Is evolution over?

Geneticist Professor Steve Jones has said that human evolution may be over, and that we may now, as a species, be on the slippery slope to extinction.

He's not saying evolution in general has stopped, just ours.

His theory is that our development and exploitation of technology has de-coupled human development from natural selection. Conditions which would have meant an early grave for our ancestors, through starvation or other side-effects, are now barely considered as inconvenient, let alone life-threatening.

Personally, suffering asthma and 8 dioptres of short-sight, I would have quickly starved to death in our hunter-gatherer days, unable to keep up with prey animals or to see well enough to tell "nutritious" from "poisonous".

What this means is that we have a rate of survival to age 21 that is almost 100%, double what it was in ancient times.

At the same time, our supporting technologies, particularly in medicine, mean that there is a growing accumulation of deleterious genetic conditions in the general gene pool.

Increases in world travel have also meant that the differences between different human populations, already low, are getting smaller, as openness and acceptance of other cultures has started to homogenise our phenotype.

The result - we are isolated from natural evolutionary pressures, so there is nothing to stimulate natural selection, nothing to weed out potentially-dangerous mutations. We are stagnating.

So, what next?

On the one hand, the pessimistic view is that, at some point, our genome will become so laden with hazardous mutations that we will cease to be viable as a species. We will be unable to reproduce successfully.

On the other hand, maybe other species, still closely linked with natural selection, will continue to evolve until they supplant us. The obvious choices are chimps and gorillas - if we don't drive them to extinction.

Or maybe our heirs are currently underwater - dolphins, maybe? Or maybe they won't be mammals - octopus and squid are highly intelligent. Heck, even slime moulds have been shown to be capable of solving mazes!

On the gripping hand, maybe we've out-evolved evolution? The optimist in me hopes that technology will out-pace the fuse on the genetic timebombs we have become. Maybe medicine will be able to edit our DNA, or write it afresh, truly triumphing over nature?

Article stimulated by this BBC blog entry.
Other linked news items.

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I'm waiting for us to evolve dewclaws, then we can decide who the alpha-primate is with epic thumb wars.

Toga_Dan1 year ago

when survival is easy enough, species sometimes develop adaptations which merely attract a mate. the extravagant plume of the peacock for instance. signs of health, wealth, luxury, i suppose.

Kiteman (author)  Toga_Dan1 year ago

Surely it isn't "merely" mating? Without "mere" mating, there is no species...

good point. survival, however, is oft considered the sole goal in evolution. the original post mentions survival to age 21. but without the right "decorative feathers", an individual's genes may die with em at 22, or 82.
Kiteman (author)  Toga_Dan1 year ago

In life, the sole goal is survival, but in evolution the goal is survival of the genome, over as many generations as possible. It doesn't matter what age an organism dies, as long as it gets to pass on its DNA to a new generation first.

Have you ever read The Selfish Gene? It's getting old now, but the core logic is still sound. I believe there's a new edition out.

buteman6 years ago
I really do understand why people believe in evolution and I also understand why people have religious views.
Iit seems easy for those who view evolution as the way we came to be here because they can quote views of those who believe evolution is an established fact and can point people to the article kiteman mentioned.
I have not found much by way of articles supporting creation.

So I would say this :
Most who believe evolution do so simply because the idea that is established as a fact is repeated over and over again by not only evolutionists and many TV programs by those who really have no or very little first hand knowledge of the subject and of course these days many see no logical support for creation presented.

But then until relatively recently all who believed in evolution accepted Darwins theory as having been proved beyond doubt as an explanation of this process.
However now some closely involved in the field talk about P-E ( punctuated equilibrium ).

If Darwin's ideas had been proved to be correct then there would be absolutely no reason for P-E but as it is being investigated then surely that shows that at least Darwin's theory is still an unproven theory and that as some still believe it shows that P-E is not proven either.
So now a question.
How can you be confident either is proven?
Kiteman (author)  buteman6 years ago
Evolution happens.  It is observed directly on a day-to-day basis.  It is an indisputable fact.

What *should* be questioned is the Theory of Evolution.  That is what darwin wrote about.

Punctuated Equilibrium does not disprove or contradict the theory as described by Darwin - it merely modifies it.

In science, there is no such thing as a proven theory.  Everything is the best version we can come up with, given the evidence we have.

You cannot prove a theory, but you can disprove it.  Thus far, nobody has been able to do that, and even the creationists were forced to agree (when placed under oath in a court of law in the county of Dover) that all evidence discovered since Darwin has only supported evolutionary theory, not contradicted it.

buteman Kiteman6 years ago
When you find some item and try to put a theory together as to how it came about you do indeed try to relate it to what you already know. I agree that if it cannot be explained by the theory as currently expressed then you do have to adapt the theory. I think one of the problems is that if you have observed a multitude of items and have decided that your basic theory is correct and only needs modifying then it must be very hard to then decide that a completely different theory could be correct. I find that many people who claim to be religious are very dogmatic that their own religion has to be correct but sadly this is also true of the scientific community. As humans we have a tendency to accept what those who are considered our 'betters' which is usually equated to  more educated and  knowledgeable to be less fallible then we are.
 For example ( and perhaps it is not a very good one ) I was taking GCE 'O' Level chemistry ( in the 1950's ) and we learned about the atom AND we were told it was the smallest thing in existence.
Obviously later in the course we were told that of course the atom had protons, electrons and neutrons in it's makeup. Needless to say we now know there is more to it than that.

Now you say "Evolution happens.  It is observed directly on a day-to-day basis."

But I do not accept that. I say you believe that and it is your right to do so.

However I do expect you to respect MY serious doubts that evolution can really explain an enormous numbers of observations that the vast majority of ordinary people can see and understand without resorting to highly technical terms which I feel are often used simply to make it difficult to understand and harder for ordinary people to refute.

I also say this :

Some years ago I read an article in the 'New Scientist' about the various Tenebrionid Beetles showing how they survive in a very dry environment.

 "The Fog-basking beetle, Onymacris unguicularis, taps the fog for drink. Although it is ordinarily diurnal, it emerges from the sand on foggy nights and climbs to the dune crest, where water condensation is greatest. Head lowered and posterior raised in a kind of handstand, it faces into the fog-bearing wind, to let moisture condense on its back and trickle down to its mouthparts."

So here are some of my thoughts on this:

If it evolved to do that how did it survive in the meantime?

Why would it stay in an area that was inhospitable if it was changing slowly enough for it to adapt surely it would just follow the water wouldn't it?

How could an accidental mutation in one of these creatures lead to the survival of the whole species in these or any other circumstance you could think of?

Surely we would not say the beetle has the intelligence to work these things out itself and adapt to survive would we? 

To me there had to be a designer who knows about water vapour condensing on colder surfaces, especially on pointed areas, just as we as 'intelligent' beings understand.

Kiteman (author)  buteman6 years ago
> Now you say "Evolution happens.  It is observed directly on a day-to-day basis."

> But I do not accept that. I say you believe that and it is your right to do so.

This is not a case of "accept", "believe" or "rights".  Evolution is a fact, like the water cycle, gravity and lightning.

The rest of your post is argument from incredulity.  It does not fit your experience, and you cannot imagine how a natural process did it, therefore (to you) a natural process did not do it. 

I strongly recommend you read up on the mechanics and mechanisms of evolution.  Climbing Mount Improbable is good, but if you suffer from the common theist fear of Dawkins, then try What Does a Martian Look Like?, or even Pratchett's Science of the Discworld series.

buteman Kiteman6 years ago
Sorry but you are not answering the questions. You might say you are doing what those you disagree with you do too. You expect someone like me to 'disprove' evolution, which you obviously fervently believe in, by using logic but at the same time you are not answering my genuine questions.

If you could really answer them in a logical and supportable way it might be different but as it is your answer seems not to fit in with the  "be nice' comment policy. Rather it seems to be a way to try to frighten people from making comments which conflict with your views. That seems another reason for me to doubt your real confidence in the theory.
I am sorry if I misunderstand so perhaps you would explain?
Kiteman provided you with three references to very good "popular" texts which provide factual evidence and explanations for natural section.  Another, and one of my favorites is Weiner's The Beak of the Finch, which describes the on-going 30-year research project which is monitoring the active evolution of birds on one island in the Galapagos.

If you would really like the active research details on the species described in the New Scientist article you read, then you should look up the peer reviewed papers on the subject.  Google Scholar is the best resource to track them down.

If you don't want that information, then you're asking these questions rhetorical, and engaging in willful ignorance to maintain your inaccurate (that is, not consistent with factual reality) beliefs.

Instead creating a stalking horse, why don't you think about the general mechanisms behind the questions you asked.

If it evolved to do that how did it survive in the meantime?

By doing something else.  Pesumably by drinking water in other ways, bending over to get water from (little) pools on the ground, for example.

Why would it stay in an area that was inhospitable if it was changing slowly enough for it to adapt surely it would just follow the water wouldn't it?

What do you know about arthropod ranges?  Many species of arthropods are extremely limited in range, some to the extent that many generations live out complete life cycles on a single tree.  Climate tends to change over a very large area (hundreds of miles in radius), far larger than arthropods can "travel."

How could an accidental mutation in one of these creatures lead to the survival of the whole species in these or any other circumstance you could think of?

It doesn't.  A change (whether a "mutation" or an epigenetic change in
some concentration gradient) affects only the individual which has that change.  If the individual with that change happens to be more efficient (or faster, or stronger, or whatever) than its peers, then it may live longer and/or have more offspring than its peers. 

If the change in that individual turns out to be heritable, then those offspring will also be "more efficient (or faster, or stronger, or whatever)" than their peers.  And that chain of reasoning will continue until, at some time in the future, most or all of the members of the species will have the same new feature.

Surely we would not say the beetle has the intelligence to work these things out itself and adapt to survive would we?

Of course not, but that argument has nothing to do with natural selection.  Learned behaviors are not heritable, and therefore not subject to selection. 
So here you are saying it did different things:

"If it evolved to do that how did it survive in the meantime?

By doing something else.  Pesumably by drinking water in other ways, bending over to get water from (little) pools on the ground, for example."

Here you are saying it would have do do the above in a relatively fixed position :-

Why would it stay in an area that was inhospitable if it was changing slowly enough for it to adapt surely it would just follow the water wouldn't it?

What do you know about arthropod ranges?  Many species of arthropods are extremely limited in range, some to the extent that many generations live out complete life cycles on a single tree.  Climate tends to change over a very large area (hundreds of miles in radius), far larger than arthropods can "travel."

So this makes the chances of it succeeding by evolution a bit of a no-no to me.

How could an accidental mutation in one of these creatures lead to the survival of the whole species in these or any other circumstance you could think of?

It doesn't.  A change (whether a "mutation" or an epigenetic change in
some concentration gradient) affects only the individual which has that change.  If the individual with that change happens to be more efficient (or faster, or stronger, or whatever) than its peers, then it may live longer and/or have more offspring than its peers. 

If the change in that individual turns out to be heritable, then those offspring will also be "more efficient (or faster, or stronger, or whatever)" than their peers.  And that chain of reasoning will continue until, at some time in the future, most or all of the members of the species will have the same new feature.

And here you are saying it evolved. I say it is just that under certain circumstances part of the group who have this ability don't need to use it until the conditions force the action. Then if different conditions exist the overall pattern of behaviour changes again.

Can you actually prove my 'Theory' wrong?
You wrote, "I say it is just that under certain circumstances part of the group who have this ability don't need to use it until the conditions force the action. Then if different conditions exist the overall pattern of behaviour changes again."

Well yes, of course. What you're describing (which could be a behavior, a physical trait, or some biochemical feature) is called in the literature "neutral." It is neither beneficial or harmful (consider blue vs. brown vs. green eye color), but it sticks around by inheritance at some low level. Then, some time in the future, the environment changes in some way that that up-to-now neutral trait becomes strongly beneficial. At that point, natural selection works as it always does, and the newly beneficial trait spreads through the population over time.

Well I do not believe it is what you call natural selection as to me this suggests that all living things have evolved into different living ones e.g fish to amphibians to reptiles or some such.

To me the pieces of evidence you see are interpreted by you as evidence of evolution but to me they are not. They are simply the variation and versatility in creation and the changes we observe from the past are simply the product of some change which we are presently unable to detect, perhaps a sudden flash flood where more of the best swimmers survive compared to the poor ones.

On the other hand to me most people who have a 'christian' religion do not really have a faith. They suffer from credulity. For example most believe that when you die you go to heaven or hell. But where do they get that idea from?  And has anyone conducting a funeral service said  'This man/woman is going to hell'?

Now I always thought that the bible was what 'christians' used as their reference but they don't get it from there.

I sometimes wonder what other people, such as yourselves, know about what it says. if, as I suspect, and i mean no offence , i would not be surprised that when you come into contact with these you dismiss what they say out of hand. I would not blame you.
If however you dismiss what it says without examining it then you are failing to use the proper scientific method. Doing what you accuse me of.
And by the way I used to be an avid evolutionist.
Kiteman (author)  buteman6 years ago
"Well I do not believe it is what you call natural selection as to me this suggests that all living things have evolved into different living ones e.g fish to amphibians to reptiles or some such."

Correct.  That is what natural selection lead to.

"To me the pieces of evidence you see are interpreted by you as evidence of evolution but to me they are not. They are simply the variation and versatility in creation and the changes we observe from the past are simply the product of some change which we are presently unable to detect, perhaps a sudden flash flood where more of the best swimmers survive compared to the poor ones."

Then can you explain the chronological aspect of the fossils, both in form and location?

"On the other hand to me most people who have a 'christian' religion do not really have a faith. They suffer from credulity."

Credulity = unquestioning belief = faith.

For example most believe that when you die you go to heaven or hell. But where do they get that idea from?  And has anyone conducting a funeral service said  'This man/woman is going to hell'?"

The idea comes from those in the pulpit.  Yes, I have heard it be said of the dead.

"I sometimes wonder what other people, such as yourselves, know about what it says."

I've read it several times (see my post May 28th 2:17pm).  I have religious family and friends.

"If however you dismiss what it says without examining it then you are failing to use the proper scientific method. Doing what you accuse me of."

As I said, I have read it carefully.  Would you like a list of the mistakes and contradictions?

"And by the way I used to be an avid evolutionist."

What evidence made you change your opinion?


By the way, have you visited the forum I suggested yet?

Have they responded to your questions?

finton Kiteman4 years ago
Well this has been a fascinating discussion I'm sure, and everyone seems to be sure that their view is correct - as usual in creation/evolution arguments - (I have my own views of course, which are correct   ; }  ).
However, I'm gonna have to disagree with you Kiteman - much as I greatly respect your Instructableness [140 'ibles!] - when you say "... natural selection lead to (evolution of species)".
"Species" is a very fluid concept: I grew up being taught that a species could only breed with itself (reiterated occasionally in my BSc and BHort studies), but that's patently not so - breeding can occur across genus and family if not higher, so if the defition of species is breedability, the concept needs adjusting. I believe creationists use the term "kinds", such that .
If we discount the (contentious) fossil record, what we see today is natural selection providing variation within species ("micro" evolution if you like), with an associated loss of genetic variation. An example of this is the Galapagos finches and the Pepper moth, so beloved as examples of  "macro" evolution. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canid_hybrid indicates how this loss of information due to natural selection can result in different populations losing genetic information to the point where they cannot interbreed with their relatives, but this is not evolution in the sense of "microbe to man" increase in information. Going the other way, here's an example from NZ: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C4%81k%C4%81riki where birds labelled as different species are actually only subspecies (red and yellow).
But I'm beginning to pontificate - a behavour soooo beloved by my wife...

On another note, I'd definitely like to see the  "... list of the mistakes and contradictions" in the Bible; your "three different patriarchal lineages given for Jesus" aren't a good example of a contradiction, being written from different viewpoints (e.g. any number of websites like http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVSermons/LineageOfJesus.htm), and I'm interested to discover what the third lineage is.
Cheers. Love your Instructables.
Kiteman (author)  finton4 years ago
1. "Species" is a difficult concept at the boundaries of a species. Go research "ring species" - that will completely befuddle the issue.

That is part of evolution - one species does not instantly become another, but two popuations gradually (in the lifetime of a human, imperceptably) drift apart.
However, the general definition of species ("two groups of organisms that fail to produce viable young") is far more useful that the Creationist "kind" (which I have never seen succinctly defined). I would be very iterested in your examples of different genus and families that breed successfully.

2. We cannot discount the fossil record. It exists, and it will not cease to exist just because you find it embarrassing. Contentious? Only to the extent that it does not support any version of the creation myth. I suggest you try reading "Written in Stone", by Brian Switek (very accessible, even to a non-specialist).

3. Variation within a species is just that. It does not necessitate a loss in information, but a rearrangement of the existing DNA by mutation. That is the source of the variation, upon which natural selection acts to cause evolution.
"Micro evolution" is not a term used by scientists, neither is macro evolution. It's all just evolution. Cumulate enough tiny variations over enough time and a population will eventually cease to resemble that from which it is descended.

Your badly worded canid link does not support your claims - it demonstrates how evolution has given rise to a wide variety of canids from a distant common ancestor. What "information" has been lost?

As for the Kakariki, how does the existence of subspecies disprove evolution? All it shows is that evolution continues - the two subspecies could easily drift further apart to form two distinct species.


As for the lineages, compare Mark, Luke and 1 Chronicles. "Viewpoint" has nothing to do with it - all three are patriarchal (some people try and claim Luke is Mary's lineage, even though the entire text is patriarchal and does not even mention Mary), have different ancestors in them, in a different order.

finton Kiteman1 year ago

Wow! Has it been three years already Kiteman?

I'll leave the discussion after a quick response to your three

1 As you
suggested, I did research “Ring species”: interesting subject but does not
cause any major problems – two populations have diverged to the point where,
when placed back in proximity, they are incompatible, but each one can still
interbreed with other “species” in that genus, such that a “ring” can be found
to connect them together. See http://creation.com/birds-of-a-feather-don-t-breed-together.

This is similar to the ability to graft dissimilar fruit tree
species together (see my comments in http://www.instructables.com/id/Grafting-Made-Simple/).
If you really want to “completely
befuddle the [species] issue”, have a look online for Hartmann and
Kester’s “Plant Propagation: Principles and Practice” about the Limits of
grafting between species, genus, and family!

Having said all that, this (evolutionist) site says there’s
really no such thing: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/there-are-no-ring-species/

See http://creation.com/ligers-and-wholphins-what-next...for examples of between-species and
between-genus fertile offspring (particularly "Kekaimalu the wholphin", "triticale" and "Genae"). On
this basis, " [a
species is defined by] two groups of organisms that fail to produce viable
young" would indicate that the parents in each case are actually the same

2 Please don't put words in my mouth: I don't
find the fossil record "embarrassing" at all. I am no less
intelligent, scientific, or skilled in “dealing with major theories in an
appropriate manner” (your phrase) than the next human and I have an honours
degree in horticulture, and still hold the view that the geological and
fossil records better explain the creation model of origins than the evolution
model. Again, all this is well covered in articles like http://creation.com/refuting-evolution-2-chapter-8...and http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j10_1/j10_1_032-069.pdf

3 You are absolutely correct: "Variation within a species is just that".
However it presupposes that the
information was there to begin with
as does “… but a rearrangement of the
existing [sic] DNA by mutation”.
It is much the
same reason we have pure-bred dog breeds (like our beagle) which breed true
because other genetic traits have been bred out of them (loss of information),
or varieties of cattle created by carefully mixing different pools of existing cattle
DNA (rearrangement). You still have a dog or a cow, but "... a population [that, within limits,] will eventually cease to resemble that from which it is descended"

"...no reputable creationist denies speciation - in fact, it
is an important part of creationist biology. ... the real issue is whether
evolution can explain the increase of genetic information content."(from http://creation.com/refuting-evolution-2-chapter-4-argument-natural-selection-leads-to-speciation. Also see other articles at http://creation.com/speciation-questions-and-answers.

For anyone interested in the science around the creation model
of origins, I suggest you try this
site (very accessible, even to a non-specialist, and written largely by science degree holders): http://creation.com/
from which most of the examples above have come.


Kiteman (author)  finton1 year ago

1. You're using articles written over forty years ago, using arguments that were discredited very shortly after, with no actual scientific references, to argue the same thing as I was saying - "species" is a hard thing to define accurately.

2. If the fossil record supported creation, then fossils would be sorted by size, not age. Fossils of dinosaurs would be found in the same strata as fossils of rabbits (there is, of course the well-know Paluxy trackway, but the "man tracks" there have not only been shown to be eroded dino tracks by proper scientists, but even creation "scientists" admitted, in print, that they weren't human as far back as the early 1970s - that still doesn't stop creationists claiming that the tracks prove dinos and humans co-existed, even today). Also, it would not be the case that the entire fossil record pre-dates the supposed creation event by several million years (remember, fossilisation is a process that takes, at minimum, several thousand times longer than creationists believe the universe has existed).

3. The "amount of information" argument is both old and wrong.

As for creation.com, any claims that the articles there are "scientific" are, at best badly mistaken, and at worst they are deliberately untruthful.

If you want scientific evidence, then refer to proper science journals, that have been through the peer-review process, and have proper referencing to original data. You don't need the fossil record to show that evolution is real and happening - how about 15 hand examples of it happening right now? Come back when you've got equally-credible evidence to refute them:


buteman Kiteman6 years ago
"Credulity = unquestioning belief = faith."
Wrong they are not the same at all.
My faith is based on the things I observe about me and they point to an incredibly knowledgeable, wise and supremely intelligent Creator.

I too have read the bible many times and find no contradictions, a number of people have told me about one and we have examined it together and so far have found it to be their misunderstanding or lack of fully reading the point in context.

"What evidence made you change your opinion?"

You and Kelseymh want me to simply argue with you about evolution but I am asking you to test it yourself by looking at various things we can all see about us and tell me how evolution explains them.
( The Tenebrionid Beetle I mentioned earlier  and perhaps another like it  to quote:
 The Fog-trapping beetle, Lepidochora discoidalis, does it differently. After it has foraged during the first part of the night, it normally digs itself back into the sand. It only returns to the surface when fog comes, late at night or early in the morning, so as to excavate a narrow trench in the sand across the path of the fog. Somehow it knows that ridges alongside the trench will absorb all the moisture it needs to drink.")

I still don't see how you can explain how these abilities could just happen by chance. You see I need convincing evidence that these things could happen even and at the same time why you cannot see they can be explained rationally by being made that way.

So now I am away to visit friends tonight so will not be looking in until tomorrow.
Bye for now.
Kiteman (author)  buteman6 years ago
It's not chance, it's natural selection.  It takes time.

No contradictions?  There are three different patriarchal lineages given for Jesus.  Which one is correct?

lemonie Kiteman6 years ago
You are both wasting your time: different angles, you're missing each other, it's futile.

Indeed, I agree lemonie. Tis much like arguing that lemons can't come from vines because water flows downhill. :-)
lemonie buteman6 years ago
Read this:
If you can understand it (and it is not easy reading), continue arguing with people who do.
Otherwise you're not talking eye-to-eye, it's over each other's shoulders or in the opposite direction...

The assay results in the evolution of living things by a causative-agent, )or it doesn't).

Kiteman (author)  buteman6 years ago
I'm not expecting *you* to disprove evolution (people have been trying for centuries - why should I expect you to succeed where they have failed?).  I am simply expecting you to exercise some active thought.

"I don't understand it" is not a valid reason to assume "it" (whatever "it" is) did not happen.  It is a common informal logical fallacy stumbled upon (and often abused) by creationists and IDers.

I assure you, my answers are well within the "Be Nice" policy, but this is not really the forum to discuss the faults in the ID / creationist standpoint.

Just because I am strident in my tone, that does not indicate doubt in my position.  Rather, it is annoyance at yet another failure in the education system, to produce an individual lacking in the skills required to deal with major theories in an appropriate manner.

Since you seem reluctant to read the books I suggested, can I suggest a forum dedicated to your questions?

buteman Kiteman6 years ago
And I do not think that trying to belittle me just because I refuse to be browbeaten into accepting what to me are ridiculous theories is a way of convincing me I am wrong. Rather it suggests a religious fanaticism.

How are your views any less religious then mine?

Our views are less religious than yours because we have read the evidence, we can understand and follow the logical arguments, and because the scientific descriptions we are espousing meet the criteria necessary to be science -- they are potentially falsifiable, and they make specific predictions for new observations.

The creationist model is very specific that it cannot be falsified (appeal to a supernatural deity), thus it fails being scientific right up front.  It does make specific predictions -- that anything labelled a species was created exactly as we see it today, and it not only does not change over time, it cannot change over time.  The unfortunate thing is that we have examples observed in the field which contradict that specific prediction.
Well I believe your ideas are 'falsifiable' and I can see how you would not like them to be proven false. After all when it comes down to the core of it you cannot accept that something exists which is of superior intelligence to humans.

However not everything science understands is falsifiable. It is the case that we do not completely understand every detail of some mechanism such as, for example gravity. But you surely would not say it is not a fact that it exists would you?

I do think I can say that about evolution.
You may be having some trouble with your "not"s.  Gravity certainly is a fact (unless you're going to argue that God is moving the planets and all of our satellites around Himself).  So is evolution, for the same reason. 

It is very simple to observe the genealogical relationships between species alive today, and to trace, in clear and quantifiable detail, genealogical relationships with species no longer alive.  Up until about 40 years ago those relationships were derived from simple observation of macroscopic characters.  Now we can look at the molecule-by-molecule differences in the genetic makeup of living (and even some no longer living) organisms and species. 

The amount of actual data (not guesses, not stories) supporting the genealogical connection among all life on this planet is truly astronomical.  I am confident that it is all a complete fabrication, created by your God with the sole intent of fooling his created children into believing something that isn't true.  Now there's a God I can believe in.
You said :
"Gravity certainly is a fact (unless you're going to argue that God is moving the planets and all of our satellites around Himself).  So is evolution, for the same reason. "

Yes I agree gravity does of course exist but do not try to say evolution does for the same reason it hasn't been proven yet!

you might like to read

"But you surely would not say it is not a fact that it exists would you?"


When you say
"The amount of actual data (not guesses, not stories) supporting the genealogical connection among all life on this planet is truly astronomical."

Once again I totally agree but I do not ascribe it to evolution.

Rather i would say this:
When you examine say a car then whichever petrol/diesel car you look at it has many characteristics in common with all other cars - engine, clutch, gearbox, exhaust, tyres and so on,

i would say that it shows that sensible designers make use of these as they form a good solid core of resources for them all whether it be Ford, BMW, Audi or any others. They know the principles involved in the makeup of each part and how to get good service from it.
So what is wrong with the Creator doing the same, sensibly using these to do so and how would you justify evolution being a better explanation?
Also you might like to comment further on the questions I posed relating to the Tenebrionid Beetles because I still see nothing which shows evolution to be an established fact. To me it is still an unproven theory.
Just to let you and Kiteman know I do not consider myself to be a scientist I did HNC Chemical engineering at my local college and worked as an industrial chemist for about 25 years before I moved into I.T to work on a project which was called 'lights out 2000' intended to run processes in the company's factories without human intervention. ( It failed by the way - as expected )

Do you know what "falsifiable" means?  Everything science understands is falsifiable.  That's the whole point of something being science.  We (professional scientists, of which I am one) don't take our knowledge on faith.  It is all testable, and potentially refutable. 

Scientific theories make specific predictions for new phenomena (or in the case of a retrospective science like geology or astronomy, of new observations).  When those predictions turn out to be wrong (not due to experimental error, but actually incorrect), then the theory needs to be either modified or replaced.

Would you like to discuss gravity?  Which details of the mechanism are you interested in?  Or would you like to discussion some of the proposed modifications to general relativity being explored as options for a future theory of quantum gravity?
Kiteman (author)  buteman6 years ago
My position is supported by evidence.

Your position is not.

I have read the bible, several times, in several translations.  It is an interesting read, and has numerous good points.

However, it also contradicts reality in numerous significant ways.  Lists have been compiled of over 800 factual errors (mainly scientific and historical) and direct internal contradictions (such as the two different orders of the creation story, or the three different lineages given for Jesus).

What evolutionary texts have you read and been able to find fault in?

As I said, this is not really the correct forum for this - try the forum I suggested.  Membership is free, and they have a section dedicated to your questions.  Try your questions there, where far better-qualified people than I are available to answer.

So basically what you're saying is, "I don't know enough to understand how natural selection can be true, and therefore it must be false."  Kiteman cites that properly as the "argument from incredulity." 

I would describe it as an argument from ignorance.  In fact, I might even call it willful ignorance, since you explicitly reject even working to acquire the knowledge necessary to overcome your ignorance.

Here's an example, exactly parallel to yours.  I don't know the details of how a liquid-fueled rocket engine works.  Does that mean that rockets don't exist?  Or that they work by magic because I don't know their mechanism? 

So now someone gives me a textbook on propulsion engineering, so I can learn how that rocket works.  And I tell them, "your book is full of words that are too long and complicated for me to understand, so it must be wrong.  Rockets work by magic, and I don't believe that your so-called 'engineering' is real."

See my last answer to kiteman. It looks to me like you are just being offensive.

If not then accept the same challenge.
My second paragraph was offensive.  My apologies.

See my later response further up your thread.  Rather than picking up one specific detailed example after another (any one of which is sufficient for a Ph.D. thesis), you would be better served if you actually understood the basic mechanism of natural selection.
finton buteman1 year ago

Hi buteman. Jumping in four years later, here is a great site for scientific articles supporting the creation model of life origins:


You have no actual idea what you're talking about, do you?

Darwin, among many other things he did, developed a theory of mechanism.  He, and many others, observed the fact that populations of animals change over time (evolution), and the fact that various populations of animals, both living and dead, appear to have genealogical relationships. 

What Darwin (and Wallace, independently) discovered was that there is a simple mechansim by which those facts can be connected and explained, called natural selection.  This mechanism is extraordinarily easy to describe, and for anyone not engaging in willful ignorance to deduce for themselves.

1)  Creatures have many traits (color, size, vision, taste, strenght, immune systems, etc.), which are inherited by their offspring.

2)  The creatures in any population vary in those traits which they have.  Some are stronger than others, some find things tasty which others do not, and so on.

3)  The population in any given area will generally be larger than that environment can support.

4)  Therefore, those creatures which are better able to acquire resources than their peers will live longer, and have more offspring.

5)  Over time, the traits of those surviving creatures will become more common in the (future) population.

As part of describing his theory of natural selection, Darwin made the assumption that it operates (a) slowly, and (b) continuously.  Those assumptions are in addition to the mechanism itself, and do not have to be true for the mechanism to operate.

What Eldredge and Gould noticed, from studying the fossil record, was that in fact, most populations maintain the same set of traits (at least, the ones which can be observed in fossils) for a long time, and then those traits change relatively rapidly (thousands, rather than millions, of years).  This says nothing whatsoever about the mechanism by which traits change over time.  All it does it to point out that the assumption of "slow continuous change" is not necessarily correct.

Now, having explained all of that, hopefully clearly, I have a very simple question for you.  Which of the points I listed above is false?  Which ones do you not believe to be facts? 

Are all horses identical?  Are all dogs?  Are all people?  Do children look like their parents?  Is there always enough food in a given area to support all of the offspring which are born (consider the hundreds of fry that come from a single salmon)?  Does culling change distributions?  If the weak die and the strong survive, will the population on average be stronger or weaker than before?
Goodhart4 years ago
short answer: NO, as long as we don't allow the non-geeks to continue to rule and we get a good Geek dominated world moving along.

I hope to goodness you're joking.

but in a sense, no I am not being completely facetious either: IF we allow mostly intellectually weak to dominate (I am not saying eliminate them, but just not "remove the smart ones either") then we will end up in an Idiocracy society....no doubt about it.
Unfortunately, intelligence is only mildly correlated with great leadership; the smartest leaders are rarely the best (the example that immediately springs to mind being Hoover). Additionally, it's fallacious to say that geek == intelligent.
substitute knowledgeable for intelligent then. BTW, that is a spectrum trait, i.e. being a bit anal about the exact wording of things rather then trying to look for the diversity of meaning that could accompany what was written (and, like clockwork, you'll deny that, and I will just ignore that..... :-)
That cuts to the crux of the matter - knowledge and intelligence are two very different things.

Okay, this is a deviation from the original point, but this is starting to get seriously annoying. If I am not allowed to say I don't think so and so is on the spectrum, since I have an egregious lack of PhD, you don't get to say that you think I am on the spectrum when you lack a PhD. Either people without 98 years of clinical experience are allowed to make armchair diagnoses, or they are not. You can't have it both ways.

But wait. Wait, you said everyone is on the spectrum. If everyone is on the spectrum (which I happen to disbelieve, but granting it for the sake of argument), it's a pretty meaningless thing to say that I am on it, right? So, great, you totally have me pegged; I'm on the spectrum like every other human being. I am also carbon-based. And I am unable to violate the laws of thermodynamics. We could go on all day with meaningless statements about me.

"Anal"? Yeah, no. I'm not being "anal." That's like saying that I'm being anal rather than looking for diversity of meaning if you call me a man and I say "actually, I'm a woman, not a man." It's a completely silly argument. I'm using words to mean what they actually MEAN, not trying to divine your personal definitions which you apply to them. I'm sorry that you can't be bothered to use words according to their accepted English definitions, but it doesn't make me a freak, or anal, to do so.

So, yeah. Please don't do that - "You do X and if you deny X that just PROVES MY WHOLE POINT, and also I will ignore it if you respond on the topic" - it's an extremely, extremely annoying way of trying to get in the last word.

One other thing - if you can tell I'm on the spectrum because I'm being anal, then how is it that you are off-put by that "spectrum" behavior, if _you_have Asperger's?

And if the answer is "it's a spectrum so some people are anal and some people are the exact opposite," well, that's a pretty darn useless diagnostic spectrum, offering no real way to actually differentiate between the "elect" and the "reprobate".
Wow, you are seriously annoyed too about my opinion. Cool.

Also, we must delineate which spectrum we are speaking of when saying "all are on the spectrum".   If the spectrum is  that of those that are able to process information, and use it, and not "make it fit their own belief systems" then that is a sign of intelligence and is on one form of spectrum.

If, however; we refer to the Autistic spectrum, no not everyone has the same "internal wiring" by any means.

Another thing,  my comment to you about being Anal was tongue in cheek, but it doesn't translate well in here (and I can miss it face to face...and often do), but to answer you question, depending on the "aspects" of a particular person on the spectrum; we get annoyed at one another at times too.    What bothers me is this broad band "explanation of traits" that NT's suddenly think everyone on the spectrum MUST possess. It is like saying ALL dogs MUST have 4 legs or it is no longer a dog.   I know personally of 2 dogs that are perfectly happy with their three remaining legs.   Categorization is not an easy task for many because the lack of attention to detail.....I happen  to have problems with verbal / written communications and so my "detail orientation" is more visual (pictures, things I see/imagine).   So, there is a partial list of my faults, and some explanation to some of what I posted.   Also, I did not bump this subject (I don't know if you noticed my other reply or not), but answered the one that did bump it elsewhere.
"Cool" indeed.

I'm not annoyed about your opinion; I'm annoyed with how it's being expressed. Your comment did not feel at all tongue in cheek to me
(cue "That's because you're an NT").

I am referring to the only spectrum to which I have ever heard you refer: the Autistic spectrum. You seem to be the one with difficulties defining the spectrum, not me.

If you say that people on the spectrum are X (for example, pay extreme attention to detail), and you vehemently say you are both on the spectrum and X, then it's really frickin' weird to find behavior X annoying and talk about how it's spectrum behavior, even though you are on the spectrum and you are the exact opposite and can't relate to NT's.

Forgive me for the farfetched analogy, but I think the extremes illustrate the problem nicely. It's as if you said (to pull a Godwin) that the Fascist spectrum is a spectrum of people who hate America, and that you are a Fascist. And then I said I hate America, and you said "Hey, that's annoying and very spectrum behavior." And I say "Why is that annoying? I thought you were a Fascist." And you responded "Well it's a wide spectrum and not ALL Fascists hate America." Then your spectrum doesn't define Fascists! Do you see how that would both be fallacious AND raise the question of why you as a Fascists are harping on me hating America?

I did not say that you must possess everything on the spectrum to be Autistic. I said the spectrum is useless.

Let's follow the spectrum chain of argument for a minute:

0 The Autism spectrum is a spectrum of behaviors, cognitions, and actions which characterize people with Autism.

Wonderful. But the problem is when you introduce the second argument:

1 Not everyone who has Autism is on the Autism spectrum; there are significant differences and deviations from the spectrum.

So there's a spectrum, but it doesn't include everyone with Autism, because some people with Autism don't behave in a "spectrum" way. If people with Autism can exist outside the spectrum of behavior - and you say they do - your spectrum must not define Autism. If your spectrum doesn't define Autism, then it is actually just inclusive of everyone. A spectrum that includes everyone is not, I am sure you will admit, a terribly effective diagnostic tool.

That's why I think the spectrum, as you're using it, is nonsense. And why it's irritating to be armchair diagnosed when I've been told in no uncertain terms that it is not my place to say the same kinds of things.
your last statement: it isn't, I HAVE a diagnosis.
gmoon Goodhart4 years ago
You should drop this dialog, both of you.

Lira-- you're not going to change how GH self-identifies.

GH-- maybe take the new-found aspie "zeal" down a notch, please.

(OK, now you both can be angry with me, instead.)
Goodhart gmoon4 years ago
I am not angry. But I have been feeling attacked (not by you) in so much that I have, in the last 3+ years learned SO much about the condition (not just the ignorant stuff that many NT's believe, but what is actually relative and real) and so I find myself in a unique position of trying to describe "color" to someone that can not see color, so to speak (no I am NOT implying blindness).....and it has become distressing to me to NOT be able to do it. But you are correct.....I will simply NOT be able TO do it, and must accept that.

For awhile, I thought she wanted me to become completely atavistic and unlearn everything "social" I have learned over the years and just start speaking my mind without taciturn in a completely effusive manner.   But whether that is true or not, doing it will not help the situation.

So yes, I accept defeat, GAME OVER;  I am who and what I am despite  what other think.....

I Mean how DOES one explain "this"?

Jaycub Goodhart4 years ago
This pretty funny. Do you now if thee is actual evidence other than just common sense that parents with low IQs produce children with low IQs? I'm not saying there isn't, just asking if you know there is.

Mabey a "stupid" parent can carry a recessive ultra smart gene.
Goodhart Jaycub4 years ago
Yes, but it could be rare enough to eventually eliminate or nearly eliminate it totally....especially if people try to CURE it (asperger's etc).
The best thing about being stupid is that I don't realise that I am :D
gmoon caarntedd4 years ago
Yep--anyone (with a computer) can enjoy that video, because they certainly don't fall in the category themselves... ;-)
Goodhart gmoon4 years ago
My wife, unbeknownst to me, was unable to have children when we got married.....I wonder how late in life one can donate to the sperm bank?
gmoon Goodhart4 years ago
Funny--my wife and I can't have kids either, and I knew that before we were married. Just wasn't a big deal with me or her. Family and acquaintances certainly treat you as as clinically insane if you don't want kids. ;-)

Personally I think fertility trumps intelligence every time... The brain is there to facilitate the process, so intelligence has some use.
Goodhart gmoon4 years ago
I'll look into it then ;-)
Stupid = unwillingness to learn in my book. If one purposely remains ignorant about something they need to learn....that is stupid.
There is debate over what IQ even measures; not all scientists accept it as a valid of that exceedingly broad and ill-defined term, "intelligence." (There are serious issues with cultural bias in measuring IQ, to name one of many many problems)
IQ = ability to take an iq test, as I have always said. Not much more. Although the one I put together is a little more, shall we say, strenuous....I asked a friend some of the questions when we were yet teens, and he couldn't answer any of them....which demonstrated a lack of imagination more then intelligence :-)
Kiteman (author)  Jaycub4 years ago
As Lira says, there are issues with measuring intelligence. Certainly the act of measuring affects the results - I teach a child with a high level of skills and knowledge, but if she realises that an activity is being formally assessed, she falls to pieces, meaning that her "official" grades should keep her in a remedial set.

As for "nature vs nurture", the best answer in my experience is "a bit of both". Attitude is a large part of academic success, and if parents have a poor attitude towards learning, then 19 times out of 20, so will the children. It is very hard to bring a child with a bad attitude up to their actual potential. It is very easy to let a bright child deteriorate to the point of no return.

I did a quick survey of my bottom sets in a previous school. Predominantly, they came from homes with no books in them, where reading (even magazines) was regarded as unimportant. Also typical, TVs and game consoles would outnumber people in the home, and financial priority would be given to alcohol, tobacco and fashionable trainers over pens & pencils, school uniform, shoes and lunch.
Yes, as you have written, and as I have read many a geneticist say: if one is asking "nature vs nurture" they are asking the wrong question. It should be "how much of each, since almost everything will be a bit of both".

In my own case, reading was never made "important" in my home, I had to discover it on my own, and didn't do so until around the 6th grade; when I discovered Isaac Asimov.  My reading level went from a poor 4rth grade level to reading about nuclear physics before the year was out.    INTEREST and exposing these things to children is of UTMOST importance. And it saddens me that so many that don't get it at home, also don't get it at school. 
It looks like you bumped a topic that is >3 years old; was there a comment that I can't see anymore?

I bumped it "like" because it was replied to before me...see:

Jaycub says:                                    Feb 15, 2012. 8:16 PM
Goodhart bumped it like yesterday saying something about how geeks should rule the world (not quite as tongue in cheek sounding though).
I bumped it "like" because it was replied to before me...see:

Jaycub says:                                    Feb 15, 2012. 8:16 PM
Qcks4 years ago
All I got from this article is that Professor Steve Jones isn't a credible scientist, at least as a biologist.
how so?
How is evolution different then adaptation? or did you want clarification on some other aspect of my post?

I'm happy to answer questions.
Well, my question was specifically to the part where you postulated that the person who wrote the article "isn't a credible scientist, at least as a biologist". to which i asked "how so?" since you failed to give any explanation or reasons for that opinion.

i also think you're missing something about one of the absolute basic building blocks of the evolutionary process, namely natural selection.

as humans we no longer allow natural selection to occur. ever.

we cure genetic diseases that would have completely wiped out gene strains in previous generations. We do all KINDS of crazy stuff to get our offspring to survive things that they shouldn't be surviving (not saying we should let the babies die, but from the point of view of natural selection, we're completely bypassing the concept of "survival of the fittest"), we have modified basically everything that goes into evolution to fit our needs. which makes us NOT need to adapt.

we  have no reason to adapt because we've figured out how to make our environment adapt to us. evolution and natural selection would require us to adapt to our environment.

several thousand years ago we made a huge evolutionary leap. once we became homo sapiens sapiens we stopped evolving the way everything else evolves. everything that isn't us, evolves by upgrading hardware, we evolve by upgrading software. we've gotten smart enough to be able to NOT NEED evolution or natural selection.

any of the processes of evolution are there to provide a species with a way to adapt to changing environments. it gives the most adapted members of the species the best chance of moving on. we simply don't do that any more. at all.

does that actually mean that we're stagnant and aren't going to change at all as a species? no, probably not. but it's unwise to think the changes we do experience going forward will work ANYTHING like evolution has worked for millions of years, which i think is the whole point of the guy's article.
as humans we no longer allow natural selection to occur. ever.

Not true.

Dying isn't the only way to be "unselected." There are other forms of natural selection -- sexual selection, which is a very important component of selection.

Women still choose mates based on perceived positive attributes, be it earning potential, intelligence, height or dancing ability. Yes, females make the decision about pairing, almost universally.

Look to recent changes in human morphology.

Some even argue that increased rates of autism are a byproduct of the self-selective breeding of above-average humans. I don't really agree--there are too many variables, too many environmental variations in the last century to say. But just throwing it out there...
my point is on average we're not following the same selection patterns as before. we select more frequently for non genetic items than genetic ones. we have a LOT more non genetic "fitness" measurements in play with the current selection process. like dancing ability, paycheck, etc...

that coupled with our ability to simply not care about genetic "unfitness" in our young (because we can fix darned near any medical defect, or at least find a way to maximize the survivability of peole with these defects)

i probably went a little over the edge with the "not ever", but the point still stands, we don't do "natural selection" the same way anymore.
Yes, it was a rather binary statement ;-). Oh, I don't think your POV is wrong, I just have a different perspective.

Kiteman: maybe other species, still closely linked with natural selection, will continue to evolve until they supplant us.

From what point would we be supplanted? Are we somehow important? Do we serve a vital function in the earth's systems? Or just supplanted in our currently (destructive) niche?

Sure, we're important to ourselves. But have complex or intelligent life forms supplanted simple, "stupid" ones? Is bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, etc., an indication of survivability on an evolutionary time scale? The pyramid isn't inverted--complexity and intelligence makeup a small peak, not the bulk of life.

There's another point of view--we have no idea what might constitute fitness in any future environment. A colony of people with Downs Syndrome might have the right stuff in certain circumstances. As might humans with a much shorter life span. Just rank speculation, of course.

Of one thing I'm sure--and I'm certain Kiteman and Steve Jones would agree--a social metric of "fitness," is decidedly skewed. That cuts both ways. Either Our current process of adaptation to an "artificial" world (which the posting is all about), or any alternative "intelligent" directed process, often termed eugenics.

And I know no one here is advocating the latter...although there seems to be a little bit of "how will we solve this problem..."

As the first point, I think that's what you're saying--there's an artificial component to our world system. Given. But I believe it's over-stated.

A family of uneducated immigrants that have nine children are more "fit" to pass along their genetic information, than are a couple of PhDs with one child. From any perspective--from a natural or a modern "artificial" eco-environment.

Any disciple of Stephen J. Gould would say that humankind was selected for extinction long ago--we are an isolated branch on the evolutionary tree, and only the serendipitous "interference loop" of intelligence has enabled our survival. Or rather, has it guaranteed our extinction? ;-)

Anything (especially eugenics) that culls the gene pool puts species survival at more risk, not less. The perception that we must be more "able" (physically stronger, smarter, etc.) is so VERY subjective. More genetic diversity trumps less any day. Not to mention the excessive pressures we place on finite resources.

Kiteman's chosen illustration, while funny, is very un-Gould. :-)

I wonder, actually, how skewed our view is in "developed" countries as to our collective "flawed" genetic character. There are still many people living subsistence lives, with no access to meaningful health care. Maybe far more than 20,000 years ago. The base gene pool could be just fine, if somewhat superficially unlike "us." Maybe we are at risk--of being "supplanted" by ourselves.
Kiteman (author)  gmoon4 years ago
"Supplant" came from the original article.

Personally, it is my opinion that some form of problem-solving intelligence is reasonably inevitable, given enough time, and given the advantage it confers. For evidence, simply observe the number of highly variant species in which such intelligence has been observed.

I don't think that another species will "out evolve" humans, I think that humans will eventually become extinct, or at least reduced to a minimal population (for any of a long list of possible reasons), and at that time, another species (possibly one which does not yet exist) will reach a level of intelligence, and degree of deliberate influence upon the planet, that could be argued to be equivalent to ours.

Caveat: I can think of one scenario involving direct replacement of humanity, that of being overcome by an artificial life-form of our own creation, be it a digital intelligence (Terminator etc) or a bio-engineered lifeform (Planet of the Apes etc). However, I think it's more likely that any engineered lifeform that does away with humanity will be a microscopic, not macroscopic.
gmoon Kiteman4 years ago
Starting from no life at all, intelligence as a trait would have to evolve in a positive way, at least to a point.

It's really fun to speculate about such things.

I've been plowing through the novels of Ken Macleod (The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division, The Sky Road) in which the nanotech scenario plays prominently. The "fast folk" are a collective of nanobots, originally the hosts of human consciousness which rapidly evolved beyond their original scope.

Designed as space workforce, they lived their "leisure" hours in VR, and because their time-frame was approx 100X that of humans, they evolved on that scale. Eventually the "fast folk" turned inward, eschewing "our" universe--for a while, anyway ;-)...

One of the cool things about Macleod is his spot-on speculations about human politics, and their evolution. It's astounding (and a little scary) how libertarianism / anarchy figures in his writing, considering when the first book was written, and the rise of libertarians in the US currently...

(Note: Macleod is neither a fan or a detractor of libertarians, he treats communists, socialists, trotskyites, fascists, anarchists, fundamentalists, etc. in a like manner.)
i tend to put binary statements out because they're easier. i also assume nothing stated as binary on the internet actually is.
They certainly work well in politics. And it's wise to assume they're flawed...
I suppose you didn't scroll down and see the discussion with Kiteman where i clarified and expanded my reasons for saying what i said.

Evolution is an inevitable process. it doesn't end as long as people are having children.

Unless you're suggesting that Selection Bias sets humanity apart from every other creature in existence. If that's the case, you might want to read up on bird evolution, which is heavily influenced by selection bias, and birds have existed on earth much longer then humans. If anything, artificial selection actually leads to a more fit species because people use intelligence to select for traits that are conducive to survival.

Intelligence and the use of intelligence to adapt to certain factors is not unnatural. That's what humans have been naturally selected to do for millenia, and what we will probably continue to do.
i did read your conversation with the man of kites, yet i didn't see anything that looked like evidence to back up your statement that the author of this article "isn't a credible scientist, at least as a biologist". i don't see where you're pointing to evidence that would call into question his credentials as a biologist. i mean, do you have any studies of his that were discredited? or anything scientific to show that the guy isn't credible? or do you just not agree with his opinions in this one piece? there's a huge difference between the two things.

i've not argued that we're not still able to move towards increased "fitness". we're just not doing it the way that evolution has done it for millions of years. or at least not exactly the way it's been done.

we don't do gene based selection bias anymore. it's actively discouraged. we're told not to judge a book by it's cover. so instead we go by social metrics more often than genetic markers of success. we look for financial providers more frequently than strong mates.

does this process lead to "more fit" children? depends? what's your fitness metric. if it's genetic fitness, usually this process doesn't lead to better genetic fitness (think of all the years of royal/higher caste inbreading done in europe). it can lead to higher survival rates because the parents can afford to keep less healthy children alive longer. but increased survival rates does not equal higher fitness.

we're artificially increasing survival rates, not fitness.

so again, adapting through software (i.e. being smart enough to handle all situations) and adapting through hardware (growing a really long neck to eat leaves from the tops of trees) are not the same thing.

I did rescind my harsh critique of the author in my discussion with kiteman, but the idea that human evolution is divorced from "natural" evolution is false.

We still have to have the hardware to run the right software, which means we're still bound by the same evolutionary laws as everything else.

New "software" developes all the time.
The ability to read wasn't necessary to a person's survival even 100 years ago. There are still people here in the US that can not read, or who aren't very good at it. If you don't think the ability to read impacts an individual's ability to do well in modern society, then we'll simply have to agree to disagree.
Overtime, the ability to read will probably improve. For now, the hardware has to "catch up", which will involve and evolutionary process.
well that example is exactly where my point is going. there's nothing different between the brains of a person that can read and a person that can't read (assuming they're just illiterate because of education and not defect), physical adaptation doesn't make some people able to read and some people not able to read. we've all (more or less) got the same (more or less) capacity for reading. so, you're still talking about base adaptation, which is not the same as natural selection and genetic evolution.

and that's actually the full point, we as humans are so good at adapting without having to change US to do it, that we don't actually have to genetically evolve new traits to adapt to new environments. we just learn something new. and that's not how natural selection and full force evolution has worked for millions of years.
Ok... and i might not be putting my point across very well, but every adaptation, even one based on intellect, can lead to a change in the genotype, if it occurs repeatedly over time.

This change isn't necessarily perceivable, and i think that's part of the issue with the article. It seems to imply that evolution should be a process that is easily observable, and the time spans involved makes that not necessarily true.

People who are severely dislexic have verifiable differences in their brain compared to people who are not. This has been proven through post mortem dissection.
Dislexia can be overcome through sustained effort on the part of the dislexic individual, but it's something is a bit of a struggle.

Our understanding of developmental biology and the interplay between genetic information and environment is something that's only just becoming understood. We still don't know how the feedback loop between genes and environment works, so to declare that we're divorced from the natural evolutionary process which encorporates that adaptation process into it, is jumping a fact value gap that's very significant at the very least.

Back to the dislexia example. There are verifiable differences in the brain of a dislexic person, but, we don't know if exerting the effort to overcome the dislexia has an effect on the brain or the genes of the individual.

If we don't understand the interplay of environment on genes, we can't declare our selves divorced from the process.
Kiteman (author)  Qcks4 years ago
On what grounds do make that accusation?
Qcks Kiteman4 years ago
When did humanity become sterile?
People are still having kids. Generations are still occuring.
All this professor has done is highlight some of the negative aspects of intelligent adaptation, but even that does not halt Evolution.

We have more ability to use our intelligence to navigate around obstacles, but, considering that intelligence evolved in humans, successfully using it to survive random factors is as natural as the gazelle out runnning the lion. Human intelligence isn't unnatural, it is however, systematic. The more a species uses intelligence to adapt, the more they'll need intelligence to evolve.

Evolution is occuring; It's simply occuring on a scale that Mister Jones can't wrap his head around. We're not talking about one person's life time. We're talking about change over potentially thousands of generations.

People can barely track their geneology back 10 generations, let alone 100, and all the geneological records i'm aware of don't include an extensive list of phenotype (beyond eye and hair color, and ethnicity).

It's something that is outside of the relative understanding of most people, and by relative understanding, i mean humans understand things in terms that are relative to them as individuals. No one outlives their greatgreatgreatgreat grandchildren.

Adaptation isn't the same as evolution, though they certainly do effect one another. The proffessor makes some points concerning negative aspects of what regulates our selection process, but his overall conclusion is wrong. We're still evolving. we will always be evolving. Everytime a person has a child, that generation contributes to our evolution.
Kiteman (author)  Qcks4 years ago
Nowhere does he say that humans are, or becoming, sterile in a reproductive sense. You're reading his words through the obscuration of an article about an article about a paper deliberately intended to cause discussion.

As you know, evolution happens as a response to ongoing pressures - a change in climate or food supply, or a preference amongst females for a certain body image.

The gist of his article is that humans may have inadvertantly isolated themselves from the normal processes of evolution - the adaptive pressures on our species are changing too quickly for evolution to keep pace (or even notice - it's only a generation since the "ideal" body image was androgeny, before that it was stick-thin, before that it was hourglass, before that it was Rubenesque). We live in habitats for which we did not evolve, which are changing far more quickly than any other habitat in Earth's history.

Our own brains may be our undoing - when I was a child, I was the only asthmatic in a school of 400. Today, every class I teach has between 3 and 8 asthmatics. Genetic defects which, in any other species, would be quickly selected against are artificially preserved within the gene pool. We are the first species in history to actively maintain "defective" genes long enough to be passed on to offspring, and even to deliberately intervene at conception to ensure those genes survive.

Putting my pessimistic head on, it is easily conceivable that the genetic issues we are creating for ourselves will build up to the point where we are no longer capable of reproduction without massive technological intervention, which (IMO) would be the point at which any sane sentient would label our species "past it".

Look back at other mammalian species - they typically last around 2 million years. Depending on how you define "human", we are already there, or passed it by half as much again.

I don't, though, necessarily subscribe to the inevitability of our status as "top sentient" being usurped by another species. Intelligence is not an inevitable outcome of evolution. Although it seems common, since potential candidates for top sentient have been identified amongst mammals, birds and molluscs, it is not a given that there will always be intelligent life on Earth. It managed perfectly well without for the previous 3+ billion years, and would manage another couple of billion without again.
Qcks Kiteman4 years ago
If it was meant as a way of encouraging discussion, I'll forgive the technical inaccuracy of the piece.

That said, I did use this qualifier: "The more we rely on intelligence to adapt, the more we'll need intelligence to evolve.".
I didn't mean as a way of facilitating artificial reproduction.

The more we understand genetics, the more we understand that there is an interplay between genes and environment.

Asthma is a great example of that: we know that children raised in extremely clean environments, who don't have the same exposure to bacterial pathogens, have an increased instance of asthma.

In that light, Asthma isn't necessarily the result of a genetic defect. It's the consequence of an environmental factor at a specific time during the developement of the child, and it's something that can be modified in a subsequent generation without genetic tampering.

Acquiring that knowledge and developing a working understanding of it is what i mean by "We need intelligence to continue to evolve.". Eventually, the interplay between harmful alleles and the environment may be completely understood.
monsterlego4 years ago
The real question is, did our evolution ever start? no one knows.
Kiteman (author)  iproberry14 years ago
Er, yes we do know.

Our evolution started roughly 3,500,000,000 years ago, when complex life arose and led, through the process of evolution by natural selection, to the complex interconnected Life we see on Earth today, which, of course, includes humans.
Kiteman (author)  iproberry14 years ago
Why "er"?
what does that mean?
Qcks iproberry14 years ago
It means human evolution is a foundational principle to biology, which you can deny all you want, but it doesn't change or denigrate the facts that no other process can be used to predict or produce similar results.
Goodhart Qcks4 years ago
I have even heard fundamentalists deny that.....when one ignores all evidences to substantiate a belief, one has lost touch with reality, sadly.
You can say that, (I'm not denying it or anything)
Jaycub4 years ago
Natural evolution never sent our population soaring as high as our recent technological advancements. I think that if natural selection stops in advanced cultures it would be because our power has allowed us to eliminate our weaknesses.

If that NAZI doctor's theory about genetic issues building up happens, then the weak will die first and the stronger ones will live. Natural selection will step back in if it is needed.
Jaycub Jaycub4 years ago
Some people are very unhappy with the way I wrote that comment so I will rephrase it to make my meaning more clear.

The question is "Is evolution over?" and my response is: "If it is it's because we don't need it anymore, and it will come back if we do."
Kiteman (author)  Jaycub4 years ago
I call "Godwin", and also request that you delete your libellous comment: Professor Jones is a respected supporter of the British Humanist Association.
Jaycub Kiteman4 years ago
If you really want my comment removed feel free to click flag. Mabey instead you can leave it to highlight that this idea enters the minds of some people who read this, and explain why you think it is wrong.

I was not suggesting that he is actually a nazi or that he is an evil person. I was just being sure to include in my response to this topic that it seems to me that this idea that if we don't do something about it our wonderful genome will be lost leads potentially to what we saw in Germany so many years ago.

How is being a "respected supporter of the British Humanist Association" related to this?