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Thread: We've all heard of evolution, what about Devolution

  1. #1 We've all heard of evolution, what about Devolution 
    Forum Freshman Evolution_Of_The_Few's Avatar
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    What are your views, do you think man is devolving, are people using less of thier brains than before. If you look at many people today, even school students. They are uninterested in learning and aquiring new skills and pieces of knowledge. People are becoming more and more reliant on people doing things for them, machines doing things for them. How long will it be before we lose our ability to think for ourselves and become reliant on machines. Even the morals of today seem to be degraded, violence is on the rise, our plant is being destroyed on mass and we just sit here and let it happen. Fossil fuels are still being burned, how long will it be before we run out of that???? The what will we do. School students must focus more on learning things, instead of messing around.


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    I believe humanity is the only species that actively defies natural selection, at the same time breeding into its species the negative aspects which would likely be lost otherwise.

    In that sense, I guess it could be said that humanity is de-evolving.


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    Strongly agree with the idea you shared. Toad 62 year my colleague, he is a captain, told me that he was born on board. I mean, old people have more capability (though there was more risk in old days than in present) to survive in extreme climates. He said earlier he used to maneuver the ship with the wheel. Now with a joy stick. He says his grand son may not do the job he did.

    I don’t think it is a evolution, it is only a life style. Because evolution takes much longer to come through.
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    The way natural selection works, what Evolution_Of_The_Few is saying can't happen. There's no direction to evolution and no ultimate goal. So maybe you could argue that people are less moral than they were in the past, but what does this have to do with evolution? This is science fiction kind of stuff and not how natural selection really works.
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    Turning dumber when intelligence is not advantageous would still be evolution.
    Anyway, the intelligence as measured with an IQ test has been steadily increasing since they started testing children, which has lead to a series of recalibrations of the scale to keep a score of 100 as the average value.
    ...Wait, what?
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    The "have humans stopped evolving?!?" and the "are humans devovling?!?" questions come up a lot. And they typically include some common misunderstandings.

    1. Evolution is simply a change in the gene frequencies of a population. (If I had a nickel for every time I said/typed that...) Thus, if the word devolve is to have a scientific meaning, it would simply be a lack of change. If humans became stupider, the process of that change would still be called evolution.

    2. What you are probably thinking of is maladpation - are humans evolving characteristics that will reduce their reproductive success, and perhaps even risk the extinction of our species.

    3. Being stupid isn't necessarily maladaptive. As long as humans continue to survive and reproduce, we will not go extinct (except, maybe, if you consider us evolving into a relatively new species to be equal to extinction, but that's a whole other bucket of worms). It doesn't matter how we do it, as long as it happens. If we do it by creating machines that do all the work for us, allowing us to become little flesh balls of self-indulgence, then as long as we continue to reproduce we will still be considered evolutionarily successful.

    4. The yardstick by which you are measuring the success or failure of the human species is an subjective viewpoint colored by human values. We value intelligence, thus we think that to become less intelligent would be bad.

    5. In terms of objective, evolutionary success, our intelligence has served us and our ancestors well, and it is likely that it will continue to do so in the future. But it is by no means guaranteed; there are plenty of other ways that our biological success could be attained.

    Personally speaking, I highly dislike the amount of stupid that rampages through so many people in the world. And I agree that combating this stupid is the primary way that we can reach our human ideals of a better world. But I don't bring evolution into this picture - if evolution were such an entity that might care about something, this is certainly not something it would care about.

    Edit: My apologies to posters who's points I have repeated here. I write a lot slower than you do!
    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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  8. #7 clearing up 
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    What i mean by Devolving is not the reverse of evolution, but the wrong direction for us, leading to the destruction of our planet, if we want to move away from destroying our planet we should research more into usinf different fuels suck as hydrogen. I understand that there is no goal to evolution and no final resault. But does our life style have anything to do with how evolution takes place and the changes that resault?
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    But does our life style have anything to do with how evolution takes place and the changes that resault?
    I'm not sure what you're asking.

    A great deal of our behaviors are genetically determined and evolved into what they are today. Our destruction of the planet is probably the result of a general resource-greediness that all animals have. In the wild, resources are limited, so the desire to get as much as possible helps animals to survive. We humans took that to an extreme. Is that what you're asking?
    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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  10. #9  
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    yes, thats part of what i'm asking, i'm also asking is evolution also determined by those needs, would an animal be more likley to evolve if the need for a particular thing such as water was great enough.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evolution_Of_The_Few
    yes, thats part of what i'm asking, i'm also asking is evolution also determined by those needs, would an animal be more likley to evolve if the need for a particular thing such as water was great enough.
    Remember, evolution is a change in gene frequencies. Natural selection is only one of several mechanisms that can cause such changes. Other mechanisms include genetic mutations and genetic drift. These are fairly random processes that are not determined by the needs of an organism.

    All an organism needs is to reproduce. Everything else that it does is in pursuit of this goal - of reproducing as successfully as possible. If a certain trait allows a given individual organism to reproduce more and better than individuals who do not have that trait, then that trait will spread throughout the population. This is the mechanism of natural selection.

    So what do you mean by a "need for water"? A need to drink water? A need to breathe in water? A need to swim in water? And what do you mean by "more likely to evolve"? Evolve what? Evolve skin to keep water inside the body? Evolve gills to draw oxygen from water? Evolve fins to swim through water?
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by CircularlyPolarized
    Turning dumber when intelligence is not advantageous would still be evolution.
    BINGO

    Although saying something has "evolved" is probably a relative concept.

    For example, if a population chooses one route that leads to success, we say they evolved. If an individual in that population chooses the same route (ie - evolves) and then chooses to go back to the way it was before, then to the individual it would be an evolution, but to the rest of the population, it would seem to be a de-evolution event.

    Of course, such terms are probably pointless if we define "evolution" as the continual change of a species based on its environment, irregardless of the direction.

    However, it might be argued that if a species heads back the way it came, and dies out, then that might break the definition of evolution if we assume evolution entails adaptation for the advantage and survival of the species.

    Thoughts?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    However, it might be argued that if a species heads back the way it came, and dies out, then that might break the definition of evolution if we assume evolution entails adaptation for the advantage and survival of the species.

    Thoughts?
    Evolution does not necessarily entail adaptation. Natural selection necessarily entails adaptation. I'm sure it happens quite frequently that a disadvantageous mutation appears in a population, and this appearance is still an instance of evolution. I'm also sure that it's not impossible that sometimes the mutation is the direct opposite of a previous mutation that created an advantageous allele, and simply by reverting to the original sequence it becomes disadvantageous. That's assuming, of course, that the environment has not changed, as that is what ultimately determines what is and isn't adaptive.
    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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    remember that adaptation crucially depends on a good fit between the characteristics of a species and its environment - a trait that was advantageous or neutral in one environment may become disadvantageous if the environment changes
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    There has been a string of papers recently showing that the human species is still evolving rapidly.
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    To echo Spurious, I am currently looking at a book on my desk titled Children of Prometheus and subtitled The Accelerating Pace of Human Evolution by Christopher Wills, Professor of Biology at University of California.
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    as for violence being on the rise, this is an entirely false statement.

    there has never been as little crime per-capita as today, and the numbers has even been steadily decreasing by themselves.
    and if you believe games like GTA is morally bankrupt, and "trains kids to kill", i'll just let you know that after the release of the first GTA, murder statistics went DOWN by about 7%, and crime statistics all over the board went down by about the same amounts...
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  18. #17  
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    i get what your saying about evolution, but i still dont understand what can trigger it, viruses mutate all the time and they only seem to have the goal of harming us.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evolution_Of_The_Few
    i get what your saying about evolution, but i still dont understand what can trigger it, viruses mutate all the time and they only seem to have the goal of harming us.
    Evolution happens (more or less) any time an organism gives birth to offspring that are not 100% genetically identical to itself. Anytime there is a change. Other than this, there is nothing that "triggers" evolution to happen.

    Changes like mutations happen because the process of DNA replication is imperfect and mistakes happen some times. In sexually reproducing organisms, the genes of the two parents are mixed and combined to create offspring with different overall gene patterns. Etc.

    Viruses do not have the "goal" of harming anyone or anything. They simply reproduce via the cells of other organisms and often cause damage to the cells in the process.
    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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    so viruses use our cells in some cases to reproduce, they in effect use our bodys to survive?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evolution_Of_The_Few
    so viruses use our cells in some cases to reproduce, they in effect use our bodys to survive?
    yes, they're the ultimate fifth column
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evolution_Of_The_Few
    so viruses use our cells in some cases to reproduce, they in effect use our bodys to survive?
    Yep. And unless I'm mistaken, invading a host is the only way a virus can reproduce. The evolution of a virus may seem detrimental to the host, yet to the virus it is positive, since any success for the virus means survival, while for the host, it may be more detrimental.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by Evolution_Of_The_Few
    i get what your saying about evolution, but i still dont understand what can trigger it, viruses mutate all the time and they only seem to have the goal of harming us.
    Evolution happens (more or less) any time an organism gives birth to offspring that are not 100% genetically identical to itself.
    And that is always.
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    When I first read the topic I was going to say that there was no such thing as devolution and it's just a fancy word that coems up now and then but after reading yoru explanation of what you meant by the word I retract that statement. I don't think humans will ever be devolving in a sense that our brain size will get smaller and our intelligence will become less and less. All this technology and such has to coem from somewhere right? If anything in time we will be losing our muscel mass because we'll have computers do all our handiwork for us but our intelligence will continue to grow.
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    Evolution is any change that a species undergoes. Devolution is only used when we compare it to what directions WE THINK our evolution should take us. Just because a species brains get smaller doesn't mean they de-evolved, it just means they evolved in a different direction.
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  26. #25  
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    I wish people would at least skim a thread before they post in it. Then they might realize they're posting a statement that has been posted two or three times already.
    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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    lol i second that seeing as i'm trying to learn it
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    Sorry, I, got a little too impulsive...

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    dw i like to hear people views on it just try add sumthing new every time
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    the devolution your talking about is evolution in its work as i see it the dumber a person is the most likey there going to reporduce more then smarter ones (this is not always true just an observation) know these people i say are dumb arnt realy dumb they have the capability to be a briliant mind but they choose not to by what i have seen i say the future of human evolution will be:larger heads, shorter builds,less bulky bodys such as the british and the asian's exaple of bulky as i say are the irish and we will probobly be dumber lol. and the reason people are less interested in school is that everyone goes to school know its requierd as a child. before when only a hand full of kids went to school it was a privage almost a honor.
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  31. #30  
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    Quote Originally Posted by numb3rs
    by what i have seen i say the future of human evolution will be:
    larger heads, shorter builds,less bulky bodys
    larger heads, maybe, but not to such a large extent as you imply. IQ does correlate positively with health (see wiki on IQ), so i would imagine only the dumbest among us would be selected against. we as a society will never allow us to endorse a rigorously-free market, especially when technology is replacing jobs a a noticeable rate, so i don't think there is a significant difference between the differential economy (and therefore reproductive) success of a person with an IQ of, say, 120 and that of 160. One could imagine, by contrast, that those with extremely high IQs (larger heads) may even be selected against, since they allegedly have no social skills :P (except with others of the same IQ of course). If I would speculate, i'd say that, all other things being equal, the average IQ will steadily rise (and be recalibrated) since the low extreme has lower reproductive success than the high extreme.

    shorter builds would never be reproductively advantageous over larger builds, because of the female's hard-wired sexual instincts.

    iirc there are two types of muscles - one type has low strength high endurance and the other has high strength low endurance. Since neither characteristics will be naturally selected for in a technological era, and since any one can go to the gym to get fit and healthy, i think the gene frequency of both muscle types will be left not up to natural selection, but sexual recombination, genetic drift, and gene flow.
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  32. #31 Re: We've all heard of evolution, what about Devolution 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evolution_Of_The_Few
    What are your views, do you think man is devolving, are people using less of thier brains than before. If you look at many people today, even school students. They are uninterested in learning and aquiring new skills and pieces of knowledge. People are becoming more and more reliant on people doing things for them, machines doing things for them. How long will it be before we lose our ability to think for ourselves and become reliant on machines. Even the morals of today seem to be degraded, violence is on the rise, our plant is being destroyed on mass and we just sit here and let it happen. Fossil fuels are still being burned, how long will it be before we run out of that???? The what will we do. School students must focus more on learning things, instead of messing around.

    I get where your coming from, people copy off of my paper because their to lazy to even try to understand what we are doing, and that just continues for them, like a bad habit.

    I still think the human species will gain more intelligence over time, but think about it, what level of intelligence is required to reproduce? Do you really think having a high intelligence gives you a sexual advantage?

    Being reliant on machines? Okay, perhaps, but remember there is no real Artificial Intelligence yet. Also, it does take a certain amount of intelligence to imput information into a machine in order to get results back from the machine.

    Sure there are many problems of today, a lot of them caused by money and dominance. I belive there were always those same problems, just in different forms.

    About fossil fuels, I bet the fuel companies pay scientists to stop research on alternative methods. There are definitly more efficient alternate methods, we just can't reach them until the fuel companies get their last dollar.

    If man is developing to be the best reproducer or survivor to reproduce, then man probably will not get much more intelligent. But if the evolution of humans is based on adaptation to all of the new mechanisms, new ways of managing resources, education, etc.. Than humans will only gain intelligence from this point.
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  33. #32 I believe... 
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    I believe that too many people are messing with our lives...as you said...too many robotic thing etc are being built to do things for us..... ITS GETTING TOO OUT OF CONTROL!!!!!!!!!!!
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  34. #33 Re: We've all heard of evolution, what about Devolution 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond K
    Do you really think having a high intelligence gives you a sexual advantage?
    Yes. In The Mating Mind - How Sexual choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature, Geoffrey Miller argues persuasively that it was sexual selection that led to evolution of human intelligence. Our brains are the equivalent of the peacock's tail.
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  35. #34 Re: We've all heard of evolution, what about Devolution 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond K
    Do you really think having a high intelligence gives you a sexual advantage?
    Yes. In The Mating Mind - How Sexual choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature, Geoffrey Miller argues persuasively that it was sexual selection that led to evolution of human intelligence. Our brains are the equivalent of the peacock's tail.


    My point was, other traits are affecting modern sexual selection a lot more than intelligence, such as "attractiveness". A lot of highly intelligent people of today tend to not have much of a sex life as compared to the around average intelligence with more "attractive" characteristics.
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    ok, before you read this, keep in mind i am not an expert on the subject so i may say some things that arent strictly true.

    the way i see it, humans are the dominant species because of inteligence and the ability to use tools, not through physical strength or the like.
    for example put an unarmed human against, say, a lion, you know what will happen. but if the human were armed with a weapon the odds would dramaticaly change.

    im not sure if memes are widely accepted as fact, but assuming they are.
    humans rely on our memes much more than we do on genes for survival
    (unless genes dictate inteligence, as i said im not an expert), for memes give us survival skills, tool making, the ability to work together ect.

    as we as a species progressed to the stage where we stopped hunting and began settling down into what we are today, only the minority would produce food and tools, where as the majority use these tools, and buy food rather than get them ourselves, so we lose our survival skills. i beleave that if there were some global disaster and we all had to be self-sufficiant the people that call ourselves 'cultured' would be the first to go, as most of us have barely any survival skills.
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    I heard about a theiry the other day that says humanity will 'split' in its evelution and we will develop into two types of human

    those that depend on technology will become stupider and will 'devolve'
    and those who create the technology will become smarter and 'evolve'

    allthough this may just be a scientist being snobbish about his inteligence :P
    'if one man beleaves in fairies its called madness
    if one million men beleave in faries its called religion'- Richard Dawkings
    (but i think he was quoting someone when he said it...but who cares)
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  38. #37  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    It also sounds like the plot from A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley .
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    lol - can you say Eloi and Morlock? =p An interesting theory, and one that would require selective mating in order to block gene flow between the two subgroups for a sufficient amount of time to allow true divergence to occur. I think it's unlikely, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see. 8)

    Just a note about memes - I agree that they are vastly important to human progress. That probably goes without saying, especially as concerns technological knowledge. However, it's important to keep in mind that our ability to have memes in the first place is dependent on the genes that determine our brain capacity. We may be flexible and inventive, but we are that way because our genes evolved that way. In that sense memes and genes are inseparable.
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  40. #39  
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    Ah The Time Machine is more apt lol.
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    Quote Originally Posted by qwertyman
    the way i see it, humans are the dominant species because of inteligence and the ability to use tools, not through physical strength or the like. .
    More dominant than rats, cockroaches, or e.coli?
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  42. #41  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    May I add Krill to the list?

    Let's not forget about the humble viruses. more abundant than any other organism.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

    http://spuriousforums.com/index.php
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    May I add Krill to the list?

    Let's not forget about the humble viruses. more abundant than any other organism.
    If you measure success by the amount of biomass rather than by the amount of individuals than no virus surpasses its host . Of course, I still don't consider viruses alive
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    when i say humans are dominant, im not talking about numbers or biomass.

    I mean that humans control the planet, we live all over the world (allmost) and have the potential power to destroy the planet if we wished, i dont know how you could claim that bacteria (or ay other creature) are more dominant than humans.
    'if one man beleaves in fairies its called madness
    if one million men beleave in faries its called religion'- Richard Dawkings
    (but i think he was quoting someone when he said it...but who cares)
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    They are dominant when it comes to numbers or biomass, but if we count dominance in nukes I guess they are just more evolutionary successful. Besides, bacteria would probably survive anything humanity could throw at Mother Earth.
    ...Wait, what?
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  46. #45  
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    Quote Originally Posted by qwertyman
    when i say humans are dominant, im not talking about numbers or biomass.

    I mean that humans control the planet, we live all over the world (allmost) and have the potential power to destroy the planet if we wished, i dont know how you could claim that bacteria (or ay other creature) are more dominant than humans.
    You equate dominance with the power to destroy? A random mutated virus or bacteria could kill most, if not all, of us in short order :wink:.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
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  47. #46  
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    Quote Originally Posted by qwertyman
    I mean that humans control the planet, .
    Really? We must be using different meanings of the word control. We influence the planets biosphere, certainly, but generally for the worse not the better. We do not control climate, though we influence it. We do not control biodiversity, though we influence it. We do not control evolution, though we influence it. We do not control pathogens, though we like to pretend we do.
    Quote Originally Posted by qwertyman
    we live all over the world (allmost) .
    No we don't. Apart from some thousands of sailors and cruise ship passengers we only live on the land. The greatest volume of life is to be found in the sea. (Refer to Spurious Monkey's reminder about krill.) And wherever we are found there too will you find rats. Lots of them. And, in the warmer climes, cockroaches.
    Quote Originally Posted by qwertyman
    and have the potential power to destroy the planet if we wished,
    The first photosynthetic prokaryotes almost managed to do that too. What's your point?
    Quote Originally Posted by qwertyman
    i dont know how you could claim that bacteria (or ay other creature) are more dominant than humans.
    Perhaps because I understand something about a) the meaning of words b) biology.
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