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Thread: Human societies acting against "natural selection"

  1. #1 Human societies acting against "natural selection" 
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    Humans have evolved cognitively to a point where we can understand intellectually that a certain action will benefit a bigger society, even if it is detremental to the individual or smaller society. An individual within a certain population could therefore act against the principles of natural selection (by this I don't necessarily mean life or death but rather succesfull and less successfull) and put himself at a disadvantage for the sake of the larger community.

    Is this really so? Have we really come so far hat we'll disadvantage ourselves significantly for the sake of a larger society?


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    Evolution seems to have made several attempts to 'eradicte' man from the planet, having failed, evolution decided to give man 'intelligence' - a very clever strategy and, one I am sure will eventually succeed. After which evolution has creatures already waiting in the wings...

    (It must be the pills you know).


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    I think you make an interesting point Burger. The first thing that comes to my mind is the culture of suicide in some Asian countries, in which people who feel they failed society kill themselve to safe their honour. But in a way this could still be described as an egoïstic, not altruïstic deed: they want to safe their own honour (and that of their family), they don't do it for society.
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    -a buddy told me that society works against survival of the fitest, because we allow people with handicaps to survive and reproduce, is that true would u think or is my buddy dilusional?
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny
    -a buddy told me that society works against survival of the fitest, because we allow people with handicaps to survive and reproduce, is that true would u think or is my buddy dilusional?
    No, he is absolutely correct. Nobody has to 'fight' or struggle to survive in a wild environment, clinging to their crude tools and weapons hoping they'll live to see another sunrise.

    Or, at least, most don't.
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    -is that a good thing or bad thing?
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny
    -is that a good thing or bad thing?
    It's worse than you could possibly imagine.
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    -i can imagine quite abit :wink:
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny
    -a buddy told me that society works against survival of the fitest, because we allow people with handicaps to survive and reproduce, is that true would u think or is my buddy dilusional?
    Sort of true, sort of not. It is true because medical care and technology are far superior to how natural selection would weed out things like poor eyesight and so on.
    But it's also not true because evolution has no direction - there is selective pressure on us no matter what the state of society is. Maybe sexual selection has more prominence, maybe raw survival skills have less for example, but there's still selection pressure. There are still certain factors which enable people with certain traits to reproduce more than others regardless of whether or not those same reasons have equal prominence in the rest of the animal kingdom.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    There are still certain factors which enable people with certain traits to reproduce more than others regardless of whether or not those same reasons have equal prominence in the rest of the animal kingdom.
    -you mean the sweet talkers :wink:
    -i also read somewhere that people who are classified as "intelligent" are reproducing at lower rates compared to people who arent as "intelligent" could that be an example of us working against what is better for us?
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny
    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    There are still certain factors which enable people with certain traits to reproduce more than others regardless of whether or not those same reasons have equal prominence in the rest of the animal kingdom.
    -you mean the sweet talkers :wink:
    -i also read somewhere that people who are classified as "intelligent" are reproducing at lower rates compared to people who arent as "intelligent"
    That's because "intelligent" people don't like the thought of reproducing very much. Plus, the intelligent people tend to not bring children into the world in poor environments (or reproduce with someone they don't totally trust/are married to).

    Whereas, stupid people reproduce like rabbits.
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    interesting

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    Quote Originally Posted by johnny
    -a buddy told me that society works against survival of the fitest, because we allow people with handicaps to survive and reproduce, is that true would u think or is my buddy dilusional?
    Sort of true, sort of not. It is true because medical care and technology are far superior to how natural selection would weed out things like poor eyesight and so on.
    But it's also not true because evolution has no direction - there is selective pressure on us no matter what the state of society is. Maybe sexual selection has more prominence, maybe raw survival skills have less for example, but there's still selection pressure. There are still certain factors which enable people with certain traits to reproduce more than others regardless of whether or not those same reasons have equal prominence in the rest of the animal kingdom.
    Good posting.

    Evolution is not about direction or purpose.

    Natural selection is about survival of the fittest for a given situation. 'The fittest' is the survival and thus propagation of genetic material. Odds. Man has evolved as a social animal over millions of years. We pass on our genetic material as individuals and as members of a family or extended clan, larger group and so on. Our genetic blueprint survives not only through children but through our sister's children...great uncle's grandchildren and so on. This strategy of investing in group gene propagation has developed in all manner of social animals from man to termites to wolves to ants, etc.

    Megabrain: "Evolution seems to have made several attempts to 'eradicte' man from the planet, having failed, evolution decided to give man 'intelligence'.

    Not really. Nature can't fail because there is no goal or contest. Saying Nature 'failed' in an 'attempt' to erradicate man is like saying Nature failed in an attempt to make 2 +2 = 5.
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    The argument that there is always some type of selection pressure (even if it is not on a physical survive or die level) is true, but strangely enough this selection pressure seems to act against success in modern human societies!

    Success these days can almost exclusively be measured by your bank balance. This indicates your ability to be able to withstand difficult times and to always provide for yourself and those carrying your genes (fitness for humans today = money). As was mentioned earlier though, very successful people do not in reality have more children. In fact, when comparing the statistics from rich and poor countries there is a marked decrease in the amount of children born in richer, more successful counries. On a population level it therefore seems that selection is for some reason acting against succesful societies and favouring unsuccessful societies (poorer nations produce more copies of their genes!).

    In contrast to this however, it must be said that the decline in growth of rich nations only started very recently (maybe two or three generations) and that this is FAR too early to say that there will be any evolutionary effect because of it. As soon as a serious environmental pressure that leads to the mass extermination of unprepared societies occurs, the richer nation's success and ability to adapt might still prove their superior "fitness" in the long run.

    All of the above is slightly off topic however.
    My initial question was actually about the possibility of a voluntary decision to disadvantage yourself for the greater good. I had the political and social scenario of my counrty, South Africa, in mind. The white population in my country (including myself!) who makes up only about 15% of the total population used to suppress the rest. In effect, we were ensuring a much better chance of survival for ourselves to the detrement of the rest. This was voluntarily changed on a political level (the white population voted for the change to happen) about 15 years ago and we now live in a true democracy. The effect of the change is still taking place today and lots of white people are finding themselves much worse off than they would have been in the "old" South Africa. Even though the change is morally correct, it doesn't really make sense out of a strictly evolutionary viewpoint. An individual like myself was part of the voluntary decision to change the country, but as a result I am now less able to handle adverse conditions in the future. My mind can understand and agrees with the reason for the change, but lots of my fellow white South Africans can not. It seems that there is a strong correlation between how much an individual was personally affected by the change and how much he is still able to agree with the morals behind the change. Maybe our white society would not vote for the same change again if we knew what we know now (how big the negative effect would be) and then it would prove on a population level that our minds and ethics are not yet strong enough to override our basic instincts to act in our own best interest, even if it is to the detrement of others!

    Try to imagine a similar change in your own society and think how far you would be able to accept marally corect changes that will act negatively on your own personal well being.

    How evolved are we?
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    Okay so, the creamy filling of this twinkie is - Morality vs. Nature / Ethics vs. Instincts -

    Are human morals (which apparently seem to be the "only" morals identifialbe) a natural product of evolution? and if not, than why do they exist? or do they even exist at all? are morals even real? Icaramba! I need to start drinking before I visit these kinds of forums.

    "Dark" has no substance. It is not a force of energy it is an absence of force. Nonsubstance. "Dark" is a void, nothing more than the absence of "Light". Never-the-less, "Dark" does have an effect on it's enviornment. "Dark" can alter the behavior of almost all living things.

    "Heat" is a tangible energy that, to one extent or another, can be weighed and measured. Yet "Cold" is not an energy. Like "Dark", "Cold" is simply the absence of "Heat". But also like "Dark", "Cold" has a more than significant effect on whatever the enviornment. Particularly when life is involved.

    Both "Dark" and "Cold" may not technically exist. However practically speaking, "Dark" and "Cold" are things that are all too real.

    I think "Morality" fits into the same category. You can't see it, you can't touch it but it can have a tangible effect in the real world.

    So morals are real but are they a good idea? That depends. What is your idea of a "Good Idea". What do you want? Do you want to survive? If so, then perhaps the high road of principle is not the best road for you. Self Preservation. Key word being "SELF" Not the many but the few or, in some cases, the one. Forward Motion is the purpose of evolution. nothing more. An abstract ideaology is a 'production deficiency'. It gets in the way of things. It gets in the way of Forward Motion.

    If those Afrikaners knew what they know now, if they knew that the state of their well being would be jepordized as a result of there moral decision, would they have chose differently? I don't know. Perhaps they would have just said "To hell with the blacks." Or perhaps they would have strove harder to find a happy medium. As in both a democracy for all "AND" the continuation of a comfortable way of life. Again, I just don't know.

    Morality could be disease. An evolutionary virus not unlike one that could be found in your own home computer. Maybe like "Dark", "Morality" is the absence of "Instincts". Who can tell for sure. Such questions will spin a mans brain.

    I do know that determining the value of morality by way of the masses will get you little to nowhere. Moral decisions should always be seen by the individual for the individual. There is no point in comparing your code of conduct to that of the man standing next to you. Thats why religion doesn't work. Whether shared or not, you have to see your moral views as yours and yours alone.
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  17. #16 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&q 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    Humans have evolved cognitively to a point where we can understand intellectually that a certain action will benefit a bigger society, even if it is detremental to the individual or smaller society. An individual within a certain population could therefore act against the principles of natural selection (by this I don't necessarily mean life or death but rather succesfull and less successfull) and put himself at a disadvantage for the sake of the larger community.

    Is this really so? Have we really come so far hat we'll disadvantage ourselves significantly for the sake of a larger society?
    There is no evidence we have evolved "cognitively" in the almost 200,000 years we are believed to have existed as a species. What has happened is that we have built up a growing and improving cultural heritage which enables each generation to perhaps make some improvement and then pass it on to the next. There is apparently no physiological or biological evolution of any consequences going on that can account for anything.

    Also, you speak of certain responsible individuals working for the welfare of society. Here is some perspective on that subject: We evolved as hunting/gathering social group primates. In most such primate groups, there is an alpha male and his near-Alpha cohorts. To them, the whole group belongs to them, It is in their minds thier property. It consists of all the females, their young, all the Beta males and male juveniles. The Alpha males guard, run and protect this property of theirs with, if necessary, their very lives---not just for the short term but with genuine concern. It is instinctive. You, yourself, may be feeling this in the way you show concern with society and the direction it is going. They have an intense feeling for it which we might here now call patriotism or religious fervor.

    When societies are broken up and divided by a confusion of different religions, alpha males tend to more closely serve and protect their own families and they tend to do it at the cost of others if that is the only way.


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  18. #17 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    There is no evidence we have evolved "cognitively" in the almost 200,000 years we are believed to have existed as a species. What has happened is that we have built up a growing and improving cultural heritage which enables each generation to perhaps make some improvement and then pass it on to the next. There is apparently no physiological or biological evolution of any consequences going on that can account for anything.

    So you're of the opinion that humans (with our current level of intelligence) evolved in a great spurt of development which ended about 200 000 years ago and that we've been stagnant on an evolutionary level since then?




    When societies are broken up and divided by a confusion of different religions, alpha males tend to more closely serve and protect their own families and they tend to do it at the cost of others if that is the only way.

    I don't know if you read all my posts on this topic, but did you see the one where I explained that I'm a white South African who used to be part of the opressing elite who voluntarily chose to relinguish our power to our own detriment but for the better of our whole combined society? The rest of the society that we chose to incorporate is definitely not culturally similar to us and we thus acted contrarary to the point your making about people looking after their own at the cost of others in divided and diverse societies.

    Any comment?


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    Burger stated that ending the racial-discrimination laws by the whites was to their own disadvantage. There seems to be implied there a question as to why the elite did that.

    My view is this: there existed then and still exists "a World Community of Nations" which is a loose society based on our secular ideology of capitalism (with its implied doctrine of "better yourself economically in a way that also benefits others), "democracy," "rights," etc. This society is made up of an ideologically diverse world as a sort of super ideology capable of binding all in a way they can function together.

    To do that, "tolerance" and "equality" have to be major doctrines. South African elite were and are apart of this society and ultimately had to bend to the overal tolerance doctrine or be isolated from the rest of the world and suffer for that. Also, the blacks naturally gained support from the world race-tolerance policy and the elite could see it would have to bend are race friction would keep growing and ultimately lead to a brutal revolution.

    So, it was not "altruism" that caused the change but what actually causes all change---that is, the ability to see what is coming and therefore what is needed to deal with it.

    To me there is no such thing as "altruism." What does exist and is misunderstood traces in us to a similar willingness in most mammals in which the males are larger than the females. In them, alpha males are instinctively programmed to protect their group. Subdominant and beta males are instincitvely programmed to back them, to support them. This is the basis for all military units. The squad, for example, is the hunting/gathering group male hunting team. You also find it in sports with it chasing the leather-encased game-substitute, the ball.

    In other words, great acts of heroism is a trait in which males protect the group ("society") at their own risk because they consider it theirs! They "own" it---which is what we call "patriotism." It is natural to protect and keep in good shape whatever you "own" . . .

    Women are not left out. A mother will risk her life protecting the young.
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    I see a lot of foundering around in the dark here!

    A previous poster mentioned morality. This is easily dealt with. What is good (and morally correct) is that which most benefits your kin, and that which is evil is that which most harms your kin. You use this as a measure of how moral or immoral anything is. Quite simply, if you do not use this as a guide, then you will make decisions that disadvantage you chances of passing your genes on, and those who do behave in accordance with the rule (as animals do instinctively) will pass on their genes and so this behaviour will always continue.

    Now my other point: Civilisation is dysgenic
    This means that civilisation keeps alive people who would not have survived in the wild (as has been mentioned in an earlier post). This means that genetic defects and general weakness are spreading like wildfire.
    It is a very bad thing indeed for us all. The minimum action that could reverse this horror is that the fittest among us are given more incentive to have children and the others are discouraged. If the consequences were explained to people perhaps they could all agree to this with no more anger than they have over other government intervention like taking taxes from us. The ones that should not reproduce could be given money, pets, or kids to adopt. So it doesn't mean we have to be cruel.
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  21. #20 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    .

    I don't know if you read all my posts on this topic, but did you see the one where I explained that I'm a white South African who used to be part of the opressing elite who voluntarily chose to relinguish our power to our own detriment but for the better of our whole combined society? The rest of the society that we chose to incorporate is definitely not culturally similar to us and we thus acted contrarary to the point your making about people looking after their own at the cost of others in divided and diverse societies.

    Any comment?


    charles, http://humanpurpose.simplent.com
    [/quote]

    South Africa is in a total mess! It may seem lovely that there is no longer appatheid, but surely the violence and chaos there is not an improvement to the society!
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    Hi Backtoreality,

    How much do you know about SA?
    Do you have any credentials to say that our country is a mess?

    Anyway, whatever the situation on the ground might be is totally irrelevant as far as the topic we're discussing here is concerned. The fact is that we (white South Africans) voted for the changes to happen which put us in a much less advantaged position than before. This was a morally correct action which didn't benefit our kin, so your definition doesn't hold water in our case! This is an example of cognition overriding instinct.

    We might also have a society in which morals are further developed than in your personal case, because we (and me personally) don't only look after our own, we generally have the good of others at heart as well. We also have a very strong sense of human rights and your suggestions as far as restricting certain people from propagating would NEVER fly in a moral society like our (or any other decent society, I'm sure).
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    I did wonder if he was alluding to natural selection as being voting for someone of your own ethnicity!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    Hi Backtoreality,

    How much do you know about SA?
    Do you have any credentials to say that our country is a mess?

    Anyway, whatever the situation on the ground might be is totally irrelevant as far as the topic we're discussing here is concerned. The fact is that we (white South Africans) voted for the changes to happen which put us in a much less advantaged position than before. This was a morally correct action which didn't benefit our kin, so your definition doesn't hold water in our case! This is an example of cognition overriding instinct.

    We might also have a society in which morals are further developed than in your personal case, because we (and me personally) don't only look after our own, we generally have the good of others at heart as well. We also have a very strong sense of human rights and your suggestions as far as restricting certain people from propagating would NEVER fly in a moral society like our (or any other decent society, I'm sure).
    There are regular news stories from South Africa here in Britain. They are all about how the crime rate is through the roof and how Black south Africans boys think gang rape is a joke.

    I just decided to google "gang rape in S Africa" and got this:
    http://www.csvr.org.za/papers/paplvsl.htm

    "Violence against women is a virtually universal phenomenon, and it is widespread, common and deeply entrenched in most societies.1 Rape, one of the most conspicuous forms of this violence, has reached epidemic proportions in South Africa. It occurs in all spheres of society and all women are potential victims. Women's fear of rape has begun to affect their basic day to day decisions and reduce their quality of life."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/1703595.stm
    "Every day the newspapers bring awful revelations: a nine-month-old girl gang-raped by six men; an eight-month-old raped and left by the roadside. "

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...icle554402.ece
    Where sex crime is 'just a bit of a game

    One anti-rape organisation recently estimated that a woman was raped every 85 seconds in South Africa. Others put it higher but all agree that gang rape accounts for 75 per cent of all cases. The National Institute for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation estimates that only one in about twenty rapes is reported to police.

    So you are saying all this is racist lies then is it?
    What is more likely is that you are completely insane.
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    Yes, B2R, you really showed me now!

    I humbly apologise for having the audacity to ask you your credentials in taking such a strong stance about the situation in South Africa. Your 10 minute search on google obviously gave you MUCH more insight into the society I'm living in every day of my life and in which I've been living for the last 34 years! The only option for me is to submit to the infinite wisdom you've gained about the intricacies of my own life (even though you're 11 000 km away).

    No, seriously, there are serious problems here but it's not as bad as you will think from only looking at the news. If I had to believe all the things I've heard about the UK then I'd think that there are hardly any children left who doesn't spit on their teachers and who has any chance of amounting to anything in life. Since this is certainly not true, I realise that one has to live in a society to really know what's happening and not only listen to the news from a continent away.

    I have to say again that this is totally off subject though, because the fact remains that we voluntarily gave up our priviledged position and thereby disadvantaged ourselves because it is the morally correct thing to do. This is a practical example that disproves your definition about morality!
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    I'd like to butt in here having spent time in SA (not as a tourist and not in recent years but post apartheid) - my impression then was that like Britain there was a diversity of people, most good and some bad. What I do remember was that [at that time] the british media was way off the mark, the media looks for the most 'exotic/bizarre/cruel' stories, it always has and it always will. One particular story was the Capetown 'taxi wars' which the British press reported as 'a virtual bloodbath on the streets' - there were a couple of murders and a lot of rivalry but I don't remember seeing so much as a spot of blood in the time I was there. Observatory [a district of capetown] labelled as 'rough' yet I felt more than comfortable walking alone there in the evenings - In the UK I would never do that in our city suburbs - too bloody dangerous. Whatever the situation is in SA it will not be as bad as the Brit (or even SA) media says.

    I'll bet for every story you can find about violence in SA I could find 10 just as bad in the UK. Multiple murderers by the score, gun massacres at schools or in the streets, child abuse, rape - All societies are much the same - sounds bad eh? probably best not to take a 'holier than thou' stance.
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    Kolt reasons that if morality exists, it must have evolved in us. How right that is! Morals is not something imposed on us by some Diety! It evolved. We are, after all, social animals. We evolved as hunting-gathering group primates into humans instinctively used to living in groups about forty people in size. Some such groups still exist in remote areas. They did not follow some God-given plan! They live a moral like because it is instinctive to them. Even chimps will retaliate when another one fails to reciprocate. They acknowledge the right of privacy during childbirth, they avoid fouling their nests, the females try to placate and reduce alpha male dissention, the males do not take the first innitiative with the females, all protect the young, and they all rally around the Alpha males when threatened because the Alphas will die if necessary to protect the group. How is that for morals?

    So, what is all the mystery? If we leave it to the old religions, we never learn. We stay stuck in the past. We were not "cursed" by "god" but are moral beings instinctively, having evolved that way. . .

    In fact, we have the social mind and the personal mind. We use langauge in the form of the social mind. We used words in ways that express the common good. Our selfish self preservation motivation is not so often put to words. Instead, we rationalize compromises. The verbal-social mind is conciousness while the intuitive self-preservation mind is the brain stem minus the cerebral hemispheres in action. There is no such thing as "altruism" . . its just a cop-our word meaning the user doesn't understand!

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  28. #27 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&q 
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    [quote="Burger"]Humans have evolved cognitively to a point where we can understand intellectually that a certain action will benefit a bigger society, even if it is detremental to the individual or smaller society. An individual within a certain population could therefore act against the principles of natural selection (by this I don't necessarily mean life or death but rather succesfull and less successfull) and put himself at a disadvantage for the sake of the larger community.

    Is this really so? Have we really come so far hat we'll disadvantage ourselves significantly for the sake of a larger society?[/quote

    This "altruism" is something going on all the time. In the hunting/gathering groups within which we evolved, the alpha male(s) held on dearly to the responsibility of taking care of the group by defending it with his life if necessary. Without him, the beta males would run away. The alpha picked up fallen infants, led the group to where the best food and, by providing security because of his strength and even brutality, he provided scurity for the females and their children. He led the hunting parties and the war parties. Without him, the group was merelfy a mob that would drift apart or flee at the first threat.

    Instincitively, we have not changed. We devise religions and secular beliefs that modify our instincts but do not change them. Our secular beliefs modify the brutality of the Alpha, but do not prevent him from still serving the interests of the group or society. That is why all civilizations for the last 5,000 years have been patriarchal-monogamous systems.

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    hi Charles,

    It's true what you say about altruism being an ever present component of societies, but the following things complicate the matter a bit.

    First, altruism in a family (benefitting individuals with shared genes) is one thing, but does it also logically apply when it benefits completely non-related individuals? I think it probably doesn't in most cases.

    Second, Altruism can in most cases be seen as benefitting both parties in the scenario you sketched, with the "giver" benefitting through gaining stature and priviledge in his family / community. His actions can therefore be seen as "selfish" in a certain sense. Personally, I think that some forms of altruism has no selfish motives, but some of the other replies to this post said that even sacrificing your own life for others can be described as selfish because the sacrificer at least gains the knowledge and reward that he acted morally correct. if this is true, my intial question should be answered that we haven't advanced to a point where we can truly disadvantage ourselves for the benifit of others, because our actions will always have some selfish motive.
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  30. #29 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&q 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    Humans have evolved cognitively to a point where we can understand intellectually that a certain action will benefit a bigger society, even if it is detremental to the individual or smaller society. An individual within a certain population could therefore act against the principles of natural selection (by this I don't necessarily mean life or death but rather succesfull and less successfull) and put himself at a disadvantage for the sake of the larger community.

    Is this really so? Have we really come so far hat we'll disadvantage ourselves significantly for the sake of a larger society?
    Through the whole course of social evolution, individuals have always done things for the group at significant cost to themselves individually. It is not something new and is a product of natural cause and effect.

    The alpha males even in chimpanzee goup will put themselves at risk to defend the group. That is why men volunteer to go to war to protect their country. It is instinctive in us. The alpha males see their group as their responsibility because they consider that it belongs to them. By protecting it, they make it because their nature provides a feeling of security that attracts the females and the non-dominant males. When the alpha males no longer feel the group is theirs, they are no longer willing to sacrifice themselves for it and, instead, take from it to provide for their monogamous families. That is called graft.

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  31. #30 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&q 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    Humans have evolved cognitively to a point where we can understand intellectually that a certain action will benefit a bigger society, even if it is detremental to the individual or smaller society. An individual within a certain population could therefore act against the principles of natural selection (by this I don't necessarily mean life or death but rather succesfull and less successfull) and put himself at a disadvantage for the sake of the larger community.

    Is this really so? Have we really come so far hat we'll disadvantage ourselves significantly for the sake of a larger society?
    But Burger, we have always done that! Whether we were in hunting-gathering troops 50,000 years ago (and some still survive today!) or in big societies, alpha men still take control, work for the benefit of society and go to war to protect it. The military squad is merely a re-creation of the hunting/gathering group hunting party or war party. That is why sports teams still have about that same number! We are surrounded by evidence of our social evolution and just need to observe it!

    Scholars in the social sciences constantly mislead everyone without realizing it. They write about how biological evolution is continuing and that we have certain small metobolic changes in the last 20,000 years and in the last 100,000 years our brain case has shrunk a bit, but that is all a bit insignificant compared to the social changes (social evolution) that has gone on and that has not been caused by the insignat biological evolution still going on.

    There is a very different natural selection process going on with societies that is not a biological process.
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  32. #31 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    That is why all civilizations for the last 5,000 years have been patriarchal-monogamous systems.
    Are you sure?
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  33. #32  
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    I never like how some people act as if evolution has a plan.

    I prefer chaos thoery, exact same thing just reworded. :P

    as for morality its social advantage, plenty of people act nice when it is to thier advantage.
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  34. #33  
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    Quote Originally Posted by freejack
    I never like how some people act as if evolution has a plan.
    I prefer chaos thoery, exact same thing just reworded.
    I don't think I agree with you. Evolution is generally believed to be random. Chaos is not random - it is simply that in some determinisitic systems, very small changes in initial conditions can produce radically different results.
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  35. #34 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    That is why all civilizations for the last 5,000 years have been patriarchal-monogamous systems.
    Are you sure?
    He shouldn't be, because that's incorrect. Polygynous systems still exist today, and were probably even more prevalent in the past. Just off the top of my head, I know for certain that Masai in eastern Africa are still polygynous. I will agree though that most traditional human cultures are patriarchal, and that was probably the predominant social pattern during our evolution. But I wouldn't go so far as to say there has never been a matriarchal human society. I'll check with my anthropologist friend on that one.

    I think Charles is also overestimating the role of the alpha a little bit. What he's describing is more of a cultural set of ideals about what the alpha should do. And these cultural standards are set in this manner, because the male that does all those things, rises to the top of the social group, and ensures resource access, gets the most mating rights for himself and his offspring. Multiple males are were also likely to form alliances with each other to better pursue this goal. This is probably the reason why males are so coalitional and goal oriented in general.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  36. #35 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    That is why all civilizations for the last 5,000 years have been patriarchal-monogamous systems.
    Are you sure?
    He shouldn't be, because that's incorrect.
    Exactly. That was why I asked the question.

    In addition to your observations (with which I agree) I have two points:
    1) I believe there was a fashion to claim that early civilisation was matriarchal and generally peaceful, before being replaced by a more bellicose, patriarchal structure. I think, but am not entirely sure, that this concept has been rejected.
    2) There is a good correlation (among mammals) between male/female body mass ratios and the number of females 'serviced' by the breeding males. The ratio in humans suggests that pure monogamy is not the innate norm. One would, therefore, not expect to see monogamy dominate most societies.
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  37. #36 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&q 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    Humans have evolved cognitively to a point where we can understand intellectually that a certain action will benefit a bigger society, even if it is detremental to the individual or smaller society. An individual within a certain population could therefore act against the principles of natural selection (by this I don't necessarily mean life or death but rather succesfull and less successfull) and put himself at a disadvantage for the sake of the larger community.

    Is this really so? Have we really come so far hat we'll disadvantage ourselves significantly for the sake of a larger society?
    There are some logical errors in the opening post.

    Natural selection does not care at least about the nature of change. Cultural evolution can induce a change in behavioural pattern that has an influence of the reproductive rates of certain genetic characteristics. That is all fine and natural.

    It has happened before in the past, in the human species, in other species, and it will happen in the future. Behavioural change can be the first step into a certain evolutionary direction and this first behavioural change is not required to have a genetic origin.

    This principle has been documented.

    Natural selection does not care for the sake of the individual or the larger community. It is a process that occurs. The principles of natural selection do not care about what we think is good. The opening post therefore falsely assumes that we can pinpoint what is good for natural selection. This is false because it is simply a mindless process that is based on available genetic variation and the environmental influence acting on the forms created by this genetic variation and their behavioural patterns, whether these patterns are genetic in origin on not.

    A major influence on the evolution of man was the domestication of the species in the last 10,000 years. This started with a non-genetic behavioural change too. The herding of animals. The cultivation of crops. An opportunistic behavioural step that would influence the genepool of the human species. And it was all natural.

    So do not worry about the choices society is making. The choices made now can easily be reverted by the political choices in 20 years time. In fact, we have no clue what is exactly selected for at the moment.

    Maybe it will become more clear when it is possible to sequence genomes cheaply on a large scale.

    Summary:
    1. Natural selection is a process, not a moral.
    2. non-genetic behavioural change is a normal manner of starting a selection pressure in evolution.
    3. we know little on the selection pressures in current society.
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  38. #37 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    [quote="spuriousmonkey"]

    Natural selection does not care for the sake of the individual or the larger community. It is a process that occurs. The principles of natural selection do not care about what we think is good. The opening post therefore falsely assumes that we can pinpoint what is good for natural selection. This is false because it is simply a mindless process that is based on available genetic variation and the environmental influence acting on the forms created by this genetic variation and their behavioural patterns, whether these patterns are genetic in origin on not.
    quote]

    Spuriousmonkey, I'm not sure if I agree that there was a mistake with logic in my initial post.

    Here is the scenario again (sketched a bit differently). Maybe you can tell me if you still think there's some erronious assumptions in here?

    Because of moral convictions, humans can deliberately act in a way that will make themselves less able to compete in society and therefore less likely to pass on their genes. Our morals can therefore cause us to probably be acted against by natural selsection. Since animals don't generally display the same type of actions but rather seem to be looking out for their own or related genes all the time, can it be said that our recently evolved intellect is back-firing on us (evolutionary speaking) in certain circumstances?
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  39. #38 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger

    Spuriousmonkey, I'm not sure if I agree that there was a mistake with logic in my initial post.

    Here is the scenario again (sketched a bit differently). Maybe you can tell me if you still think there's some erronious assumptions in here?

    Because of moral convictions, humans can deliberately act in a way that will make themselves less able to compete in society and therefore less likely to pass on their genes. Our morals can therefore cause us to probably be acted against by natural selsection. Since animals don't generally display the same type of actions but rather seem to be looking out for their own or related genes all the time, can it be said that our recently evolved intellect is back-firing on us (evolutionary speaking) in certain circumstances?
    you are still missing the point.

    It's perfectly fine that culture determines a selective pressure. It does not contradict natural selection, because natural selection is merely the differential reproductive success of the various individuals in a generations or many generations.

    Animals do exactly the same thing. In fact, inherited behavioural patterns are common in many species. All of these can influence natural selection.

    Intellect hasn't evolved recently. It's been with us for a long time.

    Of course species go extinct all the time due to changes in the environment. Some of them their own fault. A parasite that is too effective can drive a species to the brink of extinction and beyond. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

    Extinction is natural.

    99% or more of all species have gone extinct.

    No, our morals cannot counteract natural selection. Natural selection has no goal. Natural selection is merely the differential success between individuals in reproductive success. Whether the difference is induced by a moral environment, or a climate change is entirely unimportant.

    The only artificial selection that I would recognize if we would actively start modifying our genome. That is, if we would circumvent the natural sequence of variation, and selection of variation.

    By introducing designed variation we would start to threaten natural selection. Mind you, I say start.

    Even artificial selection such as the breeding program of the dog is basically natural selection.

    The wolf found a niche. The symbiosis with man. Man found a niche. The symbiosis with the wolf. Both changed in the process. However, with the dog changing much more rapidly, because the humans are the dominating species in this equation. It is more important for the dog to adapt to the humans than vice versa.

    That said, there is evidence that the human species have become domesticated under the influence of domestication of other species.
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  40. #39 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Spuriousmonkey, I think you might be the one who is still missing the point.

    You keep on saying that I think our morals are contradicting or counteracting natural selection, which I'm not.

    I'm trying to convey the point that our intellect (which IS recently evolved at today's levels) could under certain circumstances cause a negative selection pressure against us, because it could cause fewer offspring. The result of natural selection - our intellect - which in the first place is responsible for our unprecedented success as a species, could therefore possibly now start acting against us under certain conditions. This could be seen as a sort of evolutionary dead-end if you will.

    I'm therefore not saying that morals and intellect contradict/counteract natural selection, I'm saying that the very features that made us so successful under the pressure of natural selection, might be making us less successful under the same blind pressure from natural selection in todays moral climate.
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  41. #40 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    Spuriousmonkey, I think you might be the one who is still missing the point.

    You keep on saying that I think our morals are contradicting or counteracting natural selection, which I'm not.

    I'm trying to convey the point that our intellect (which IS recently evolved at today's levels) could under certain circumstances cause a negative selection pressure against us, because it could cause fewer offspring. The result of natural selection - our intellect - which in the first place is responsible for our unprecedented success as a species, could therefore possibly now start acting against us under certain conditions. This could be seen as a sort of evolutionary dead-end if you will.

    I'm therefore not saying that morals and intellect contradict/counteract natural selection, I'm saying that the very features that made us so successful under the pressure of natural selection, might be making us less successful under the same blind pressure from natural selection in todays moral climate.
    fewer offspring isn't a negative selection pressure.

    fewer offspring for a subpopulation is a negative selection pressure.

    Success is measured per definition not by intelligence, but by reproductive success. If having a better reproductive success would mean to have a smaller brain, than this is good.

    If I am not mistaken our brains have already gotten smaller in the last few thousands of years. No shame in that, since intelligence is not measured by size alone.

    We also know that the brain in the last few thousand of years has undergone structural changes. Or at least we have good genetic indications of this.

    Did they make us smarter or more stupid? Who knows. Maybe neither of them. Maybe they signify something else.

    You have mistaken natural selection for an agent for improvement and subsequently defined intelligence as an improvement. That's not how things fly in nature.

    natural selection couldn't care less about intelligence. If being dumber means you are better adapted so be it.

    So i do get your point, but my point is that you are not arguing for natural selection.

    You are arguing that the idea of human intelligence is under threat.

    Natural selection doesn't give a rat's ass about that. It does what it does. It is a process.

    That said. There is no indication that there are selection pressures going on right now that favour the stupid. And this topic has been touched in several threads here. But I am sure we can go into this again.
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    We're going in circles here.

    Again, I'm probably not disagreeing with you, you only think I am.

    I'm saying that intelligence, which is a product of natural selection, played a huge role in our current success, but that same intelligence also causes us to be unsuccesful (as individuals or sub populations in a greater society) under certain conditions.

    Maybe that's where we're missing each other, I've been talking about sub populations all the time and you might be looking at it from the whole species point of view.
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  43. #42  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    The result of natural selection - our intellect - which in the first place is responsible for our unprecedented success as a species, could therefore possibly now start acting against us under certain conditions. This could be seen as a sort of evolutionary dead-end if you will.

    I'm therefore not saying that morals and intellect contradict/counteract natural selection, I'm saying that the very features that made us so successful under the pressure of natural selection, might be making us less successful under the same blind pressure from natural selection in todays moral climate. (emphasis mine - paralith)
    Forgive me for being nosy, but I think I can maybe help clarify what spurious means. Look at the phrases I bolded in this post of yours. You're using very vague terminology here - what is "against" us? What do you mean by "evolutionary dead-end"? Do you mean we might go extinct? Do you mean we might become less intelligent? How are you defining in success in the phrase "less successful"? Will our immune systems weaken because we now have vaccines and medicine? Will we see a greater prevalence of genetic diseases thanks to medical technology that allows people with these diseases to reproduce?

    Basically, you're making the value judgment of "less successful," when that term is a highly subjective one unless you specify exactly what we will be less successful in. To a human, a dumb person with low paying job is unsuccessful. In the "eyes" of natural selection, that person may in fact be more successful if he/she has a lot more children than most other people. Because you haven't specified otherwise, I think spurious is assuming that you're making a human judgment, but calling it a natural selection judgment, which are often not the same thing.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  44. #43 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    That is why all civilizations for the last 5,000 years have been patriarchal-monogamous systems.
    Are you sure?
    He shouldn't be, because that's incorrect. Polygynous systems still exist today, and were probably even more prevalent in the past. Just off the top of my head, I know for certain that Masai in eastern Africa are still polygynous. I will agree though that most traditional human cultures are patriarchal, and that was probably the predominant social pattern during our evolution. But I wouldn't go so far as to say there has never been a matriarchal human society. I'll check with my anthropologist friend on that one.

    I think Charles is also overestimating the role of the alpha a little bit. What he's describing is more of a cultural set of ideals about what the alpha should do. And these cultural standards are set in this manner, because the male that does all those things, rises to the top of the social group, and ensures resource access, gets the most mating rights for himself and his offspring. Multiple males are were also likely to form alliances with each other to better pursue this goal. This is probably the reason why males are so coalitional and goal oriented in general.
    For sure I was not referring to Masai or other tribes! I know it is difficult to communicate on this subject because I attach only one specific meaning to each key word to prevent rationalizing. Civilization as I use the term refers to MAINSTREAM societies, that is, with urbran and organized heirarchal governemt as began in Sumer, Egypt and continued in Greece/Rome, Persia, China, India, Islam and Christendom (The West).
    All were monogamous-patriarchal socieites.

    Your description of a polygamous society is valid but not relevant to the subject, that is to a patriarchal-monogamous system. The alpha role in human groups is evolved and instinctive. His role is still fundamental in the building of government heirarchies and he competes not for multiple mates but for the most prestigeous wife because, in monogamy, the women are rationed.
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  45. #44 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    Civilization as I use the term refers to MAINSTREAM societies, that is, with urbran and organized heirarchal governemt as began in Sumer, ..........
    The thread is about society, not civilisation. (The clue is in the title.) One would reasonably then presume that one is using civilisation to connote advanced, complex societies, which the masai certainly are. If you want to go off at a tangent without defining your terms I don't see much point in continuing.
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  46. #45 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    For sure I was not referring to Masai or other tribes! I know it is difficult to communicate on this subject because I attach only one specific meaning to each key word to prevent rationalizing. Civilization as I use the term refers to MAINSTREAM societies, that is, with urbran and organized heirarchal governemt as began in Sumer, Egypt and continued in Greece/Rome, Persia, China, India, Islam and Christendom (The West).
    All were monogamous-patriarchal socieites.
    Wrong again. Polygyny was common in China and was even in written law until 1911. Many Islamic countries that use a more traditional interpretation of the Quran allow up to four wives at once. Polygyny even cropped up in Judaism now and then, as many important biblical characters had multiple wives.

    It is most likely that we evolved in small, philopatric (males stay in the family and females migrate to new groups upon sexual maturity), family groups, with polygyny being common. A great deal of cultures have allowed polygyny at one time or another. You're not giving it enough credit, I don't think.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  47. #46  
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    I think spurious is assuming that you're making a human judgment, but calling it a natural selection judgment, which are often not the same thing.
    indeed, since natural selection doesn't judge at all. You merely measure it after it occurs.

    Well hypothetically of course; that is if you have the tools to measure it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    The result of natural selection - our intellect - which in the first place is responsible for our unprecedented success as a species, could therefore possibly now start acting against us under certain conditions. This could be seen as a sort of evolutionary dead-end if you will.

    I'm therefore not saying that morals and intellect contradict/counteract natural selection, I'm saying that the very features that made us so successful under the pressure of natural selection, might be making us less successful under the same blind pressure from natural selection in todays moral climate. (emphasis mine - paralith)
    Forgive me for being nosy, but I think I can maybe help clarify what spurious means. Look at the phrases I bolded in this post of yours. You're using very vague terminology here - what is "against" us? What do you mean by "evolutionary dead-end"? Do you mean we might go extinct? Do you mean we might become less intelligent? How are you defining in success in the phrase "less successful"? Will our immune systems weaken because we now have vaccines and medicine? Will we see a greater prevalence of genetic diseases thanks to medical technology that allows people with these diseases to reproduce?

    Basically, you're making the value judgment of "less successful," when that term is a highly subjective one unless you specify exactly what we will be less successful in. To a human, a dumb person with low paying job is unsuccessful. In the "eyes" of natural selection, that person may in fact be more successful if he/she has a lot more children than most other people. Because you haven't specified otherwise, I think spurious is assuming that you're making a human judgment, but calling it a natural selection judgment, which are often not the same thing.
    Hi Paralith,

    If you look at some of the additional posts I made after the initial post (and who really has time to go through everything?!) you might find that I explained myself more clearly. As far as defining successful is concerned, I made almost exactly the same point as you, that intelligence doesn't necessarily mean successful, because it doesn't necessarily mean more offspring.

    All of this is actually still not answering my question however, so whether we agree about exactly how natural selection etc is defined in my question, could you not maybe comment on the interesting point in my question. Is it possibly true that the same feature that ensured increased survival potential for our species (intelligence), can under certain conditions lead to a decreased survival potential in modern times? I'm sure you might be able to nitpick my question again, but please try to comment on the question, instead of finding some small thing we disagree on! I'm sure that even though we might not be on exactly the same page on every little detail, those differences shouldn't make that much of a difference to your opinion about the type of "evolutionary dead-end" (evolution took us in a certain direction, manely through the gradual development of increased intelligence, but now that evolutionary path might not be able to continue anymore, because our intelligence might be causing us to have fewer offspring) I described above.
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    I've apparently offended you, for which I apologize. However, I disagree that "not being on the same page with every little detail" is not important. It's difficult to have a good discussion if people are misunderstanding each other as it goes on. Clarification of communication is important.

    In your original post you talked about the individual sacrificing his own success for the greater good of his species. Whether or not this will lead us to extinction depends on what the "greater good" is. Does that mean making sacrifices that allow other people to have more children? If this is the case, then we most certainly won't go extinct. Later you talked about more intelligent people having less children. Unless every human being on the planet follows this trend, then I doubt we'll go extinct from this either. Maybe we'll have less intelligent people and more "stupid" ones, but our race will still be here.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  50. #49  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    I made almost exactly the same point as you, that intelligence doesn't necessarily mean successful, because it doesn't necessarily mean more offspring.
    .
    However, number of offspring is not the defining issue of success. Number of offspring that reach reproductive age with viable reproductive systems, etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    Is it possibly true that the same feature that ensured increased survival potential for our species (intelligence), can under certain conditions lead to a decreased survival potential in modern times?
    If this were not true, then I venture to suggest it would be the only characterisitic of any lifeform of the planet, in almost four billion years, for which it is true. The key phrase is 'under certain conditions'. If the conditions do not change, then whatever makes an organism fit will continue to make it fit.
    Quote Originally Posted by Burger
    evolution took us in a certain direction, ....., but now that evolutionary path might not be able to continue anymore
    I still have a real problem with this. It carries the implication that evolution is going somewhere. If you simply mean it has come from somewhere, I agree, but talking about continuing on a path strongly implies that there is a direction to evolution.
    You may feel this is equivalent to paralith's nitpicking. However, I agree with paralith that establishing the semantics lies at the foundation of any discussion.
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  51. #50  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    well, it is a documented fact that our brains have gotten smaller. So we are still heading in the right direction if we are indeed getting stupider! :wink:

    (warning - non-serious comment - although the fact mentioned is indeed a fact)
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  52. #51  
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    I have seen comparisons between brain sizes of some historical figures somewhere before and there did not seem to be any correlation between size and intelligence. Is it not more the amount of interconnections that determine intellect? Or are you talking about a general decline in brain mass instead of size? Does a decline in brain size/mass necessarily mean a decrease in gray matter?
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  53. #52  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I have seen comparisons between brain sizes of some historical figures somewhere before and there did not seem to be any correlation between size and intelligence. Is it not more the amount of interconnections that determine intellect? Or are you talking about a general decline in brain mass instead of size? Does a decline in brain size/mass necessarily mean a decrease in gray matter?
    Obviously, it is a quagmire, this whole intelligence/brain size topic.

    There is a broad correlation to 'intelligence' and brain size in the animal kingdom. But with exceptions of course, and only a very general picture emerges.

    The structure of the brain is of course of utmost importance. And of course the same goal, increased intelligence, can be acquired by different structural solutions.

    And there are many individual differences, and these differences may differ from the general pattern. A general pattern which isn't really established on a population level to start with.

    It's like trying to look for a black box in a darkened room in my opinion to be honest.

    I was indeed talking about the decrease in brain mass. The slight decrease.
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  54. #53  
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    I was indeed talking about the decrease in brain mass.
    Technically a decrease in brain volume. Maybe people today are simply denser. (Elegant pun intended.)
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  55. #54  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    I was indeed talking about the decrease in brain mass.
    Technically a decrease in brain volume. Maybe people today are simply denser. (Elegant pun intended.)
    brains do get less dense with age.
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  56. #55 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Polygyny was common in China and was even in written law until 1911. Many Islamic countries that use a more traditional interpretation of the Quran allow up to four wives at once. Polygyny even cropped up in Judaism now and then, as many important biblical characters had multiple wives.

    It is most likely that we evolved in small, philopatric (males stay in the family and females migrate to new groups upon sexual maturity), family groups, with polygyny being common. A great deal of cultures have allowed polygyny at one time or another. You're not giving it enough credit, I don't think.
    Not so. In China, a rich man could have concubines but only one wife. Monogamy was the norm for most Chinese. Muslims practice monogamy also (I lived in Muslim Indonesia for 3 years). The rich are entitled to up to four wives but that does not make it a polygamous society. Even the wealthy seldom have more than one wife. The polygamy in Judaism goes way back in its history some 4,000 years ago when Judaism was a small tribal cult. It involved tribal chiefs having many wives and can be found in all the first books of the Old Testament.
    All over the world there are little "cultures" that still seem polygamous, but they are far out of the mainstream. The big, the mainstream, societies have been monogamous for about 5,000 years. Because of our polygamous nature, monogamy is filled with exception and in our society young men are often living polygamously, but most will marry and some will have mistresses, but no mainstream society is based on polygamy, none promote polygamy and all promote marriage.

    and, Ophiolite, why get so angry over the Masai? Have I missed something in world history? I know Timbukto was a great cultural center about 4 centuries ago and the Bantus had a civilization in Zimbabwe that extended way of the East Coast of Africa. Also, the Sudanese blacks built a civilization in Kush about 4,000 years ago. Tell me about this great civilization of the Massia; is it one of those I just mentioned?
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  57. #56 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    and, Ophiolite, why get so angry over the Masai? Have I missed something in world history? I know Timbukto was a great cultural center about 4 centuries ago and the Bantus had a civilization in Zimbabwe that extended way of the East Coast of Africa. Also, the Sudanese blacks built a civilization in Kush about 4,000 years ago. Tell me about this great civilization of the Massia; is it one of those I just mentioned?
    you seem to be reading emotions into my words that simply are not there. However, let me ask you - are you being deliberately or accidentally obtuse. I specifically said "One would reasonably then presume that one is using civilisation to connote advanced, complex societies, which the masai certainly are. "
    In that quote the 'one' referred to is yourself. I am referring to the Masai as a complex society. You appeared, in context of a thread titled Human Societies....., to be equating complex societies with civilisations.
    So please refrain from using strawman arguments. They are likely to burn up too easily.
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  58. #57 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    Not so. In China, a rich man could have concubines but only one wife. Monogamy was the norm for most Chinese. Muslims practice monogamy also (I lived in Muslim Indonesia for 3 years). The rich are entitled to up to four wives but that does not make it a polygamous society. Even the wealthy seldom have more than one wife. The polygamy in Judaism goes way back in its history some 4,000 years ago when Judaism was a small tribal cult. It involved tribal chiefs having many wives and can be found in all the first books of the Old Testament.
    All over the world there are little "cultures" that still seem polygamous, but they are far out of the mainstream. The big, the mainstream, societies have been monogamous for about 5,000 years. Because of our polygamous nature, monogamy is filled with exception and in our society young men are often living polygamously, but most will marry and some will have mistresses, but no mainstream society is based on polygamy, none promote polygamy and all promote marriage.
    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough (in an earlier post)
    Instincitively, we have not changed. We devise religions and secular beliefs that modify our instincts but do not change them. Our secular beliefs modify the brutality of the Alpha, but do not prevent him from still serving the interests of the group or society. That is why all civilizations for the last 5,000 years have been patriarchal-monogamous systems.
    Charles, before our little debate began, you were talking about the Alpha and altruism, and how altruism isn't real because ultimately, you gain prestige and resources and increased reproductive success from this "altruistic" instinct. So the main point here is that the behavior of the alpha leads to increased reproduction, so his behavior is perpetuated. However, in cases where the environment allows, does not a polygynous male have, on average, much greater reproductive success than the truly monogamous male?

    A culture's lip service to monogamy will have its own implications to be sure, but what we're talking about here is actual vs. conceived mating systems, and actual reproductive success. Polygyny isn't determined by having more than one "wife," it's determined by having more than one mate. The male that can get away with successful polygyny (meaning that almost all the children he sires also grow up to be successful themselves), whether by having concubines, mistresses, or committing serial monogamy, will have greater reproductive success.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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  59. #58 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    and, Ophiolite, why get so angry over the Masai? Have I missed something in world history? I know Timbukto was a great cultural center about 4 centuries ago and the Bantus had a civilization in Zimbabwe that extended way of the East Coast of Africa. Also, the Sudanese blacks built a civilization in Kush about 4,000 years ago. Tell me about this great civilization of the Massia; is it one of those I just mentioned?
    you seem to be reading emotions into my words that simply are not there. However, let me ask you - are you being deliberately or accidentally obtuse. I specifically said "One would reasonably then presume that one is using civilisation to connote advanced, complex societies, which the masai certainly are. "
    In that quote the 'one' referred to is yourself. I am referring to the Masai as a complex society. You appeared, in context of a thread titled Human Societies....., to be equating complex societies with civilisations.
    So please refrain from using strawman arguments. They are likely to burn up too easily.
    You say I APPEAR to be saying this and that I appear to be saying that, but you are reading into what I write what is not there. I NEVER equated civilization with complex societies. In fact, I assume all societies are equally complex. I refer to MAINSTREAM societies, those that have been the largest and created the steps in (scientific) understanding of ourselves and the universe around us and, hence, have been behind the accumulation of the human cultural heritage.
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  60. #59 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by "paralith[/quote

    ""Charles, before our little debate began, you were talking about the Alpha and altruism, and how altruism isn't real because ultimately, you gain prestige and resources and increased reproductive success from this "altruistic" instinct. So the main point here is that the behavior of the alpha leads to increased reproduction, so his behavior is perpetuated. However, in cases where the environment allows, does not a polygynous male have, on average, much greater reproductive success than the truly monogamous male?

    A culture's lip service to monogamy will have its own implications to be sure, but what we're talking about here is actual vs. conceived mating systems, and actual reproductive success. Polygyny isn't determined by having more than one "wife," it's determined by having more than one mate. The male that can get away with successful polygyny (meaning that almost all the children he sires also grow up to be successful themselves), whether by having concubines, mistresses, or committing serial monogamy, will have greater reproductive success.
    ""
    -------------------------------------------

    Paralith, I see what you are saying and it certainly applies to primate biological evolution. However, human biological evolution essentially ended nearly 200,000 years ago. That short a period of time does not mean much in terms of biological evolution. I have read science journal reports on subsequent evolution in us with big headlnes, but at the end of the article, all they found was the the body had become a little smaller and the brain case also a little smaller plus a few minor metabolic changes. What has changed is our cultural heritage only, and a different sort of natural selection process is behind that. If it were miraculously possible for a baby born in 150,000 year-ago Africa were raised by one uf us now, he would grow up indistinguable from the rest of us. We know from the study of ferral children that they are stunted almost beyond recovery when brought back into society. Social theorists have not come up, themselves, with a viable explanation for all this. That is why people are so desperate to believe biological evolution is the cause of "progress." There is no alternative because no one can really take the "meme" theory very seriously . . . Natural selection occurs between societies, not individuals.
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  61. #60 Re: Human societies acting against "natural selection&a 
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    If it were miraculously possible for a baby born in 150,000 year-ago Africa were raised by one uf us now, he would grow up indistinguable from the rest of us.
    Interesting thought, given that we know the definitely distinguishable species/sub-species Neanderthal man survived until about 40,000 years ago. From where do you get this data/notion?

    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    We know from the study of ferral children that they are stunted almost beyond recovery when brought back into society. Social theorists have not come up, themselves, with a viable explanation for all this.
    But the evolutionary psychologists have - showing science triumphing post-modernist maunderings agian, no? Stephen Pinker's The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works are excellent about the way the growing brain is structured and the feedback it receives from the environment to assist it in tis growth into a fully functioning brain.

    Feral children, depending upon circumstances, may or may not be physically underdone, but the key feature for all of them is this: if they've been without human contact and conversation in the first few years of their lives (2 - 10 say) then they will never acquire a first language and will always have sub-adequate language skills. This isn't about being stunted, but about not having an instinct realised (they've done experiments with kittens that show they become 'blind' if they're blindfolded during a critical period of development, as an analogous situation).

    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    That is why people are so desperate to believe biological evolution is the cause of "progress." There is no alternative because no one can really take the "meme" theory very seriously . . . Natural selection occurs between societies, not individuals.
    If so, what mechanism drives it?
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  62. #61  
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Certainly, I was not referring to the Neanderthal or Forlensis species!

    And, yes, the way I child weathers the parents and the rest of the environmnet, our social heritage, determines the way the brain develops. That is what my reference to ferral children means.

    I summed it up, I think, in another website when I wrote:

    Society over individual or individual over society??? It seems to me it is all basic psychology. We have an instinctive nature, that is, a number of basic urges and ways of thinking and responding that have evolved in us through millions of year of primate evolution. But as we learn in psychology, those instincts have to be CONDITIONED. Because we developed language and speech, we have been able to dream up ideological systems which shape how the instincts are expressed. Those ideological systems that shape us change only slowly and differ somewhat one from the other. This gives rise to a natural selection process that goes on between them and accounts for the total growth of the human cultural heritage.

    What drives social evolution? Here is my explanation:

    We are instinctively social and territorial primates. That means that we identify with groups and their territory. We rebel against this concept because we currently have secular doctrines that condemn that. So we hide it and pretend it isn't so. Nevertheless, we all want to know if a country we are dealing with is Muslim or Christian, secular or religious, black or white, poor or wealthy. All that determines what is reported in our news and how it is reported. Casualties in the “other” society become less important. In other words, we have a definite concept of who “we” are and who “they” are. “We” turns out to be our Christian-but-now-secularized society.

    So, very briefly, these ideological-based “groups” or societies are in competition with each other. The best ideological system, in the end, passes on to later ones to make more advanced societies.
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  63. #62  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Evolution

    Its ongoing a lot of it is unseen and cannot be mesured. Were billions of humans and theres millions of mutations occuring on a continual basis most have no apparent effect and are transmitted to offsprings. When something in the environment make a mutation become relevant, like the altered T-cells of some people of european origin making them immune to HIV then it might make a difference and be more succesful but the unseen mutation was already there(its not like they developed the mutation to survive).

    Most of the evolution that might be more apparent imo is related to mate selection and reproduction for which societies have a significant impact.
    Healing people has little effect imo, but reproductive assistance could have an impact, making people who would not otherwise reproduce have children who might also not be able to reproduce without assitance. As was mentionned social factors (poor religious people reporducing like rabbits, urban people not so much) also play a part that can outmatch genetics.

    And genetic engineering might be added to the list of realities making 'natural selection' less relevant.



    Survival of the fitess (the moot factor)

    If an extiction level asteroid hits the earth odds are that genetic code wont be relevant to survival as much as location on earth or in a worst case scenario only a social structure allowing humans to colonize other planets would make a difference between anihilation and survival. So if wimpy handicaped neards people work on a space program on Alternate earth A those unfit humans would survive while the Eugenics Supreme Athlethes of an Alternate earth B without colonies would be wiped out and the Super Brainacs Intelects living in a virtual internet world with robots roving on mars but also without a colony would also be wipped out .
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  64. #63  
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    Icewendigo, the subtle epigenetic weakening of a population because of living too abundently with "too much" medical support is balanced by other parts where life is a constant challenge for survival. All this may make one race better adapted for a while, and then that race rises up to have the same abundance and fall itself agin. When you look back into world history, that is what has happened.

    You infer and presume that such biological or epigenetic change you assume occurs somehow accounts for and is responsible for the immense growth in human numbers on Earth and the build up we have acquired in our cultural heritage. Please be good enough to show me how.

    Without being able to show how biological evolution has caused our "social (teleological) progress," I have to assume the biological evolution is insignificant and has played no part, hence, it has been society that has evolved during those many tens of thousands of years, not our bodies.
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  65. #64  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    You infer and presume that such biological or epigenetic change you assume occurs somehow accounts for and is responsible for the immense growth in human numbers on Earth and the build up we have acquired in our cultural heritage. Please be good enough to show me how.

    You presume that purple monkeys flying rabi-blessed apache helicopters with walmart markings are hired to check the US-Mexico border. Please be good enough to show me how.


    (in other words you appear to be inventing my presumption, so I did not make myself clear or you have a lot of imagination :wink: )

    Im saying that we are evoloving and mutating continously, but this is not responsible (beyong the tools that were hand, brain, language, etc) for social development, indeed as I try to present our long term survival is much more a function of social factors (colonizing other planets, avoiding nuclear armageddon, etc) than genes (in the Planet A,B,C example)
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