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Posted: 07 September 2008 01:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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the PC apeman - 05 September 2008 05:19 AM

Lilith,
You seem to be suggesting that same-sex attraction is an evolved population control mechanism.  And further, that a lesbian who wants to have a child is somehow ignoring this biological signal.  Is that right?  Isn’t it possible that the desire to have children, even in a lesbian, is also a biological signal?  I suspect same-sex attraction and desire to have children are actually two separate things.  Remember, our desires are not rationally designed.  If a lesbian’s desire to have children is not a biological drive, where do you suppose it comes from?

Also, are you making a distinction between gay males and alpha males?

PC

Well in the “wild” say in chimps, being a lesbian would stop you from reproducing even if the drive to have kids was a separate impulse.

mckenzievmd - 05 September 2008 08:41 PM

I’m afraid the idea of genes for population control makes no sense in terms of evolution. A gene that discouraged its vehicle from reproducing it would disappear from the population rather quickly when competing with genes that encouraged their own reproduction. Furthermore, selection at the population level or “for the good of the group” is referred to as the “group selection” theory and is generally regarded as mistaken.

This reminds me of an article I read earlier this year about selfish bees about how they would kill themselves in order to preserve the rest of their group.

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Posted: 07 September 2008 01:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Lilith - 06 September 2008 11:09 PM

  When you take away the false influence of religion in highly populated areas, say New York or Amsterdam, more sexually healthy adults opt out of reproduction through same sex preference.

Here in the Bay Area of California, most of my Gay and Lesbian friends totally blew THAT plan. They almost all have children. Almost all of them are biological, a few are adopted. Most have been carried or created by one or both of the couple(as in one male fathers child #1 and the other child #2, or one woman carries one child, and the other carries the next, one male couple mixed their sperm so that the biological father could be random chance). Humans are creative when it comes to procreating. You are confusing two states of being. GLTB does NOT necessarily equate with childlessness. Parenthood or childlessness is not a function of sexuality, it is often a function of choice. Obviously, I’m not speaking of those who have tried to get pregnant, but were unable to do so.

Humans are just like any other animal that can overpopulate an area to its detriment. We like to think we have some control over this tendency. For that argument, you’ll have to join the thread on [Free Will/i].

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Posted: 07 September 2008 05:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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George - 06 September 2008 11:18 PM
macgyver - 06 September 2008 07:38 AM

Our genes evolved to compell us to eat as much as we can whenever food is available. That very impulse has lead to a society of obese individuals where diabetes is now an epedemic. Surely you aren’t suggesting we should refrain from efforts to control our impulse to overeat because its dictated by our genes.

This is only partly true. Only the genes of the obese individuals evolved to eat as much as possible. My genes didn’t evolve in that way as I am not obese. You seem to be making the same mistake as Brennen, elevating reason to become a member of some sort of divina favente.

That’s not correct. You are assuming that the tendency towards obesity is a genetic flaw. It is not. The tendency to consume and conserve calories and store fat is a survivial adaptation. It is the norm not the exception. One only has to look around our country to see the proof of this. Obesity is becoming an ever increasingly common problem as is diabetes. That isn’t happening because more people are developing a defective mutation, its because we all have that tendency to one degree or another, but our environment has changed. We once lived in a world where that provided us with a survival advantage, but we now live in a world where this trait is detrimental to overall health.

Another point along the same line of reasoning. Natural selection only applies to those traits that allow individuals to reach reproductive age, reproduce for several years and then die. Once an individual has outlived his/her usefulness there is no survivial advantage to keeping them alive any longer. Our genetic makeup has evolved along these lines to maximize the number of human beings on the planet. The point here is that evolution may have very different goals than we as individuals or a society do. We don’t have to be a slave to our genes. In the past the survivial of the species was best served when we start reproducing early, had babies frequently, and died at 40 or so. Would you suggest we continue to follow this pattern in modern times? To suggest we should follow a given pattern of behavoir because that behavior provided some survival advantage in the past is foolish if the environment that gene evolved in no longer exists or if the behavior is counter productive to the well being of the individual or society.

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Posted: 07 September 2008 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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macgyver - 07 September 2008 05:01 AM

In the past the survivial of the species was best served when we start reproducing early, had babies frequently, and died at 40 or so. Would you suggest we continue to follow this pattern in modern times? To suggest we should follow a given pattern of behavoir because that behavior provided some survival advantage in the past is foolish if the environment that gene evolved in no longer exists or if the behavior is counter productive to the well being of the individual or society.

You forgot the part about the fact that most men had several wives, because he would lose them in childbirth. The women who survived would almost always have several husbands, because they would be lost to farm accidents. Many of the children would be lost to disease and accidents. Malnutrition was hard on everyone.

[ Edited: 07 September 2008 05:12 AM by asanta ]
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Posted: 07 September 2008 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Lilith,
I’m not sure why you think repeatedly introducing religion answers my questions.  It seems to be your way of avoiding actual answers to difficult questions.  If you don’t like to have your opinions challenged then I’d suggest you stop presenting them on a message board.

PC

ETA: I should address this in case you thought is was an answer to my question.

Lilith - 06 September 2008 11:09 PM

I don’t think it is by accident that in larger populations where religious freedom is assured, there is more sexual fluidity.  When you take away the false influence of religion in highly populated areas, say New York or Amsterdam, more sexually healthy adults opt out of reproduction through same sex preference.

How do you account for the common attraction for rural homosexuals to move to large population centers?  There is a (seemingly paradoxical) anonymity of a large city that allows gays, lesbians, and other social outcasts to escape small town scrutiny.  There is also the fact of larger numbers intrinsically allowing for a more sustainable subculture - which adds to the first point.  All this produces the demographic snowballing effect.  Surely this mitigates any effects you are claiming.  Your arguments don’t hold up.

[ Edited: 07 September 2008 07:47 AM by the PC apeman ]
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Posted: 07 September 2008 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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macro820 - 07 September 2008 01:27 AM

Well in the “wild” say in chimps, being a lesbian would stop you from reproducing even if the drive to have kids was a separate impulse.

Yes it would.  Which is why I asked Lilith the question the other way around too.  If a human heterosexual couple has a reproductive impediment, say some sort of fertility problem, I was curious if she saw that as the same thing.  These partners can still have a desire to have children even though there is a biological impediment, right?  What is different in the case of a lesbian couple?  For some reason, Lilith chose not to address this.

PC

ETA: I neglected to finish addressing your good question.  One of my goals was to support the idea that sexual attraction and desire to have children are two separate things.  I think it likely that Lilith will take the position that even heterosexual couples with biological impediments should not use extraordinary means to reproduce.  She is, after all, concerned with overpopulation.  That’s why I added the last question.  If people should follow their biological signals, as Lilith suggests, then heterosexual couples without reproductive impediments should not use contraception, right?  I suspect this will not be a popular conclusion.

[ Edited: 07 September 2008 08:09 AM by the PC apeman ]
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Posted: 07 September 2008 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Lilith,

I understand why it seems obvious that some form of population control is needed for human. Clearly, we’re overbreeding like crazy, to the detriment of the planet as a whole. The problem is that we cannot evolve genes to limit our reproduction, for the reasons I mentioned above. It’s just not how genes and reproduction works. Someone mentioned bees and altruism, but that is a special case in which nearly all the individuals involved are full genetic siblings, nothing like the average human group. The fact that we are overbreeding to the extent we are supports the argument that we don’t have effective mechanisms to prevent ourselves from doing so, even though we have the ability to see the problem and choose to limit our reproduction/ The average teenager has the capacity to control their reproduction in many ways, from abstinence to all manner of technicological methods. And yet…. The drive to reproduce is among the most potent, and that makes sense if you really understand how genes and evolution works, so I still think you’ve got an interesting theory which just happens not work.

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Posted: 07 September 2008 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Well I was just stating how they could be separate.

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Posted: 07 September 2008 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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macro820 - 07 September 2008 08:08 AM

Well I was just stating how they could be separate.

My apologies macro820.  I was using your post to address Lilith.  (I just added to it too.)  I mean no offense to you.  Sorry.

PC

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Posted: 07 September 2008 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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macgyver - 07 September 2008 05:01 AM

You are assuming that the tendency towards obesity is a genetic flaw. It is not. The tendency to consume and conserve calories and store fat is a survivial adaptation. It is the norm not the exception.

I believe it is a genetic flaw. Obese people simply don’t have the “gene” (yes, I know it’s not one gene) to know when to stop eating. So yes, we do have to be a slave to our genes. Our genes not only designed our bodies but also our minds.

macgyver - 07 September 2008 05:01 AM

In the past the survivial of the species was best served when we start reproducing early, had babies frequently, and died at 40 or so. Would you suggest we continue to follow this pattern in modern times?

But this is absurd. We don’t live in the past anymore. Should I follow my fish ancestors and jump back to the lake? Obviously I never suggested anything like this. Not because it’s (“strategically”) wrong, but because it’s not possible. I can only want what I have been designed to want by millions of years of natural selection.

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Posted: 07 September 2008 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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George - 07 September 2008 08:39 AM

I can only want what I have been designed to want by millions of years of natural selection.

I know we’ve discussed this before, but one does have to be careful making claims such as these. We cannot have been designed by millions of years of natural selection to want to use birth control. That’s both because birth control wasn’t available in our ancestral environment, and more pointedly because natural selection cannot design you not to reproduce. The only way your traits/genes add to your fitness is by increasing your propensity to distribute your traits/genes. So it isn’t quite so simple.

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Posted: 07 September 2008 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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dougsmith - 07 September 2008 08:50 AM

natural selection cannot design you not to reproduce.

It can’t? Why are 99% of all species gone? What was advantageous at one point can be fatal in the future. Icefish evolved to survive in a cold water. Now the ocean is getting warm and the icefish will probably go extinct because what had made it successful in its past will now kill it.

And why do you think we cannot have been designed by millions of years of natural selection to want to use birth control? The atomic bomb wasn’t also available in the past and we have it (and want it) now. How could natural selection possibly design our brains so smart that we could make atomic bombs which if used will prevent us all from reproducing?

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Posted: 07 September 2008 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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George, you’re confusing the point of the adaptations. NS doesn’t design us to want birth control or atom bombs, it designs us with brain capable of a wide range of thoughts and desires. These must, on average, be thoughts and desires that will promote the reproduction of the relevant genes more successfully than competing genes, or over loooong periods of time the substrate will change to preclude such thoughts and desires. Our adaptation is behavioral flexibility, and while that has clearly led to incredible reproductive success, it has the by-product of behaviors that might actually be counter-productive from a reproductive point of view. Again, it is the average success of one set of genes compared to another that NS cares about, not the particulars of the behavior of each and every individual. So, NS didn’t design species to go extinct, it designed them in ways that ceased to be successful aa conditions changed, and this is a huge distinction. Similarly, NS may have led to a brain that can think up genocide or the atom bomb, but this is not the same thing as saying NS designed us specifically for comiting genocide or inventing the atom bomb.

If these kinds of behaviors are ultimately more harmful to the reproduction of the genes that code for our neural makeup, then maybe they will lead to the extinction of the relevant gene combinations. We’ll probably never know, barring a global catastrophe, because such extinction events are spread over millenia, so we can’t see them happening in real time. Still, it is possible that for all the reproductively disadvantageous things our brains lead us to do (war, birth control, celibacy, maybe homosexuality though as others have pointed out these people often reproduce, etc) our brains still, on balance, generate more behaviors that are advantageous to our reproduction, in which case there’s no reason to think that the individual behavior we’re discussing are somehow deliberate attempts by NS to limit our reproduction.

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Posted: 07 September 2008 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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George - 07 September 2008 09:11 AM
dougsmith - 07 September 2008 08:50 AM

natural selection cannot design you not to reproduce.

It can’t? Why are 99% of all species gone? What was advantageous at one point can be fatal in the future. Icefish evolved to survive in a cold water. Now the ocean is getting warm and the icefish will probably go extinct because what had made it successful in its past will now kill it.

And why do you think we cannot have been designed by millions of years of natural selection to want to use birth control? The atomic bomb wasn’t also available in the past and we have it (and want it) now. How could natural selection possibly design our brains so smart that we could make atomic bombs which if used will prevent us all from reproducing?

George I don’t think you quite understand how natural selection and evolution work. The 99% of species that are now extinct are not extinct because their genes evolved to make them less successful at reproduction. They are extinct because their genes coouldn’t evolve quickly enough to allow them to reproduce better in a changing environment, just as your second sentence says.

As for the second part of your post, our genes were “not designed”. They are random mutations which then increase or decrease in frequency according to their ability to provide survival and reproductive advantages to their carrier organism. Our brain evolved as it did because it provided a survival advantage in the world and time in which evolved. As stated above, an adaptation which originally provided a survival advantage at one point may be a disadvantage later ( ie. if we all kill ourselves), but then we will become extinct, and evolution will at least temporarily select for less intelligent species ( only the cockroachs will be left).

The bottom line here is that a species can evolve a characteristic that may some day prove to be detrimental to its survival when conditions change, but it CAN NOT evolve a trait that is detrimental to its ability to survive and reproduce at the time it evolved.

P.S. - I hate to keep harping on this, but the tendency toward obesity is NOT a genetic defect ( I should clarify that I am talking about type II/ Adult onset diabetes -the most common type, not type I/Juvenile diabetes, which is a very different disease). It is a characteristic that offered great survival advantage during the first 99.99% of our history as a species when food was scarce. It is only lately that it has become a disadvantage. It is not just the propensity to eat more food than you need at the moment, but the ability of our bodies to alter fat and carbohydrate metabolism, and a dozen other metabolic processes that occur.  These adaptations help us store energy for later use during times of scarcity, but when scarcity never comes the adapatation becomes maladaptive.  If these genetic traits were truly a genetic “defect” natural selection would have decreased their frequency in the population a long time ago and they would be no where near as common in the population as they are today.

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Posted: 07 September 2008 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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George - 07 September 2008 09:11 AM
dougsmith - 07 September 2008 08:50 AM

natural selection cannot design you not to reproduce.

It can’t? Why are 99% of all species gone? What was advantageous at one point can be fatal in the future. Icefish evolved to survive in a cold water. Now the ocean is getting warm and the icefish will probably go extinct because what had made it successful in its past will now kill it.

Right, but that’s not because natural selection designs them to go extinct. It designs them to be fit to their (ancestral) environment. When that environment changes, many individuals will find themselves less fit, and die. Those individuals who are most fit to the new environment may survive, and if they do so, their descendants will also be more fit.

It is never more fit not to reproduce. (Unless by so doing one is helping one’s genes through kin-based altruism, as bees or ants do; but I’m assuming that’s not generally the case here). So natural selection cannot select for a desire not to reproduce. Nevertheless clearly many of us do not wish to have children; that’s because natural selection also designed higher-functioning brains which can make rational decisions under certain circumstances. Those decisions that are most rational may sometimes also be against our own selective fitness, since we don’t often think through our genes.

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