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Author Topic:   Humans are losing.
Douglass
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 58 (308302)
05-01-2006 7:01 PM


We're losing our arms race with our only predator. By misusing antibiotics, diseases are evolving and becoming immune. Basically, diseases are evolving and we're not. We need to be careful. Here is a link regarding diseases, antibiotics and evolution. It's cool if you have faith in creationism, but the fact of Evolution and the idea that we're "not playing" (because our environment is too clean) could be the end of our species. I apologize for being dramatic.
Replies to this message:
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AdminNWR
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 58 (308308)
05-01-2006 7:17 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
Wepwawet
Member (Idle past 4184 days)
Posts: 85
From: Texas
Joined: 04-05-2006


Message 3 of 58 (308316)
05-01-2006 8:06 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Douglass
05-01-2006 7:01 PM


quote:
We're losing our arms race with our only predator. By misusing antibiotics, diseases are evolving and becoming immune.

Humans managed to make it through all but the last 66 years without antibiotics. Are we making stronger disease-bugs..yeah, but stronger against antibiotics, not necessarily stronger against us. We might someday look back on the final half of the 20th century as the golden age of medicine, when we had amazing drugs that could cure almost anything; then again we may look back on it with the same loathing that we use when considering bleeding and blistering.

Simply understanding the cause of infection is probably of more importance than having antibiotics which fight them. We know how to avoid infection, not just fight them when we get them.

quote:
Basically, diseases are evolving and we're not.

You wouldn't care to support that with some evidence would you? Besides, it's well known that organisms evolve faster in a hostile environment and you gotta admit that antibiotics make for a really hostile environment.
quote:
It's cool if you have faith in creationism, but the fact of Evolution and the idea that we're "not playing" (because our environment is too clean) could be the end of our species.

So good hygiene is bad for us because it stops evolution? So tell me, are bacteria the only things that cause environmental pressure? What about viruses? We still haven't figured those nasty little buggers out and they mutate just as fast...why haven't they killed us while we've been standing on the highway o' evolution staring at the oncoming headlights like Kirstie Allie eyeing a slice of cheesecake?

quote:
I apologize for being dramatic.

I have more tolerance for drama when it comes with supporting facts.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Douglass, posted 05-01-2006 7:01 PM Douglass has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 58 (308327)
05-01-2006 9:20 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Douglass
05-01-2006 7:01 PM


Basically, diseases are evolving and we're not.

What makes you think that's the case? In some studies, immunological histocompatibility turns out to be an enormous factor in human sexual attraction and mating.

We're still evolving, and our historical exposure to diseases like smallpox and bubonic plague give us resistance to new diseases, too. Plus, we have the advantage of actually being able to predict disease behavior. The best a disease can do is mutate randomly.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Douglass, posted 05-01-2006 7:01 PM Douglass has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by Darkmatic, posted 05-02-2006 9:47 PM crashfrog has responded

  
Darkmatic
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 58 (308617)
05-02-2006 9:47 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by crashfrog
05-01-2006 9:20 PM


The problem is , survival of the fittest isn't a factor anymore in humans today . We are basically looked after so much that even the weakest person with a quite bad immune system can still survive and pass on their genes , so basically natural selection has been done away with . Our only hope for the future is messing with our genetic makeup .
This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by crashfrog, posted 05-01-2006 9:20 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by macaroniandcheese, posted 05-02-2006 10:15 PM Darkmatic has not yet responded
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macaroniandcheese 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2003 days)
Posts: 4258
Joined: 05-24-2004


Message 6 of 58 (308630)
05-02-2006 10:15 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Darkmatic
05-02-2006 9:47 PM


geeky boys with glasses and inhalers still don't get laid.

sexual selection is alive and well.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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macaroniandcheese 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2003 days)
Posts: 4258
Joined: 05-24-2004


Message 7 of 58 (308631)
05-02-2006 10:17 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Wepwawet
05-01-2006 8:06 PM


it's not that good hygiene is bad for us, it's that all these lysol etc are bad for us. i ate dirt as a kid and now the only thing i get sick from is sinus infections and maybe a cold once every couple years. kids raised in immaculate houses haven't built their own immune systems up. but these are not likely to result in germ cell changes, only somatic. but it could still kill a great number of us.
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 57 by DrFrost, posted 05-09-2006 4:59 PM macaroniandcheese has responded

  
EZscience
Member (Idle past 3229 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 8 of 58 (308642)
05-02-2006 10:43 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Wepwawet
05-01-2006 8:06 PM


I largely agree with Brennakimi. Sexual selection is probably a lot more important than natural selection for the continued progression of the human gene pool at this point.

There is a lot of truth in your post that I think is well stated, but there is also an element of truth in what the OP stated. We are severely suppressing selection on the human gene pool by enhancing everyone's reproductive success. That much is obvious on many levels. However, simpler organisms such as bacteria and viruses will always be able to evolve faster than us, necessitating 'management strategies' on our part.

Also, re: the OP, the increase in allergy syndromes only emerged in the 1970's and 80's after we started to try and raise our children in completely sterile environments. I can dig up some info if you're interested...

This message has been edited by EZscience, 05-02-2006 09:47 PM


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SuperNintendo Chalmers
Member (Idle past 3909 days)
Posts: 772
From: Bartlett, IL, USA
Joined: 12-27-2005


Message 9 of 58 (308648)
05-02-2006 10:50 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by macaroniandcheese
05-02-2006 10:15 PM


not exactly
geeky boys with glasses and inhalers still don't get laid.

sexual selection is alive and well.

Plenty of them get laid once they get engineering degrees and start making money. Heck, I've worked with some of them... It just takes them longer.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by macaroniandcheese, posted 05-02-2006 10:15 PM macaroniandcheese has responded

Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 58 (308666)
05-03-2006 12:35 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Darkmatic
05-02-2006 9:47 PM


The problem is , survival of the fittest isn't a factor anymore in humans today .

If you can read this, no, "survival of the fittest" probably isn't an issue where you live. Where you live, where you get enough to eat and you have shelter from the elements and reliably clean water and medical attention on demand, yeah, you'd probably expect to see all manner of unfit people walking around and, like, survivng everywhere.

Is it really so hard for you to concieve of the fact that the life I just described above does not represent reality for the majority of human beings? The top 5 killers of human beings aren't cancer and AIDS; at least three of them are conditions that you could simply treat by feeding people enough to eat and letting them drink clean water. I'm sorry if I sound crass, but literally every time a thread about human evolution is opened, within the first 10 posts someone feels the need to make the claim that you just made - that human evolution is at a standstill because we've put an end to "survival of the fittest." But simply turn on the news and see the situation in Darfur and you'll quickly learn how unsupportable an idea that is.

I mean, seriously. Whatever gave you the idea that humans had suddenly advanced beyond the reach of death and disease? Sure, you and I living in America can be treated for a wide variety of formerly-fatal conditions, but there are still genetic diseases that will knock you out long before you've had a chance to pass that gene onto your children. Even in America.

so basically natural selection has been done away with .

I wish I lived in your fantasy world. I truly do. But even if we did - it's called "sexual selection." It's a fact that human beings don't mate at random, but under the influence of instinctual reactions that help us recognize mates with good genes. Even if fatal selection weren't an issue, human beings would still not mate at random and thus, sexual selection would still constitute an evolutionary force on our genes.

I have to know - who told you that natural selection wasn't operating on humans? Seriously?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Darkmatic, posted 05-02-2006 9:47 PM Darkmatic has not yet responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 58 (308667)
05-03-2006 12:43 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by EZscience
05-02-2006 10:43 PM


We are severely suppressing selection on the human gene pool by enhancing everyone's reproductive success.

Um, Western countries have the lowest birth rates in the world. In what sense is our reproductive success being "enhanced?"

Look, turn on the news and it's easy to see what the selective forces on human evolution are right now:

1) Not being born in a Western country.
2) Anything that helps you survive malnutrition, disease, and drought in a hot climate.

If you want to address human evolution, you have to start with the reality of what fitness means in an evolutionary context and apply the same rules to humanity as you would to any other population - not the loaded Anglocentric concepts that arbitrarily favor Western civilizations as being objectively "better". Hey, I love living in the West. It's great to have enough to eat and clean water and a hospital across the street.

But my wife is on birth control, and I'm nearly 30 years old with no children. If there's any selection going on, it's selecting against people like me. From an evolutionary perspective, we're failures, likely doomed to extinction. Certainly not the pinnacle of human evolution.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by EZscience, posted 05-02-2006 10:43 PM EZscience has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by EZscience, posted 05-03-2006 11:08 AM crashfrog has responded

  
macaroniandcheese 
Suspended Member (Idle past 2003 days)
Posts: 4258
Joined: 05-24-2004


Message 12 of 58 (308713)
05-03-2006 8:20 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by SuperNintendo Chalmers
05-02-2006 10:50 PM


Re: not exactly
yeah, i know. just being silly mostly.

but. we are still very selective about those we mate with. we just have new criteria now. for instance, obesity is killing America off, and it just so happens that we're (as a society) attracted to really skinny people. coincidence? i think not.


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EZscience
Member (Idle past 3229 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 13 of 58 (308736)
05-03-2006 11:08 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by crashfrog
05-03-2006 12:43 AM


Crash writes:

In what sense is our reproductive success being "enhanced?"

I was thinking more along the lines of medical interventions that enhance survival of premature babies and other individuals bearing faulty genetics that otherwise would not live to reproductive age.

Crash writes:

it's easy to see what the selective forces on human evolution are right now

These are true for developing countries, but are these really going to be the genetic lineages that come to represent the future of the human race? We'll have to wait and see.

Crash writes:

...my wife is on birth control, and I'm nearly 30 years old with no children. If there's any selection going on, it's selecting against people like me. From an evolutionary perspective, we're failures, likely doomed to extinction. Certainly not the pinnacle of human evolution.

I would say you have plenty of time left to achieve biological fitness. I think your judgement is a little premature. My first daughter wasn't born until I was 40. What if it turns out that having fewer children later in life actually increases their 'fitness' in terms of success in human society?

Crash writes:

...you have to start with the reality of what fitness means in an evolutionary context

Definitely. I just think that fitness is relative and for humans it is coming to be defined differently than for other organisms. It is not simply the number of offspring you produce that matters so much as their quality - determined by their success in society. I have to question your assumption that evolution is progressing faster among the dis-advantaged simply because they are having more kids. Who is more likely to be taken out by the next Ebola outbreak or bird flu epidemic? My two daughters in Canada, or the 14 kids of Emilio Sanchez in Nicaragua? We don't need to produce as many shildren in the developed world to have greater fitness than those people because our juvenile mortality rates are much lower.

This message has been edited by EZscience, 05-03-2006 10:10 AM


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by crashfrog, posted 05-03-2006 11:40 AM EZscience has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 58 (308749)
05-03-2006 11:40 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by EZscience
05-03-2006 11:08 AM


I was thinking more along the lines of medical interventions that enhance survival of premature babies and other individuals bearing faulty genetics that otherwise would not live to reproductive age.

I don't know anything about obstetrics. Is premature birth a genetically-influenced condition? Or does it tend to occur at random?

Like I said before there's still plenty of genetic conditions that will kill you long before you'd have been able to have children. In fact there aren't all that many we've actually conquered.

These are true for developing countries, but are these really going to be the genetic lineages that come to represent the future of the human race?

Well, they outnumber us rich Westerners by about a hundred to 1. What do you think? Let me turn the question on you - with Western birth rates declining precipitously, what makes you think that it's our genetics that will represent the future of the human race? I mean, what would be the odds of that?

What if it turns out that having fewer children later in life actually increases their 'fitness' in terms of success in human society?

But that's not how fitness is defined. See, I think that's where your error lies. "Fitness" is a measure of how an individuals genes come to dominate a population. If you have only one child, you are substantially less fit than the couple down the street with many, many children.

I just think that fitness is relative and for humans it is coming to be defined differently than for other organisms.

This is species centrism at its worst. Why do you think the rules of evolution are different for us, just because we know how they work?

Fitness is fitness, if we're talking about evolution. It's not a measure of your wealth, or your place in life; it's a measure of how your genes come to either dominate the population or are removed from it. It doesn't matter how - the woman who opts never to bear children by taking birth control is just as unfit as the child who died of a genetic disorder before puberty.

Who is more likely to be taken out by the next Ebola outbreak or bird flu epidemic? My two daughters in Canada, or the 14 kids of Emilio Sanchez in Nicaragua?

Honestly? Pandemic flu killed millions in the 20's. Living in Canada or whereever else you think is rich enough isn't going to be enough. Among children, a reasonable estimate is 50% mortality. So you'll have 1 kid left, maybe none; Emilio will have around 6-7.

We don't need to produce as many shildren in the developed world to have greater fitness than those people because our juvenile mortality rates are much lower.

But the higher juvenile mortality of the developing world isn't enough to offset the difference. Their populations are growing markedly; ours are in decline. That suggests a very obvious evolutionary trend, albiet one that's rather uncomfortable to people like you and I. But the only alternative is pretending like evolution works differently for humans, and then scratching our heads in puzzlement when it turns out we were wrong about that.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by EZscience, posted 05-03-2006 11:08 AM EZscience has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by EZscience, posted 05-03-2006 1:27 PM crashfrog has responded

  
EZscience
Member (Idle past 3229 days)
Posts: 961
From: A wheatfield in Kansas
Joined: 04-14-2005


Message 15 of 58 (308784)
05-03-2006 1:27 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by crashfrog
05-03-2006 11:40 AM


Crash writes:

Is premature birth a genetically-influenced condition?

By enhancing the survival of premature babies, we are necessarily improving the survival of any genes that are associated with premature birth. You know enough about evolution to see that. We are essentailly preventing natural selection from acting against premature birth as it would otherwise.

Crash writes:

what makes you think that it's our genetics that will represent the future of the human race?

I didn't say that, though. I left it an open question.
I am just not as confident as you that simple *numbers* of offspring are going to translate directly into the best genetic representation across multiple generations ofr all human beings, regardless of their situation. As they destroy their ecosystems locally in some of these countries they may all end up killing each other in wars over the last remaining resources. However, some may succeed in emigrating before that occurs...

Crash writes:

"Fitness" is a measure of how an individuals genes come to dominate a population. If you have only one child, you are substantially less fit than the couple down the street with many, many children.

Yes, I know how fitness is conventionally defined sensu Sewall Wright. But reproductive success has a qualitative component (fertility) as well as a quantitative component (fecundity). Both are important. An extreme example is an insect diet that allows females to lay lots of eggs, but they don't hatch. Another diet that has less protein (but better amino acid complementation) might permit fewer eggs to be produced, but with higher fertility (hatching rates). Those individuals laying fewer eggs end up with the higher fitness in this scenario. There are lot of other ways this sort of thing can occur.

An example in humans is Kwashiorkor syndrome. Protein deficiency is exacerbated in the second child when the women gets pregnanat again too quickly, leading to substantially reduced survival and fitness of the second born.

The point I am getting at is that in humans, I think we are seeing a lot of different factors start to influence fertility, and some of these may be outside the tradional biological ones we are used to considering for animals. Social status and (as you point out) country of residence may be important factors determining who among use leaves any descendants at all in a few generations as the biosphere becomes severely depleted. I don't like the odds for those in developing countries.

Crash writes:

Fitness is fitness, if we're talking about evolution. It's not a measure of your wealth, or your place in life...

Are you saying that wealth or social status cannot, or will never, influence human fitness? I suggest it already is influencing it. Out of all the soldiers dying in Iraq, how many are grunts versus highly-educated officers? How many rich Republicans like old dubya have avoided the draft entirely or been posted to safe places because of their family connections? These types of effects could prove more important in the future as the human race gets more desperate for diminishing resources. If there was a third world war, don't you think those with the best weapons would end up with all the fitness, even if they had far fewer children?

Crash writes:

Among children, a reasonable estimate is 50% mortality. So you'll have 1 kid left, maybe none; Emilio will have around 6-7.

I don't think you can generallize that easily, but you're missing the point. If there is a vaccine available, whose kids do you think are going to get it?

Crash writes:

Their populations are growing markedly; ours are in decline.

Yes, that much is true, although I would say ours are stabilizing, not declining. What is in question is whether their high population growth will increase or reduce the fitness of their future generations. Our lower rate of population growth could easily translate long term into better regional stabilization of our society (with continued survival of the genetics it contains). In contrast, their ecology and economies could collapse from the burden of overpopulation and their populations plummet from pestilience, disease and starvation (just as in Africa right now).

Always a pleasure to hear from you Crash :)

This message has been edited by EZscience, 05-03-2006 12:31 PM


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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