn't, otherwise we'd be able to produce environments that turned every child into a genius (note here that I'm referring to true geniuses such as Newton and Einstein, not those who fall into an arbitrary statistical IQ region).

    "I'd rather we go along with slow evolution until we can do some genetic engineering on ourselves."

    There's no such thing as "slow" or "fast" evolution, because organisms only change permanently when doing so makes them better at surviving in their environment than those without the new traits. There's a distinct body of evolutionary theory (based on evidence) which suggests that it actually happens in distinct spurts rather than by the slow accumulation of changes, which if true, would mean that the next phase in human evolution will be a distinct "jump" whose nature cannot be predicted by our current knowledge of genetics.

    "by using our hands and frontal lobes, we have this great ability to adapt our environment to us instead of the other way around."

    And this may be the ultimate result of evolution, whose only goal is after all to perpetuate a bunch of genes. What better way of doing this is there than by evolving an organism that can first make its environment suit it, and later come up with ways of changing itself at will to suit new environments? So perhaps it's time for geneticists to consider human technology as being a part of evolution just like our genes are, because it's those genes which produced our technological capability, including the emerging science of genetic engineering which will eventually allow us to modify our genetic makeup in a single generation in ways that would take millions of years otherwise.

    So perhaps we should stop thinking of human technology and evolution as being separate things, something that's IMO hypocritical when we treat the technology of other animals such as species of ant that farm crops or livestock as being an evolutionary adaptation.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by electrictroy (912290) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:30AM (#25311311)

    >>>"modern social customs have lowered the age at which human males have offspring"

    That makes no sense. Men have been marrying later (or not at all). Heck Romeo married when he was 16, and that was customary at that time... in the 1800s most americans married at 22.... you don't see that happening today. A lot of people are waiting until their 30s.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dekortage (697532) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @06:06AM (#25311505) Homepage

    It's difficult to see how a geneticist could actually make such an absurd statement.

    Probably because he is a geneticist, and not a historian or sociologist or reproductive health physician. In most countries -- even this country, in the not-so-distant past -- people married and had children in their teens and early 20s. "In 1796, life expectancy hovered around 24 years [longevitymeme.org]" -- allegedly not much more than Neolithic people [wikipedia.org]. So if human evolution has progressed for millions of years through men and women procreating in their 20s, how can Professor Jones suggest (with a straight face) that evolution requires older men?

    Maybe he's just trying to get laid.

  • by AlbinoClock (1185993) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @06:39AM (#25311665)
    It's disappointing that a professor who doesn't understand evolution is getting Time articles. Evolution, as we should all know, is a composite of two factors: the mutation caused by breeding and the environmental pressures that limit that mutation. What is mutation but a variation on the form of the previous generation? This is achieved simply by means of the crossing of genetic lineages involved in ordinary reproduction with no need for extraneous mutation within the individual. Species are either evolving or extinct.
  • Re:How convenient! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HistoricPrizm (1044808) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @06:56AM (#25311765)
    Evolution IS the response to the environment and life-affecting issues. Evolution is, in a manner of speaking, random genetic mutations that result in having a better chance of surviving those environmental changes. So, yes, modern medicine is definitely a factor in keeping people from passing on their genes. Take for example, a childhood leukemia victim. If modern medicine saves that child, that child now has the ability to pass on whatever genes predisposed them to that leukemia. Now, I'm not saying that that person shouldn't be saved, but it serves to support both the article and the medicine aspect. Society's support of curing leukemia, combined with the ability to do so, have limited the evolutionary path.
  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`Satanicpuppy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @08:12AM (#25312429) Journal

    The problem is always that people assume that the only evolution is disease/lifespan related.

    Healthcare that removes selectors like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc, just pushes selection in a different direction, and it becomes more about who you can convince to mate with you, rather than whether or not you'll be picked off by a disease.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kelbear (870538) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @09:00AM (#25313075)

    Evolution doesn't care whether or not you think it's making the right selections.

    It just happens.

  • What? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 09, 2008 @09:20AM (#25313399)

    I was under the impression that Humans were reproducing later and later in life with respect to the past.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@pacbe l l . n et> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @11:02AM (#25315363) Homepage

    They can't be that intelligent if they can't get a mate. That is a skill and endeavor like anything else.

  • Re:How convenient! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by orzetto (545509) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:09PM (#25317537)

    What makes you think that society was ever able to stop kids from having sex?

    Well, for instance:

    • Gender segregation in schools
    • Extreme protection of females by their parents until married off (burqa anyone?)
    • No condoms, pills, or for that sake any knowledge about the process
    • Pregnancies could not be aborted
    • A man could repudiate his newly wed wife for not being a virgin (and possibly demand reparation for the insult)
    • Non-virgin women either grew to become beggars with no way of sustaining themselves, or were shipped to jail-like nunneries
    • Lack of social acceptance for illegitimate children (see the common usage of the word "bastard")
    • ...

    In that kind of society, of course people would pay attention and stay away from sex until marriages (well, women at least). A wrong move, and your life is completely fucked beyond repair (pun not intended, in fact it may be the origin of the expression...).

  • Re:Idiotic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by steevc (54110) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @04:26PM (#25341717) Homepage Journal

    I was just saying that without us having to become 'better' just to survive then there will be no pressure to evolve in a particular direction and so we will continue to have various random variations, but they will lead nowhere. If anything we will become 'worse' as the 'bad' genes will not drop out of the pool.

    I know little about genetics, but I think I understand some of the general principles. Okay, I've read some Dawkins.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein

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