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Humans Evolving 100 Times Faster Than Ever 584

John Hawks writes "A new genomics study in PNAS shows that humans have been evolving new adaptive genes during the past 10,000 years much faster than ever before. The study says that evolution has sped up because of population growth, making people adapt faster to new diseases, new diets, and social changes like cities. Oh, and I'm the lead author. I've been reading Slashdot for a long time, and let me just say that our study doesn't necessarily apply to trolls."
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Humans Evolving 100 Times Faster Than Ever

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  • Not anymore (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GeLeTo ( 527660 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @06:43AM (#21653425)
    Rapid evolution in the past 10000 years - maybe. In the past 50 years - no way. Nowdays everybody can have an offspring no matter what diseases, diets or social changes he is subjected to.
  • Re:Not anymore (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yetihehe ( 971185 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @06:53AM (#21653493)
    If everybody can have offspring no matter what, it means there is MORE genetic diversity. If people with weaker genes can have their own children, maybe there will be some beneficial mutation in two or three generations? Look how people with higher chance of hemophilia are less likely to suffer from malaria. Not every mutation beneficial in long term may be beneficial in short term and vice versa.
  • by dwm ( 151474 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @06:54AM (#21653501)
    From the article:

    The researchers looked for the appearance of favorable gene mutations over the past 80,000 years of human history by analyzing voluminous DNA information on 270 people from different populations worldwide. (Emphasis mine)

    This is what I can't stand about science by press release (and yes, I'm a scientist). Pretty sweeping conclusion drawn from a miniscule sample size.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @06:57AM (#21653509)
    I've been reading Slashdot for a long time, and let me just say that our study doesn't necessarily apply to trolls.

    The irony of this statement is overwhelming.
  • by smallfries ( 601545 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @06:58AM (#21653513) Homepage
    If the lead author on the study submitted the summary - why didn't he link to a proper paper rather than the press release junk?
  • Re:Not anymore (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tlosk ( 761023 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @06:58AM (#21653515)
    Perhaps you don't understand what evolution means, it's simply change. The more change that takes place, the more something has evolved. It doesn't mean better or worse or closer to some ultimate goal.

    And what you describe allows lots of evolution to occur. Extremely high selective pressures will punish variability. But when everyone (or almost everyone) can reproduce and selective pressures are low (abundant resources and few dangers) then all those little mutations that would have been selected against get to be passed on to a new generation. Resulting in much faster rates of change over time, as well as much higher variability in the population.
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @06:58AM (#21653521) Journal
    Maybe it's all that pollution...

    And maybe Chernobyl helped ;).
  • by JumperCable ( 673155 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:01AM (#21653539)
    Are we really evolving faster, or are we, as a population experiencing a higher rate of mutations? Not all mutations are good, but with our advanced medicine, poor mutations are now survivable.

    I thought evolution, didn't occur until selective environmental pressure, weeded out the non-favorable traits. I really don't *think* that happening at a higher rate. I suspect we just have a giant gene pool with a lot of variability.

    So which is it John? Are we mutating faster or evolving faster?

    P.S. Fascinating work. Kudos.
  • Backwards? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheVelvetFlamebait ( 986083 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:19AM (#21653643) Journal
    You have the concept of "backwards"... um... backwards. Backward evolution means that you become less adapted to your surroundings, and are less likely to survive. It doesn't aim for some lofty ideal of perfection, where anorexia will kill you, and all our survival mechanisms are aesthetically pleasing.
  • No it isn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:25AM (#21653677) Homepage Journal
    A rate of change of distance is velocity. A rate of change of velocity is acceleration.

    Evolution is how many changes are occuring over a period of time. You can measure a rate of evolution, i.e. whether the number of changes over time is increasing or decreasing.
  • Bad Science (Score:5, Insightful)

    by giafly ( 926567 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:33AM (#21653717)

    Beneficial genetic changes have appeared at a rate roughly 100 times higher in the past 5,000 years than at any previous period of human evolution, the researchers determined ... but almost all of the changes have been unique to their corner of the world.
    There are more gene changes because there are many more people today than 5K years ago. This does not mean that the mutation rate has increased. The speed of evolution is how different the average person today is from the average person back then and nobody has more than a few of these new genes.

    people today are genetically more different from people living 5,000 years ago than those humans were different from the Neanderthals who vanished 30,000 years ago
    Nonsense. The only way this might be true is if you selectively bred a human with all these recent gene changes. Like the Kwisatz_Haderach [] out of Dune.
  • some comments (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ickeicke ( 927264 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:35AM (#21653729)

    (...) anorexic (which would have killed you a few centuries ago).
    As opposed to nowadays? []

    Anorexia is thought to have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, with approximately 10% of those who are diagnosed with the disorder eventually dying due to related causes. The suicide rate of people with anorexia is also higher than that of the general population and is thought to be the major cause of death for those with the condition. A recent review suggested that less than one-half recover fully, one-third improve, and 20% remain chronically ill.

    as soon as we get a pandemic disease, all the weak thin people will die, and the fat and strong will rule the earth. MWAHAHAHAHAAAA!!
    I do not share your confidence in the natural selection merits of pandemics. According to this blog [], during the 1918 pandemic, the death rate for people aged between 25 and 34 was as high as that for people between 1 and 4 and between 70 and 80 (graph []).

    (...) the beauty canon.
    I, for one, welcome our new artillery wielding supermodel overlords. Oh wait [].
  • Re:Funny (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattpalmer1086 ( 707360 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:44AM (#21653769)
    Organisms don't evolve - they are rather fixed by the DNA they have. Species evolve over time, not individuals.
  • Re:adaptation? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eebra82 ( 907996 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:46AM (#21653779) Homepage

    Hmmm one wonders what religion you're defending ... clearly you're not a muslim ... I noticed a distinct lack of threats in your post ...
    What makes you think he's defending any religion at all? Is atheism out of the question here?

    Is it fun ? Attacking reasonable people irrationally ?
    Actually, his post was kind of funny, or at least from an atheist's point of view. Or an open-minded religious person's point of view. Furthermore, he is not really targeting 'reasonable people' but more the religion itself. Blasting a theology is not the same thing as blasting its believers.
  • Re:Time scales (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mattpalmer1086 ( 707360 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:59AM (#21653839)
    Evolution is simply change - there is no purpose or progress to it. If more people survive to reproduce, there will be more genetic diversity, not less. In that sense, there will be more "evolution". By removing certain natural selection pressures through technology, it is true that the resulting changes will stop being directed towards fitness in a non-technological environment.
  • by headkase ( 533448 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @08:15AM (#21653947)
    We're not evolving faster, the increased population size just means we can explore a larger portion of the evolutionary search space at one time than we were able to previously. There is still the minimal time between reproduction(s) which currently stands at about ~14 years (not taking into account morality) which is needed to introduce change(s) into the population. And Evolution is based on negative feedback, we don't evolve towards something - everything that isn't suitable dies.
  • Re:Not anymore (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jackpot777 ( 1159971 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @08:16AM (#21653963)

    I think that the last 50 years, humans have been evolving backwards

    There's no such thing. Your group either stays as it is because situations don't force a change, or your group undergoes some change and certain traits become more desirable than others. And either way, the group then either prospers or it doesn't, either because of the change or in spite of the change (but in the long run, usually because of the change).

    Saying that evolution has a direction indicates you think that there's some end design that evolution is heading for. There isn't.
  • Re:Not anymore (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Slashidiot ( 1179447 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @08:20AM (#21653983) Journal
    I do understand that evolution means simply change, and there is no forward or backward change. What I am saying is that some characteristics of individual that were a disadvantage a few thousands of years before, are now an advantage, so the change now happens in the opposite direction of the last few millenia. I'm not judging good and bad, I'm just saying that if conditions happen to move to "more agressive", due to a famine, a plague, or whatever, humankind will be less prepared than 3000 years ago, due to this "backwards evolution".

    This is perfectly normal, as conditions have changed, so has humankind, and now humans are worse prepared for some conditions, although better for the ones we have now. Thing is, the conditions we have now are created by humans, and not neccesarily in accordance with the real changes outside civilised areas. Therefore, we have evolved, moved by the conditions we have created, so if we cannot maintain these conditions, we will suddenly be far worse off than if they had never been created.

    It is some kind of artificial evolution, that is supported on changes made to the environment, which create more changes on the species, that change environment again. I think up until now, on evolution, environment has never been so much under control of the evolving species. I just don't know how good is that.

    I don't know if what I wrote is understandable, I'm not too good with long explanations in english.
  • Re:Not anymore (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @08:31AM (#21654049)
    Huh, what?

    Natural selection (the thinning of the gene pool based on external pressures) is not the same as rapid evolution (the exploding of the gene pool based on the rate of change).

    If anything the situation in the last 50 years has meant the human population can support MORE evolution at the genetic level, not less. In some areas this can be visibly obvious (people with physical or mental disabilities who can lead relatively normal lives, or at least... well... live), in most ways its safe to assume its not visible.

  • Re:Not anymore (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @08:32AM (#21654069) Homepage
    It's still not backwards evolution though. What you're saying is that 3000 years ago or whenever humans were specialised enough to survive the conditions they found themselves in. Now there is more diversity should similar hard times loom on the horizon we will as a species find it easier to adapt because we're starting off with a more diverse population which will find more ways of adpating and surviving.

    If you transplanted an indivdual back in time 3000 years ago then yes they may well have a hard time of it but that's nothing to do with evolution.
  • Re:Not anymore (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TEMMiNK ( 699173 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @08:40AM (#21654133) Homepage
    Exactly, human beings are 'evolving' into fatter, lazier, slower, blind, deaf and dumb creatures who won't even move out of their own filth and simply twitch to order more food from the ever expanding dispensing machine network and play counter-strike using only electronic impulses in their brains. Or something like that.
  • Re:Not anymore (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @09:15AM (#21654373) Homepage
    "Evolving backwards" is a contradiction in terms. The principle of evolution states nothing more or less than "what survives, survives". We can only ever become more adapted to our surroundings, never less. Our surroundings have changed, and (this is important) the new surroundings and our adaptation enables us to adapt /even faster in the future/.

    The advance of technology and medicine means that physical fitness is no longer the key survival trait. My -9/-10 vision will not get me eaten (yay). This, in turn, increases diversity and better mental ability, which results in even more technology. This has been the trend since we stopped running after mammoths.

    It is true that our civilization now moves at a far faster pace than our gene mutations could ever keep up with. Perhaps this could be analogized to the shift from pure-hardware computers to software - computers are far more adaptable than the single-purpose machines they started as, and so are we.
  • by mestar ( 121800 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @09:34AM (#21654549)

    Nice post.

    "The main question is now, is intelligence in any way still being selected for? If it isn't, then it seems likely that there will be a backwards slide in human intelligence until the situation changes."

    Yes, human intellingence is still being selected for, by sexual selection. It is the women who do the selecting, and they are more choosy than ever. The proof of this could be the fact that people in rich countries have fewer children.

    Most of the posts here simply ignore the "sexual selection" part of the evolution. This doesn't make sense, since this could be the 60% of all the reasons for human evolution. In Darwin's work, sexual selection is side by side with "survival of the fittest", but after that it kind of gets ignored, at least until last 20 years.

    Human intelligence is basically shaped by sexual selection. Humas/monkeys survived just fine without super intelligence. Human brain is basically a giant sexual ornament, analog to peacock's tail. Many aspects of human intelligence like humor, music, language are a result of sexual selection. "Survival of the fittest" can explain none of those traits. Women always mention "sense of humor" when they talk about desirable men. Being bold might get you killed, being an arrogant rock star will get you laid like, well, a rock star.

    Selection for survival and sexual selection are often in conflict. One selects for a trait that the other selects against. Peacock's tail is a giant handicap. However, surviving despite having such a handicap sends a strong message that can't be faked.

    Ah, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that by having more humans, and increasing sexual selection pressure, combined makes for a faster human evolution.

  • the department (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PHPNerd ( 1039992 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @09:42AM (#21654623) Homepage

    I don't want to open the whole can of worms here, because it's been fruitlessly debated over and over again in the comments of many Slashdot articles. Merely I'd like to make one observation: Suppose for a moment that humans really were "designed" (whether or not you believe it). Would it not make sense for said designer to give the designed the ability to adapt, evolve, grow, and change as conditions require it?

    (note: the above is neither for or against evolution or intelligent design)
  • by wall0159 ( 881759 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @09:48AM (#21654687)
    Evolution is just change. that's why there's no word "devolution" -- although we might imagine it would imply negative evolution (regression), it's still just evolution.

    Recall that evolution is not working towards a goal -- it is merely a consequence of environmental pressure.
  • I do say now (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gerf ( 532474 ) <> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @09:50AM (#21654701) Journal

    Every time this kind of discussion comes up, people tend to favor, mention, or joke about in frighteningly large numbers what is practically eugenics.

    Also, in the last 10,000 years, people have generally not reproduced outside of their own race, due to long distance constraints. As such, some racist groups will obviously use this report to show that their group is "superior" in some fashion, with this "science" to prove it.

    It's not that we should curtail research because of those problems, but it's something to think about a little more when we start having ideas that coincide with them.

  • Re:Not anymore (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @09:53AM (#21654737) Homepage
    Natural selection doesn't select for good or bad traits just ones which happen to be useful at the time so whilst you think that being short sighted is a negative trait it's not if it doesn't affect your ability to reproduce.

    The trouble with your argument is that you are pre supposing that at some point in the future we may no longer be able to manufacture glasses and therefore being shortsighted will be a disadvantage to those individuals affected. Based on that assumption you could implement your plan to guide evolution and prevent short sighted people from reproducing but then when the future turns out to be very different your meddling may well have artificially reduced genetic diversity and impaired our ability to cope with what may be radically different environmental circumstances.

    Perhaps global warming will spiral utterly out of control and somehow wreath the world in dense fog eliminating any disadvantage of short sightedness.
  • Re:adaptation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @10:37AM (#21655209) Journal

    Well, I'm going to look at this from two different sides to try and be fair, but more then likely I'll just wind up pissing everybody off and being modded down all the same ;)

    because of it being an essential part of the muslim religion to execute critics

    The obvious PC answer to this is that it's also an "essential" part of Judeo-Christianity to stone adulterers to death. I could also point out the various people that have used Christianity as a justification to deny equal rights to gays. Islam also has no history of being used for racial oppression that I'm aware of. Contrast that to Christianity, where many thought (and some extremists still do) that the African race was cursed with the mark of Ham and destined to be servants to the descendants of Japheth (i.e: Europeans).

    All of the above is fair criticism of Christianity. But it's also fair to say that modern Christianity seems to be a lot less violent then modern Islam. Consider the fallout over those Danish cartoons []. Yes, Islam says that you can't make idols of Muhammad. But that doesn't give you the right to override free speech and force the rest of us to follow your religious restrictions. That would be like Israel trying to tell the rest of the World that we can't eat pork.

    Also consider the various death threats and attacks carried out in the name of Muhammad. Do I think this is representative of the whole faith? Certainly not. But it does happen and a lot more often then similar acts (in modern times) conducted in Jesus' name.

    In muslim countries it is not an understatement to say that critical opinions will get you killed

    You'd have done better to say "in certain muslim countries...." or even "in most muslim countries..." because I can think of at least a few (Turkey comes to mind) where this isn't the case. One would assume that if the Turks have been able to successfully build a secular representative democracy that the rest of the Muslim World will be able to do so sooner or later.

    Then again, I don't know enough about the Muslim World to know if they even have democratic leanings and traditions and Turkey could be the exception rather then the rule. The Turks have certainly been influenced by proximity to Europe and have been heavily influenced by Western culture, going all the way back in time to the ancient Greeks. And Western culture has had democratic traditions and practices going all the way back to ancient Athens. Even during the age of kings there were democratic leanings, such as the Magna Carta, the rise of the Common Law, the French revolution, etc, etc.

    I suppose only time will tell if secular democracy is compatible with Islam or not. The Western World (*cough* America *cough*) could certainly help it along by treating them less as a source of oil and more as equals. We could certainly help it along by trying to fairly mediate between the Palestinians and Israelis. We could help it along by adopting a non-interventionist foreign policy. They could help it along by renouncing terrorism and violence. They could help it along by understanding some of the concerns on this side of the fence (like why a nuclear armed Iran scares the hell of everybody). They could help it along by understanding why the Western tradition of free speech allows the publication of things they might deem to be offensive or blasphemous.

    Bottom line: There seems to be lots of blame to go around on both sides here.

  • Speciation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EgoWumpus ( 638704 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @10:46AM (#21655287)

    "Not all mutations are good, but with our advanced medicine, poor mutations are now survivable."

    Don't get me wrong - I'm a big fan of humans. But human arrogance is what makes you think you can identify the difference between a 'poor' mutation and a 'good' one. Way back in the day, as the story goes, some proto-humans started walking upright, causing all sorts of back problems that persist until today. Good or bad?

    Or that whole forebrain thing; and certainly the individual relative lack of strength and speed. Hairlessness; it certainly makes winters cold! But the thing is that every mutation has a cost and a benefit, and only the long term will tell whether that mutation is viable - which is a far cry yet from an objective determination of 'good' or 'bad'.

    When you have a set of mutations that is viable, regardless of their qualitative comparisons to the status-quo niche of the parent species, that is called speciation. There is a natural division of species over time, as adaptive success leads to less selection pressure, which in turn leads to a wider range of mutations that can, over the short term survive in order to determine long term viability as the niche market shifts.

    And the upshot is that there is no good or bad; just different. You can bet that humans will eventually evolve into different species, perhaps sooner than expected. We aren't going 'forward', we're going in all directions - behaving on a genetic level like a gases tend to behave in regards to their physical environment; by spreading out to fill it.

  • by DahGhostfacedFiddlah ( 470393 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @10:48AM (#21655329)
    Can you source this?

    I mean, I know that it's "common knowledge" that only the stupid breed, but can you actually source it?

    And you have to look more than one generation ahead. If a "stupid" couple have 5 kids can this happen?
    - One dies after eating styrofoam
    - One ends up in jail
    - One ends up on the streets
    - One ends up with the slightly-better genes, goes to community college, and scores a reasonably-intelligent wife/husband
    - One dumbass knocks up another dumbass and they have 5 more kids

    In the end, those 5 kids are a wash - one's genes enter "normal" society, and only one of them carries on the pattern.

    I know there are the outlier 15-kid brood-mares out there, but I really do think they are outliers. I'm really not as pessimistic about the future as, say, Idiocracy, because

    - Smart people are still having kids, and will continue to have kids. This will not stop (natural selection - the smart people in 20 years will be the offspring of smart people who wanted kids)

    - If the pattern does continue to extremes, then the extremely smart will have no problem managing the extremely stupid. Look at how often this happens today (cults, Nigeria scams, televangelists). We may see a decrease in *morals* - particularly towards the dumb - but not in an intelligent caste.

    - Carried even further into the future, the extremely-dumb could never take care of themselves on their own. As soon as the extremely-smart decide to stop carrying them, they would be dead by their own incompetence.
  • Re:Bad example (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @10:58AM (#21655467) Homepage
    Defective howso though? If they have a survival cost, they will be selected against, if they do not have a survival cost then they are adapted to their environment.

    If the environment changes, they may be less well adapted but that could equally apply to many things we would not regard as "defective" currently.

  • Re:adaptation? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:20AM (#21655707) Journal

    And any muslim who doesn't want war is not a muslim (quran 2:219), this is to be interpreted literally (quran 3:7). Also did you know that you are "less than an animal" to any muslim (quran 8:55, again whoever disagrees with this is not a muslim, so speaks allah)

    Did you even bother to read what I wrote? Can I say that any Christian who engages in pre-martial sex is not a Christian? Maybe any Christian that charges interest on a loan isn't a Christian. And don't even get me started about all those people working on the sabbath....

    You aren't going to isolate extremism by pulling those quotes out of the quran. You isolate extremism by convincing the average Muslim on the street that democracy has more to offer him then the Mullahs. And the way you do that is by treating them more as human beings and less as the people who exist to pump our oil.

    Oey! I have my problems with Islam too (religion for that matter...) but I'm not ready yet to call for the war of civilizations that the likes of Osama Bin Ladin so desperately want to see.

  • by kestasjk ( 933987 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:35AM (#21655973) Homepage
    Take a kid of dumb parents and have him raised in a smart parents' home. Take the smart parents' kid and put him in the dumb parents' home.
    What do you want to bet that the smart foster parents will raise a smart kid, and the dumb foster parents will raise a dumb kid?

    Also modern education systems educate to a higher level at a younger age than ever, and because of industrialization you need more intelligence to make a typical living, not less, because the most mundane jobs are taken by machines.

    These days if you want any sort of job you need to know some algebra or be skilled with some power tools, at least have the ability to manage money to some degree and read. Not too long ago even these basic skills weren't needed, so it's pretty crazy to suggest that the baseline intelligence needed to survive has decreased.

    I think this is just /. guys saying (probably subconsciously) "I may not have luck with the women, but they'll be sorry! Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day humanity will be doomed because they didn't screw me."
  • New alleles? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skeftomai ( 1057866 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:52AM (#21656229)
    Have new alleles actually come into existence, or were existing ones selected?
  • by benhocking ( 724439 ) <> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:01PM (#21656409) Homepage Journal
    I think it does indeed apply to trolls and prist fosters: evolution does not necessarily mean progress—it can simply indicate a species adapting to fill a niche.
  • Re:adaptation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:04PM (#21656485) Journal

    If quotes from the quran don't define islam, then what does ?

    Ok, let's give that a try and see what happens.

    • "If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death" (Leviticus 20:9)
    • "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death." (Leviticus 20:10)
    • "If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house." (Deuteronomy 22:20-1)
    • "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." (I Corinthians 14:34-35)
    • "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother..." (Matthew 10:34-35)
    • "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he [Moses] asked them.... "Now ... kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man." (Numbers 31:1-18)
    • "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son ... Then shall his father and his mother ... bring him out unto the elders of his city ... And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die." (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
    • "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

    Do I really need to go on? The point here isn't to trash Christianity either. I'm attempting to point out that Christianity outgrew most of this stuff. One can hope that Islam will do the same and that a small number of violent extremists don't speak for all one billion of it's followers.

    Of course, the more I read your posts, the more I'm starting to think that you are probably just a troll. Feel free to prove me wrong by posting something constructive.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:33PM (#21656989) Homepage Journal
    Absolutely excellent point.

    On some of my anti-social days, I wonder if, as a species, we are really doing ourselves a favour with our support of disabled, mentally and physically ill and others who would be dead in days in the wilderness. Now let's get one thing out of the way: It might be advantageous from a social, moral or any other number of points, I'm not discussing these.

    I'm merely asking one question an evolutionary biologist who's not afraid of bad press can possibly answer: Are we breeding disabilities and mental illness this way, or are we not? Yes, not all mental or physical problems are genetically determined, but some are. Yes, I know I'm wandering dangerously close to Eugenics. Still, there's this nagging feeling that helping people with a heritable genetic defect to survive and create offspring might not be terribly nice towards their children.

  • Unsustainable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by conspirator57 ( 1123519 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:13PM (#21659069)
    Thank you for the elementary lesson in evolution. I stated that the end point is reproduction, but death is indeed relevant as it places limits (sometimes prohibitive) on the opportunities for reproduction.

    You also leave unanswered the dual contradiction in belief systems I raised. What is the motivation of atheists/evolutionists who seem to overwhelmingly support the drain on their resources caused by public charity? Is it aesthetic? Because it seems disproportionately costly versus the potential gain to an individual to be had by the otherwise lacking presence of a small percentage of other individuals. If, on the other hand, it is because they are afraid of their own inadequacy to compete and thrive in a free market, then it seems to be a negative sum game, i.e. a downward spiral for society.

    Then there's the dual of this problem, which is Christians who are uncharitable. I have my own overly judgmental opinions as to the largest part of this problem, centering around and permutating from church as a social exercise.

    But the points underlying those I made before is that the "cushy" environment is artificial, and in a mechanistic evolution such as you espouse would thus yield mutations that are unsustainable absent that cushy environment. If we evolved intelligence as a survival trait, we are certainly not putting it into service to see that our effects on our evolutionary process yield long term positive results, which ought to be part of the point of good adaptations (which we are led to believe our intellect is).

    Also, many who have mutations that would never have allowed them to survive childhood to reproduce are today doing so, which means that the power of evolution to produce the utility in the environment at large is diminished. Again, this is purely mechanistic.

    Personally, I look at evolutionary and genetic determinists in the same way as I do religions that endorse some form pre-destination, fate, or inevitability: with a great deal of skepticism.
  • by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @04:34PM (#21661685)

    What do you want to bet that the smart foster parents will raise a smart kid, and the dumb foster parents will raise a dumb kid?

    False. While it has been liberally fashionable for the past 50 years to assume a 100% 'nurture' determination of outcome, it's really only about 45%. There have been some studies of measuring the IQs* of high/low socioeconomic-status kids raised by high/low parents. I would like to quote the IQ results, but the frikking publishers are locking up the content of the relevant papers that I can find online. The ranking is as follows:

    1. High kids raised by High parents
    2. High kids raised by Low parents
    3. Low kids raised by High parents
    4. Low kids raised by Low parents

    (* It's also liberally fashionable to attack IQ tests as being meaningless. However, "imperfect" != "meaningless". People really are not created equal.)

  • Re:adaptation? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @05:25PM (#21662645)

    The obvious PC answer to this is that it's also an "essential" part of Judeo-Christianity to stone adulterers to death. I could also point out the various people that have used Christianity as a justification to deny equal rights to gays. Islam also has no history of being used for racial oppression that I'm aware of. Contrast that to Christianity, where many thought (and some extremists still do) that the African race was cursed with the mark of Ham and destined to be servants to the descendants of Japheth (i.e: Europeans).

    All of the above is fair criticism of Christianity. But it's also fair to say that modern Christianity seems to be a lot less violent then modern Islam. Consider the fallout over those Danish cartoons []. Yes, Islam says that you can't make idols of Muhammad. But that doesn't give you the right to override free speech and force the rest of us to follow your religious restrictions. That would be like Israel trying to tell the rest of the World that we can't eat pork.

    this is not true. it is fair criticism of many christian implementations. the version of christianity taught in the bible did not consider stoning adulterers to death as "essential." in fact, the leader of "christianity," you know, the guy who's name is the basis of the word "christianity," risked his life TO PREVENT an adulterous woman from being stoned. he left her with the words, "go and sin no more." in other words, the christian teaching is about forgiveness and encouragement to become a less self centered and selfish person.

    there were rules about stoning adulterers in the OLD testament which held sway over carnal israelites. i would like to draw your attention to the word OLD. it applied when god was working with a carnal nation and trying to prop them up as an example for others to follow. it didn't work out too well. not because they were israelites, rather, because they were carnal humans. the NEW covenant is designed to guide spirit led christians. the purpose is different, as are the methods. it is gross error to confuse the OLD covenant with the NEW covenant.

    as for modern implementations of christianity being nicer than modern islam, i believe the evidence shows that is more due to circumstance than ideology. christian implementation were several magnitudes beyond ruthless when the stakes were high and life wasn't so great. even now, the professing christian running this nation supports methods of torture to achieve his ends. being christian and all, he tries to make said torture sound all nice and neat, but it is what it is. his implementation is flawed, not the original teachings. the christian slave owners had a flawed implementation, too.

    Also consider the various death threats and attacks carried out in the name of Muhammad. Do I think this is representative of the whole faith? Certainly not. But it does happen and a lot more often then similar acts (in modern times) conducted in Jesus' name.

    but that doesn't make it christian. to quote jesus himself:

    Mt 24:5 - For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.

    claiming to be christian means nothing, in and of itself. in fact, jesus warned his followers not to be deceived by people claiming to be christian b/c they will deceive MANY people.

    i don't know much about Islam, so i can't comment on the root teachings. however, one should separate implementations of selfish, greedy people from the actual teachings of the religion.

    Bottom line: There seems to be lots of blame to go around on both sides here.


The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford