Evolution or Devolution (discuss)
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31 / M / Bangor, Northern...
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Posted 10/16/14
It's a simple question that can be discussed to no end until either or has eventually occurred.
The question being is the human race still evolving or are we regressing to a more primitive state?
Maybe the answer is neither and we have found our permanent platform.

Maybe (as an example) we are regressing because the human race has become too successful in reproducing/overproducing, or because we are doing physical or mental harm because of the environment and lifestyle we currently partake in?

Or are we still evolving because of the changes to climate, or because we are still a fragile species?

I find this topic very interesting indeed and it really makes you think.

Discuss.
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M / Tralfamadore
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Posted 10/16/14
We are still a fragile species, however we are creating robust technologies that in not that many years will replace us. A.I.'s will not wither due to a polluted air, climate shifts, they will be if not our inheritors our replacements. They will leave us to choke, starve and die; to go out into space and carry our legacy to the stars.
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Posted 10/17/14 , edited 11/7/14
Evolution doesn't really work that way. The development of a particular phenotype (which would include behaviors) doesn't constitute evolutionary "progress", and the elimination of a particular phenotype doesn't constitute "regression". The reason words like that are dicey and it is not possible to "de-evolve" is because evolution isn't directional or goal-oriented. It's simply the culmination of the relative reproductive success of those exhibiting a given set of phenotypes under a given set of conditions over the course of multiple generations.

It is evolution to develop a phenotype over time, and it is also evolution to lose that phenotype once more.
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26 / M / Brisbane, Australia
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Posted 10/18/14
I think that both society and human evolution have become so co-existent.

That the new boundaries are class rather than borders and physical barriers.
Meaning people of a higher social class will only breed with each other.
We already see that happening.

We will soon divide into a massive class based society similar to the movie 'In Time'.

Being born into a higher class still means you have to strive to stay where you are.
Those in lower classes are at higher risks of death due to injury and crime.

It's all about health and money. Currently the ones with the most money, aren't exactly environmental.
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Posted 10/21/14 , edited 11/7/14

BlueOni wrote:

Evolution doesn't really work that way. The development of a particular phenotype (which would include behaviors) doesn't constitute evolutionary "progress", and the elimination of a particular phenotype doesn't constitute "regression". The reason words like that are dicey and it is not possible to "de-evolve" is because evolution isn't directional or goal-oriented. It's simply the culmination of the relative reproductive success of those exhibiting a given set of phenotypes under a given set of conditions over the course of multiple generations.

It is evolution to develop a phenotype over time, and it is also evolution to lose that phenotype once more.


I am not an evolutionary biologist, and I'd hope to get a bit more clarification on this point some day. If evolution is defined as 'changes in gene frequency of a population over time', then I'm not necessarily sure that the expressed phenotype is "evolution" unless you have some genetic change to allow (or disallow) a new (or existing) phenotype.

For example, pretend you have a population of bacteria whose primary diet is glucose but has a gene which, in presence of citrate, allows citrate digestion. If we were to take that bacteria and put them on a citrate diet, rather than the glucose digesting gene, the citrate digesting gene would be expressed. The expressed phenotype would change, but the underlying genotypes would remain identical. I don't think anyone says the bacteria 'evolves' simply by expressing a different phenotype, however going further the selective pressures would change. (Now that citrate digesting gene is a lot more important than the glucose one)

If, however, a population of exclusively glucose digesting bacteria were to happen to have some members with a mutation that allows them to (depending on the environment) digest either, it'd be clear "evolution" (And also a famous experiment, nearly anyone with a first year bio education has heard of Lenski)

If the citrate digesting population, remaining on citrate long enough, were to lose the ability to digest glucose, it'd also be 'evolution', but the changes to disallow the phenotype expression happen at the genetic level, not the phenotype level.

It feels like the 'debate' in Nature that was published recently. (Linked)

http://www.nature.com/news/does-evolutionary-theory-need-a-rethink-1.16080?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20141009

Any attempts to usually describe evolution as a phenotypic process first seems to often miss how we go about describing the nuts and bolts of evolution, how it's easy to say 'yes epigenetics influences evolution' but it's hard to quantify or describe how exactly without going back and discussing how genes are expressed in the first place.

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Posted 10/22/14 , edited 11/7/14
Lala thinks that we've stopped evolving. The final human form on earth has been reached, because humans can now chemically and technologically alter the environment instead of adapting.

The next step is for people to move to space and grow USB adapters.
Posted 10/22/14 , edited 10/22/14
There's no such things as devolution...

Organisms either survive changes or they don't. The ones that survive through harsh environmental changes are known as the fittest and therefore they are able to pass on their mutated genes to further the species.

We are far from fragile; drought or flood may cause another species to go extinct, but humans can easily survive a flood or drought. We've developed vaccinations, even people who cannot be alive can be kept alive through medical technology. In a sense, we are the fittest organism, other animals will die if they have birth complications; humans can minimalise that complication and many others.

To combat overpopulation, we've learned to develop one-child policies, to combat climate changes we have Kyoto protocol, and to avoid mass meteor extinction we have astronomers scanning the sky every night.


Just because one or two societies of humans are backwards, it doesn't mean we as a species are backwards. We, as a species are developing way faster than any organisms on this planet in terms of technology, philosophy and arts.
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39 / M / Connecticut, USA
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Posted 10/22/14
Scientists have recently disclosed that we are ten IQ points lower then we were 200 years ago so there is proof that we are devolving already.
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Posted 10/22/14

SilvaZoldyck wrote:

I am not an evolutionary biologist, and I'd hope to get a bit more clarification on this point some day. If evolution is defined as 'changes in gene frequency of a population over time', then I'm not necessarily sure that the expressed phenotype is "evolution" unless you have some genetic change to allow (or disallow) a new (or existing) phenotype.

For example, pretend you have a population of bacteria whose primary diet is glucose but has a gene which, in presence of citrate, allows citrate digestion. If we were to take that bacteria and put them on a citrate diet, rather than the glucose digesting gene, the citrate digesting gene would be expressed. The expressed phenotype would change, but the underlying genotypes would remain identical. I don't think anyone says the bacteria 'evolves' simply by expressing a different phenotype, however going further the selective pressures would change. (Now that citrate digesting gene is a lot more important than the glucose one)

If, however, a population of exclusively glucose digesting bacteria were to happen to have some members with a mutation that allows them to (depending on the environment) digest either, it'd be clear "evolution" (And also a famous experiment, nearly anyone with a first year bio education has heard of Lenski)

If the citrate digesting population, remaining on citrate long enough, were to lose the ability to digest glucose, it'd also be 'evolution', but the changes to disallow the phenotype expression happen at the genetic level, not the phenotype level.

It feels like the 'debate' in Nature that was published recently. (Linked)

http://www.nature.com/news/does-evolutionary-theory-need-a-rethink-1.16080?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20141009

Any attempts to usually describe evolution as a phenotypic process first seems to often miss how we go about describing the nuts and bolts of evolution, how it's easy to say 'yes epigenetics influences evolution' but it's hard to quantify or describe how exactly without going back and discussing how genes are expressed in the first place.


That's a fair point, and well made. I suppose my explanation does miss the fundamental point of the thing by focusing on phenotype instead of genotype. You've understood it just fine, there's no problem with your explanation. I appreciate the assist.
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26 / M / Brisbane, Australia
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Posted 10/22/14 , edited 11/7/14

GayAsianBoy wrote:

There's no such things as devolution...

Organisms either survive changes or they don't. The ones that survive through harsh environmental changes are known as the fittest and therefore they are able to pass on their mutated genes to further the species.

We are far from fragile; drought or flood may cause another species to go extinct, but humans can easily survive a flood or drought. We've developed vaccinations, even people who cannot be alive can be kept alive through medical technology. In a sense, we are the fittest organism, other animals will die if they have birth complications; humans can minimalise that complication and many others.

To combat overpopulation, we've learned to develop one-child policies, to combat climate changes we have Kyoto protocol, and to avoid mass meteor extinction we have astronomers scanning the sky every night.


Just because one or two societies of humans are backwards, it doesn't mean we as a species are backwards. We, as a species are developing way faster than any organisms on this planet in terms of technology, philosophy and arts.


How do we combat hereditary diseases that act later in life? After we have children or needed to raise them any longer.

How do we stop unhealthy people having children when we support them completely?

The factors of natural selection are gone. They are no longer natural.
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22 / M / NJ, USA
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Posted 10/22/14 , edited 10/22/14
I don't see evolution as one straight pathway, rather multiple pathways of augmentation that would suit a specie's survival needs. If there is a way to sustain one's way of life more efficiently, evolution will take the specie towards that direction.
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52 / M / In
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Posted 10/29/14 , edited 11/7/14
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