Healthcare and Medicine

EyeBallSon
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Healthcare and Medicine

 Does anyone think that heath care and medicine are screwing up natural selection?


Hambydammit
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 No.  Sure, we are

 No.  Sure, we are extending our lives and keeping "unfit" genetic individuals alive long enough to reproduce, and that's all very important to us, but we are natural agents acting at the behest of our genes, doing exactly what any other creature would do in our place given the opportunity.  Genes (having no consciousness) are simply software routines that produce gene survival machines that try very hard to get their genes into the next generation of gene survival machines.  Doctors and scientists are searching for ways to keep us alive longer, and that facilitates more genes getting into the next generation.  That's natural selection.

You may be thinking that we could somehow degrade the "ideal human" genome by tinkering with which individuals "should" and "should not" reproduce, based on the likelihood of genetic deformity or disease.  The thing is, there isn't an "ideal genome" to tinker with.  We are all -- each one of the six and a half billion humans on earth -- a "transitional creature."  We are genetically different than both of our parents, and different from any other creature that has ever lived on earth.  There is absolutely no way to know what changes will happen to our genome in ten thousand, or a hundred thousand, or a million years.  (It'll take at least a million years before we might be a little confused at seeing another 'human'.)

Part of the adaptation process is adapting to one's own genes.  I've heard scientists say (off the record, and usually after a couple of beers to loosen the lips) that the most immediately effective way to cure AIDS is not to mess with it.  The human body is great at figuring out how to beat bugs, and if you have enough people with a bug, it becomes readily apparent when a certain offspring has developed immunity.  In other words, suppose that someone in Greenland has produced a child who is immune to AIDS.  If the child has never been exposed to AIDS, and never contracts the virus, scientists will never know to study its genome to figure out why it's immune.  However, if everybody has AIDS, it becomes readily apparent who's immune and who's not.  Sure, it may kill  90% of the population before someone becomes immune, but from then on, AIDS won't be a problem.

Of course, no sane person would suggest such a "cure."  I give you the illustration to say that natural selection is not moral.  Humans have become intelligent enough to recognize that just because something is "natural" it does not follow that it is good.  We try to cure people of painful diseases because we care about our fellow human beings -- and we don't want to be in pain ourselves.  All animals with some sense of consciousness try to avoid pain and prevent it if they can.  We're not doing anything out of the ordinary.  We're just doing it with more intelligence than any other animal, so our results are more dramatic.

 

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Wonderist
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No. Natural selection will

No. Natural selection will always occur for the very simple reason that life replicates at exponential rates and therefore quickly expands to fill all available environmental niches. There is more life produced than can possibly survive. Therefore some must die. The ones that die, die for different reasons. Whatever those reasons are, they are natural selection.

The effect that modern medicine and health care has is to lower the threshold of survival, which only means that more varieties of people can survive. This leads to greater genetic diversity overall, which is a good thing. But we will never reach a point where all people can survive and reproduce equally. There will always be differential survival and reproduction rates.

What has actually occurred is that on top of biological evolution we have developed a capacity for cultural evolution. Cultural evolution occurs much faster than human biological evolution. So, our medicine is evolving faster than our genes. But our genes are still evolving. That will not stop.

In fact, there are good arguments to make that due to our cultural evolution co-evolving with our genetics, we are actually evolving *faster* than we would if we did not have such sophisticated culture. Wars, for instance, are cultural phenomena and tend to kill a lot of people. Likewise, those who are able to 'game the system' better, who can adapt to culture and society in order to gain reproductive success, are able to pass their genes down to the next generation. There are a whole bunch of cultural factors that affect genetic success. Some are even paradoxical, such as poverty. But the point is that our genes co-evolve with our culture, and co-evolution tends to lead to dramatic evolutionary changes.

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 Some day, Natural, remind

 Some day, Natural, remind me to argue with you over cultural evolution.  Not today, though.

 

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I think in a way we are. I

I think in a way we are. I wear glasses for example and if a thousand years ago I didn't have them, I'd have gotten eaten by a Grizzly or beaten up by somebody else. We've invented firearms, so now even pansies can put up a fight.

 

I mean look at all these bacterial sprays and such. Never mind the fac that the bacteria are becoming resistant, it's that our immune system is probably getting weaker because we use 5 lysols wipes on our doorknobs.

Ergo we don't get infected in small amounts, and build up the anti-bodies then when a bigger exposure hits, we're sick, or toast, depending on what the germ is. For example, chicken pox is lethal in adults.

 

 

 


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Quote:Does anyone think that

Quote:

Does anyone think that heath care and medicine are screwing up natural selection?

This doesn't mean anything.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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The evolution of technology

The evolution of technology has trumped the evolution of genes.

 

natural wrote:

 But we will never reach a point where all people can survive and reproduce equally. There will always be differential survival and reproduction rates.

Depends on who controls the technology. Technology will soon be able to turn on or off all our primal urges, including sex/reproduction. So if someone can control people by controlling their primal instincts, they can do whatever they want with the human race.

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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Since when is natural

Since when is natural selection is a good thing its just err natural and the for individual cruel nasty and extremely fatal.

So yes we are probably screwing it which is an extremely 'good' thing

 


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mrjonno wrote:Since when is

mrjonno wrote:

Since when is natural selection is a good thing its just err natural and the for individual cruel nasty and extremely fatal.

So yes we are probably screwing it which is an extremely 'good' thing

 

That was awesome!  It looks like you've had as much wine to drink as I have...

If it is 'good' that we are screwing with natural selection, does that imply that natural selection doesn't always select those traits which are most beneficial to gene propagating machines?

It's all in the reflexes...


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I am on the pasta and wine

I am on the pasta and wine tonight (I'm am Pastafarian that tends to prefer wine to beer).

I'm using the term good to mean morally ethically good nature itself don't care, and maximising gene propogation is not a 'good' thing its merely a natural one.

Its a populist media mind set that nature is good artificial is bad which is just sloppy thinking. I love nature biology, physics chemistry even geology (through my uni course on that was a bit tough) but nature sure don't love me.

Religion controls people as we all have an intrinsic biological nature to think we are important and the centre of the universe, alas we arent


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 I raise my goblet to you,

 I raise my goblet to you, mrjonno!  (unfortunately, that was my last gulp of cheap cab)

By the way, may I have your permission to use the term "Pastafarian?"  Love it!  Can't wait to tell my wife about it...

It's all in the reflexes...


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Pastafarian is a follower of

Pastafarian is a follower of the flying spaghetti monster

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Be touched by his noodly goodness


Hambydammit
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 The whole "screwing with

 The whole "screwing with natural selection" argument makes an interesting mistake -- it steals from religion!

In the Christian mindset, there are things that are natural and things that are unnatural.  Humans disturbed the natural order by sinning.  Homosexuality is unnatural.  Not feeling love for the Warm and Fuzzy Savior is unnatural.  Etc, etc.

Do a thought experiment for a second or two.  If all that exists is the material universe, what is unnatural?  The only possible answer is "that which does not exist" for if a thing exists, it is part of the material universe, and natural.

Actually, it's funny you picked these two topics (morality and medicine) because both fall prey to the same obfuscation through equivocation (clouding the water by using multiple definitions vaguely).  Even though we all think we know what unnatural means, we can't quite put our finger on it -- and that's precisely because everything is natural.  We often use the word to mean things that are far from the ordinary, but that's not unnatural, just statistically rare.  We can also use it to mean things that are morally bankrupt, but that is also quite natural -- just morally bankrupt.

The final nail in the coffin is when we realize that our intelligence isn't special, nor can it possibly cause anything unnatural to happen.  Sure, we are the most intelligent animal on the planet, but the cheetah is the fastest cat, and the blue whale is the biggest animal on the planet, and the dolphin is the best at using sonar.  We like to put intelligence on a pedestal because it's our particular specialty, but other than the fact that it's human, there's no real reason to postulate that it is somehow "outside of natural selection."

Natural selection is the principle that the realities of the universe will influence the survival of genes over time.  There's nothing about modern medicine that stops the realities of the universe from influencing which genes survive and which don't.  Humans are natural, and our influence is part of the realities of the universe.  Organisms influence their own natural selection all the time.  We are just aware of it, and do it purposefully.  So what?  Still natural.

One could make the argument that our selection is partly "artificial" and if they word it correctly, they might have a case.  However, this still doesn't affect the point that even our conscious "artificial" tinkering with our own descent is still within the scope of our natural capabilities.  We are still passing our own genes into the next generation with variation, and that's natural selection.

 

 

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As far as I know (1 year

As far as I know (1 year evolutionary biology course) for natural selection to take place there must be more of an organism created that can survive to breeding age due to resources and preditation.

Does that still apply to 1st world human in the same way it applies to another animal? . I'm not sure, we are all competing for mating partners but the majority manage it. The mortality rate to reach pubery is extremely low. To at least some extent we humans can move beyond our biology. We overide our replicating machinery every time we use condoms

I'm sure there are better biologists out there than me but I suspect the answers to those questions would be highly debated even among themselves

 


Hambydammit
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 The only place where

 The only place where modern medicine could have an appreciable effect on natural selection is infant mortality, which is down considerably over the last couple hundred years, though not nearly as considerable in third world countries.

Currently, the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is about 7 per 1000.  In Afghanistan it's 165 -- more than 20 times higher.   Curiously, though, the decrease of infant mortality adds diversity, which in effect can speed up the process of natural selection, given the right circumstances.

As you point out, most of the applications of modern medicine are most useful after most people have reached reproductive age, so there's that, too.

Finally, contraception certainly has an effect.  Because of contraception, I'm the last of my genetic line, and I will not be reproducing, so modern medicine has certainly had a local effect.  The question is whether the net effect is such that we could say that some fundamental process of natural selection has been altered.  I can't think of any way that we could say it has.  We still reproduce, our children still have a mix of our DNA, and we still compete with each other and against our environment.  It's still the same process.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote: Finally,

Hambydammit wrote:

 Finally, contraception certainly has an effect.  Because of contraception, I'm the last of my genetic line, and I will not be reproducing, so modern medicine has certainly had a local effect.  The question is whether the net effect is such that we could say that some fundamental process of natural selection has been altered.  I can't think of any way that we could say it has.  We still reproduce, our children still have a mix of our DNA, and we still compete with each other and against our environment.  It's still the same process.

 

 

That made me think we are still definitely competing for who we reproduce  with but generally most people will manage to reproduce with someone  even it isnt with there prefered partner (Uma Thurman, or that cylon chick from Battlestar Galactica  for me).

So your genes get passed on but not in the combination that you may prefer , is this correct is ? does any other animal undertake natural selection in the same way.

Surely for most animals they either have reproductive success (based on number of children surviving to reproduce) or no success at all for humans it seems slightly more subtle


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 Quote:So your genes get

 

Quote:
So your genes get passed on but not in the combination that you may prefer , is this correct is ? does any other animal undertake natural selection in the same way.

It's better if you get away from the idea of our preference having much to do with it.  Female sexual selection is the most common in vertebrates, but that doesn't mean that natural selection is reliant on females to make the correct selection.  Female sexual selection is just the path we happen to be on.  If a human female has babies with her husband, her illicit lover, or a rapist, she is still, from the point of view of the genes, getting the job done.  It's nice for human females if they get to choose, but that's only really important to us humans, not to natural selection.

Dolphins, FYI, routinely rape (by human standards) females by ganging up on them, separating them from the pack, and tiring them out until they finally either cannot resist or give in.

Quote:
Surely for most animals they either have reproductive success (based on number of children surviving to reproduce) or no success at all for humans it seems slightly more subtle

It only seems more subtle because we think of things as good that don't matter to natural selection.  Your kid's going to be smart enough to get into Yale?  Bully for you, but if you only produces one kid, and the redneck down the street produces ten between his wife and all his girlfriends, you lose and he wins, genetically.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Good stuff much to think

Good stuff much to think about and what you say makes sense , obviously I've got a lot more to learn which is what makes life fun