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Are humans still evolving?
Posted: 27 April 2007 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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I’m not sure what I said was a meme though.  It’s only a theory that I’ve thought about.

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Posted: 27 April 2007 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Actually any unit or cluster of cultural information you spread (a theory you have though about and then posted about) is a meme. But I was referring to your discussion on chimp memetics.

[quote author=“Mriana”]chimps could be the ancestors of something else that manages to carry the stories of what humans do with them.

Memetics, get it?

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Posted: 27 April 2007 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Yes and humans did the same thing.  Although that may not have truly started until the homeosapian time period.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 27 April 2007 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Indeed which is why I said:

[quote author=“cgallaga”]
And one can easily argue that in the million or so years that our genetic evolution has slowed our memetic evolution has been going at FTL speeds. :D

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Posted: 29 April 2007 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Yes, we are

Yeah, the human race is still evolving, much as every species is constantly, relentlessly evolving. You can’t see it because we reproduce so slowly.

It’s easier to see evolution in bacteria or fruitflies because they breed very quickly (several times a minute), but we reproduce what, every 30 years or so? And we have a nine month gestation period to boot.

Evolution is a species-level event, not an individual event. Individuals do not evolve (except maybe colloquially). But in areas where Malaria is rampant, the Hbs gene is more prevalent than it is outside the malarial belt, which is an evolutionary survival technique.

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Posted: 01 May 2007 07:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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I wonder about this too.

After reading Daniel Tammet’s Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant I think perhaps we still are evolving. Tammet is a savant who’s brain works in mysterious ways. It’s said that there are only about 50 people like him in the world.  So, what about the rest of us? How come we have are not able to use our brains like savants do?  Will it be a million years before everyone’s brain will have the capacity to store and recall billions of pieces of information, learn foreign languages in a week, and do mathematical calculations without any conscious effort?

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Posted: 01 May 2007 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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How come we have are not able to use our brains like savants do? Will it be a million years before everyone’s brain will have the capacity to store and recall billions of pieces of information, learn foreign languages in a week, and do mathematical calculations without any conscious effort?

I still think this sounds like the idea of evolution as a necessary progression to “better.” What selective pressures would make these abilities more adaptive in our current enviropnment? I suspect the reproductive success of such savants would be, if anything, lower than people with more typical social skills, and all evolution cares about is how effectively we reproduce, not whether we in any sense maximize our potential. That is not to say I don’t think we are evolving. I think we likely are in ways we cannot see from our short time perspective. But I do not think we are marching forward to any kind of “perfection” of the human designs, since that’s just not how evolution works.

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Posted: 01 May 2007 08:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Evolution and Direction

There is a tendency to assume that things are evolving from frail to perfect. In a sense it is, but it’s an evolution towards being perfectly adapted to an environmental niche. Every species that has not gone extinct is successful, from the simplest microbes to great squids. In fact, judging by the relative tenacity of bacterial species and their sheer number in comparison to man, you could say that this is not the Age of Man at all… it is, and has been, since the beginning, the Age of Bacteria.

Intelligence isn’t the only game in town. Consider species of archea that are capable of processing H2S instead of O2. In anoxic environments, they thrive in ways no human, no matter how brilliant, could ever last. Or deep sea creatures that can withstand the immense pressure at the bottom of the ocean-where we can’t even send a human being without killing them, let alone have them go down there and walk around. Or hyperthermophiles that can withstand the heat of a thermal vent. There are some species of bacteria that can thrive in hypercloric environments-try immersing yourself in clorox and see if you can compete with that.

Human beings are evolving, as every species evolves. But that doesn’t imply that we’re getting smarter. There isn’t even a clear definition of what intelligence is for that matter. Is a savant, brilliant at quantitative skills and mnemonics, as adept at complex social situations or music?

There’s an old picture drawing that’s plagues evolutionary biology ever since it was drawn. It depicts on the left a fish, then a small land reptile, etc, all the way to simians and an upright man on the right. That is not an accurate representation of evolution. We are not ‘the most evolved’ species, not by far, except that every species that survives is the most highly evolved.

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Posted: 02 May 2007 03:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Re: Evolution and Direction

[quote author=“AlbanyDave”]Is a savant, brilliant at quantitative skills and mnemonics, as adept at complex social situations or music?

I don’t know about all savants but in Tammet’s case social behavior is something he has to work on. (I think autistic people in general, have a problem with empathy.) As a kid, he didn’t realize that going up to someone and running his finger along the back of that person’s neck was inappropriate behavior. He also didn’t understand the notion of personal space, that standing too close to strangers is inappropriate. 

In the documentary, there’s a savant who’s special ability is art. Although, developmentally, he’s like a child, his artistic ability is anything but childlike.

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