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Are humans still evolving? Absolutely, says new analysis of long-term survey of human health - Comments

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 1 by justinesaracen

I am a little puzzled as to how these conclusions were derived from the study. Aside from the question of how smoking affects evolutionary predictions, it was my understanding from a remark that Richard himself made in an interview, that evolutionary changes occur with respect to the number of offspring. That is, the fit and adapted individuals are able to have more offspring. Richard, taking the opposite position from this study, suggested that the fittest (at least in terms of the developed world) are NOT having numerous offspring, and that this factor alone will skew the evolutionary process.
I also cannot see how the researchers drew their conclusions about 'shorter, fatter' offspring. What population was the study measuring?

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 13:18:00 UTC | #407262

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 2 by NewEnglandBob

60 years is not enough to see any evolutionary trend in humans.

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 14:25:00 UTC | #407285

clunkclickeverytrip's Avatar Comment 3 by clunkclickeverytrip

Does natural selection include internet dating?

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 14:37:00 UTC | #407288

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 4 by Rob Schneider

When, oh WHEN, will this stupid question die?? "Are Humans Still Evolving?"

Are we still breeding? Are we still living? Are some of us dying for lack of the right "stuff" to survive the current set of environmental factors?

Then YES. Sheesh.

[amendment]So I click the link to read the article, and there's this other tease...

"Survival of the fittest" is the catch phrase of evolution by natural selection. While natural selection favors the most fit organisms around, evolutionary biologists have long wondered whether this leads to the best possible organisms in the long run.

Is it just me, or does this paragraph exhibit a depressing understanding of evolution? Specifically, anyone who refers to "the best possible organism" is using human intention to judge a non-intentional process. Further, who DARES to predict what the best possible organism is for the long run? I knew a T-Rex who did that once...

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 17:58:00 UTC | #407351

Art Vandelay's Avatar Comment 5 by Art Vandelay

How many people in the world have access to medicine and social care? How representitive is a sample of 2000 North American women? How many questions can I ask in one paragraph?
Of course humans are still evolving, but don't hold your breath.

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 18:16:00 UTC | #407355

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 6 by TIKI AL

Will humans ever evolve to a point where they could not possibly vote for Bush twice?

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 18:49:00 UTC | #407363

dsainty's Avatar Comment 7 by dsainty

I would predict a fairly rapid evolutionary trend towards poor eyesight, as we evolve in an environment with glasses available.

Maybe even measurable within the last 60 years... It's not as debilitating as it once was.

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 19:16:00 UTC | #407372

sara g's Avatar Comment 8 by sara g

I made a prediction when I was young and less cynical that the popularity of Captain Picard and Scully from the X Files would cause a slight evolutionary shift to more intelligent humans by making smart people sexier. I'm afraid the only reason I stand by the prediction now is the certainty that I will never live to know how it works out.

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 19:32:00 UTC | #407378

dumbcountryhick's Avatar Comment 9 by dumbcountryhick

Humans are evolving all right. Just not biologically.

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 20:17:00 UTC | #407390

Koreman's Avatar Comment 10 by Koreman

I must say, the 'theory' of degeneration has some truth. Religious fundamentalists are looking more and more pathetic with their more and more pathetic claims and views.

It's incredible that despite overwhelming evidence for evolution and overwhelming amounts of *working* technology solely because of evolution some people still stick to a tiny branch of self contradicting fairytales that have been made up for centuries and still are subject to fundamental change. Talking about dinosaurs in the 15th century for instance would have brought you to the stake probably, God bless you, but now fundamentalists claim that dinosaurs existed in paradise. All herbivores of course, poor plants.

Here's another great video by Calpurnpiso:

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 20:32:00 UTC | #407394

shantaram's Avatar Comment 11 by shantaram

Of course humans are still evolving. But i don't think we need this study to tell us so.

When you throw contraception, cultural taboo's and a currency into the mix it surely changes the situation.

Has there ever been any serious evidence to suggest humans have stopped evolving?

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 21:50:00 UTC | #407418

SASnSA's Avatar Comment 12 by SASnSA

My question, remembering the movie "Idiocracy" and the studies on teen birth rates vs religious beliefs, is in which direction are we evolving?

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 22:00:00 UTC | #407420

xcvxvcx's Avatar Comment 13 by xcvxvcx

Yes, it is clear that every organism is always evolving. The rates of change go up when there is strong selection pressure (when a large percentage of the species is not equipped to survive and reproduce very well in the current environment, as in mass extinctions) and go down when the species is well situated into its niche.

With humans, our environment is now changing so rapidly that what might be the beginnings of a "trend" last century could end up reversing itself in the next century. But, I would be very surprised if we did not see at least some aspects of us continuing in the same trend they have been going. It is up to the scientists to use creative thinking and figure out what these are.

One question that occured to me:

What makes a serial killer is largely genetic. Assuming serial killers are less likely to reproduce than the average population (because some of them get caught and executed/imprisoned, and also because they tend to be not of the persuasion to start families, in general), would it follow that there are less and less serial killers, or smarter and smarter ones (ones that don't get caught)?

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 22:24:00 UTC | #407426

CHeard's Avatar Comment 14 by CHeard

Okay, I am not a biologist … but aren't all species constantly evolving? Maybe faster, maybe slower, under this genetic factor or selective pressure or that … but evolution doesn't "stop."

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 22:50:00 UTC | #407433

Quine's Avatar Comment 15 by Quine

<!-- -->Hi CHeard, glad to see you back. Yes, you are correct; all species that are still alive are constantly evolving. You may not see much change when there is a very good fitness for a given environment but mutation and recombination are always providing new variations for natural selection to naturally select (or for folks like farmers to artificially select).

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 23:57:00 UTC | #407438

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 16 by Rob Schneider

@CHeard: Exactly. That's the inanity of the story. You mean to tell me that the genus "homo" has been evolving for some 4.4 million years, but WE are the end of evolution?

Seriously, what drivel... precipitated by the "short-time span" mindset we have as humans. Next thing you know someone's going to say, "I don't believe evolution is ongoing because I don't see it happening."

Thu, 22 Oct 2009 00:02:00 UTC | #407439

noahidios's Avatar Comment 17 by noahidios

in terms of evolutionary fitness, the only thing that matters is reproductive success. there are some interesting correlations as to what groups of people can be expected to have the most offspring.

If you take the USA for instance, you'll find that lower amounts of education correlate with higher fertility rates.
then there are others statistics that indicate that the higher ones intelligence the more likely one is to succeed in school and achieve a higher education. this of course leaves us with what i expect to be a weak but inversely related relationship between fertility and IQ. Being intelligent enough to avoid unplanned pregnancies is the less fit behavior.

Therefore i think that the fittest individuals are not those who are smart and academic and have 1 or 2 kids, or those stupid enough to be worthy of a Darwin award but those who manage to survive but lack the foresight to use proper birth control.

Thu, 22 Oct 2009 00:25:00 UTC | #407446

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 18 by Carl Sai Baba

Comment #425540 by clunkclickeverytrip on October 21, 2009 at 3:37 pm
Does natural selection include internet dating£

Edit - I'm in Canada - why is do my question marks come out as pounds signs££ Is this site being hacked to stop us asking questions£

Try entering &_#_0_6_3_ without the underscores (I have to include them, or else it will turn into a ?).

I don't know why that is sometimes necessary. Maybe Dawkins is trying some kind of British monetary propaganda. :)

Thu, 22 Oct 2009 05:10:00 UTC | #407472

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 19 by justinesaracen

Thanks, Noahidios. That is what I was suggesting in my poorly phrased comment.
Yes, evolution is continuous, as long as a species reproduces and environmental factors favor or disfavor the fertility of each subsequent generation. But in the current mismatch of fertilities -- not only between the educated and the ignorant in the developed world, but between industrialized countries and developing countries -- makes it impossible to predict the appearance of homo sapiens a thousand years from now. In other words, the article was crap.

Thu, 22 Oct 2009 07:33:00 UTC | #407487

BadgerByte's Avatar Comment 20 by BadgerByte

I always assumed we would gradually biologically "degenerate" as a species, relying more on more on medicine and technology to get by. Glasses, mentioned above are a good example, poor eyesight is often genetic and no longer selected against. I'm not sure how many obstacles to fertility are genetic but they too are now being removed by technology. Will we all eventually rely on technology for reproduction? It seems that we'll either go down this route, or start altering our own genes. I bags the first Geordi La Forge style visor.

Thu, 22 Oct 2009 11:58:00 UTC | #407530

Steve_W's Avatar Comment 21 by Steve_W

Clearly evolutionary mechanisms are still there, but man has become very good at removing the old evolutionary pressures (predators, disease and genetic disadvantages). I wonder what the new ones will be, and where that will take us? There's loads of examples where animals have evolved into strange forms when predators for example are eliminated (see chapter in TGSOE). And we could be sickly strange animals as well, unless we learn how to manipulate our genes at birth, and aquire the wisdom to use the technology properly.

Thu, 22 Oct 2009 12:06:00 UTC | #407537

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 22 by Ignorant Amos

7. Comment #425624 by dsainty
20. Comment #425785 by BadgerByte

I would've thought that eyesight would've improved with our evolving, mind you, there is no benefit in that trait improving because of glasses.

Our eyesight starts to pack in at around forty as the muscles that regulate the lense become weaker and struggle to keep the lense taught when focusing on near things like reading. This of course wasn't an issue until recently, after all, how many humans lived until their forties? Those that did were the wise old sages and used this position to have their food and shelter provided (Religion).

Thu, 22 Oct 2009 13:15:00 UTC | #407544

Ania's Avatar Comment 23 by Ania

The fat, stout hillbillies on welfare with ten kids come to mind. These are the drivers of evolution!

If those that simply reproduce more will have an evolutionary advantage, then people will also be dumber and potentially more religious - "Be fruitful and multiply"

May be a bit controversial, but I also think "universal healthcare" will help this process along.

Thu, 22 Oct 2009 14:13:00 UTC | #407556

clunkclickeverytrip's Avatar Comment 24 by clunkclickeverytrip

Thanks RWA. ? works.

Thu, 22 Oct 2009 17:12:00 UTC | #407585

zengardener's Avatar Comment 25 by zengardener

I know that the prospect of being overrun by poor, stupid, uneducated, uncouth, fundamentalist, old Earth creationists is a nightmare scenario that some of us have in common, but consider that stupid is the only moniker that is truly inherited.

Consider the possibility that the children born of these prolific miracle factories could have as much potential as anyone, so long as they are raised and educated properly.

Malaria is probably the strongest environmental force acting on humans today.

Fri, 23 Oct 2009 04:18:00 UTC | #407703

natural_preservation's Avatar Comment 26 by natural_preservation

150 years and no Darwinian, neo-Darwinian and certainly no Universal Darwinian general theory of culture and/or humankind. Neo-Darwinian cultural creationism is still alive and well despite their being not a shred of evidence that culture is a Darwinian process.

Richard said on the Colbert Report that humans are the only intelligent designers in the Universe, that we can design and he couldn't explain beauty. Science can account for humankind but it would be social sciences, and certainly not the dogmatic assertion of narrow gene-centric evolutionary theory.

One deluded young turk on you tube even coined the complete misnomer of 'cultural natural selection'. If you can't beat em, join em...together.

Faith and belief, alive and well through Universal Darwinism.

Sat, 24 Oct 2009 15:05:00 UTC | #408072