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  1. #1
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    Default Has natural selection been aborted?

    Has natural selection been aborted?

    I would say that natural selection, i.e. evolution, has taken a dramatic turn since the birth of human consciousness. Natural selection produced the human species and the human species has derailed natural selection. World wide the species that survive, including the human species, depends upon human created meaning and no longer upon natural selection.

    We have become meaning creating creatures and have developed a high tech society that overwhelms the process of natural selection. The selection of what species will survive in the future no longer depends upon the process of natural selection but depends upon the process of human meaning creation.

    Who am I? Of what value is my life? The child, when asking these questions, is saying that s/he wants to be recognized as an object of value. S/he wants to know how well s/he measures up as a hero.

    Freud saw that the underlying foundation for these feelings and ambitions was the “utter self-centeredness and self-preoccupation, each person’s feeling that he is the one in creation, that his life represents all life” he tallied all this up and labeled it narcissism. Nietzsche saw this healthy expression as one of the “Will to Power” and glory.

    This represents the “inevitable drive to cosmic heroism by the animal who had become man.”

    Culture provides the vehicle for heroic action directed toward strengthening self-esteem. The task of the ego is to navigate through the culture in such a way as to diminish anxiety, and the ego does this by learning “to chose actions that are satisfying and bring praise rather than blame…Therefore, if the function of self-esteem is to give the ego a steady buffer against anxiety, wherever and whenever it might be imagined, one crucial function of culture is to make continued self-esteem possible.

    Culture’s task is “to provide the individual with the conviction that he is an object of primary value in a world of meaningful action.”


    The cultural hero system whether religious, primitive, or scientific is “still a mythical hero-system in which people serve in order to earn a feeling of primary value, of cosmic specialness, of ultimate usefulness to creation, of unshakable meaning. They earn this feeling by carving out a place in nature, by building an edifice that reflects human value: a temple, a cathedral, a totem pole, a skyscraper, a family that spans three generations.”

    How does the American culture perform its task?

    I claim that the maximization of production and consumption is the principal means for the satisfaction of self-esteem for its citizens. It is through the active participation as a member of a community that strives constantly to maximize the production and consumption of goods that the American citizen best satisfies his or her drive for “cosmic action”.

    We are all captives of our cultural systems. Whether the cultural system dictates the stoning of one’s sister for destroying family honor or a system that finds cosmic heroism through a process that maximizes the rate at which we consume our planet.

    Our culture is constructed from the meaning that we create. The future of our species and of all life is dependent upon our comprehension of our self and how we use that comprehension in developing a better meaning structure than we have done so far.


    Quotes from The Birth and Death of Meaning Ernest Becker

  2. #2
    movin melodies kiddykat's Avatar
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    Are we talking about social darwanism? If so, there is a lot of social/political implications to his theory from what I see as well.

    Although I believe in the theory of evolution, parts of what he says may be taken so out of context that I would question some people's philosophies towards it.

  3. #3
    rawr Costrin's Avatar
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    Natural selection hasn't stopped. It can't stop. It will always be. But the rules have changed, though the goal stays the same. Natural selection has always been that the organisms which survive and reproduce the most will "win". This hasn't changed, but the kinds of things which do that has changed. Instead of competing physically for scarce resources, humans compete in the social arena. Quite simply, the organism that is best at manipulating others is the one that will survive and reproduce. That is what natural selection is looking for nowadays.
    "All humour has a foundation of truth."
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    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    technically no, "natural selection" (carefully think of these terms now) can't be aborted, but its definitely going in a different direction. As the great Carlin once said, too many lives are being saved by airbags and batting helmets!

    I think the underlying assumption you're not mentioning here is that human intervention is UNnatural selection. I do not presume that to be so

  5. #5
    Senior Member Qre:us's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst View Post
    Has natural selection been aborted?
    It can't....otherwise, the whole theory of evolution would be invalidated. Strictly speaking as a natural science, not social darwinism.

    Natural selection produced the human species and the human species has derailed natural selection. World wide the species that survive, including the human species, depends upon human created meaning and no longer upon natural selection.
    There are some truths to your bolded actually, but, not in the subsequent way you've outlined. I.e., human activity has driven natural selection in 'unnatural' direction, but, the process of natural selection is still at play.

    I will try to find the sources/links later but, I was reading this article about how certain characteristics in salmon and deer (I believe) are being naturally selected so that these characterisitics are being seen in later generations....however, these characteristics are not condusive to the salmons and deer surviving in their natural environment optimally. So, why are these characterisitics being selected? Due to human driven activity like mass fishing and hunting/disturbance to their natural environment by humans. The fish and deer are getting smaller, with deer having smaller antlers because they are not as likely 'catches' for humans (harder to spot)....and these guys are being selected for.

    So, yes, in a way, your statement has merit: human species have 'derailed' natural selection....just off the optimal track, and onto a worse one.

  6. #6
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post

    So, yes, in a way, your statement has merit: human species have 'derailed' natural selection....just off the optimal track, and onto a worse one.

    See I think that's a bad presumption as well....

    It's like, how do you know something isn't/wasn't optimal until you see the results?

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    rawr Costrin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    See I think that's a bad presumption as well...
    Indeed. It's not worse. It's clearly better. They are surviving better, yes? If so, then it is better. But at the same time, it would be worse in different circumstances. Everything is dependent on the context, and in this context, those changes are better. You can't compare only to the physical environment. Competition is a huge part of natural selection.
    "All humour has a foundation of truth."
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  8. #8
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    well i don't think everything is better.... one thing I'd have to come on down with my "harshness Axe" is a thing like diabetes.... all it does it cause huge problems and increase dependancy on healthcare exponentially. If they can't cure diabetes, it could be something that blows up to epidemic levels

  9. #9
    Senior Member Qre:us's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    See I think that's a bad presumption as well....

    It's like, how do you know something isn't/wasn't optimal until you see the results?
    A couple of ways to answer this.

    First, from the pov of environmental/ecological preservation...the answer is obvious. I guess we can argue about the merits of preserving the ecology and balance to ecosystem, etc, which is being out-rated by human activity, hence upsetting the balance, and driving towards...sub-optimal characteristics in various species. Meaning, the characteristics being selected for are being driven by a response to human intervention, which is out-selecting characteristics for species survival in their natural environment.

    Second, it makes commentary on the 'speed limit' of evolution. There's this thing called the Genetic Information in the Phenotype (GIP). Rather than explain this crazy computation, I'll just reference w/ abstract:

    Worden, R.P. (1995) 'A Speed Limit for Evolution', Journal of Theoretical Biology 176: 137-52.

    Derives very restrictive upper bound on the rate of a population's accumulation of information about the environment as displayed in spread of phenotypic characteristics ("genetic information in the phenotype", or GIP). The treatment rests on a partitioning of phenotypic characteristics which would be challenging to apply in empirical settings, and the notion of GIP does not appear to distinguish between full allele fixation on a sub-optimal local fitness peak and fixation on a global optimum. More complete critical review of this work is included in a paper currently under development.

    GIP cannot increase faster than a given rate, which gets determined by selection pressure on that part.

    Darwin first spoke of the long-held assumption that evolutionary change is a slow as molasses process (paraphrasing..). Then, in early '70s, along came Eldrige (sp?) and Gould, who said that evolution goes through slow changes/process and there's parts where it speeds up, and then long periods of calm/_______________.

    Which then called into question, how fast is really fast? What is the speed? How fast does this speed reach?

    (now I'm borrowing from Worden's paper)....but, there's two key assumptions:
    *one is that, a given species can only take a certain amout of selection pressure, after that limit, it will die out.

    * two is that, the rate of the evolution fo a certain trait depend on the strength of selection of that trait, such that weak selection pressures will cause evolutionary changes to be a slow process (with much fewer of the species dying out)

    Now, taking all this into context and building some applicable thought to your issue at hand.

    * You get a selection pressure introduced in a species, like, human activity, say, mass fishing.
    The response of nemo et al. will be to either sustain that pressure OR die out (which we've seen human activity to do other species...it's just these buggers, salmons, withstood it better than other species, so they're still in the 'game')
    What is their state in the game? They are having selection pressure being applied that drives them to be smaller, weaker, while their natural enviornment doesn't change to that degree to make them as optimally adaptable to their environment. Yet, they're (well, natural selection) choosing the most 'imminent' thing to fight against, which becomes a trade-off for other things they lose, which secures their fate for (lack of) long term survival.
    These fishies are getting smaller, which is: (1) not optimal for their natural environment, (2) for sexual selection, (3) competition. The drive for selection pressures wins out 1, 2, 3, and becomes driven due to human activity......which is 'artificial' in a way, but the natural selection fo the fishies don't know that. You disturb that, in any way, and they'll become fish outta water, gasping to survive.


    Quote Originally Posted by Costrin View Post
    Indeed. It's not worse. It's clearly better. They are surviving better, yes? If so, then it is better. But at the same time, it would be worse in different circumstances. Everything is dependent on the context, and in this context, those changes are better. You can't compare only to the physical environment. Competition is a huge part of natural selection.

    And this is why this is 'worse'. Competition (including sexual) is a huge driving force of natural selection which is being trumped by selection pressures due to human activity as for salmon, bigger fish means better size, able to compete.

    As everything is dependent on the context, we must then question the viability of that context. Human activity being a context is not a very stable nor sustainable context for these species to adapt to.

  10. #10
    rawr Costrin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    And this is why this is 'worse'. Competition (including sexual) is a huge driving force of natural selection which is being trumped by selection pressures due to human activity as for salmon, bigger fish means better size, able to compete.

    As everything is dependent on the context, we must then question the viability of that context. Human activity being a context is not a very stable nor sustainable context for these species to adapt to.
    The only possible criteria I see is "does it survive?" If the answer is yes, than they're "winning". If the answer is no, than they "lost". Humans have become a big enough force that they force changes upon other organisms. If those organisms cant keep up with the rate of change and instability introduced by humans, than they lose. This is not worse from a cosmic standpoint, nor is it better. From that species' perspective, that is worse. From human's perspective, it could be worse, better, or neutral. But if it is worse for us, than it is our own fault.

    Clearly though, there are species that are able to survive with humans, even if only because we take care of them. Dogs are good example. They have evolved in ways that make them more liked by us, and so we take care of them. But even species in direct competition with us have managed to survive, such as bacteria.

    Basically, I don't see what your basis is for calling it worse.
    "All humour has a foundation of truth."
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