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Are we devolving or evolving faster than ever?

Cognisant

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#1

Do I need to explain my position on this?
 
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#2
Devolving in what way? Survival in "the wild"? And if so is this meant to be measured on a population average or based on the number of individuals? Are you saying we should use our own standards? Because while that is all well and good according to the democratic and egalitarian views of our society(I'm assuming you grew up in a modern "western" country) that can still cause a lot of "talking past each other" and whatnot.

Also the video was alright but still had a lot of annoying mistakes, like including the term mistake in their description of evolution and mutation. Also isn't the sole factor in evolution mating? The video straight up says that the only two ways your genes don't gets passed on is if you die before you mate or if you don't get to mate before you die....but those are essentially the same thing, no?

Ultimately I would say yeah, kinda, and that's because most of the thing that nature and "the wild selected us for are what helped us get to this point in civilization anyway. And i think we would get on a lot better if more of us had the qualities we would need to survive in the wild. But the kinda is still kinda important and really i think the parameters of the question need to be defined more precisely before i could give a truly thoughtful answer.
 

redbaron

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#3
devolving doesn't real
 

Hadoblado

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#4
They're coded the same but mean different things. One implies you die young but would attract a mate if given the chance, one implies you survive but are somehow too unfit to attract a mate. I don't think there was anything wrong with the way they communicated this because it's important that both are emphasised for the viewers comprehension.

I'm team super. I think we're going to be able to bypass evolutionary processes eventually, and this will make all the doomsday eugenicists go away... but probably serve as catalyst to a new class struggle. Dunno how that will unfold.
 

Pyropyro

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#5
We basically spam our high intelligence and creativity to compensate for the poor genetic make-up.

Besides, we already have CRISPR to edit mutations at the genetic level.
 

Serac

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#6
It's very unclear to me what the basis is for saying that selection pressures have been removed. There are clearly selection pressures. What has been removed to a large degree is environmental selection – e.g. the risk of getting eaten by a tiger etc – but sexual selection is very much still there, and it is the latter which is nowadays taken to be the main driver of human evolution. The fact that more people are reproducing doesn't change the fact that the reproduction happens between similar levels of genetic quality – which has always been the case throughout our biological history. The best genes try to mate with the best genes, the second best with the second best and so on. That way, good genes have better conditions for surviving and vice versa.

In a nutshell, the problems seems to be that 1) the authors of the video don't understand the difference between sexual and environmental selection, and 2) they don't understand the dynamics of sexual selection.
 

Hadoblado

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#7
I think you've got a point, but disagree that the author doesn't understand sexual selection. They mention it early and move past it, focusing on environmental selection.

Sexual selection can lead to... frankly stupid shit. (TLdeer: deers antler size can be sexually selected for, but these changes aren't necessarily useful for survival and can lead to extinction given changes to the environment).

If you assume he knows about sexual selection but is focused on pressures to survival, and that he understands there are still pressures to surivival but they are greatly reduced, does he make sense or do you still think what he's saying is flawed?
 

Serac

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#8
If you assume he knows about sexual selection but is focused on pressures to survival, and that he understands there are still pressures to surivival but they are greatly reduced, does he make sense or do you still think what he's saying is flawed?
Well at about 4:26 in the video he talks about environmental selection, and then at 4:53 jumps to talking about mating specifically. Regards to the latter, his point is simply: more people are mating, therefore bad genes survive. This way he is committing two mistakes:
1) He seems to be using environmental selection to get his point across, but his point actually hinges on sexual selection
2) More importantly, his argument about sexual selection is quite flawed, because it wouldn't hold water even if everyone on earth reproduced at some point. Here is how Geoffrery Miller puts it in "The Mating Mind":

To see how sexual selection can work even when everyone pairs up into couples, we need a thought experiment. [...]
Each individual wants to attract the highest-
fitness mate they can, because they want the best genes for their offspring. There will be a sorting process. Probably, the highest- fitness male will court the highest-fitness female first. If she is sensible, she will accept him, and they will pair off, leaving the rest of the tribe to sort themselves out. The second-highest-fitness male is disappointed. He wanted the highest-fitness female, but could not attract her. He must settle for the second-highest- fitness female. She is also disappointed, because she wanted the best male. But she settles for male number two, because she cannot do any better.

[...]
The result will be that mated pairs will correlate highly for
fitness. If height correlates with fitness, they will be of similar height. If intelligence correlates with fitness, they will be similarly bright. If facial attractiveness correlates with fitness, they will be similarly beautiful. This is basically what we see in modern human couples: a fairly high degree of "assortative mating" for fitness indicators.

[...]So, the babies of higher-fitness couples will inherit higher-fitness genes. By definition, higher fitness leads to a better chance of surviving to sexual maturity. The offspring of male number one and female number one may have a very high chance of surviving. The offspring of the lowest-fitness male and the lowest-fitness female may only have a very low chance of surviving. By the time the babies' generation grows up, there will be more surviving offspring of high-fitness parents than of low- fitness parents. In fact, the babies' generation will have a higher average fitness than their parents' generation did.
And assortative mating in humans seems to be very well documented – see for example here.
 

baccheion

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#9
It depends on the country. Some countries have poor/hostile environments. Generally, humans may be like animals living in captivity: without primal/traditional survival instincts. On the other hand, humans are likely beyond needing such an ability and are more likely to survive than other species.

American school systems seem to support stupidity and parroting. Corporations also seems to indirectly favor mediocrity, as many present typically stomp/push put any new hire that seems capable.

Online dating sites makes it possible to find even more higher quality matches (not just limited to what's in your circle). On the other hand, it may result in "ugly" pairs breeding that would've otherwise faded from the gene pool.

Overall loss of fitness could occur due to makeup, plastic surgery, economic status over genetics, poor diet among the genetically gifted (making them less desirable), but such occurrences may not be as common as suggested.
 

redbaron

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#10
less environmental selection means weak genes still have a chance to prosper via sexual selection

weak genetics are now viable for mating, when once they were probably culled by disease before mating
 

Serac

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#11
less environmental selection means weak genes still have a chance to prosper via sexual selection
They cannot prosper via sexual selection, because sexual selection results in assortative mating. Just because a gene manages to reproduce doesn't mean it will prosper.

The only way to make the argument in the video work is to say that assortative mating doesn't happen – e.g. any bum (in genetic terms) can mate with, say, Victoria's Secret models by utilizing Tinder or whatever. But we know that's not the case, and it is well established that assortative mating happens in humans. For example, there is a high correlation of IQs between spouses.
 

redbaron

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#12
actually lower IQ strongly correlates with greater rates of reproduction so if we want to go down that route of argument, they're prospering

*Serac's hatred of welfare intensifies*

the impact of assortative mating is rather irrelevant to my point in any case. people that would have died, now easily reproduce. penicillin allows people with weaker immune systems to survive and prosper, as do numerous other cures and methods of prevention

sicklier and sicklier is becoming the norm, offset by medicine
 

Serac

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#13
actually lower IQ strongly correlates with greater rates of reproduction so if we want to go down that route of argument, they're prospering

*Serac's hatred of welfare intensifies*

the impact of assortative mating is rather irrelevant to my point in any case. people that would have died, now easily reproduce. penicillin allows people with weaker immune systems to survive and prosper, as do numerous other cures and methods of prevention

sicklier and sicklier is becoming the norm, offset by medicine
:facepalm:

Not gonna explain a 4th time why this argument is flawed.
 

Hadoblado

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#14
@redbaron
Is is really a 'strong' correlation? That's has a specific statistical meaning in the social sciences (R>.69), basically meaning that half of all variance is explained by the correlation. That would be... really concerning.

@Serac
I might be mistaken, as I'm not well versed in this stuff, but it seems to me like his point is not just that more people are mating therefore there is a decline. My interpretation of his point is that we are now controlling a large number of our selective pressures, and the refined evolutionary traits we had developed to address these pressures are going to disappear much faster than they were acquired due to the nature of unselected mutation.

His examples were fertility and eye-sight, two things we overcome the need for through technology.

What I take away is that he thinks traits that were hard to develop will disappear over time if they are no longer selected for. Not that there is no selection taking place. He doesn't talk about assortative mating or whatever else because he's not concentrating on the selection that does take place.

Essentially we now decide what 'fitness' means due to our control over the environment, and this comes at the cost of no longer meeting old fitness requirements. And this is okay for so long as we have the technology to compensate, but if ever we don't, we're going to have a harder time.

Am I missing something?
 

redbaron

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#15
actually lower IQ strongly correlates with greater rates of reproduction so if we want to go down that route of argument, they're prospering

*Serac's hatred of welfare intensifies*

the impact of assortative mating is rather irrelevant to my point in any case. people that would have died, now easily reproduce. penicillin allows people with weaker immune systems to survive and prosper, as do numerous other cures and methods of prevention

sicklier and sicklier is becoming the norm, offset by medicine
:facepalm:

Not gonna explain a 4th time why this argument is flawed.
you're basically assuming that the two are mutually exclusive, when they aren't

there isn't a single factor, some selection pressures are made redundant by modern life, some still exist. there's not actually an 'argument' here because no one is denying that sexual selection exists, it's just obviously not the only kind of selection
 

redbaron

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#16
@redbaron
Is is really a 'strong' correlation? That's has a specific statistical meaning in the social sciences (R>.69), basically meaning that half of all variance is explained by the correlation. That would be... really concerning.
the studies are really old actually and it wouldn't surprise me if they weren't at all reliable, the point was just tongue-in-cheek mostly and i think there's actually not a statistically significant correlation between IQ and reproduction
 

Serac

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#17
ell versed in this stuff, but it seems to me like his point is not just that more people are mating therefore there is a decline. My interpretation of his point is that we are now controlling a large number of our selective pressures, and the refined evolutionary traits we had developed to address these pressures are going to disappear much faster than they were acquired due to the nature of unselected mutation.

His examples were fertility and eye-sight, two things we overcome the need for through technology.

What I take away is that he thinks traits that were hard to develop will disappear over time if they are no longer selected for. Not that there is no selection taking place. He doesn't talk about assortative mating or whatever else because he's not concentrating on the selection that does take place.

Essentially we now decide what 'fitness' means due to our control over the environment, and this comes at the cost of no longer meeting old fitness requirements. And this is okay for so long as we have the technology to compensate, but if ever we don't, we're going to have a harder time.

Am I missing something?
That's a fair point. One is getting into a more abstract definition of genetic quality in that case, though. For example if fertility can be considered a trait, and infertile people can use technology to reproduce, it means they are well-adapted to an environment where that technology exists. But that's the case for any trait – there's always a risk of a change in environment that will make the previous traits maladapted. For example if we get a new ice age, a lot of people will be maladapted to the change.

One of the main points in Miller's book was that the main purpose of sexual selection is to select for genes with the lowest possible mutation load. The reason for this is that when an organism is in equilibrium with its environment, it has close to optimal genes for that environment. In which case, the best you can do is to maintain the current genes – which is done by minimizing mutations. In that sense, mutation load is a better definition of genetic quality than the retention of specific traits. And if there still exist selection pressures in sexual selection, good genes will continue to prosper by minimizing mutation load, while bad genes will accumulate mutations throughout generations and eventually disappear.

For example fertility is probably not dependent exclusively on an isolated part of our DNA string, but rather on many parts of it. So infertility would signal an elevated mutation load, which, by the reasoning above, is unlikely to prosper in the gene pool.
 
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