Why aren't we smarter already? Evolutionary limits on cognition

(Medical Xpress) -- We put a lot of energy into improving our memory, intelligence, and attention. There are even drugs that make us sharper, such as Ritalin and caffeine. But maybe smarter isn’t really all that better. A new paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, warns that there are limits on how smart humans can get, and any increases in thinking ability are likely to come with problems.

The authors looked to evolution to understand about why humans are only as smart as we are and not any smarter. “A lot of people are interested in drugs that can enhance cognition in various ways,” says Thomas Hills of the University of Warwick, who cowrote the article with Ralph Hertwig of the University of Basel. “But it seems natural to ask, why aren’t we smarter already?”

Tradeoffs are common in evolution. It might be nice to be eight feet tall, but most hearts couldn’t handle getting blood up that high. So most humans top out under six feet. Just as there are evolutionary tradeoffs for physical traits, Hills says, there are tradeoffs for . A baby’s brain size is thought to be limited by, among other things, the size of the mother’s pelvis; bigger brains could mean more deaths in childbirth, and the pelvis can’t change substantially without changing the way we stand and walk.

Drugs like and amphetamines help people pay better attention. But they often only help people with lower baseline abilities; people who don’t have trouble paying attention in the first place can actually perform worse when they take attention-enhancing drugs. That suggests there is some kind of upper limit to how much people can or should pay attention. “This makes sense if you think about a focused task like driving,” Hills says, “where you have to pay attention, but to the right things—which may be changing all the time. If your is focused on a shiny billboard or changing the channel on the radio, you’re going to have problems.”

It may seem like a good thing to have a better , but people with excessively vivid memories have a difficult life. “Memory is a double-edged sword,” Hills says. In post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, a person can’t stop remembering some awful episode. “If something bad happens, you want to be able to forget it, to move on.”

Even increasing general intelligence can cause problems. Hills and Hertwig cite a study of Ashkenazi Jews, who have an average IQ much higher than the general European population. This is apparently because of evolutionary selection for intelligence in the last 2,000 years. But, at the same time, Ashkenazi Jews have been plagued by inherited diseases like Tay-Sachs disease that affect the nervous system. It may be that the increase in brain power has caused an increase in disease.

Given all of these tradeoffs that emerge when you make people better at thinking, Hills says, it’s unlikely that there will ever be a supermind. “If you have a specific task that requires more memory or more speed or more accuracy or whatever, then you could potentially take an enhancer that increases your capacity for that task,” he says. “But it would be wrong to think that this is going to improve your abilities all across the board.”

More information: The DOI for this paper is 10.1177/0963721411418300

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antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (15) Dec 07, 2011
But, at the same time, Ashkenazi Jews have been plagued by inherited diseases like Tay-Sachs disease that affect the nervous system. It may be that the increase in brain power has caused an increase in disease.

Or it may simply be that inbreeding of small populations results in more frequent disease?
kevinrtrs
1.9 / 5 (19) Dec 07, 2011
I fully support your thoughts on that point, antialias.

This is apparently because of evolutionary selection for intelligence in the last 2,000 years.


I think that there's been zero evolutionary selection for intelligence and my point is just as valid as anyone else's because how does one go about supporting/falsifying such a statement?
There's no recorded documents or other records showing that human intelligence either improved or deteriorated over the last 2000 years. What is intelligence? By whose and what measures?
The authors are simply fishing in mud here.
Squirrel
4 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2011
Why IQ has not gone to ceiling level is one of psychology's big puzzles. The Ashkenazi Jews case is not very convincing as the above commenter has noted associated inherited diseases like Tay-Sachs disease could be due to inbreeding. One trade-off overlooked by Hills and Hertwig is nutrition. All IQ studies have been done upon modern populations that have received from early life good energy intake. It could be that high IQ has been balanced by a hide trade-off whereby lower IQ individuals have more robustness to periods of food shortage (a very good event until recent times). But this is speculation. It is curious the anomaly is not keen more attention.
Tausch
3.5 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2011
We have a literacy crisis in this country, says Philip Rubin 73 MA, 75 Ph.D., Haskins chief executive officer and former director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences at the National Science Foundation. Many of our kids struggle with reading. At the heart, what we do is address those that are struggling. What makes them different than kids who dont struggle is the kind of work that were doing.


http://medicalxpr...-to.html

Der Siegeszug der Neurowissenschaften - the irony.
You don't want to be too smart for everyone's good.
Why not max out the alleged evolutionary limits first?
Then take up the alleged limit as an issue.
Besides, it is something Americans will never come to enjoy.
My definition...
The measure of 'smarts' of a population is:
directly proportional to the internal and external strife that population exhibits. The lesser the strife, the greater the cognition.
Mayday
4.2 / 5 (6) Dec 07, 2011
IMO, the more puzzling question is "why are we so smart?" Very few people tax their intellect to any great degree. Even people engaged in "intellectual" pursuits mostly stay focused on a quite narrow range of thinking tasks and patterns. Most of us move through our lives with these big brains that are astoundingly capable, but we give them very little use. Looking at the world at large and the general criteria for mate selection, I can't see why our brains haven't evolved into something quite smaller. Wait a minute! Maybe it's actually our selection for female hip size that leads to brain... Nah. Fergetaboutit.
Tausch
3 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2011
If you want to approach any potential you believe you have cognitively - you must select a language with unlimited vocabulary. A language having as many words as math has numbers or music has sounds, will enhance you beyond your imagination.
Isaacsname
3 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2011
" It may be that the increase in brain power has caused an increase in disease. "

That seems like a giant leap.

My own mind is like a sponge, I can practically close my eyes and see what I had for breakfast 30 years ago. I even recognized a grade school teacher recently on the street, I hadn't seen him in over 20 years, instantly remembered his name, his wife, his kids' names, etc. He had no clue who I was :P

I think inherently most people have the capacity for higher-level cognition, whatever that means, but they are spending a great deal of time thinking about things like social obligations, financial obligations, etc, hence they do not have time to think at great length about other deeper issues.

Almost everybody is mentally bound by bills, clocks, flags, material possessions, ..those are the things that take up valuable time thinking about, non-humans of course don't have this.

Who knows, maybe primates are philosophers at heart.
antialias_physorg
4.1 / 5 (17) Dec 07, 2011
Basically the author of the article hasn't understood evolution.

Evolution does not lead to a maximally effective organism (as measured by intelligence, strength, durability, resistance to disease, or whatever other property you care to name).
Evolution leads to an organism that is good ENOUGH for the current environmental situation (and by environment I mean ecological and social environment)

Consider photosynthesis. 3% efficient. Pitiful. But it is better than anything else around it - so it succeeds (and does not need to develop further. I.e. there is no evolutionary pressure for it to become more efficient)

There is no longer a selection pressure for intelligence. You can survive just as well being averagly intelligent as you can being hyper-smart.
Arguably the former are more evolved (i.e. effective at survival/creating offspring) because they have more time raising kids. The latter are too busy studying, tinkering, working, investigating, ...
kevinrtrs
1.1 / 5 (13) Dec 07, 2011
Tradeoffs are common in evolution. It might be nice to be eight feet tall, but most hearts couldnt handle getting blood up that high. So most humans top out under six feet.

Makes one begin to wonder just how Giraffes managed to "evolve" their blood circulation system at all, doesn't it? It's an all or nothing situation, there's no in between system that will work - it either works properly first time or the animal and species doesn't survive.
To imply that it happened in small steps is simply to invite the retort that there are no fossils showing the different developmental stages which would have been the result of such step-wise evolution.
hcl
4 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2011
Patience. The Information Age and its ultra-selection for IQ only began 1/2 a generation ago. The Industrial Revolution, too, hardly began to impact most the world's population until 1900 or 1945.

As to health, my guess is most readers here range from 105 IQ students to 170 IQ theoretical physicists, and most in good health. We're a long way from a hard ceiling. Genes that enhance wiring efficiency have likely only begun to propagate.

Come back in 200 to 300 years and I bet the average IQ of the human population would test 1 or 2 S.D. above today's baseline.
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (10) Dec 07, 2011
Makes one begin to wonder just how Giraffes managed to "evolve" their blood circulation system at all, doesn't it?

Don't be obtuse. The article says that if you keep the heart at its current size and suddenly you scale up your height you run into problems. Evolution is not (neccessarily) the change of one aspect at once but a number of smal changes in ALL organs over time.

Giraffs didn't evolve from ground dwelling rats (or whatever the equivalent ancestor is) to giraffe in one generation.

To imply that it happened in small steps is simply to invite the retort that there are no fossils showing the different developmental stages

Before spouting nonsense you should google a bit. Plenty of intermediary fossils exist.
http://en.wikiped...volution
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (9) Dec 07, 2011
Patience. The Information Age and its ultra-selection for IQ only began 1/2 a generation ago

Is there really a selection for IQ going on? Are high IQ people more successfull in finding mates and producing offspring (which is the ONLY criterium for evolution)? I doubt it.

Socially we do select for intelligence. Intelligent individuals tend to be richer/more sucessful in life. But social selection is not always the same as genetic selection. Populations evolve by the number of offspring that survive from different mutations (IQ levels). If the survival rate for low IQs is as high as for high IQs and low IQs outbreed high IQ individuals then the more evolved group is the low IQ one.

Evolution doesn't specify that property X must always become better (greater strength, bigger size, longer teeth, etc. ) sometimes the opposite is better. IQ is no exception to this rule.

Nanobanano
3 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2011
people with excessively vivid memories have a difficult life.


Tell me about it...

===

Anyway, smart people are often isolated. In school it's a taboo to be smart. on the job, being smart can get you fired, because employers pretty much just want someone to shut up and do their job description to the letter, which is good work for dummies.

Smart people are killed by drunk idiots and murderers all the time.

A very large portion of our millionaires are not "high IQ" scientists or philosophers. They are actors and atheletes, many of which took general studies, arts, or kinesiology as a major in college.

You don't have to be able to spell football, but as long as you can play it, someone will pay you millions of dollars per year.

Being able to run pythagorean theorem in my head, or memorizing 20 digits of pi, nor all the science and math books I ever read never helped me at anything in life.
barakn
4.6 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2011
Makes one begin to wonder just how Giraffes managed to "evolve" their blood circulation system at all, doesn't it? It's an all or nothing situation, there's no in between system that will work - it either works properly first time or the animal and species doesn't survive.
To imply that it happened in small steps is simply to invite the retort that there are no fossils showing the different developmental stages which would have been the result of such step-wise evolution.

http://en.wikiped...otherium Oh, look, a link to an extinct giraffe species with an intermediate neck length. Looks like you are wrong yet again, Kevin.
Nanobanano
3.2 / 5 (6) Dec 07, 2011
Consider photosynthesis. 3% efficient. Pitiful.


You're thinking about it wrong because you're only considering the energy it absorbs.

You'd probably have a very hard time making a 3% efficient, self replicating, self assembling machine that also cleans itself and disposes of it's own waste materials.

If you are talking about pure EM, heat, and mechanical energy, every step in a process has an upper limit of efficiency, and in most cases it's 67% or less. Even simple levers and pulleys are lmited at around 95%.

By the time you have several steps in a process efficiency falls off quickly because friction and other losses get applied to each and every step.

Biology is millions of times more complex than a combustion engine, AND works with impure fuels, having to sort out poisons and waste materials from it's fuel source...

So 3% is actually ridiculously good.

If automobiles had to extract oil from a pile of dirt, they'd be useless.
Callippo
2.3 / 5 (6) Dec 07, 2011
Most of people are simply lazy to think. They refuse new ideas simply because they're lazy to think about them.
Nerdyguy
3.4 / 5 (7) Dec 07, 2011
"there are limits on how smart humans can get, and any increases in thinking ability are likely to come with problems."

From a purely biological and evolutionary perspective, perhaps. However, we've been fortunate enough to get just smart enough to be in a position to control our own future evolution.

With greater technological prowess in both technology and biology, we will undoubtedly go beyond any natural limits on our intellect and improve upon the evolutionary chain.
Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2011
Most of people are simply lazy to think. They refuse new ideas simply because they're lazy to think about them.


Cold fusion perhaps? Sorry, couldn't help myself.
Sigh
4.8 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2011
Is there really a selection for IQ going on? Are high IQ people more successfull in finding mates and producing offspring (which is the ONLY criterium for evolution)?

Survival also matters, both of the generation reproducing now and the survival of their offspring. A study of the mortality of Scots tested in 1932 showed survival positively correlated with IQ, except during WWII (from a conference talk, I don't have the original source). Mothers' intelligence positively correlates with childhood survival (Sandiford et al. 1997, Soc. Sci. Med 45(8), 1231-1239).
Callippo
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2011
Cold fusion perhaps? Sorry, couldn't help myself.
Cold fusion isn't an idea, try to think more...
Nerdyguy
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2011
Many people seem to have the erroneous view that evolution and -- in this case -- intelligence work in a perfectly linear fashion. It's just not the case. As just one example: we clearly are teaching mathematics and physics concepts to a younger audience than was the case 200 years ago. Yet, at the same time, we're still blowing each others brains out with primitive weapons, fighting over turf or whatnot, just like we were thousands of years ago.
Nerdyguy
3 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2011
Cold fusion perhaps? Sorry, couldn't help myself.
Cold fusion isn't an idea, try to think more...


Cold fusion is not a "relatively" new idea? Oh, wait...are you saying you've changed your mind and it doesn't exist at all? Ah, I'm so confused. I may have hit my evolutionary plateau.

Anyway, Callipo, I was just having a little fun with you. No harm intended.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2011
You'd probably have a very hard time making a 3% efficient, self replicating, self assembling machine that also cleans itself and disposes of it's own waste materials.

What does that type of ancillary mechanisms have to do with the conversion rate? The conversion rate is only dependent on the chemicals used in the leaf.

The point is that if there is no evolutionary pressure on a certain aspect of a species (like efficiency of photosynthesis) then that aspect is unlikely to evolve further. At the very least the speed of evolutionary change of that aspect will slow down, since there is only random mutation going on and no external environmental selection.

(NB: Random mutation does count as an environmental selection - but it is only of that organism type against its own kin. Which is much less harsh than if an organism has to compete with its next kin AND everything else)
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2011
Example: people in higher mountain regions have a genetic makup to produce more red blood cells. Selection for such individuals has been forced via selection for individuals that can cope (and be active) under such conditions.

In the lowlands, even though such a mutation would be 'better', it doesn't confer much of an advantage. Certainly idt does not confer a longevity or breeding advantage - so it is not selected for.

The thing I was trying to express is: Species evolve until they are good enough (for a given environment) - NOT until they are the best they can possibly be.

So I can't really understand why it would surprise anyone that we aren't smarter than we are. We COULD be - but without a (survival) NEED to be there is no reason why evolution should go that way.
Nerdyguy
2.3 / 5 (6) Dec 07, 2011
robovoter strikes again! Precisely 5 "1" votes on every comment posted in the last hour. All starting with the same name.

Here's an interesting twist though: the other 4 votes show up as "blank". That's either a problem with the system or a clear indication of tomfoolery.
Nerdyguy
2.6 / 5 (8) Dec 07, 2011
And, of course, the first name there, hcl....was created....TODAY.

So, someone who has presumably never visited PhysOrg creates a new account, finds every one of my comments, and votes 5 times with a "1"? Seems like that's an unlikely coincidence. Seems more like FrankHerbert is still miffed and thinks he's pulling the wool over someone's eyes by using a new account. Funny stuff.

Whatever, PhysOrg needs to get rid of this silly voting system. It just encourages the psychos.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (8) Dec 07, 2011
robovoter strikes again! Precisely 5 "1" votes on every comment posted in the last hour. All starting with the same name.

Here's an interesting twist though: the other 4 votes show up as "blank". That's either a problem with the system or a clear indication of tomfoolery.


What the fuck are you even talking about you crybaby?

http://www.physor...activity

So I'm Ethelred (obviously not), barakn (obviously not), johnnyboy (a fucking a teabagger [obviously not]), and orac whom everyone has accused of being someones puppet at one point or another.

Have you ever stopped to think you have awful, offensive opinions that you have a pathological need to present as facts? Maybe that is why you get such poor ratings here?

You're paranoid man. Get help.

Whatever, PhysOrg needs to get rid of this silly voting system. It just encourages the psychos.

Yep it sure encouraged your last few posts.
Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2011
robovoter strikes again! Precisely 5 "1" votes on every comment posted in the last hour. All starting with the same name.

Here's an interesting twist though: the other 4 votes show up as "blank". That's either a problem with the system or a clear indication of tomfoolery.


What the fuck are you even talking about you crybaby?


Yes, Frank, your quote and further rant clearly shows how awful and offensive "I" am.

It is beyond sad that you actually have the time to cyber-stalk people and vote on their every move, as you've done this morning. Under your real name, for a change. And, yes, I know it upsets you that someone is calling you on it, but perhaps you could refrain from such personal, vitriolic attacks?
FrankHerbert
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 07, 2011
Okay, buddy.

"The Paranoid Style in America Politics"
http://karws.gso....yle.html
The enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral supermansinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving. Unlike the rest of us, the enemy is not caught in the toils of the vast mechanism of history, himself a victim of his past, his desires, his limitations. He wills, indeed he manufactures, the mechanism of history, or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way.


Yep it's not more likely that you have bad opinions. Every person on this site who disagrees with you is me.

Heh.

(And yes, your constant lying on this site is very offensive. More offensive than the occasional curse word ;) Are you a child with virgin ears?)
Shifty0x88
5 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2011
I believe what the article is trying to get at, is why has it been 100 years with a seemingly static IQ on average for the populations we study, when we have come thousands of years and gone from ritual sacrifice to the skyscraper cities we see today.

To add to this, we are only so smart because we allow the child to grow outside of the womb(the brain of a child grows as well as learns), where our intelligence comes from, making us have to raise our children for longer then say a crocodile(they help their babies to the water, and then they are on their own).

Why isn't our pregnancy longer? Why don't we see children developing slower but eventually getting smarter?

Lots of interesting questions that their answers will only lead to more questions.

Great article, and as you can see by the comments, it did make us think(ah, intelligence)!!!
Nerdyguy
1.3 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2011
Yep it's not more likely that you have bad opinions. Every person on this site who disagrees with you is me.


How silly. Whatever gave you that idea?

What I said was very clear: within 2 seconds of posting a comment, the same 5 voters IMMEDIATELY vote "1" on every comment, every article. Orac, and other bizarre aliases that are subtle variations on other commenters (e.g., Cmanhole82) are used. Frank, whether or not you agree with my views, and whether or not you are a person filled with hate and rage, is really besides the point. What I'm saying is rather obvious and a common complaint on Physorg. What, did you think I was the first one to say this?

Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2011
Are you a child with virgin ears?)


There's just no place for the personal attacks, hate-filled speech, cursing, hate-mongering, and general lack of manners in a site like this. It's childish, and takes away from decent public discourse. I mean, did you not just actually say what amounts to "hahahahah, I'm more mature than you are?" You can almost hear the sing-song schoolboy bully's voice in that...
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (7) Dec 07, 2011
Evidence?

http://www.physor...activity

Occam's razor says you have bad opinions and are blaming that on everyone but yourself.
Nerdyguy
2.2 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2011
Evidence?

http://www.physor...activity

Occam's razor says you have bad opinions and are blaming that on everyone but yourself.


Ummm..you're "evidence" shows 22 "1" votes by FrankHerbert, and twelve other TOTAL votes by all others.

BTW, while you obviously already know this, PhysOrg's crazy voting system will only show you the latest activity on that link you highlighted. So, unfortunately, when you stalked me and voted "1" 22 times (wow!), it drove everything else off the page.

Anyway, enjoy yourself Frank. Your psychotic behavior is well established. Your attempts to delude are well established. Your attempt to deflect criticism that is valid and pointed are well documented. The votes are inconsequential, but hacking and manipulation are not. I am bored of this ridiculous back and forth. Have fun with your voting.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (7) Dec 07, 2011
Evidence of me not liking you and voting you down is not evidence of some robovoting campaign.

Stop with the awful opinions. Stop with the disinformation.

I'm not counting on it though.

So, unfortunately, when you stalked me and voted "1" 22 times (wow!), it drove everything else off the page.

The only thing that drove your imaginary "evidence" off the page is your crazy ranting about me "robotvoting" you. The votes don't push anything off the page, your inane, dishonest posts do.

You really are paranoid because I think you're intentionally misunderstanding things to fit into your view, then internalizing it.

Maybe if there was "evidence" and you wanted to preserve it you should have shut up for more than 3 minutes.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2011
I believe what the article is trying to get at, is why has it been 100 years with a seemingly static IQ on average for the populations we study

Erm...the average IQ of the population is ALWAYS 100. That is how IQ is defined. It's utterly impossible to see a shift in average IQ scores.
Why isn't our pregnancy longer? Why don't we see children developing slower but eventually getting smarter?

Is there any selection pressure for a longer pregnancy? No.
Is there any selection pressure for smarter children? No.
Callippo
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2011
The voting trolling is imbecile. To bother with imbeciles is off topic and imbecile as well.
ziphead
5 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
Well... small digression but many others do it here ad nauseam anyway.

The problem with IQ in general is that people consider it and compare it like horsepower on their cars, or frequency on the CPUs inside their computing devices.

In the end, it is really all about egos, is it not? And the ego drives intelligence to fulfill tasks that hardly yield any meaningful results. Hence the conundrum.
ziphead
5 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
Put another way, what is the value of 10^10000... Hz system running:

while true
do
echo "Hello world, I'm the fastest CPU in the Universe" > /dev/null
done
Isaacsname
5 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
" Hills says, its unlikely that there will ever be a supermind"

What exactly is a " supermind " and what are it's amazing abilities that are beyond reach ?

Everybody can't be a genius or polymath.
aroc91
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
Erm...the average IQ of the population is ALWAYS 100. That is how IQ is defined. It's utterly impossible to see a shift in average IQ scores.


I don't know on what sort of time frame, but IQ scores are normalized. It's entirely possible for the mean score of the population to increase if the bell curve isn't adjusted.

The 100 average doesn't just appear out of nowhere.
Zitface
not rated yet Dec 08, 2011
Highly Recommended:
"Galapagos" by Kurt Vonnegut
Jeremyh
4.5 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
@FrankHerbert @Nerdyguy

You both need help.....
LivaN
4 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
I remember reading somewhere, probably here, that another reason we have a limit on cognition is due to a denser brain requiring a lot more energy and maintenance, which in turn leads to more brain related problems as we age. Another issue is that as you get smarter you tend to think slower, since the brain is based on chemical interactions which occur at defined speeds. In general I would suppose evolution to favour quicker decision making with possible errors, rather than slower decision making with minimal errors.

Nerdyguy
robovoter strikes again!

Maybe you are being stalked, but coincidently the last 5 posts of yours that got rated 1's turned out to either be opinionated rubbish or blatantly incorrect, all deserving of their respective ratings.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
The point is that if there is no evolutionary pressure on a certain aspect of a species (like efficiency of photosynthesis) then that aspect is unlikely to evolve further.
I think this is more a matter of not being able to get to there from here. See Dawkins book Climbing Mt. Improbable.

Photosynthesis may have gone as far as it can with chemicals tools that exist in the species using it. A more efficient chemical path might require a different starting point and unless that somehow started out more than 3 percent efficient it would not be able to compete.

When there is little to compete against even an inefficient system can gain an unbeatable lead by competing against itself. The key here is that even species that had no photosynthesis have been able to gain it by forming symbiotic relationships with bacteria that had it. ALL eukaryotic life with photosynthesis gained it that way. Even the only fungi using photosynthesis has done so by symbiosis with bacteria.

Ethelred
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
Why isn't our pregnancy longer?
Nine months is a long time, but based on other animals human gestation should be about 1 year, based on size at birth. There is also the matter of the mother needing to survive pregnancy. Humans are born premature in comparison to all other primates with our lungs being a real problem if we are born earlier. The human brain simply isn't very functional at birth despite its size. For some reason it doesn't seem to able to grow much after birth.

Why don't we see children developing slower but eventually getting smarter?
Survival issues. Kids die a lot from ignorance already. Slower would be worse. For instance kids have short legs for their size. It is likely that if young children had longer legs they would get in trouble faster.

Ethelred
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
Another issue is that as you get smarter you tend to think slower,

Intelligence seems to be a matter of number of connections between neurons. This is independent of chemical interaction speeds. Neural messaging is also electro-chemical not chemical (only at the interconnection between axons and dendrite is a small gap which is bridged purely chemically)

You do not think slower as you get smarter. You only get better at suppressing impulses from the mammalian parts of your brain (reflexes and emotions).
Those older parts are faster in processing stimuli (because they are smaller/closer together in the brain, or - as in the case of some reflexes - bypass the brain altogether).
However they only provide very basic reflexes or generic emotional responses to stimuli.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
The 100 average doesn't just appear out of nowhere
Correct. It is DEFINED as the average result. The average gets a 100. Always, because that is how the results are converted to scores. To put it another way IQ is graded on a curve. Which has always been a stupid way to score results.

Ethelred
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
I think this is more a matter of not being able to get to there from here. See Dawkins book Climbing Mt. Improbable.

It really depends on whether photosynthesis is already optimal or not. Genetic engineering can increase yield of plants from sunlight- so there are ways of making it more efficient.

Then again: 'more yield' is not necessarily a survival characteristic that would be selected for in nature. There is probably an optimum between putting energy into the seeds and not making the seeds so energy rich that they become a primary food source for many animals.

When there is little to compete against even an inefficient system can gain an unbeatable lead by competing against itself.

Exactly. Efficiency isn't the last word. Being slightly more efficient than all competitors is enough.
In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king
(or: "I don't have to run faster than the bear - I only have to run faster than you")
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
It really depends on whether photosynthesis is already optimal or not.
With billions of years of evolution I suspect it is optimal.

Genetic engineering can increase yield of plants from sunlight- so there are ways of making it more efficient.
Agreed but that isn't evolution, nor has anyone improved the efficiency of the chloroplasts. What we have done is forced the plants to conform to our needs and not that of the plant. Kind of like domestic turkeys that haven't a chance of surviving without our help anymore.

Then again: 'more yield' is not necessarily a survival characteristic that would be selected for in nature.
But it is selected for. We can see that in the development of leaves. If it was possible to better efficiency that would be cheaper in terms of materials then more and better arranged leaves.>>
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
Exactly. Efficiency isn't the last word.
Efficiency can't evolve in a new way if the old way has already filled the niche with something that is better than anything else can start with.

Being slightly more efficient than all competitors is enough.
That was my point EXCEPT I really don't think photosynthesis in the form of chloroplasts can get more efficient. Otherwise it would have as that should have a lower cost in resources than more leaves do.

(or: "I don't have to run faster than the bear - I only have to run faster than you")
Bears can get both if they want to. Even me I bet. Though a friend was chased by a grizzly its seems to have been only trying to chase him away, a bear's problem is range not speed.

Oh by the way, don't try playing dead with bears. They eat carrion.

Ethelred
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
If it was possible to better efficiency that would be cheaper in terms of materials then more and better arranged leaves.>>

There are other mechanisms that plants use to compete with each other besides photosynthetic efficiency.
Some examples:
- spurts of growth at the expense of having a lot of leaves (trees). This means that the plant can get higher up and can harvest more sunlight as opposed to those living in its shade (and therefore requiring less leaves to be successfull)
- toxins which keep other plants away.

Evolution will most likely go the way of the easiest path at any one time. E.g. if it's a better bang for the buck to upgrade a toxin than to increase photosynthesis efficiency then that's the way plants will likely go.

Even plants are in an arms race - and the weapons used are manifold.
DreamKing
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
I dated some girls,found out how stupid they were, and chose not to breed with them. I was selective, that's evolution. A person has got to be good looking to make up for stupidity, or real smart to make up for ugliness. When humans are looking for a mate, there's usually some compromise going on. I did end up settling for a girl that is smarter than she is good looking, is very good with kids, and likes hump me (atheist) more than her bible. People get their biological purpose and purpose in life mixed up early in life.
Not having kids WHEN you can't afford them is smart.
The other girls...
One didn't believe in dinosaurs.
One couldn't park a car without scraping the other car, and she didn't even notice. I could impress her by popping a balloon.
Another was the 'push button and then ask, what's this button do?' type of girl. My truck made a grinding noise and I slammed on the brakes. "That button, switches from 2 to 4 wheel drive. At 65 mph, that button should never, ever be pushed.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Dec 08, 2011
I dated some girls,found out how stupid they were, and chose not to breed with them. I was selective, that's evolution.

Only if those girls didn't find anyone else to breed with.
The same argument could also go:
"I dated some girls,found out how stupid they were, and chose not to breed with them. I was selectED AGAINST because my standards were too high,"

So not only did they lose in the breeding game - but so did you in that case.

Studies show that people tend to chose (long term) mates with similar educational levels.
The effect of this is as with any bell curve: The smarter/more educated you are the more limited your available choices become.

markmulligan
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
I must confess to being an ilithiophobe (scared of idiots, especially acting en masse).

Whenever I recall that 97 plus % of the world population is dumber than none-too-bright, none-too-successful me, and is entrusted with the world nuke arsenal, Congress and everything in between, a cold chill runs down my spine, my gut churns and I reach shakily for industrial stength tranquilizers.

Call me an effete elitist, but the fate of this world is entrusted to at-best predator-cunning sociopaths and at-worst jumped-up idiots who have whipped their stupidity to new heights of genius.

I'm not much more impressed by the upper 3% and their limp-wristed results. Fiddling while Rome burns.

All in all, nothing currently on display is conducive to any sense of Darwinian optimism, except perhaps for cockroaches.

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011

Whenever I recall that 97 plus % of the world population is dumber than none-too-bright,

Well, 50% of people have an IQ of 100 or below.
This rate probably is not markedly different for decision makers as a group. Yeah. That's a scary thought.
rawa1
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
For example, we can ask, if the evolution of human consciousness is so easy and it took just one million of years, why the intelligent creatures didn't evolved many years before? For example, at the moment, when some ape imagined the easy way, how to shake the fruits from trees, they whole troop of apes did lost their sustainable source of food, so they died out and next generation of apes forget this feature again. The main reason is, the elevated intelligence is connected with much faster exploitation of the life environment. To remain intelligent and evolving in sustainable way is actually pretty difficult, as the contemporary human civilization is demonstrating clearly.
rawa1
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
We can ask, if the evolution of human consciousness is so easy and it took just one million of years, why the intelligent creatures didn't evolved many years before? The main reason is, the elevated intelligence is connected with much faster exploitation of the life environment. For example, at the moment, when some ape revealed the easy way, how to shake the fruits from trees, then the whole troop of apes did lost their sustainable source of food, because most of fruits got rotten. So these smart apes died out soon and next generation of apes forget this ability again. To remain intelligent and evolving in sustainable way is actually pretty difficult, as the contemporary human civilization is demonstrating clearly.
rawa1
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
cite a study of Ashkenazi Jews, who have an average IQ much higher than the general European population. This is apparently because of evolutionary selection for intelligence in the last 2,000 years.
When I explained here, the Jews are more intelligent in average, because they evolved like close community at the desert on the market routes between Africa and East Asia, I got thirty downvotes for this idea from various antiracists here...
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
Zephir, your attempts at discussing evolution is even below your physics. The best thing in those posts is that in the past you would have claimed AWITSBS explains it.

For example, at the moment, when some ape revealed the easy way, how to shake the fruits from trees, then the whole troop of apes did lost their sustainable source of food, because most of fruits got rotten.
That is neither easy or smart. Using a spear would be smart. Then again rotting fruit is how new trees grow.

A million years is a long time not short, it is at least 20,000 generations. Brains are expensive. They have to increase reproductive success to a greater degree than they cost. All really clever animals, known so far, are social animals and highly opportunistic, broad range, feeders.

I can't think of any that don't prey on other animals as well as eat practically anything else. The really bright parrots in New Zealand snack on sheep.

Ethelred
LivaN
not rated yet Dec 09, 2011
antialias_physorg
Intelligence seems to be a matter of number of connections between neurons.

This is independent of chemical interaction speeds.

Neural messaging is also electro-chemical not chemical (only at the interconnection between axons and dendrite is a small gap which is bridged purely chemically)

I don't follow, you're saying that:
1) Intelligence is proportional to number of neuron connections.
3) Neuron connections have a, small, yet purely chemical connection point.
2) Chemical reaction speeds have no effect on Intelligence.

Sure parallel processing would mitigate maybe even a large time off the increased neural processing, however there surely is a point where more neurons and more neural interconnections leads to slower processing, unless of course brain algorithms are optimised, but even that should have a limit.
rawa1
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
Using a spear would be smart
It's the same problem - usage of spear will enable you to collect more fruits or to kill more animals. When the volume of food resources is already given with predator-prey equilibria, you cannot get any substantial advantage just with using of spear. The same stuff we are facing at the case of energetic crisis - the usage of fossil fuels helped the civilization only temporarily. Now, when their resources are depleted, the same civilization could face the fast decline in nuclear wars. What our intelligence was good for after then? It just helped the people to die out faster. We could live a much longer at Earth if we wouldn't recognize the usefulness of coal.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
1) Intelligence is proportional to number of neuron connections.
3) Neuron connections have a, small, yet purely chemical connection point.
2) Chemical reaction speeds have no effect on Intelligence.


That connection points are small vesicles for neurotransmitters. The only limiting factor here is how fast these vesicles are refilled after the neuron fires so it can fire again. This is independent of the number of connections because the synapses are so big that sufficient neurotransmitters are present at any one time to refill the vesicles (remember: they are not being used up - just recycled). Before that point it's all electro-chemical.

The neural impulses always go at (nearly) the same speed along the axon because here we're dealing with an electro(chemical) process here. The vast majority of the distance between neurons is covered that way.

rawa1
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
Chemical reaction speeds have no effect on intelligence.
This is rather ad-hoced and schematic stance, as it can accelerate the reactions and finding of solutions as well. Which is crucial under the situation, when the time quantity must be taken into account. And because the people can keep and process only limited volume of information in the brain at the same moment, the faster processing could really improve the quantitative aspects of intelligence, not just these quantitative ones.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
To get faster processing you would need to reduce travel time of an impulse along an axon. Since this is mostly an electrical process (capacitive coupling) there's no real way to do this.

Also bear in mind that information is stored and processed in neural *networks*. The activation of an engram (a memory or specific thought) is dependent on a certain pattern of activation spatially as well as *temporally*.

What happens if you mess with this (e.g. by blocking the receptors at the synapses or by changing the activation potential of neurons) you can see when you drink alcohol or do drugs.
Easier activation (as in the case of some drugs like cocaine or caffeine) does not lead to more intelligence.

E.g. caffeine will cause more networks to trigger each other (by reducing the potential needed to trigger an individual neuron. Transmission speed is the same). More associations pop into your head. Good for creative types of work. Bad for types of work where you need to be thorough.
rawa1
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
To get faster processing you would need to reduce travel time of an impulse along an axon. Since this is mostly an electrical process (capacitive coupling) there's no real way to do this.
It doesn't explain, why we cannot move at the cold and why the cold blooded predators sunbath before attack. It's well known, the speed of signal along an axon corresponds the speed of sound, not the speed of electricity. http://aetherwave...ess.html

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
It's well known, the speed of signal along an axon corresponds the speed of sound, not the speed of electricity.

Here's a quick primer on how action potentials propagate from nerve cell to nerve cell
http://en.wikiped...nduction
yes, impulses propagate at roughly the speed of sound (depending on the type of connection) - but it's an elctrical process in animals with myelin sheathed axons (which includes humans).

It doesn't explain, why we cannot move at the cold and why the cold blooded predators sunbath before attack.

Cold blooded creatures bathe in the sun because the metabolism (of all creatures) is dependent on the temperature at which it occurs. Metbolism includes the speed of digestion of nutrients but also reactions that make nutrients available (e.g. for movement) from body glycogen stores.

This has nothing to do with the speed of nerve impulse transmission.

Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
When the volume of food resources is already given with predator-prey equilibrium, you cannot get any substantial advantage just with using of spear.
Well since first is an artificial claim not based on human experience, why did you put it in that silly sentence.

Spears give an advantage. Improved chance of survival. They keep your enemies an inch or two farther off. Frankly that sentence wasn't silly. It was stupid. Clearly contrary to reality.

The same stuff we are facing at the case of energetic crisis - the usage of fossil fuels helped the civilization only temporarily.
Evolution works via selection which is inherently relevant only to the time of the selection. There is no future or past in the process of selection. Please learn something. I have posted this way too bloody often for you to not have seen it.>>
rawa1
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
but it's an electrical process in animals with myelin sheathed axons (which includes humans).
It's ionic process and the speed of signal spreading is determined with speed of sound, not with speed of ionic or electronic conduction from single reason: the speed of such transfer would be many orders of magnitude higher after then. The saltatory conduction doesn't explain, why the spreading of signals along axons effectively stops just bellow certain temperature threshold. The better theory explains, the membrane of neurons is in liquid crystal state, which changes into solid and dispersive ones after cooling. The liquid crystal state is required for keeping of shape of soliton spikes, because it behaves like the metamaterial or like the vacuum foam, which is able to spread photons at large distance without dispersion as well.
rawa1
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
This has nothing to do with the speed of nerve impulse transmission.
The above theory explains well the anaesthetizing effect of fat soluble liquids and gases for axons. They're effectively blocking the axion membranes by converting their liquid crystal state into liquid ones (by diluting the phospholipides in their membranes), which leads into dispersion of soliton spikes and into inhibition of their propagation at distance.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
Mutations are the raw material of evolution.

Selection, that is DEATH or at least a decrease or increase in the rate of reproduction is what removes bad mutations and conserves the good ones. Indeed successful reproduction rates is what makes a mutation good or bad.

Its a mindless process and it doesn't give a damn about your irrelevant introduction of long term thinking. There is no long term for dead species.

Now, when their resources are depleted, the same civilization
Civilization comes AFTER intelligence. Now how about you stick to things that are relevant to the evolution of intelligence. I know that would take intelligence and learning on your part but you are the one that thinks he has the answer to everything in AWITBS.

We could live a much longer at Earth if we wouldn't recognize the usefulness of coal.
That is a worthless and questionable opinion that is totally irrelevant to a discussion about HOW or why intelligence evolves.

Ethelred
rawa1
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
There is no future or past in the process of selection.
You're just parroting the famous textbook stuff again, aren't you? Everyone knows, the ancient life forms were more primitive, than these younger ones in general. Or the life couldn't develop from molecular level into its present state at all and we would face the panspermia and/or even creation hypothesis.
that is totally irrelevant to a discussion about HOW or why intelligence evolves
I'd rather say, you're not capable to understand it's connection. You should prove first with predicate logics, such connection really doesn't exist there before starting to spread tautological claims. But I admit, such proof would be too difficult for you, if you even cannot realize this connection.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
You're just parroting the textbook stuff again, aren't you?
No. I am telling you how things really work. Unlike you I understand it. Been studying it for most of my life.

Everyone knows, the ancient life forms are more primitive, than the younger ones in general.
And how does that change a single I said? It doesn't. If you think it does you don't understand it.

Changes in the genome accumulate. They are rarely lost except by selection.

Ethelred

CHollman82
2.5 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
There is no evolutionary selection for IQ, if anything it is the opposite. More intelligent, successful people have fewer children on average than less successful people.
CHollman82
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2011
Well, 50% of people have an IQ of 100 or below.


Yeah, and my keys are always in the last place I look.
DrBinks
5 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2011
We all are different in how we think and choose to respond to an idea or a concept .
This particular question has produced here some very amusing and some interesting and intelligent views .
Arthur Koestler in his1967 book "The ghost in the machine " suggested that phylogenetically we were as a species at a considerable disadvantage due to the difficulties that a puny hindbrain placed on the evolution of the midbrain and thereafter the forebrain .
It is fun to read this stuff but let's not get too heated about it .
When ,if ever ,we get a definitive solution to the question none of us ,methinks , will be alive .
CHollman82
3 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
Well, the answer is evolution does not optimize intelligence... it optimizes fitness, which is given as the number and survival rate to reproduction of an individuals offspring. What is "fit" changes with the environment. Right now IQ does not correlate with fitness, individuals of higher IQ reproduce less frequently than those with lower IQ's. Our intelligence itself is the reason for this, intelligent people are able to see past immediate self gratification and look to the future while less intelligent people are more spontaneous and self serving in the moment. This causes a disparity in birth rate between these two groups.

Intelligence of the species, if I am correct in the above, would then appear to be self limiting to a degree.
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
Changes in the genome accumulate. They are rarely lost except by selection.
Well, this just defines the evolutionary time arrow.
Tausch
5 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2011
The arrow terminology points to more than the accumulation of time. In fact, the descriptor 'evolutionary' states this. Whether whatever is 'evolutionary' is accumulative or regressive is besides the point.

One can take your statement to mean nothing more than the accumulation of time. You contradict yourself by including the descriptor 'evolutionary'.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2011
The genome of organisms is growing in time, even the most primitive bacteria aren't an exception. The contemporary evolutionary theory is generally lacking the insight of this feature of evolution and labels many portions of DNA as a "junk" ones. The classical evolutionary theory considers, the evolution is blind, which isn't true, it's has its intersubjective memory. Under sudden change of conditions newly evolved organisms don't develop their adaptations from scratch, they can wake up their "sleeping genes", which will accelerate their adaptation to the particular change, which will give them a evolutionary advantage and higher fitness. This is the actual reason of why the genome complexity increases with time, because it would be otherwise ineffective to maintain the history of all changes in genome. The long DNA is more brittle and prone to the damage and it's complete replication requires more time and energy.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2011
For example, I presume, the junk DNA gets its word when it comes to infection. In this situation it generates a reservoir of antigens through group of small RNAs, which are checked by trial and error. These antigens cannot be generated blindly, or it could destroy even the host organism (which is the case of many autoimmune diseases). So they're generated with using of archive of these successful ones, which is represented just with "junk" portions of DNA. This mechanism has a significance for my theory of food allergies and autoimmune diseases induced with GMO. The introduction of bacterial proteins into common food practiced with producers of GMO is more dangerous, than it appears, as it overloads our autoimmune apparatus: it's trying to fight against virtual enemy, which can be actually never defeated and it just produces new and new antigens, which are gradually destroying our own organisms: http://aetherwave...der.html
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 10, 2011
Well, this just defines the evolutionary time arrow.
That was stupid too. The Universe sets the time arrow.

Go read something about this. Pretty anything will increase your level of knowledge. Even Answers in Genesis might be an improvement as then you could at least have all the wrong answers in mind.

Duplication of genes occurs. The new copies can then mutate without the original being lost. This IS an increase the the information of the genes. This is no longer a theory but a fact.

Ethelred
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2011
ad GMO: This is just a problem of free market economy, it cannot take account to these hidden and distributed risks, until they're not expressed with lost of money of private subject and until their research generates profit for close group of scientists involved. Instead of it, it generates salary for another groups, like the allergists, big pharma companies and researchers of autoimmune diseases, so it's virtually impossible to defeat such approach economically.
The Universe sets the time arrow.
Which one? Mainstream science recognizes many time arrows.

http://en.wikiped...e#Arrows
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2011
Surely I am not the first to assume life hordes information that intrinsically can not be destroyed. Questioning the conventional purpose of life - to conserve information. The highest entropy degenerates when embedded in higher dimensions - the poorest of conjectures.
Callippo
not rated yet Dec 10, 2011
Surely I am not the first to assume life hordes information that intrinsically can not be destroyed. Questioning the conventional purpose of life - to conserve information.

So do you support the "conventional" idea of cumulation of information with life or are you trying to question it? Or are you just trying to think loudly about it (not quite successfully, I'm afraid)?
Tausch
not rated yet Dec 10, 2011
Eventually we will lose our dependency on a changing and challenging environment and simply influence our evolution to adapt by way of sheer intellectual understanding (engineering) of the genetics used for our adaptation.
We have no natural enemies. (If you exclude humans - ourselves)

The 'selfish' gene theory makes no sense when by sheer intellect and understanding, Nature's environment no longer poses a threat of survival from any other life form.

We already create marvels of engineering feats called 'adaptations' (enhancement of the senses or 'adaptive' senses) whenever we lose patience with Nature or feel 'short changed' from Nature when we compared ourselves to other life forms.

Evolution is 'complete', when what brought forth evolution (of life) in the first place, is mastered and understood.

If life has an 'evolutionary' limit, we get to define that limit. We had, and we still have, the best of all 'teachers' - Nature.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2011
Which one? Mainstream science recognizes many time arrows.
There is no time arrow that is specific to evolution so you can ignore the evidence that complexity has increased over time. I have not heard of special magic time frame that can undo collection of energy and information in any life form. I have seen Creationists lie about it.

Zephir to Tausch:
So do you support the "conventional" idea of cumulation of information with life or are you trying to question it?
For once I have to agree with Zephir. Not about the scare quotes of course but about the ambiguity of Tausch's post.

Since we can SEE life gaining complexity over time it is just plain wrong to pretend it isn't happening which is what those scare quotes were clearly about. Zephir has shown he has religious beliefs that affect his thinking before regarding biology. An attempt to evade reality by playing games with arrows of time is a new one I give it that. Idiotic but it is new.

Ethelred
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2011
Eventually we will lose our dependency on a changing and challenging environment and simply influence our evolution to adapt by way of sheer intellectual understanding (engineering)
At least most humans will eventually take control of the genome and even go beyond being dependent on biological or genetic continuity.

The 'selfish' gene theory makes no sense when by sheer intellect and understanding
It does makes sense. Evolution is not just about humans.

http://en.wikiped...ish_Gene

Dawkins said he "can readily see that [the book's title] might give an inadequate impression of its contents" and in retrospect thinks he should have taken Tom Maschler's advice and called the book The Immortal Gene
I read it a long ago but it made sense back then. The Continuous Existing Organism Via Reproduction is more like it. Selection does not take place at the level of genes and genes aren't everything but that was much less obvious back then.>>
Ethelred
4.7 / 5 (3) Dec 11, 2011
Nature's environment no longer poses a threat of survival from any other life form.
That isn't true yet. In the future yes. Not yet.

Evolution is 'complete', when what brought forth evolution (of life) in the first place, is mastered and understood.
No. Just plain no. Evolution can never be complete as long as there is self-reproducing life. Again biology is not humans and there still aren't any post-humans in any case.

I think you are mixing concepts and the result may not be confused in your mind but it is confused in print.

We had, and we still have, the best of all 'teachers' - Nature.
A lot is hidden. The start of life is completely hidden at the moment and may remain so. The earliest self-reproducing molecules were likely to small and fragile to survive in any form for 3.5 billion years(that is we probably are never going to find any traces) and they must have made good eatings for what came later.

Ethelred
0FET
4.5 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2011
Since intelligence is no longer an advantage for successful procreation (look who has the most children these days), I'd expect the average IQ to become lower over the years to come.
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2011
There is no time arrow that is specific to evolution so you can ignore the evidence that complexity has increased over time.
Most of studies analyzing the evolutionary tree distinguish the older genomes from these younger ones just with using this feature. Please consider, we aren't so stupid - we all read, that the "evolution is blind", but it doesn't mean, it has no apparent trend from simpler organisms into more complex ones. It's just consequence of the fact, the evolution has no hardwired direction, it does care just about speed. Well, and the more complex can adapt faster, so they gradually win.

Is it so difficult to understand it? My experience is, most of proponents of contemporary science oppose the alleged crackpots just because they didn't understand well the principles of their beloved theories.
Tausch
5 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2011
Evolution is 'complete', when what brought forth evolution (of life) in the first place, is mastered and understood. - Tau

No. Just plain no. Evolution can never be complete as long as there is self-reproducing life. Again biology is not humans and there still aren't any post-humans in any case.
-Eth


Poorly written from me. "Complete" in the sense of understanding the process and not "complete" in the sense that the process ever stops.
Tausch
not rated yet Dec 11, 2011
Since intelligence is no longer an advantage for successful procreation (look who has the most children these days), I'd expect the average IQ to become lower over the years to come. - 0fet


This gives rise to the question:
Was "intelligence" ever an "advantage" to "successful" procreation in respect to survival or number?

Humans insist on continuing to enhance and encourage behaviors that has nothing to do with "successful" procreation or number.

This "insistence" - for example, all education - insures that the "intelligence" we have come to label as "IQ" will increase with time, not decrease.
wealthychef
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 11, 2011
Patience. The Information Age and its ultra-selection for IQ only began 1/2 a generation ago

Is there really a selection for IQ going on? Are high IQ people more successfull in finding mates and producing offspring (which is the ONLY criterium for evolution)? I doubt it.

I don't doubt it at all. But selection takes generations. Smart people are more successful and success attracts mates. Intelligence will become ever more important over time as the world becomes more complex. Intelligence is an attractor. But being a nerd isn't. Truly intelligent people understand the importance of social skills, proper grooming, etc. to their success. Being great at math is not the only output of intelligence.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
I don't doubt it at all. But selection takes generations. Smart people are more successful and success attracts mates. Intelligence will become ever more important over time as the world becomes more complex. Intelligence is an attractor. But being a nerd isn't. Truly intelligent people understand the importance of social skills, proper grooming, etc. to their success. Being great at math is not the only output of intelligence.


This is wrong.

On average people of low IQ tend to produce more children than people of high IQ. If intelligence is genetically linked (and I believe it is) then selection will favor low intelligence rather than high so long as the children of low IQ parents have an equal shot at surviving to adulthood and having children of their own, which, in America at least thanks to all of our social welfare programs, is a near certainty.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
Smart people are more successful and success attracts mates.

The number of mates is irrelevant. The number of offspring is. I don't see successful people having huge families. But I do see that in the poor.

That said: I think the link between "successfull" and "high IQ" is tenuous at best.
Tausch
3 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2011
"Intelligence" is having no superior biological feature to kill your prey.
There is not a single biological feature about you that reigns supreme among any and all life forms.

Some day the closest primates to you will no longer throw their poo at you. They will throw rocks. A show of force that has nothing to do with biological features. That is the first sign of "intelligence". Tens of thousands of years later they will split rocks (of uranium) as the last sign of "intelligence". And we will call them our equals as far as "intelligence" is concerned.
kochevnik
not rated yet Dec 11, 2011
Given Boskop Man 10,000 years ago had 50% more brain and presumably proportionately more IQ to match, it is evident that man is in a downward spiral from thoughtfulness to autocracy to fascism to insect politics to extinction. Perhaps some cockroach form of man will branch and a stable New World Order will emerge as Hitler dreamed. Perhaps a quantum computer will rule over roachman, acting as a proxy figurehead for an imaginary omnipotent roach god.

Sapiens evidently does not reward thoughtfulness, as Boskop Man would attest.
Valentiinro
not rated yet Dec 11, 2011
IMO, the more puzzling question is "why are we so smart?" Very few people tax their intellect to any great degree. Even people engaged in "intellectual" pursuits mostly stay focused on a quite narrow range of thinking tasks and patterns. Most of us move through our lives with these big brains that are astoundingly capable, but we give them very little use. Looking at the world at large and the general criteria for mate selection, I can't see why our brains haven't evolved into something quite smaller. Wait a minute! Maybe it's actually our selection for female hip size that leads to brain... Nah. Fergetaboutit.


A

I love your hypothesis at the end especially.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
The current theory for why we are so intellectually capable goes something like this (from memory):

The great apes (including humans) have this muscle that connects between the jaw bone and the inside of the skull, it is the primary muscle that provides are biting strength. At some point in past a genetic mutation occurred which lead to a decrease in the size and thus the strength of this muscle. During adolescence in humans the skull plates shift around and expand, providing the necessary inter-cranial space for the human brain. In the great apes however this very strong muscle pulls so hard on the skull plate it is connected to that they cannot expand, leaving much less room for their brains to grow and develop. It is true that a significant difference between humans and apes is a drastically reduced bite force and a much smaller muscle, along with a much larger final cranium after the plates expand.
jimbo92107
not rated yet Dec 11, 2011
What's the difference between a magic wand and stick?

Technique.

Certainly there is a range of mental intensity, but its importance pales compared to variations in the effectiveness of different people's techniques of thinking. Most people (including myself, of course), are taught very inefficient ways of thinking, from their parents, schools, etc. We've all seen better ways to do things like math, reading and memorization. Why should it surprise anybody that every other area of knowledge we learn about could be vastly improved?

I don't see much reason to tinker with genetics when there is so much room for improvement in using what we already have. We're already intelligent enough. Now let's improve our thinking techniques.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
Given Boskop Man 10,000 years ago had 50% more brain and presumably proportionately more IQ to match, it is evident that man is in a downward spiral from thoughtfulness to autocracy to fascism to insect politics to extinction. Perhaps some cockroach form of man will branch and a stable New World Order will emerge as Hitler dreamed. Perhaps a quantum computer will rule over roachman, acting as a proxy figurehead for an imaginary omnipotent roach god.

Sapiens evidently does not reward thoughtfulness, as Boskop Man would attest.


I think the movie "Idiocracy" is a decent prediction of the future...

Nature makes man intelligent. Intelligent man makes intelligent machines. Intelligent machines make man ignorant. ignorant man destroys intelligent machines, self.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
That said: I think the link between "successfull" and "high IQ" is tenuous at best.


Agreed, but that tenuous link is unnecessary when there is a direct one:

"Demographic studies have indicated that in humans, fertility and intelligence tend to be inversely correlated, that is to say, the more intelligent, as measured by IQ tests, exhibit a lower total fertility rate"

http://en.wikiped...lligence
jimbo92107
not rated yet Dec 11, 2011
What's the difference between a magic wand and stick?

Technique.

Certainly there is a range of mental intensity, but its importance pales compared to variations in the effectiveness of different people's techniques of thinking. Most people (including myself, of course), are taught very inefficient ways of thinking, from their parents, schools, etc. We've all seen better ways to do things like math, reading and memorization. Why should it surprise anybody that every other area of knowledge we learn about could be vastly improved?

I don't see much reason to tinker with genetics when there is so much room for improvement in using what we already have. We're already intelligent enough. Now let's improve our thinking techniques.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
It's really too bad people are so afraid of eugenics... I hope they prefer dysgenics, because that is where we are headed.
jimbo92107
5 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
What's the difference between a magic wand and stick?

Technique.

Certainly there is a range of mental intensity, but its importance pales compared to variations in the effectiveness of different people's techniques of thinking. Most people (including myself, of course), are taught very inefficient ways of thinking, from their parents, schools, etc. We've all seen better ways to do things like math, reading and memorization. Why should it surprise anybody that every other area of knowledge we learn about could be vastly improved?

There is little reason to tinker with the genetics of general intelligence when there is so much room for improvement in using what we already have. On average, we are plenty smart. There's still plenty of room to improve ourselves the way Ben Franklin did.
GaryB
5 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
But, at the same time, Ashkenazi Jews have been plagued by inherited diseases like Tay-Sachs disease that affect the nervous system. It may be that the increase in brain power has caused an increase in disease.


I thought he was going to say: But smarter people don't breed as fast as dumber and their smartness eventually enrages the dumber and so eventually the smart people get attacked by genocidal dumber people.
kochevnik
5 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
...so eventually the smart people get attacked by genocidal dumber people.
You just explained religion!
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
IMO the belief and religion are important aspects of survival. Only belief will save you against entering the river full of crocodiles: you should believe your mother first, some crocodiles are there. The religion forced people to keep the food supply, to maintain abstinence, chastity and fasts. To do so without apparent reason you should believe in punishment of Gods. Even militant atheists like Dawkins do explain the survival of religion with many positive connotations, not just with negative aspects of it.
finitesolutions
1 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
The poor are making kids as a form of material gains. Their lives can not be much worse so their hope is that their kids will do better than themselves. The same strategy as short living mammals : reproduce a lot to increase the chances of survival plus sex is fun.
The rich or well doing are less willing to raise many kids because they are not willing to haul them around until adulthood when they will become their own competition.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
Given Boskop Man 10,000 years ago had 50% more brain and presumably proportionately more IQ to match

A large brain does not equate to a high IQ (otherwise horses would outsmart us easily). It's the structural complexity that counts.

it is evident that man is in a downward spiral from

There's no such thing as a permanent upward/downward motion in evolution.

E.g. if you go to the fossil records of predators and prey you will see that there have been multiple iterations when prey has gone for tougher hides (becoming slower in the process) and predators responding with bigger fangs/claws (becoming slower, too) - and then suddenly the prey shedding their hides for speed again and the predators adapting by scaling back their overkill teeth.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
Boskop Man

http://en.wikiped...kop_Man.
The original skull was incomplete consisting of frontal and parietal bones, with a partial occiput, one temporal and a fragment of mandible. John Hawks notes that "The skull is a large one, with an estimated endocranial volume of 1800 ml. But it is hardly complete, and arguments about its overall size -- exacerbated by its thickness, which confuses estimates based on regression from external measurements -- have ranged from 1700 to 2000 ml. It is large, but well within the range of sizes found in recent males.


Lord Byron had an even larger brain.

It appears to be a more like Bullshit Man. Nothing new when Raymond Dart was involved.

Ethelred
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
Most of studies analyzing the evolutionary tree distinguish the older genomes from these younger ones just with using this feature.
Which feature? That was ambiguous.

Please consider, we aren't so stupid
Well I am not. I have yet to see any reason to apply that to you.

we all read, that the "evolution is blind",
I have not. Never seen anyone before you make that claim. I have see people lie that it is random.

but it doesn't mean, it has no apparent trend from simpler organisms into more complex ones
Not apparent. Actual for SOME organisms. For others they have got on just fine being bacteria.

It's just consequence of the fact, the evolution has no hardwired direction,
That does not follow. It is a consequence of the occasional doubling of gene and even chromosomes. Once gained it is rarely lost. That is a direction.

it does care just about speed.
That varies depending on conditions any given species is subject to.>>
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
Well, and the more complex can adapt faster, so they gradually win.
More complex has more things that must still fit together after. Bacteria can adapt much faster than humans. They are less complex then humans.

Is it so difficult to understand it?
Apparently, as you just got it wrong about speed of adaptation.

My experience is, most of proponents of contemporary science oppose the alleged crackpots just because they didn't understand well the principles of their beloved theories.
You don't understand evolution or you wouldn't claim more complex species can adapt biologically faster than less complex.

You have delusions about cranks. Oliver is also certain he is right and everyone else is wrong. The two of you both think the other is wrong. Which is correct though I do think you have better odds than Oliver does of getting a clue someday. Then again Oliver started his nonsense over 40 years ago when he was young. See yourelf many years hence.

Ethelred
rawa1
1 / 5 (3) Dec 12, 2011
Bacteria can adapt much faster than humans. They are less complex then humans.
But only in limited extent. They cannot escape from danger and communicate well. Whole the human intelligence serves just for better, faster and wider adaptation to the environmental changes.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
Whole the human intelligence serves just for better, faster and wider adaptation to the environmental changes
That is not adaptation by evolution. That is learned behavioral adaptation. That is the advantage of neural complexity. The reason brains count and evolved beyond simple feedback mechanisms.

To give an example of simple response here is an experiment you can perform yourself if you have roaches around.

Roaches respond to rapid movement or changes in light by scarpering off to dark narrow zones. This likely came from evolving to run under leafs and rocks. HOWEVER you, having brains, can learn to subvert this action to stomp them.

I recommend shoes for this. Barefoot for the psychotic.

Rock back one foot so the sole of the of a shoe is a bit above the ground. This creates a narrow dark zone under the shoe. Startle the victim while it is aimed in the direction of the shoe. Step down on the roach that just ran under it.

Evolved behavior vs learned behavior.

Ethelred
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
Ah, the things I think of while taking a piss.

Ethelred
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
I think the limiting factor of our evolution right now is that the pathologicals seem to seek each other out, rape the "good hearted" emotionally and economically. Then they reproduce like rabbits and sometimes even inbreed to keep their "royal" family/genes "alive".

What we get as a result is that the defects in the gene-pool grow. It has something to do about the environment we created on this planet.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
Well, and the more complex can adapt faster, so they gradually win.
More complex has more things that must still fit together after. Bacteria can adapt much faster than humans. They are less complex then humans.


Well bacteria reproduce faster meaning they survive and adept to changes faster as a collective in a genetic way. There is no reason for them to become more complex creatures in order to be able to adept to changing environments plus the fact that the environment is a completely different matter on such small scale, i guess you could say dumbed-down, imagine how complex a creature would be if it had to survive in space.
rawa1
1.5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
imagine how complex a creature would be if it had to survive in space
I guess, it would appear like human creature surrounded with artificial shell, something like the cosmic ship...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
imagine how complex a creature would be if it had to survive in space

Simpler seems to be better for survival in space. Organisms have already been exposed to space conditions on the ISS to see if they survive.
In 2008 the Expose-E experiment was carried out. It found that:
"water-bears, brine shrimp and larvae of the African midge Polypedilum vanderplank are the only animals known to survive open space. Some dried plant seeds are also dry enough."

No larger animal can survive on their own in open space for any length of time.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
Simpler seems to be better for survival in space. Organisms have already been exposed to space conditions on the ISS to see if they survive.


I am talking about larger scales not bacteria/daphnia scale.
Plus these creatures would not be able to get any resources from anything, the organism would have to be very large to survive in space /reproduce or very complex.

No larger animal can survive on their own in open space for any length of time.


I was clearly talking about larger organisms than we have on earth, and it was hypothetical

but yeah i get your point.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
I am talking about larger scales not bacteria/daphnia scale.
Plus these creatures would not be able to get any resources from anything,

Why would a creature need to get resources in space? Go into hibernation/spore mode until you reach a viable destination. Eat, multiply, drift off into space again. Seems a viable strategy.

No creature could be active in space (whatever for?) No creature could navigate or have sensory organs that allow it to actively steer towards a place of sustenance.

Space is big.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
No creature could be active in space (whatever for?) No creature could navigate or have sensory organs that allow it to actively steer towards a place of sustenance.

Space is big.


To play devils advocate...

Yes, space is big, but scale is relative. You're neglecting the possibility of truly gigantic life forms. Just as we are composed of trillions of individual living entities could not a giant space organism also be composed of trillions of living entities of our size living out their lives on worlds in star systems that are but components of that giant organism?

Are we one life, or are we the emergent phenomenon of the convergence of trillions of individual living organisms? Who's to say...
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
Why would a creature need to get resources in space? Go into hibernation/spore mode until you reach a viable destination. Eat, multiply, drift off into space again. Seems a viable strategy


It does seem viable but it doesn't seem so simple and the survivability rate seems very low. the required complexity to make this viable is huge compared to what we see anything on earth which proves my point.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
Why would a creature need to get resources in space? Go into hibernation/spore mode until you reach a viable destination. Eat, multiply, drift off into space again. Seems a viable strategy


It does seem viable but it doesn't seem so simple and the survivability rate seems very low. the required complexity to make this viable is huge compared to what we see anything on earth which proves my point.


...but living things exist that basically do exactly this... and they are not complex.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
...but living things exist that basically do exactly this... and they are not complex.

But they dont have to survive space either. They dont have to sense planets/gas clouds/asteroids/stars etc etc. They dont have to go off an asteroid as a seed either. On earth everything goes much easier.
If they dont adept to that the mortality rates will be so high that they organism simply goes extinct.

And if we go technical of the organism lies hibernated in an asteroid and goes from planet to planet it is not really living in space but on planets.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
...but living things exist that basically do exactly this... and they are not complex.

But they dont have to survive space either.


I meant, living things exist that do go into a hibernative state to survive space travel... Do you know the lengths that NASA went to to ensure that they did not contaminate mars with life hitchhiking on their rovers?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Dec 13, 2011
You're neglecting the possibility of truly gigantic life forms.

A truly gigantic lifeform would have (if it were to navigate and sense on any scale) truly gigantic needs of sustenance.

The only viable means of navigation seem to be by reaction mass (which is so wasteful that no lifeform would do it in space) or via solar sail (which might be a possibility, but sharply limits the space the creature can live in - it certainly would not be able to go interstellar.
could not a giant space organism also be composed of trillions of living entities of our size living out their lives on

Such an organism would need some way to communicate between the parts (i.e. a nervous system - even if only by light). That would require inordinate amounts of energy.
the survivability rate seems very low.

If the number of offspring is very high... And the mortality of a spore is extremely low.