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Thread: Is natural selection being overtaken by unnatural selection?

  1. #1 Is natural selection being overtaken by unnatural selection? 
    ox
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    Big gender imbalance in some countries. China will soon have more than 24 million surplus males and globally this figure will be 160 million. All down to a preference for males. The causes are unclear. Even before scans revealed the gender of the unborn, baby girls were being murdered in places like China and India, often by the horrific practice of throwing them down a well. The West also has seen increased female infanticide.
    It could lead to wars. Both sexes lose out with single men being marginalised and women being over protected.
    Psychologically it can even lead to misogyny.
    Or is this the best and only real way to curb population growth?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    ox:

    as/re
    often by the horrific practice of throwing them down a well
    are you sure about this?


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  4. #3  
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    I think I read about this in Colin Thubron's book 'Behind The Wall', a journey he took in China. Some local people were even willing to show him how they remembered it was done.

    Another point I could raise is why do some women have a preference for significantly older men, and vice versa? This makes no sense from the point of view of natural selection.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Or is this the best and only real way to curb population growth?
    The best and only real way to curb population growth is to increase education, health and wealth (and therefore good governance) in developing countries.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    strange:
    alternately

    the most effective previous curbs on population have been solar minima(and associated crop failures), plague and war, glaciation and volcanism.

    ................
    Some days, strange, you seem an idealist

    ...............................................
    ox
    While i don't doubt the abortion or murder of baby girls, I seriously doubt the well thing. Though famed in song and story, it would polute the drinking water.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Big gender imbalance in some countries. China will soon have more than 24 million surplus males and globally this figure will be 160 million. All down to a preference for males. The causes are unclear. Even before scans revealed the gender of the unborn, baby girls were being murdered in places like China and India, often by the horrific practice of throwing them down a well. The West also has seen increased female infanticide.It could lead to wars. Both sexes lose out with single men being marginalised and women being over protected.Psychologically it can even lead to misogyny. Or is this the best and only real way to curb population growth?
    Not really a war issue. I've been to China twice in different regions and it is a lot safer than walking down a street in the USA. There is less violence than in the USA where the imbalance on the street is the other way with more than 2 million males in prison. Females outnumber males by a large margin in the most violent prone neighbourhoods. Males are not violent because of male/female ratios.
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    Social trends like gender bias towards male offspring and overprotective measures like mandatory seat-belts and helmets would prompt an easy yes but mother nature if far more patient, ruthless, and cunning then we give her credit for.

    Seriously though, my very limited knowledge of the theory of evolution leads me to wonder if what you describe can even be construed as a phenotype. If so, would it be favored by its genotype or is it strictly a socially influenced trait? Either way, I doubt that this could be considered "unnatural selection" since it seems very unlikely that something like that would have a significant or lasting influence on the human genome. I would be very interested in hearing the opinion of someone with an in dept knowledge of natural selection on this matter.

    I have no idea where a trend like that could lead other than an extremely competitive mating environment. I can only hope that dominance and aggressiveness, in all their forms, will decline as female's leading sexual attraction factors. Before I get lynched, let me emphasize the difference between sexual attraction and mate selection.

    Like Strange, I also favor the increase of education, health and wealth. Unfortunately, as Sculptor mentioned, it seems sadly obvious that diseases and wars are the most efficient ways to curb population growth.
    Last edited by Lazy Jester; November 12th, 2013 at 02:06 PM. Reason: Clarity
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Wars, in global terms, are ineffectual as population controls. It would also be interesting to see how common post-war baby booms are.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    strange:
    alternately

    the most effective previous curbs on population have been solar minima(and associated crop failures), plague and war, glaciation and volcanism.

    ................
    Some days, strange, you seem an idealist
    Those things have never had a significant (long term) effect on human population. In fact, birth rates tend to increase after major wars and plagues.

    I am not an idealist. Just reporting the facts.
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    What's wrong with idealism? I would find a violent purge against pessimists ideal, and then the rest of us can get on with accomplishing some additional solutions.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
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    Forum Freshman Lazy Jester's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Wars, in global terms, are ineffectual as population controls. It would also be interesting to see how common post-war baby booms are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    strange:
    alternately

    the most effective previous curbs on population have been solar minima(and associated crop failures), plague and war, glaciation and volcanism.

    ................
    Some days, strange, you seem an idealist
    Those things have never had a significant (long term) effect on human population. In fact, birth rates tend to increase after major wars and plagues.

    I am not an idealist. Just reporting the facts.
    Fair points but conflicts are rarely global despite their names. Considering the very few "global anything" effects on global demographic, I would be hard pressed to advance any type of global population control as anything else than an educated guess. The incidental curbing of demographic growth by diseases and wars, while arguably limited in scope, is still a substantial and quantifiable fact. Post-war baby boom seem to be the norm but their magnitude and the speed at which they reinstate demographic balance seem to vary depending on numerous factors outside of the conflict itself.

    Europe took a very conservative 100+ years to recover from the Black Death and the full demographic recovery of the 1918 flu pandemic is still debated. I think that most would agree that the decimation of 3 to 5 percent of the world's population would require more than one generation to recover from even with optimized birth rates. Given sufficient time, nothing would seem to have a significant and long lasting effect on human population growth.

    Societies with higher education, health and wealth do display low fertility rates but their existence is too often obliterated by decadence or "barbarian" invasions. If we were to attain such a global society our doom would be limited to decadence. In that sense Strange, I would agree that your outlook is not idealistic.

    In my unscientific research on the Internet I also landed on a very interesting article that raised some very hard questions: http://slantchev.ucsd.edu/courses/ps143a/readings/Kugler et al - Demographic and Economic Consequences of Conflict.pdf
    I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
    Last edited by Lazy Jester; November 13th, 2013 at 01:16 AM. Reason: Clarity
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    Depends. Humans aren't subject to the same evolutionary pressures as other species. we in part control our own evolution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarnamluvu View Post
    Depends. Humans aren't subject to the same evolutionary pressures as other species. we in part control our own evolution.
    No species are subject to exactly the same evolutionary pressures. And though, there's little doubt that we are one side of the spectrum, it's also important to recognize that many species affect their own evolution by changing their biotic and abiotic environments.
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    In the broad spectrum, this appears to be natural selection at work to me. At what point does a natural process become an unnatural one? I don't see any point at which the idea of unnatural applies.
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  16. #15  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Any process mediated by human intervention is, by most definitions, artificial and therefore, by some definitions, is unnatural. The counter argument that humans are part of nature and therefore anything they do is natural is specious, because of the foregoing points.

    Anyway, such distinctions are themselves artificial and a consequence of the human propensity for classification. These are real differences on one classification system, and identities on other systems. No system is ultimately the best, it depends upon purpose. (And arguably all classification systems have a purpose.)
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    So, what special property is it, that humans have, which cause their intervention to be deemed unnatural (that no other animal has)?
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