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    Thread: Evolving Towards Society

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      Evolving Towards Society

      I wanted to ask this question, how long do you think it will be until we evolve towards society. You know, like our bodies learn how to deal with food like mcdonalds and we rely on high calorie intakes without much physical effort. Our bodies now still act like we are tribal and expend much energy everyday, but we do jobs that require little physical effort and we have plentiful supplies of food. If a long time from now our bodies evolve to such a thing, society breaking down would lead to extinction of the human race. Would it not? Correct me if I am wrong, I am not completely familiar with the theory of evolution, my mom is super religious and I was home schooled up until last year...

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      What you are saying is not evolution towards society, it is evolution to modern living. We've gradually transitioned to this way of living over the past hundred or so years. If things stay the same as they are now, there's no telling how long it would take for our bodies to adjust toward living that lifestyle. However, things aren't going to stay the same. Our world is rapidly changing around us. Lots of people, myself included, do not eat food like McDonald's and work to stay active and healthy.

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      A lot of the world is still malnourished or living off subsistence farming.
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      The human species can no longer evolve, except through technology.

      The only reason species evolve is because there is relatively small numbers of them.

      So if one of them is significantly better at something than the other, and it helps them survive better, they will produce more offspring to pass on their traits.

      With humans nowadays, we don't evolve like that. One person might be extremely intelligent, but they're gonna only produce a few offspring. Which is nothing compared to the 7 billion other people.

      Plus many good traits, like intelligence, aren't passed on because people who are very intelligent usually dedicate their lives to a certain activity other than sex.
      But that's getting off the point a bit.

      Basically there's too many people to really evolve any further. The only thing that could catalyse evolution, besides technology, would be a sweeping social change. Such as, for example, in the renaissance, and I think before in some cultures, women with large hips were seen as attractive, but now women with smaller hips are generally more desired, I don't know why. Probably social conditioning rather than people's actual subjective opinion. (If you ask any kid around 10-14 he will tell you women with larger hips are attractive).

      So that is one thing I can see that has changed, because it is a widespread thing.

      But anyway, it is possible that because so many people eat all this shit, they have some genetic thing which causes them to desire high-carbohydrate foods. Almost all people have this desire for carbs, but a lot obviously have it worse. The good thing is that people do not find fat people attractive generally. But the bad thing is that fat people generally have sex with fat people so they might breed more. But there will still be some people who aren't fat. These people will survive if there is a collapse of our empire. Which is not really a bad thing.

      EDIT: That was so disjointed, I'm tired.
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      It will take millions of years to lose our wisdom teeth. What makes you think we're going to still have McDonald's in the time frame it will take to develop the necessary functions and enzymes and other shit to handle it?

      I'm afraid that everything will be changed before that comes around. Technology and science is moving too fast to allow for it.

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      Quote Originally Posted by bradysdreaming View Post
      You know, like our bodies learn how to deal with food like mcdonalds and we rely on high calorie intakes without much physical effort. Our bodies now still act like we are tribal and expend much energy everyday, but we do jobs that require little physical effort and we have plentiful supplies of food. If a long time from now our bodies evolve to such a thing, society breaking down would lead to extinction of the human race. Would it not? Correct me if I am wrong, I am not completely familiar with the theory of evolution, my mom is super religious and I was home schooled up until last year...
      For anything like that to evolve, there would have to be a significant difference in reproductive success between people who eat at McDonalds and don't get fat, and people who eat at McD. and get fat. In addition, you would have to wait a couple of thousand years before genes linked to this type of metabolism sweep through the population. Hopefully, McDonals won't exist in a couple of decades.


      Quote Originally Posted by tommo View Post
      The human species can no longer evolve, except through technology.
      Pretty much.

      Quote Originally Posted by tommo View Post
      The only reason species evolve is because there is relatively small numbers of them.

      So if one of them is significantly better at something than the other, and it helps them survive better, they will produce more offspring to pass on their traits.
      The larger the population, the stronger the selection effects are. Larger population are, in principle, more evolvable.
      In small populations, evolution happens mostly due to genetic drift.

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      Thanks guys for clearing that up, like I said I don't understand evolution fully...

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      Quote Originally Posted by SnakeCharmer View Post
      The larger the population, the stronger the selection effects are. Larger population are, in principle, more evolvable.
      In small populations, evolution happens mostly due to genetic drift.
      What? Can you explain that more?

      How could you agree with my previous statement, if you think larger populations are more evolvable?

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      Quote Originally Posted by tommo View Post
      The human species can no longer evolve, except through technology.

      This isn't really right at all. The human "species" (or more precisely, the collection of genes that are currently being transmitted through us) is every bit as susceptible to selection pressures as any other collection of genes. Any allele which has more copies of it being made than another allele will rise to prominence in the population. This translates to "alleles which cause their bearers to have more reproducing offspring will spread in the population." Here's one example of this happening right now.

      What modern culture does is make it so that most people can reproduce. This does not mean that natural selection is not at work. It means that not every variation is subject to it. There's a huge difference.

      There's also various types of meiotic drive to take into account where a gene manipulates meiosis in such a manner as to ensure that it's passed on to a disproportionate amount of the offspring of its hosts. I don't know of any examples of it in humans but nothing that modern culture does would, in principle, have anything to do with such a gene. So it would rise in frequency as well.
      Last edited by PhilosopherStoned; 02-13-2011 at 05:16 AM.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      Ah, see but it also says "substantial genetic differences between different current human populations"

      Which means different areas have genetic differences. But the human population as a whole isn't changing. Maybe we might split off in to different species. But I think there is too many people for this to happen. People moving about all the time etc.

      Or maybe "There's also various types of meiotic drive to take into account where a gene manipulates meiosis in such a manner as to ensure that it's passed on to a disproportionate amount of the offspring of its hosts." This would change that. Not sure though.

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Read it again. It gives a concrete example of a particular disease to which humans in the affected area are evolving resistance. This is how evolution happens and is a good example of how our current life style doesn't remove all selective pressures.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      Yes I agree with that.
      But humans as a whole are not going to change, most likely.

      That is just one group of people who are at risk of getting kuru, who are developing an immunity to it.

      For example, we will most likely never see humans with some sort of mutation in our lower backs which gets rid of the back pain lots of people suffer due to being bipeds.

      Or even something related to reproduction directly like Sperm adapting to warmer temperatures so the testicles don't have to hang vulnerably outside of the abdomen.

      It won't happen. There might be small amounts of people who get a particular variation. But it won't get passed on to everybody.

      Therefore something like what the OP mentioned can't happen.

      BUT, we could split off in to distinct species, given enough time for enough variations to happen.

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      Quote Originally Posted by tommo View Post
      What? Can you explain that more?

      How could you agree with my previous statement, if you think larger populations are more evolvable?
      I agreed with the assertion that human biological evolution is limited, but I didn't agree on the reasons behind it. Technology limits the magnitude of natural selection we are subject to. Infectious diseases, as pointed out by PhilosopherStoned, are pretty much the main thing influencing our biological evolution and imposing selective pressure, since everyone has approximately the same chance of leaving offspring.

      Larger populations being more evolvable (maybe adaptable through natural selection is a better way of saying it) is a standard idea from population genetics. Admittedly, there is some controversy surrounding it lately.
      For humans, there's some research showing an accelerated rate of adaptive evolution in the past 40-50,000 years, correlated with population growth. Note that this is a cumulative effect over 50,000 years, so we can't really say with certainty how technological evolution from the last 100 years is influencing our biological evolution.

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