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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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  • Darwinian evolution? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cowclops (630818) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:30AM (#25309339)
    Even if this guy turns out to be wrong for the reasons he gave, I wouldn't be surprised if modern society is messing with the evolution of humans compared to most other species in the past. Modern medicine may SAVE people that "should have" died and not passed on their genes. For better or worse, this is different than what happens outside of human society.
  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:30AM (#25309345)

    Women are definitely having children later. So late in many cases that there is a significant chance of genetic abnormalities like Down's Syndrome.

    Are males really having children younger? Enough to offset women having children later?

  • by Tenek (738297) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:40AM (#25309407)
    Clearly, since rabbits breed at a much earlier age than humans, they don't evolve at all? Please. Evolution occurs when you have an imperfectly reproducing population with finite resources. Modern social customs have an effect on evolution, to be sure, but they absolutely do not stop it completely. Any attribute which increases the expected number of successful offspring will be selected for, just as it has been for the past few billion years with every single species on the planet. It's one thing to assert that a couple factors may slow it down, but "stopping" evolution by breeding earlier is right up there with "stopping" gravity by building a floor. It all becomes part of the system.
  • by Alexandra Erenhart (880036) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `ssecnirpnayias'> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:41AM (#25309413) Homepage
    I agree, but usually those "saved" people don't breed or become uncapable of.

    And I don't know about "de-evolving", but for me it seems like people "with low IQ" (I don't know how to say it without being offensive) are breeding more than smart people, because usually smart people leave having children for later, or even not even have them, for the sake of their careers. I don't have anything against pursuing what you wanna do with your life, but I'd rater have more smart kids being born.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:45AM (#25309439)

    Your radical new ideas have already occurred to Mike Judge.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiocracy [wikipedia.org]

  • Dysgenics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Scarbo27 (1150965) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:46AM (#25309441)
    I agree with the thesis, but not the cause. The problem is that modern welfare programs protect the stupid, lazy, and generally incompetent; and allows them to breed without regard for the fact that the parents are not capable of providing for their children. The most basic and immutable law of economics is that you get more of what you subsidize, and less of what you tax. In America, and other first-world countries, we subsidize illegitimacy and tax work. I am not suggesting we do away with welfare, but we shouldn't ignore the consequences of a welfare system that doesn't either encourage birth-control, or discourage unrestricted breeding. Let the hating begin.
  • by adamchou (993073) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:47AM (#25309449)
    Ok, not the best source, but this is probably more reputable than that guy in the article. Life expectancy has more than doubled so what he's talking about is nonsense http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:de-evolution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shawb (16347) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:04AM (#25309581)
    Dude... a couple of decades is about one generation. You'd need a LOT more generations of isolation to become genetically incompatible. IIRC, the amount of gene flow needed to indefinitely stave off speciation is on the order of one or two individuals every five generations. Considering that the length of time Native American populations had been geographically isolated from European populations wasn't enough to cause speciation, this is no something you are going to see in your lifetime. It would take a MASSIVE gap of time with essentially zero gene flow between populations to get anywhere near the point where offspring are non-viable. If there is a set of humans found that is genetically incompatible with normal people, it would most likely be in some newly discovered isolated tribe rather than an Eloi/Morlock type split.
  • I have to wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:09AM (#25309609) Journal

    Well, I just have to wonder, though.

    I mean, cats on the average live 14 to 20 years if kept indoors and well taken care of, or a _lot_ less out in the wild. Most humans don't have children at the age at which cats die. I don't think it stopped cat evolution.

    Squirrels have a life expectancy of a couple of years. Humans would still be a toddler by the age when a squirrel dies, and thus stops reproducing. I don't think that was a big problem for evolution.

    Mayflies live between 30 minutes and a whole day as an adult, though, to be fair, we must add 1 year worth of larva and nymph stage to that. Does that prevent mutations and natural selection. I don't think so.

    Basically _most_ species out there have a life expectancy lower than the age at which humans reproduce. If that stopped evolution, then we wouldn't be here in the first place.

  • Actually, I have this theory:

    Most of us nerds are terribly low regarding competition to get females. However, we are more apt at improving society as a whole (or gaining power from society a-la-Billy-Gates).

    So what if... mankind has evolved to develop a classes system - you know, like ants, bees and other social insects?

    We have the kings and queens (leaders, apt for government)
    We have soldiers - very strong and apt for defending us against other dangerous species (even ourselves).
    Nerds go here, in the "research and development" class. Let's call ourselves the "pathfinders".
    We also have workers. Not very intelligent people, but who can provide goods for everyone. Let's call them "sheeple".

    Together, we fight as a whole, for the survival of the species.

    Of course, this isn't a valid scientific theory. Just a thought.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:29AM (#25309739) Journal

    One moment he's complaining that fewer mutations are being produced, the next he's complaining that the mutants are thriving. Which is it?

    It's not that the mutants survive, it's that everyone survives, so there's no basis for any one mutant having a better chance of survival. Which means we'll just have a lot of mutants.

    Evolution can't work if "survival of the fittest" really means "survival of everyone". It looks like we'll either stagnate or evolve completely randomly, in all directions that don't outright kill us. Probably some combination -- all these random mutations won't get really exaggerated, because they'll just be absorbed back into the population.

    Of course, that's not really the end of human evolution, it's more the end of meaningful human evolution. Idiocracy is an example of how humanity could (or already has) evolved in a direction we probably don't want, and don't think of as "progress" -- but Darwinian evolution does not necessarily equal progress.

    I'm not really sure what the endgame is. I really only see three outcomes: Idiocracy (we stop caring about real science, and fall back on Darwinian evolution); MAD (we blow ourselves up (selecting ourselves out), and science dies with us); or posthumanism (science continues at roughly the pace it has, which means we'll use technology to enhance ourselves).

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:39AM (#25309795) Journal

    Natural Selection is interesting in that there's not really anything we can do to stop it -- by definition, it is always happening.

    And it's not just about individuals. Our altruism is a selected quality, as is our technology. It means we get to survive, instead of some other species. It is apparently working, as we are still here -- and it makes sense that it should work.

    After all, if you think back to a time when there was a lot more pressure from natural selection, if a person is wounded by a tiger, we could leave them to die. Then we'd evolve into uncaring fucks, who may have some advantage against tiger attacks -- or are just lucky.

    Instead, we drag them off and heal their wounds. That means there's one more of us, if we decide to hunt down the tiger and kill it.

    The same is just as true today -- maybe that person lying facedown in the street will develop a cure for AIDS.

    If we truly do "stop evolving", and this eventually puts us in danger of dying out -- like the Asgard, from Stargate SG-1 -- then we'll be an evolutionary dead-end. We'll be selected out, just like the Dodo.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:42AM (#25309815) Journal

    To be fair, if it gets really bad, there's always the chance that the stupid people will get so stupid, and the smart people will get so smart, that the smart people can easily solve the problem by herding the stupid people off a cliff (real or metaphorical).

    And in a postapocalyptic world, you don't really have to worry so much about earning a wage, so it makes sense to have as many children as you want. (Plus, it's not as though condoms will be easy to come by, if it truly was apocalyptic.)

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:42AM (#25309819)

    Modern medicine may SAVE people that "should have" died and not passed on their genes. For better or worse, this is different than what happens outside of human society.

    Seems to me that just results in selecting for genes that improve the odds of getting modern medical treatment, same old darwinian evoluation.

  • by StrahdVZ (1027852) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:45AM (#25309847)

    Or more accurately, his ideas have been studied/proposed since the early 1900s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics [wikipedia.org]

  • by Drasil (580067) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:05AM (#25309979)

    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*).

    My son was born when I was 24 and he's autistic. From the information I have available it seems the rise in autism is caused by a combination of increased diagnosis and some as yet undiscovered (probably man-made) environmental factor.

    Stupid people have more kids, raise them to be stupid. Smart people have fewer kids, raise them to reproduce responsibly(less).

    Would you suggest then that catholic Christians are more stupid than protestant Christians? There are many things that influence family size, and intelligence seems to me to be a minor one. If there is any evidence you can produce to support these statements I'd like to see it.

    We're devolving

    We're all Devo [youtube.com]

    I've been arguing that we have stopped evolving in a normal way for the past couple of decades due to our increased control over the environmental factors that used to act as evolutionary drivers. We have eliminated the wolves, bears and other competitors. We had made great progress in medicine, I am the son of a type 1 diabetic, had my father been born 15 years earlier he would have died long before I was born. If we are still evolving then I strongly suspect most of the selectors are now man-made.

  • by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:06AM (#25309987)
    Due to how genetics works - having two above average IQ people as parents will only have about 1/4 (on average) of having a smart kid. It needs to be done for generations before you get consistent effects.

    A shout out to Mendel for this tidbit.
  • by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:43AM (#25310183)
    Why is Hitler a source for your argument? Do you ask someone in the street for their opinion of the stock market? Who cares what he thought about Jews.

    Having good genes does give you an advantage in life - just like having a predisposition to creativity, good motor skills, not being born a psycho or any number of traits with genetic components. Having good parents (also an unearned privilege) is a massive advantage in life. Likewise being born a haemophiliac or with down syndrome is a disadvantage. However that is life, and you have to make the best of what you have.

    As for your notion that this is how things should be all I can say too bad. Life is how it is, and pretending otherwise doesn't change anything. http://xkcd.com/240/ [xkcd.com]
  • Re:How convenient! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:48AM (#25310219)
    If you mean with genetic engineering then I agree - otherwise I think there is a limit to how much you can fix from the outside, if things are badly broken on the inside. Diabetes and such are liveable, but what if you are missing (broken) an enzyme for making ATP? Or one of the main positioning marker proteins is broken meaning your body parts are all in the wrong places! So at the very least there will be natural selection pressure there.
  • Re:How convenient! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker AT gnu DOT org> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:52AM (#25310241) Homepage

    And here a few ways one might go about handing him his... wrongness.

    There was a time where the life expectancy was my current age, and I don't have kids (yet). We are getting older. In fact, put yourself in the shoes of a male homo ergaster whose balls have just dropped; you walk around, suddenly you see a girl crawling around on all four, with a good rear wiev of her pussy. Do you (A) get horny as hell and fuck her will she nil she; or (B) don't do anything?

    Also, our collective cognitive skill (as measured by IQ) is steadily increasing. There was a science or fiction on The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe (an excellent science podcast) saying exactly by how much, which of course I can't remember. Three point per decade or so? Okay, IQ is influenced by environment to some degree, but just maybe one might demonstrate that some of it is due to evolution; consider the Darwin Awards, for instance.

    In any case, by far most mutations are (AFAIK) harmful, so it is in no one's self-interest to have kids later than sooner (to a point, with a sweet spot somewhere in the twenties). Do we force people to have kids later than they want, just so we can evolve?

    I'd rather we go along with slow evolution until we can do some genetic engineering on ourselves. Besides, by using our hands and frontal lobes, we have this great ability to adapt our environment to us instead of the other way around. Do we have any unadaptive features we desperately need to grow out of as a society?

  • by Peeteriz (821290) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:54AM (#25310255)

    You are factually wrong.

    1) IQ (as opposed to knowledge and skill) is mostly pre-set and is able to be determined comparably early in childhood and will have only comparably minor variations throughout later years.
    2) There is a not huge, but statistically significant correlation between IQ of children and their parents. Children of IQ 150 parents won't statistically have huge IQ, but their mean IQ will be approx 110 instead of 100 as for general population, which does suggest that intelligence is at least partly inherited.
    3) Genocide based on genetic properties is evil. But this does not make the above things untrue.

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

    by easyTree (1042254) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @02:58AM (#25310267)

    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.

    You think that's absurd? Read some of the comments. From a quick reading of about twenty, there were four or five who simply don't believe in evolution at all!

    Here are a few examples (because I *know* you're not gonna RTFA):

    Why doesn't the eminent scientist come out and admit that evolution has been the ultimate of hoax's. There is not a single scrap of transpeciation in the fossil record, not one on this entire earth that has been recorded. Just a couple examples of micro adaptation - thats it!

    David, Smithers,

    That anyone believes in this made up religion of evolution still amazes me. So little evidence, so much faith required to buy in. Does anyone not notice how often evolutionists change their stories to fit the latest finding? Study creation, it makes sense and fits the same evidence. I dare you.

    John, WR, USA

    Pathetic. Anyone who in this day and age of genetics believe we humans evolved from ape's (sic) need to wake up.

    Caroline Carter, London, UK

    One problem is that the academic elite is completely sold out to Darwinian evolution, and to oppose it is academic death because Darwinism is a religion that will not tolerate dissent.
    Robert Moore, Canton, U.S.A.

    It seems that there's still lots of randomness of _belief_.

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

    by peterofoz (1038508) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @03:24AM (#25310419) Homepage Journal

    If genetic mutations is all that is required for evolution, there is more than age that can cause this.

    Nearly every month there seems to be a new discovery that some virus or environmental factor causes genetic mutations that result in cancer. Those are just the ones that kill us.

    Perhaps there are also some benign or beneficial mutations occurring because of disease or dirty environment. 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

  • Mod parent up. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by plasmacutter (901737) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @03:35AM (#25310459)

    This is exactly right.

    For anyone interested in examining the topic of stupidity, I highly suggest looking up, and obtaining in whichever way you choose, a recent CBC documentary on stupdity [imdb.com].

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @04:23AM (#25310733) Homepage Journal

    Why don't you look up the word "supremacist", then read the post you're replying to. I don't see where he said anything about superiority.

    On a lighter note:

    What we need is a great big melting pot
    Big enough enough enough to take
    The world and all its got
    And keep it stirring for
    A hundred years or more
    And turn out coffee coloured people by the score

    As someone pointed out, due to assortative mating that doesn't actually happen in practice.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @04:29AM (#25310757) Homepage Journal

    However, if one lacks the tens of thousands of dollars it takes to obtain the resources of a college and university, and more importantly the degree that proves you have made your monetary contribution to that system, most of these avenues will be forever closed.

    I didn't spend any dollars to get my degree. In fact the government gave me some pounds.

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

    by Rob Kaper (5960) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @04:31AM (#25310775) Homepage

    Read some of the comments.

    Pathetic. Anyone who in this day and age of genetics believe we humans evolved from ape's (sic) need to wake up.

    Caroline Carter, London, UK

    That is of course true. Humans did not evolve from apes but from a common ancestor.

    If you think I'm nitpicking, I find this common misunderstanding to be one of the best ways to tell whether I'm going to have a useful discussion with someone or whether I shouldn't bother in the first place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 09, 2008 @04:54AM (#25310873)

    What is deemed sexy varies over years, but elevated social rank (usually very connected with richness and even more with entrepreneurship and healthy look) are constants. Basically, sexual selection IS Darwinian natural selection, and it is not just in human species so.

    Sexual selection exists for a reason, it actually transcribes genome (and non-genetic adaptations, of course) evaluation-against-environment into next generations early, much earlier then there is time to face extinction.

    Cosmetic surgery resonates well because it still means richness, but as it becomes more and more ubiquitous and cheaper, it may become abandoned (substituted with something newer and more expensive/exclusive) as criterion in coming years.

    What I do expect is rise of "genism" (look up GATTACA), presumptuous people will create exclusive closed social clubs of rich AND(/or ?) genetically strong, tested and selected. It is of course a BS idea, as it removes a healthy dose of important variability and diversity out of the game, but it closely follows existing trends.

  • you never saw this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by way2trivial (601132) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @06:16AM (#25311247) Homepage Journal

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6057734.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    we are also apparently splitting into two sub-races.. I call them the morlocs and the eloi
    (as I tend to represent the morloc heritage more closely)

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

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @06:49AM (#25311419) Homepage

    One way of seeing this is that a man that has become older and is still healthy means that the genes provides less risk of inherited disabling diseases and therefore is a better mate from that perspective. An older man is also likely to have gained a better position in society.

    Evolution is still going on, but it is also circumvented by modern medicine. I would rather claim that medicine is the limiting factor for evolution.

    Today we have a large number of diseases that is caused by our lazy living and sugared diets. So evolution will pick off the ones that aren't able to live lazy by heart attacks and similar defects.

  • Genocide (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Loke the Dog (1054294) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @08:40AM (#25312105)

    Uh, sex is only half the equation here... Killing humans who have a very different set of genes from your own works too. It increases the "weight" of your genes in the human genome, thus bringing long term evolution.

    Like it or not, the killing of jews during world war II has changed the human species. Some genes are much more rare now than they used to be, not that I (or anyone) know what those genes might be. Perhaps the nuclear attacks in japan killed enough closely related people to give that effect as well, I don't know.

    A world with 7 billion people in which you can kill 7 million people in one strike is the same as a world with 1000 people in which you can only kill one human with one strike. With that in mind, I think there's a good chance evolution is happening very fast right now.

  • by DamnStupidElf (649844) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Thursday October 09, 2008 @08:43AM (#25312141)

    Prenatal tests (amniocentesis), test tube babies, and sperm and egg banks already provide more than enough genetic material to radically change the gene pool. Once we allow commonplace genetic engineering of human offspring, evolution will occur rapidly. Don't assume that human whims not under the control of natural selection; the difference is that the genes that survive will serve humanity more than themselves, since humans can now impose their own fitness functions. All it will do is speed up evolution with a new set of pressures, and with luck let us avoid a little bit of our own genes' selfishness along the way. Hopefully our new basic elements of natural selection will be human comfort and enjoyment and not merely allele frequencies.

  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @08:58AM (#25312273)

    The net result of evolution is the shifting of the statistical makeup of the genepool, so to say that evolution is dead is to say that the genepool is no longer changing, which implicity claims that all segments of the global population are reproducing at the same rate, which is trivially false. Birthrates in all societies/genetic sub-populations are in fact very much different, ergo evolution continues.

    One could get more abstract and note that the dymanical equations affecting the makeup of the genepool are no doubt decidely non-linear (contain all sorts of feedback paths), and that the solution to these equations, just like the weather, consistes of complex attractors rather than simple fixed solutions. The equations themselves are of course also changing as the nature of the environment and the feedback paths also change. What this means is that the genepool will forever be changing and as always the prime driver of evolution will the environmental changes which effect genetic fitness of those genes that happen to be around at the time... Unless the environment (including things like weather, epidemics, tectonic plate movements, asteroid impacts) stops changing, the result will be not only that the genepool keeps changing, but that it's course also keeps changing.

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

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @09:00AM (#25312307)

    If we can now take care of some of the genetic factors that would limit someone in a more primitive society, then we can start emphasizing the factors that provide advantages in a more sophisticated one. If someone is highly intelligent and creative and socially supportive, then that's a reason we want them and it's a plus if a no-longer issue prevents them from passing on their genes.

    You seem to be working under the delusion that evolution is something that someone has control over. Other than the women, I mean. Face it, being highly intelligent and creative and socially supportive may be really desirable, but unless the WOMEN are looking to screw men like that (or the men screw women like that), it ain't gonna be.

    What's going to happen is that women will continue to screw the same guys they've been screwing, and the highly intelligent, creative, socially supportive guys will continue to spend time in their basement trying to justify why women should be chasing them in droves.

  • by NecroBones (513779) * on Thursday October 09, 2008 @09:42AM (#25312821) Homepage

    Yes, the age at which males are having offspring has increased. I think the geneticist is talking about the average age, rather than starting age.

    As the article mentions, in previous centuries, relatively few offspring would survive to adulthood. This required adults to have numerous offspring, having children starting at an early age and continuing into late adulthood. Today, most people have a few children and stop. So even though they're starting later, they're not continuing to have kids at the age of 50 anymore.

    I think he has a point, but the article is incomplete. This narrower time frame in which adults are procreating also contributes to the reduction in natural selection (one of the more obvious contributors to this is modern medicine). For instance, if a male starts having offspring at the age of 16, and continues until the age of 60, he could not have had any life-threatening maladaptive traits. Compare two such males, and the one with more adaptive traits will have a higher chance of continuing to breed over that sort of time scale, and will thus be more genetically successful.

    In modern society, people can die at the age of 32 from something that they were genetically predisposed to, and it probably won't affect their contribution to the genepool since they've already stopped reproducing.

  • Nonsense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by torstenvl (769732) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @09:43AM (#25312841)

    What complete nonsense.

    First off, evolution doesn't depend on mutation, only certain kinds of macroevolution do.

    Secondly, there are plenty of ways for young men's sperm to mutate, particularly in light of "modern social customs" like ingesting carcinogens day-in/day-out and carrying cell phones in front jeans pockets.

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

    by gfxguy (98788) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @09:47AM (#25312895)

    I think you have a much better opinion on this subject...

    It becomes less about the strongest and healthiest males mating with whomever they damn well please, usually selecting the best female specimens.

    I think that, by and large, we've eliminated a lot of what would otherwise have been "natural" selection.

    In fact, if people's behaviors are any indication, we might just be regressing.

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

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @09:53AM (#25312973) Journal

    What makes you think that society was ever able to stop kids from having sex? Do you actually seriously believe that in the Ye Olde Days 12 and 13 year olds didn't have sex? Just how naive could you be?

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @10:15AM (#25313291)

    Evolution will continue.

    Right now you can see the subsets who breed fast and those who breed slow.

    Those who breed fast will come to dominate the species.

    One fast rising group- the promiscuous and irresponsible. I have had three stripper friends in my life. All had lots of sex and lots of kids (4 each). In each case they gave up 2-3 for adoption and then kept the rest.

    Another fast rising group- the hispanics. Large families - strong support network- less materialism- more religious.

    The islamics (currently on the way to outbreeding the europeans) and palestinians (who will out breed the jews for isreal).

    And there are selection pressures on being good looking (pretty people get to breed more- up to 10% of children in some areas turn out to be parented by a handsome n'ere do well- not the husband). Easier DNA checking is probably going to reign that in.

    Movie stars (a lot of movie stars have multiple families with multiple kids-- pretty and successful).

    Being a successful athelete.

    ---

    Now-- who is not reproducing?

    I only had one kid.
    Several of my friends have never even married. So geeky- D&D types, computer types, engineer types. However, I think in asia those types are still popular (give it a generation tho).

    ---

    And then there is the bad food, tainted food, substance abusing types that have kids. They make the species slightly more resistant to bad food, tainted food, and substance abuse.

    And if that swimmer guy from the olympics gets married and has lots of kids- that would spread the weird mutant genes he has (non-tiring muscles).

    Wrestlers who do not freak out on steroids and kill their families.

    And so on.

  • by Thaelon (250687) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @10:58AM (#25314119)

    Natural selection is still at work, it's just that modern medicine and population size have lowered the bar to the floor in developed places.

    Even if you barely make it through birth and infancy with the aid of doctors and incubators, you still might make it to breed. Even if, on top of that you're mildly retarded, and end up unattractive, unhealthy, and malformed, chances are pretty good that there's still someone out there you can reproduce with. And for an additional twist, if you're rich, or your daddy is, you can probably pay some woman to have your offspring, if you don't necessarily get to plant the seed yourself.

    Now this is mostly first world nations I'm speaking of. In third world countries I would contend that evolution is alive and well. Parts of Africa are the perfect example. If I were to place a bet on where the cure for AIDS will come from it's not some multi billion dollar pharma lab. It's some podunk village in Africa. Not because some researcher there was working with them, but because AIDS is so rampant down there that sooner or later, some lucky human being will be born with, or develop immunity, or just be unaffected entirely. For precisely the same reasons we're starting to see tricolsan resistant bacteria - antibacterial soap is all the rage.

    The bar in some places is still pretty high, and thus evolution continues, but I think it's slowed for a lot of us.

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

    by mathmathrevolution (813581) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @11:22AM (#25314571)

    Here's the good news: you're just wrong.

    Women have consistent evolutionary principles. They want men who will father, provide for, and protect vibrant offspring. However, the criteria that women use to asses these qualities in potential mates hasn't changed that much since the advent of agriculture. Consequently to modern man these judgments seem contradictory and illogical to geeks (many of whom are inadvertently and constantly telegraphing their low value to the women they meet).

    More good news: once you determine the real criteria that women are using, you can the knowledge of these criteria to your advantage and charm all kinds of women.

    So before you write off your lifetime sexual prospects, do yourself a favor and at least give the book a chance: The Mystery Method.

  • by Jack9 (11421) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @11:58AM (#25315273)

    Premise 1: When society starts, natural-selection stops.

    Premise 2: When society starts, natural-selection needs to meet different requirements, and it continues.

    Unfortunately, evolutionary changes that provide an advantage to an individual in a society are often orthogonal to changes promoting lone survival outside of society. There's the big question. Are Meta-evolutionary changes (to adapt to social conditions) truly natural-selection? I would suggest that accepting societal natural selection and survival natural selection are 2 different concepts that often blur in discussion (like the question: what is electricity?).

    Natural-Selection: A process causing heritable traits that are helpful for survival and reproduction to become more common in a population, and harmful traits to become more rare. This occurs because individuals with advantageous traits are more likely to reproduce, so that more individuals in the next generation inherit these traits.

    In a society, the traits that are helpful for survival AND reproduction don't become more common while harmful traits become more rare. Is natural-selection broken? It's a crap shoot, really. We may be able to correct or cure negative traits and helpful traits may be supressed in the interest of (pick your atrocity). A good analog is the mighty Zebra. How handy is it to be black and white striped on your own in the savannah, as opposed to being in a herd of black and white? I think that there should either be a refinement to the definition of NS or preferably multiple definitions to describe the how it applies in relation to a group of similar individuals.

  • Natural Selection (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @12:23PM (#25315769)

    Although not quite the same thing, I have often wondered what our current culture is doing to us through natural selection. Now I know it takes many generations to make a difference. However one has to think that those with certain genetic problems may not have had a chance to propagate as they would likely die.

    For instance, do you think 500 years ago as many people has bad eyes, or asthma or, other conditions or mental problems? It kind of makes me think what we well all be like in a 1000 years from now, 5000 years.

    Also as an extension of that principle it isn't the number of years that matter, but rather the number of generations. So in the distance past when life expectancy was like 40 and people normally had kids when they were like 14 generations were short. Now with people living till 80 and having kids in their 30's, the generations are longer... would this mean that by default we would be less effected by the Darwin's principle? Again expand that out a couple hundred years from now, and things start to get interesting. We start to stagnate, change slower over time, but that change is generally negative. So unless selective breeding and/or we gain the technology and the will to genetically alter our offspring, we are headed down a downward spiral abet a slow one. (Tho I suppose we could become cyborgs of a sort replacing defective parts, however this would seem a negative sum system, however who knows what technology will bring)

    Not to even mention:

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/ [imdb.com] :)

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

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @01:35PM (#25317023)

    More importantly personality (e.g intelligence creativity etc) is at best weakly genetical, so human "evolution" becomes less about biology and more about sociology.

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