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Human Evolution: The Impact of Intelligence


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I am most likely in over my head here, but I'm attempting to find info for a research paper. I am writing the paper under the thesis that: human biological evolution has been stunted and, in a lot of ways, replaced by invention. You could take the stance that intelligence is a biological adaptation and that it encapsulates all culture, society, and tool-making/using that we humans partake in, but that view is counterproductive to progress on the topic.

 

I am under the impression that consciousness is what makes humans unique from other species. As far as I know I am not the first person to make that claim. I am looking for sources to support my claim. Whether the claim is correct or not, I will argue it in lieu of changing my thesis.

 

Thank you in advance for the input.

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I do not think that you will find biological papers that support the notion that consciousness is unique to humans. More likely, animal studies with regards to consciousness are more likely to find similar mechanisms.

 

Also the first part is most likely based on an incomplete understanding of the basics of evolution. Obviously tool use or medical advances will not result in stopping genomic variation. A Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium would essentially be a state where no evolution is happening. But it would be tricky to envision how inventions would achieve that. Or how consciousness will factor in that, as inventions are unrelated to that (see tool use in animals).

 

Good luck with your paper, but the science is pretty weak in this one, I am afraid.

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I am most likely in over my head here, but I'm attempting to find info for a research paper. I am writing the paper under the thesis that: human biological evolution has been stunted and, in a lot of ways, replaced by invention. You could take the stance that intelligence is a biological adaptation and that it encapsulates all culture, society, and tool-making/using that we humans partake in, but that view is counterproductive to progress on the topic.

 

I am under the impression that consciousness is what makes humans unique from other species. As far as I know I am not the first person to make that claim. I am looking for sources to support my claim. Whether the claim is correct or not, I will argue it in lieu of changing my thesis.

 

Thank you in advance for the input.

 

Perhaps I may help. Take what you feel worthy from this. I shall present to you some possible avenues for you to pursue. Your choice of topic for your thesis is one of much debate and I would so love to learn of it upon completion.

 

Regarding consciousness it is easy to make the presumption that only humans are conscious. It may be viewed that all other organisms, even the higher animals as essentially automatons,reacting mechanically to stimuli in such terms of innate or learned patterns. In principle so then,one could design a computer program to so simulate the behaviour of any organism! Humans alone are as said to be held conscious in the sense of being aware{consciousness}of themselves in addition to being aware a stimuli that as such impinge on them. One consequence of such as so then justifies the exploitation of other life forms in such they cannot suffer because they lack consciousness. Humans assume being the most intelligent organisms upon earth. But, may it not be so that all life forms have consciousness, albeit to varying degrees from human consciousness? If you take the perspective that consciousness can be in a variate of life forms, then consciousness is worth studying as a general principle. Whereas if you assume it is unique to but humans then it becomes exclusive to them and a special problem and possibly not as important as a more general understanding of the world.

 

But presume that it is such; humans alone have consciousness. May it be attributed to the unique manner produced by the activity of the human brain? That through evolution the human cerebrum had to evolve to meet the challenges of survival? That would imply that consciousness is identical with the activity of the human brain. This is termed psychoneural identity thesis. Since reality is actually physical in nature,consciousness itself must be a product of that physical activity. All the intricacies and subtleties of consciousness as then represent intricate patterns of neural firing within the brain and to some extent within the nervous system generally.

 

Also,it could be that the brain and the nervous system act as an instrument of consciousness, a factor every bit as real in its own right as physical things. This has import for if that is such then consciousness may then exist independently of the brain. There is actually excellent scientific evidence of this hypothesis,inferentially through the phenomena of extrasensory perception, and directly in out-of-body experiences. Much literature, well founded and documented exists.

 

I hope I gave to you some thoughts to ponder.

Good luck ♣

 

Ushie ♀

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I realize this isn't helpful, but you're thesis doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's the equivalent of saying that gravity's effect on me has been stunted by the chair I'm sitting on. Gravity might affect me differently if the chair wasn't there, but that doesn't mean I'm not experiencing gravity's effects.

 

The only way to impede evolution would be to end reproduction, or to set up a situation such that everyone only reproduces via perfect cloning, each person reproduces only once and no one ever fails to reproduce.

 

What technology has done is potentially slowed the rate at which genes are removed from the gene pool by allowing more people to successfully reproduce and altering the environment so that fewer genes are disadvantageous enough to prevent reproduction, but this just increases the diversity of the human genome and alters the selection pressures that we experience. It doesn't stop evolution from happening in the strictest sense of the concept.

 

I suppose you could make an argument that our current technology lowers or actively eliminates the possibility of human speciation even over significant timescales, but that's rather different than "stunting evolution".

Edited by Delta1212
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Unfortunately Andecay I am forced to agree with Delta1212. (I say unfortunately since it calls into question the thrust of your thesis.) Greater lifespans and the ability to reproduce even when carrying genes with currently negative survival tendencies has broadened the range of the human gene pool. Evolution for humans is accelerating so I don't see how one call that stunted.

 

I also worry that stunted could be with reference to some imagined 'ideal', or 'better' genome. That smacks of teleology, which is only safe to tie in with biology if you are also a skilled philosopher.

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I am most likely in over my head here, but I'm attempting to find info for a research paper. I am writing the paper under the thesis that: human biological evolution has been stunted and, in a lot of ways, replaced by invention. You could take the stance that intelligence is a biological adaptation and that it encapsulates all culture, society, and tool-making/using that we humans partake in, but that view is counterproductive to progress on the topic.

 

I am under the impression that consciousness is what makes humans unique from other species. As far as I know I am not the first person to make that claim. I am looking for sources to support my claim. Whether the claim is correct or not, I will argue it in lieu of changing my thesis.

 

Thank you in advance for the input.

 

Consciousness isn't something we can really measure, but based on brain scans, many of the same emotional experiences and thought processes (not like doing calculus or anything like that) humans go through can also be found in animals as well by looking at heat patterns, chemical responses and which parts of the brain have more neurological activity in repose to the same event (for instance, the same parts of the brain that are responsible for fear in both animals can be seen acting at the same time when both the person and the animal are afraid of each other in the same situation). I suppose it is tiny bit of a leap to say that just because we find endorphins in a fish's bloodstream when it get's injured means it feels pain, but it sort of like saying a black hole doesn't exist just because we can't directly see it.

One pattern I have noticed in the differences between animals and humans in studies seems to be different adapted mindsets or modes of thought. These mental modes can vary throughout different members of the same species, but seem to influence the mood in which organisms naturally react as to make something more violent or friendly, layed-back or shy. In other words, there are different amounts of different chemical responses for the same action which are mostly coded for within genes. This leads me to think that in fact animals are much more closer to the thinking humans usually have since humans also have these attributes for which demagoguery is often used to appeal to in politics.

There's a clearer picture in my head, but just try to imagine that it's not that animals automatically think a certain way, but that they have subconscious influences on their perception from chemicals and often don't really have a reason or sometimes the willpower to ignore them. If you don't smoke cigarettes, try to imagine feeling you are addicted to them at different levels and you should notice that you would desire cigarettes in different amounts. That's a way of getting perspective and seeing how simple it works. I've never even smoked a cigarette in my life, but I can imagine I am addicted to them and it makes me want cigarettes more. I assume it's this way that method actors can get stuck acting a certain way even after their roll or script ends, since the more time you spend thinking in a specific mental mode, the harder it is for your brain to stop.

 

 

Also, about cells: I have not seen any evidence that cells themselves posses consciousness or are capable of thought in any way, however we don't know what consciousness is, nor do we know how it comes about existing exactly. These lead to open ended possibilities in which anything that is alive has to therefore has consciousness, that consciousness has to be built from something else that has consciousness (which does lead to a paradox with atoms not being composed of anything more), that consciousness only exists as the processing of information which means if certain things such as cells don't process information they are not conscious, or that consciousness can somehow be quantified as to form a direct relationship between the amount of something such as cells or molecules and units of consciousness.

Edited by questionposter
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Continuing my initial chain of thought, I would like to change my initial statement of thesis. My current thesis is that :"Human biological evolution has been supplemented by the invention of tools, concepts, etc.; this has caused a reduction in the rate of significant biological variation in humans."

 

I am not saying that small variations do not happen in humans, but rather that the species as a whole does not adhere to the process of natural selection as outlined by Darwin. Rather than certain biological traits helping us to survive in our given environment, our knowledge and tools help us to survive. In our current situation, a person's biological form or structure have a weakened bearing on their ability to reproduce because their flaws can be supplemented with technology.

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This is much more defensible. However, the question is whether the rate of change of the gene pool is really lowered. Imagine, for instance an allele that strongly reduces survival/reproduction chance. Under normal conditions this will basically not enter the gene pool unless it occurs at high frequency (as it is strongly selected against). Now, assume that we have a pill now that remedies that. Now this new allele is allowed to enter the gene pool. One can change the gene pool without strong selection, however, the pool will be less shaped overall.

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Evolution will still happen due to random mutations but the variables that have changed recently (using "recently" fairly loosely here) are:

 

A) natural selection due to predation. We are no longer experiencing selection pressure to be physically fit or healthy (strong, fast etc...)

 

B) Diet and lifestyle. We eat crap these days and sit around too much

 

C) Detrimental mutations which would have killed off our ancestors (usually through predation) are now fairly easy to deal with and certainly won't kill us, meaning they are more likely to be passed on to the next generation

 

These things will affect how we evolve in the future.

It would be interesting to experiment on a species that reproduces quickly to see what affect these changes have on evolution (fat lazy fruit flies with more than usual defective genes maybe?)

Edited by Tres Juicy
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Could it not be said though that our inventions are part of us as a species and that a calculator doing our math is just as much an adaptation as a laarge beak breaking a nut? I'm saying that technology and adaptation are one in the same and that adaptation in the case of humans is not exclusively biological.

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Could it not be said though that our inventions are part of us as a species and that a calculator doing our math is just as much an adaptation as a laarge beak breaking a nut? I'm saying that technology and adaptation are one in the same and that adaptation in the case of humans is not exclusively biological.

 

Externalised evolution?

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Continuing my initial chain of thought, I would like to change my initial statement of thesis. My current thesis is that :"Human biological evolution has been supplemented by the invention of tools, concepts, etc.; this has caused a reduction in the rate of significant biological variation in humans."

 

I am not saying that small variations do not happen in humans, but rather that the species as a whole does not adhere to the process of natural selection as outlined by Darwin. Rather than certain biological traits helping us to survive in our given environment, our knowledge and tools help us to survive. In our current situation, a person's biological form or structure have a weakened bearing on their ability to reproduce because their flaws can be supplemented with technology.

 

Evolution hasn't dampened in the human race, but rather that the environment has changed which leads to the survival of different adaptations, such as with the mental modes. In this day and age, a muscle head can't just kidnap someone and make them their wife, opposite sexes are also interested in intelligence as well. Tools and technologies may lead to a wider variation in physical strengths, sometimes weaker, but sometimes stronger. Few people are very weak as a result of all these technologies, but for all those people that are that incredibly weak because of technology, there are also people driven to become physically stronger and devote their lives to athletics which could only happen in an organized society where those athletic people had enough resources to do so. Back when humans were first around, even though they had to move around a lot to survive, they were still often so weak they couldn't stand up straight for long periods of time and that was because of a lack of resources (nutrients).

Edited by questionposter
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<br /><font size="3">Could it not be said though that our inventions are part of us as a species and that a calculator doing our math is just as much an adaptation as a laarge beak breaking a nut? I'm saying that technology and adaptation are one in the same and that adaptation in the case of humans is not exclusively biological.</font><br />
<br /><br /><br />

 

I think what you might be getting at could be stated simply as "Biological evolution has been outpaced by technology as the primary mechanism by which humanity adapts to its environment" which I think would make for an interesting argument and probably be a more accurate statement than what you initially had (though I do agree that your revised thesis was better than the original in at least some respects).

 

It's certainly true that our capacity to develop culture (of which technology is a part) has allowed us to more quickly spread and adapt to a variety of climates than biological evolution would allow by itself, and that we thrive in these environments to a far greater degree than we would be able to without our cultural behaviors and technologies.

 

If you wanted to continue in the vein that you seem to be working toward, I suppose you might be able to argue that technology allows us to rapidly achieve a level of success in a variety of environments that would otherwise not be achievable without more significant biological adaptations. Or put another way, technology lessens the degree of biological change which would otherwise need to occur (due to evolution) in order to achieve a given level of success in a new environment.

 

Actually, I'd be interested in reading a research paper exploring some of those themes, now that I've spent some time thinking about the subject.

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Evolution hasn't dampened in the human race, but rather that the environment has changed which leads to the survival of different adaptations, such as with the mental modes. In this day and age, a muscle head can't just kidnap someone and make them their wife, opposite sexes are also interested in intelligence as well. Tools and technologies may lead to a wider variation in physical strengths, sometimes weaker, but sometimes stronger. Few people are very weak as a result of all these technologies, but for all those people that are that incredibly weak because of technology, there are also people driven to become physically stronger and devote their lives to athletics which could only happen in an organized society where those athletic people had enough resources to do so. Back when humans were first around, even though they had to move around a lot to survive, they were still often so weak they couldn't stand up straight for long periods of time and that was because of a lack of resources (nutrients).

 

I understand that the human race is believed to have been selected for its intelligence. But I believe that physical adaptations no longer "matter" in our societal world. Unattractive or weak people still find mates, as do unintelligent, backwards people. Today the more important factors in finding a mate are wealth, and social class, which are human creations. We create our own adaptations in this sense. The body and mind don't matter as much as our social institutions do in finding a mate.

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A few thoughts on this topic:

 

There appear to be additional factors relating to humans that are actually accelerating evolution of our species:

 

The "grand experiment" of human evolution has expanded from a few thousands individuals (around 100K years ago) to many billions of individuals now. As result, the cummulative rate of occurance of mutations of varous kinds has vastly increased for our species, presuming the rate of mutation/individual is roughly unchanged (possibly actually significantly increased due to our exposure to many manmade chemicals). This means that the human genome as a whole is growing more diverse much more rapidly as the earths population increases.

 

Modern transporation and civilazation trends mean that new genetic features developed in any part of the world can now propagate much more rapidly through the gene pool as people of our planet migrate and intermarry. This means that both beneficial and non-beneficial mutations spread out in the gene pool at an accelerated rate.

 

Technological progress has enabled the vastly increased populations and ability to move quickly across vast distances, allowing "new" genes to occur and propagate widely.

 

Technology also, as pointed out in earlier postings, makes it possible for mutations that would otherwise be fairly quickly selected out of the gene pool to survive for longer periods (medical treatments, etc).

 

It is further likely that with increased introduction of mutations in the human gene pool that interbred multiple mutations that would individually be inconsequential will more frequently occur that will operate together to result in more significant changes to the resulting individuals. Presuming these hybrids are in some cases beneficial, they would more likely be enhanced by selection due to recognized positive attributes. Humans use intelligence to select their mates (usually) based on perceived superiority vs other choices. Intelligence based selectivce interbreeding has been practiced for many thousands of generations, only the number of variations from which to select has vastly increased.

 

Hope these thoughts are helpful.

 

Welcome comments from all.

 

Richard

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I understand that the human race is believed to have been selected for its intelligence.But I believe that physical adaptations no longer "matter" in our societal world. Unattractive or weak people still find mates, as do unintelligent, backwards people. Today the more important factors in finding a mate are wealth, and social class, which are human creations. We create our own adaptations in this sense. The body and mind don't matter as much as our social institutions do in finding a mate.

 

Wealth is merely a measure of an unbalanced level of access to resources, which certainly exists throughout nature. Social class also exists in some form within most social species, of which there are many. They aren't purely human concepts, and in fact, they correspond better to reproductive fitness in non-human societies than in many (though not all) human ones. While the wealthy certainly have a greater capacity to have and care for children, they aren't generally having more than poorer or lower class people these days. In fact, the general trend is for wealthier countries on the whole to have a much lower birth rate than poor countries, to the point that much of the West especially has a birth rate at or even below the death rate.

 

In the past, it was pretty much a universal condition that people would have more children than would survive because of disease and inadequate access to resources. With the Second Agricultural Revolution, the population of the world began to skyrocket because we could suddenly support a much, much greater population than was possible in the past. Throw in the advancement of medical science and the odds of someone surviving to adulthood are comparatively very high, especially in a developed nation, regardless of the status of their parents.

 

This means that, again especially in the developed world, the ability to have large numbers of children is less dependent on how many you can successfully keep alive and more on how many you have. This latter variable is dependent largely on a person's level of education and access to resource allowing them to prevent pregnancy. This means that people of a high class or level of wealth are better able to lower their own reproductive rate than people who are poor and uneducated. Strictly speaking, this lowers the reproductive fitness of the wealthy in much of human society.

 

I think it's important to keep in mind that people we consider to be highly successful are not necessarily going to be evolutionarily successful, and that people we consider to be failures can be highly successful from an evolutionary standpoint. The correlation is not always very consistent in modern society. Evolutionarily speaking, it doesn't matter how much money or power you have, only how many children. Sometimes the two correlate. Often they do not.

 

 

You are right to say that wealth and social status can increase your mating options, so to speak, but it's important to recognize that finding someone to have sex with isn't actually the point, having children, especially large numbers of children, is. A wealthy athlete who sleeps with dozens of women but only winds up having a family with two children is less reproductively successful than an unemployed alcoholic with three kids.

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I understand that the human race is believed to have been selected for its intelligence. But I believe that physical adaptations no longer "matter" in our societal world. Unattractive or weak people still find mates, as do unintelligent, backwards people. Today the more important factors in finding a mate are wealth, and social class, which are human creations. We create our own adaptations in this sense. The body and mind don't matter as much as our social institutions do in finding a mate.

 

Weaker people can reproduce, but so can stronger and smarter people. Most people need at least some physical strength at some point in their life to survive and often mental streangth, and about social class: poorer people reproduce more. A lot of people aren't attracted to people who are completely lacking in one area anyway, even if lacking some. Physical adaptions aren't disappearing, we're definitely not that technologically advanced and even if we were only muscular adaptions might become so diverse that many people would lack muscle strength, but there could easily be skin and lung and eye adaptations. What's happening is a more diverse set of physical adaptations is surviving due to technology. If you (not you personally) honestly don't need to even use physical strength even 1 time in your life, you probably don't have much of a life anyway and so you probably won't reproduce.

Edited by questionposter
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...there are also people driven to become physically stronger and devote their lives to athletics which could only happen in an organized society where those athletic people had enough resources to do so.

 

This will not affect evolution. Evolution selects for genetic traits rather than aquired ones.

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This will not affect evolution. Evolution selects for genetic traits rather than aquired ones.

 

Many can peruse high level athletics because they are physically adapted to do so, like they can naturally run long distances without tire or use little oxygen and climb Everest or are tall and can spike things in tennis, or are more flexible and buoyant to swim. And I'd imagine some athletic people would be interested in other people who are also athletic.

Edited by questionposter
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Many can peruse high level athletics because they are physically adapted to do so, like they can naturally run long distances without tire or use little oxygen and climb Everest or are tall and can spike things in tennis, or are more flexible and buoyant to swim. And I'd imagine some athletic people would be interested in other people who are also athletic.

 

 

Again these are genetic traits, not aquired ones.

 

If someone is not naturally suited to a sport but dedicates their life to it and becomes good these newly aquired traits will not be passed on

Edited by Tres Juicy
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Again these are genetic traits, not aquired ones.

 

If someone is not naturally suited to a sport but dedicates their life to it and becomes good these newly aquired traits will not be passed on

 

True, but as much capability as society has to emphasize mental traits, it also has the ability to emphasize physical traits because more resources are more available for muscle growth and developement.

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True, but as much capability as society has to emphasize mental traits, it also has the ability to emphasize physical traits because more resources are more available for muscle growth and developement.

 

Even so, without selection pressure the overall tend can be towards a smaller weaker species

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I am most likely in over my head here, but I'm attempting to find info for a research paper. I am writing the paper under the thesis that: human biological evolution has been stunted and, in a lot of ways, replaced by invention. You could take the stance that intelligence is a biological adaptation and that it encapsulates all culture, society, and tool-making/using that we humans partake in, but that view is counterproductive to progress on the topic.

 

I am under the impression that consciousness is what makes humans unique from other species. As far as I know I am not the first person to make that claim. I am looking for sources to support my claim. Whether the claim is correct or not, I will argue it in lieu of changing my thesis.

 

Thank you in advance for the input.

 

Do you have a pet dog?

 

If so then you must believe that he/she is not conscious and you would not be remotely concerned if I took your dog and gutted him alive before your eyes.

 

Right Andecay?

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Even so, without selection pressure the overall tend can be towards a smaller weaker species

 

Smaller and weaker one way, but stronger in others.

 

Do you have a pet dog?

 

If so then you must believe that he/she is not conscious and you would not be remotely concerned if I took your dog and gutted him alive before your eyes.

 

Right Andecay?

 

Well, as much as I hate to say say it, perceiving consciousness doesn't have as much to do with that as it does with your brain releasing a chemical in response to it being in your life and over time habitual mechanisms build up. You could not want it hurt because its conscious, but it seems like most dog owners mistreat dogs in some way, like they cram them in a house and only take them for like 3 minute walks, and that's probably because they are more chemically attached rather than consciously attached.

Edited by questionposter
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