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Ulna

Can we view medicine as part of Human evolution?

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Hi all, my first post.

 

The title really covers my question. But i'll give the details.

 

Human pathogen co-evolution and the red queen hypothesis, show humans and pathogens almost chasing each other through history for a slight advantage over the other. (if i understand it correctly.)

 

Could we consider our invention of medicine against infectious diseases an evolutionary step, from the perspective that our intelligence etc is evolutionary and that drug resistance is perhaps the pathogens evolving in thier turn?

 

I have often wondered about this and am curious about what others think. If anyone agrees and what step may be next?

 

Looking forward to hearing your opinions.

Edited by Ulna
Rubbish grammar

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I think so. I see nearly everything we do to be another "evolutionary step," but a lot of that depends on how you classify such steps.

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This is an area of research that I'm interested in... The evolution of persistent pathogens can be described by "Evolutionary stable strategies." What happens when medicine kills pathogens? The evolutionary balance is thrown out of whack and, new, more virulent pathogens have the chance to emerge. I can give you some journal references if you're interested in this idea.

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I would say no. "Evolution" describes biological changes. Our intelligence is evolutionary, sure, but not what we do with it. That said, it's still part of the equation, since access to medicine is a major change in our "environment," and hence has/will become a major driving force of evolution.

 

For the pathogens, of course, that's even more so. And their resistance to drugs is certainly evolution at work.

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:D

Thanks for some fantastic replies.

That doesn't mean stop pondering, I find this subject fascinating and i'd love to hear more of your thoughts, any web links, books or current research on the topic, would of course be hugely appreciated.

 

And is it too early to wish everyone a happy (Or even messy) Christmas?

:):D:-):eyebrow::D;)

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I would say no. "Evolution" describes biological changes. Our intelligence is evolutionary, sure, but not what we do with it. That said, it's still part of the equation, since access to medicine is a major change in our "environment," and hence has/will become a major driving force of evolution.

Yeah. The way I think about it is to ask, "What's the difference between evolving a better immune response and evolving a better intelligence which allows us to create a medicine?"

 

They both achieve the same end, they both are an emergent property of our evolution, and it's tough to differentiate... hence my comment above about "depends on how you classify" things. :)

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I would say "no", also. While our intelligence resulted from evolution, that which results from our intelligence is not. For one thing, evolution is a Darwinian process. Knowledge is Lamarkian.

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You could say that instinct is a form of knowledge passed on genetically. I think that there are a few instinctual behaviors that overlap with medicine. However, in general instinct is far less complex and more vague than the knowledge needed for medicine.

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I would say "no", also. While our intelligence resulted from evolution, that which results from our intelligence is not. For one thing, evolution is a Darwinian process. Knowledge is Lamarkian.

 

This does not invalidate medicine as one of the adaptive mechanisms per se. For one Darwin himself did not reject the possibility of Lamarckian inheritance (that came later with neo-darwinism and then modern synthesis), but even so it would at best be a historical distinction. Now one could argue that the modern synthesis assumes a genetic basis for evolution, however, as others already mentioned, the ability to relay information across generations does ultimately has a genetic basis. Medicine would only be a sub-part of it.

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If medicine is "evolutionary" then why were creationists the ones who discovered antiseptic surgery, the germ theory of disease, antiseptic surgery, the M.R.I. etc.

 

It is obvious from this post that evolution is simply a religious belief and you are looking for ways to force what we observe to "fit" in its framework. What evidence is there that the most complex organization of matter in the universe, the human brain , "evolved' ? People have always been intelligent. Knowledge has increased but from what I observe intelligence is decreasing. Mutations are piling up so humans are declining. There may be temporary improvement because of better health care and nutrition etc. but the idea we are "evolving" into some kind of superior being is self delusion and chronological snobbery. Hitler thought that way, he was wrong, so are you.

The ancient Mayans were within our margin of error on the path of the planets and we have supercomputers.

 

If evolution is true medicine is a very bad idea. Darwin knew this, why don't you? If you give medicine to the weak who cannot fight off disease on their own you are allowing them to survive long enough to pass on their defective genes. Evolution is a worldview that death is a friend that weeds out the weak so a doctor who believes in evolution is entertaining mutually exclusive thoughts. Let all those who cannot fight the flu or cancer die and those that remain will be immune. If there is no God this makes sense.

 

 

"We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man itself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered in the manner previously indicated more tender and more widely diffused. Nor can we check our sympathy, even without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. . . . We must, therefore, bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind[/b]

 

Charles Darwin_ The Descent of Man.

 

 

Instinct is evolutionary speak for no clue. Look at Pacific Golden Plover or the Monarch butterfly. You can make up stories of some magical process that by sheer luck allows parents to implant knowledge in their young but how do you explain the knowledge in the first place? Did every bird die for millions of years before they learned how to make the trip to Hawaii ? To preserve their energy to do so? More "Just So" stories.

No one has been a follower of Darwinian evolution since the 20's and are now split between Neo-Darwinism and P.E. . To bring up Lamarckism because Darwin did not rule it out is silly. He was wrong about pretty much everything from the finches to his interpretations of S.A. rivers .

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If medicine is "evolutionary" then why were creationists the ones who discovered antiseptic surgery, the germ theory of disease, antiseptic surgery, the M.R.I. etc.

This is just an example of you being disingenuous with your terms.

 

As Sisyphus says, "yawwwwn". We have seen this show before.

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How can one argue against evolution on the one hand, then claim passing on deleterious traits is weakening the human populace on the other?

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By being unaware of the contradiction, outright lying, or both.

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someone once told that medical breakthroughs stop human evolution because we do not evolve to fight diseases. i told him he was stupid and wrong. was i right?

plus the question is endless because it can be yes or no depending on what u mean

eg

evolution of the brain

the way we think

ect

Edited by cetus

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someone once told that medical breakthroughs stop human evolution because we do not evolve to fight diseases. i told him he was stupid and wrong. was i right?

plus the question is endless because it can be yes or no depending on what u mean

eg

evolution of the brain

the way we think

ect

 

They don't stop evolution, but they do change it. We'll only evolve resistances to diseases that kill us or otherwise prevent us from having children. If there's a readily available treatment that cures an otherwise deadly disease, that means that disease won't affect our evolution when it otherwise would.

 

Of course, even curing every disease isn't going to stop evolution. As long as some people have natural traits that make them more likely to have more surviving children than other people, there will be evolution.

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like in a million years we will have a better eye shight or hearing or somthing like that

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like in a million years we will have a better eye shight or hearing or somthing like that

who cares what may or may not happen in a million years. We've evolved the capacity for technology that can give us better eyesight today. This improves our fitness, so keep wearing glasses.

 

Also, there is a limit to what evolution can do (in terms of physiology). Evolution produced spaceflight much easier by "giving" us the capacity for technology than creating a species with the physical requirements (whatever those might be).

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yes but glasses can not be uses to see futher distences or is able to "zoom" in

or out

Edited by cetus

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