As to the above, there is nothing in the idea of letting society work in shifts that will induce evolutionary selection to come into place. Evolutionary selection requires death to weed out the weaklings, bettering the odds for those with beneficial genes to procreate.
Problems with this “survival of the fittest
” metaphor for natural selection include
- That what trait is or will be effectively “strong” or “weak” is hard to determine. For example:
- Heritable diseases may provide critical resistance to future environmental or disease pathogens
- Disable individuals may have a beneficial affect on society by filling peculiar social roles, or promoting beneficial social behaviors such as charity and compassion
- Because the smallest unit of that which can live to reproduce or die without reproducing is the individual organism, not individual heritable traits, beneficial traits may be culled and detrimental ones perpetuated because they are present in an individual with other survival-impacting traits
- Sometime the fit are just unlucky, and die, while the less fit are lucky, and survive
This is not to say “survival of the fittest” is not an apt and useful metaphor, only that it is an approximate, not an absolutely accurate, one.
Humans can work this "shift-system" for the next million years, and as long as we have electric lights and all the other mod cons of human engineering that tames the night environment, not a single jot or title in the human genome will change (be selected for) in order for humans to better work or live at night.
There is simply no need for such a change, and no individual born with night sight (for instance) will have any advantage over a human who can simply flip a light switch.
This claim presupposes that
- Electric lights and other night-vision aids actually have tamed the night environment
- Every possible enhancement of visual perception can be accomplished with better illumination, optical devices, image-enhancement software, etc.
While I’m transhumanist enough to imagine, and even wish for, a future in which artificial visual systems render our present fleshy, nervy orbs obsolete in every way, I realist enough to expect this may be a long time coming, or may never come.
Our mastery of our environment have effectively removed us from the set of animals subject to evolutionary adaptation to environmental change.
As with vision, this presupposes that our mastery of our environment is effectively absolute. Though I share the dream of this occurring, I don’t believe that it has, by a long shot, at present.
Though our tool use is of tremendous benefit to us – I’ll go so far as to believe they set us apart from other animals more than any other major collection of traits, as I don’t see dolphins or termites landing spaceships on Mars – artifice is not at present the best solution to every environmental challenge, and in some situations, is actually a detriment. For example, labor-saving devices are a major cause of physical under-exercise and obesity, a major factor leading to untimely death. Dwellings and conveyances limit our contact with the dirtiest parts of our environment, which appears to cause immune system malformation resulting in potentially fertility and life-threatening disorders.
And anybody who is born with such random mutations have no advantage at all over individuals who only has to learn how to apply existing technology.
A point: evolution is not due entirely or even mostly to the acquisition of random genetic mutation, but in the large to acquiring old genes in different combinations via ordinary sexual reproduction.
Again, I agree, tools help, tremendously. However, purely biological advantages are also advantageous. All the present-day technology in the world is not enough to give selective advantage to a person with many heritable biological disabilities over a more biologically fit person – especially if the disabilities and fitness are related to fertility.
Our mastery of our environment have effectively removed us from the set of animals subject to evolutionary adaptation to environmental change. We say "to hell with darkness" and invent a light bulb. Other species wait for millions of successive generations to evolve light-emitting organs or develop sonar. Humans can do what glow-worms and bats do without evolving specific genes. And anybody who is born with such random mutations have no advantage at all over individuals who only has to learn how to apply existing technology.
charles brough said:
It is strange, however, that people don't seem to accept that. They seem to feel that biological evolution is the only way to account for all the change in the way we live during the last some 40,000 years. Perhaps the reason they insist on coming up with pathetic examples of current genetic evolution in us is because the idea that we are bound together in societies by ideological systems instead of "Truth" is disturbing.
Another explanation for why people don’t accept that our mastery of our environment has removed us from the set of animals subject to evolutionary adaptation to environmental change is related to their perception of cause
Most people, I think, agree that human planning, tool use, and other technology has and is affording us tremendous advantages we would not have if we lived much like other animals. However, our ability to think, communicate, and build appears to me and, I think, many others, to have been caused by biological evolution, rather than our biological evolution having been caused by it. The truth of how much of our continuing success is due to our social abilities and artifice, vs. how much is due to our biology, vs. how much is due to luck, is, I think, moot
(in the old sense of the word).
Moderator: Computers and Technology; Medical Science; Science Projects and Homework; Philosophy of Science; Physics and Mathematics; Environmental Studies :)