Interesting Topics on Evolution


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Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Nov 7, 2013 - 09:55am PT
The Atheist Who Strangled Me
Less well known is Harris’s other enthusiasm: cutting off the blood supply to other people’s brains by using techniques learned in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or BJJ. BJJ was first developed nearly a century ago in Rio de Janeiro by Carlos and Helio Gracie, brothers who adapted its techniques from Japanese jujitsu.
What Martial Arts Have to Do With Atheism
Yanagi Ryuken, an aikido practitioner in Japan, managed to convince many people -- himself among them -- that he had mastered the "no-touch knockout": an ability to vanquish his opponents without even touching them. The first of these two videos, which you've featured in your essay about Brazilian jiu-jitsu, "The Pleasures of Drowning," shows Yanagi effortlessly thwarting dozens of his students as they appear to attack him:
(MikeL fights off fantasy arguments)

In the second video, he confronts a martial artist not in on the delusion, and that second martial artist punches Yanagi in the face.
(MikeL tries the Jedi Mind Trick on HFCS)
Paul Martzen

Trad climber
Nov 7, 2013 - 01:25pm PT
I don't see any evidence for the idea of Dysgenisis or for the idea that humans have stopped evolving. I do read speculation, assertions and assumptions that humans have stopped evolving and that technology is making us less fit for future survival.

On the very first page of this thread was a link to an article with evidence that human evolution is accelerating.

An excerpt below from that article.

Population growth is making all of this change occur much faster, Hawks says, giving a tribute to Charles Darwin. When Darwin wrote in Origin of the Species about challenges in animal breeding, he always emphasized that herd size "is of the highest importance for success" because large populations have more genetic variation, Hawks says.

The parallel to humans is obvious: The human population has grown from a few million people 10,000 years ago to about 200 million people at A.D. 0, to 600 million people in the year 1700, to more than 6.5 billion today. Prior to these times, the population was so small for so long that positive selection occurred at a glacial pace, Hawks says.

"What's really amazing about humans," Hawks continued, "that is not true with most other species, is that for a long time we were just a little ape species in one corner of Africa, and weren't genetically sampling anything like the potential we have now."

"Five thousand years is such a small sliver of time -- it's 100 to 200 generations ago. That's how long it's been since some of these genes originated, and today they are in 30 or 40 percent of people because they've had such an advantage. It's like 'invasion of the body snatchers.'"

HFCS - The cartoon with the fat guy and the skinny TV was funny. The mouse video was entertaining. However, your statement that,
Still, the plight of dysgenic effects, due to rising of technology and the undermining of natural selection in ever softening climates, is real.
Is an assertion presented as fact, but without any supporting evidence.

It is okay to speculate and have assumptions but lets try to be clear when they are speculation and assumptions.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
Nov 8, 2013 - 10:34am PT
Is an assertion presented as fact, but without any supporting evidence.

Paul, sure there is some assumption or speculation with these types of posts, but still I'm not sure where the confusion or disagreement, to the extent it exists, is.

When I think about the dodo bird (losing flight capability: dysgenic effect) or eyeless cave salamander (losing visual acuity if not eyesight entirely: dysgenic effect) or sea mammal (losing limb dexterity for mvt on land: dysgenic effect) or inguinal hernia patient and his progeny (losing let's call it abdominal wall integrity; dysgenic effect due to surgeon and repair technology) - and here I'll speculate - countless thousands of other examples large to small, macro to micro, anatomical to physiological, across species' gene pools, in phenotypes, phenotypic effects, etc., I have in mind entropy effects (increasing disorder) in the absence or reduction of selection pressure. This is just basic evolutionary theory. Right?

That said, remember I did point out above that what's "eugenic" or "dysgenic" is in the eye of the beholder. Right?

Regarding what's real or factual: The effect or phenomenon (dysgenic?) of flightless cormorants is real. Right? Or the phenom or effect (dysgenic?) of fearlessness of many Galapagos species - that's factual or real. Right? Given the arrival of Man to these islands a couple centuries back, I think many would opine or judge today that the relative defenselessness of the fauna - the cormorant flightlessness, eg, or blue footed booby defenselessness or fearlessness, the genotypes and phenotypes (structures) leading to these - to be "dysgenic." Curious if you don't agree assuming your interest is the preservation (esp the autonomous carefree preservation) of these critters.

I don't know if you had a chance to catch the Dawkins Shermer sitdown at Cal Tech interview I linked to above. I really haven't said anything different on these last couple pages, or anything more, than what was brought up in there.

There are growing eugenic efforts, eg, eugenic companies, around the world today. Just yesterday morning, in fact, on CBS This Morning, Charlie and Nora interviewed the founder of 23 and Me. In the future, there is little doubt (but sure, we could call it assuming or speculating) these eugenic efforts will increase; and they will play a greater role insofar as needed to offset dysgenic effects. Arguably all the more reason to learn about them today - and their associated processes - the mechanics if you will - across the citizenry so in the future there won't be such a mindless, reflexive, knee jerk reaction to them or their remedies.


FM, very funny!

Thanks to the link to the Sam Harris piece. Missed that one. Will try to read it later today. I like the analogies or comparisons between the bullshit in martial arts and bullshit in religions. People are wising up. Some of them.


re: evolution of belief

I appreciate your tolerance of religion. I too had a sense of tolerance of religion for the most part. That tolerance began to die on 9/11/01. As the succeeding years have pasted and the Christian fundamentalist such as Bachman, Santorum, Perry, Barton, and Cruz began sounding more like the Taliban than Americans I decided the hell with it. Religion does not deserve to continue much less be tolerated. BS has to be called out and refuted.

YTube commenter, at above link.

Evolution's under way. People are coming around.

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Nov 13, 2013 - 04:03pm PT
A pretty interesting lab experiment showing how amino acids could be made by slamming cometary material into a hard object:

Shock synthesis of amino acids from impacting cometary and icy planet surface analogues

Comets are known to harbour simple ices and the organic precursors of the building blocks of proteins—amino acids—that are essential to life. Indeed, glycine, the simplest amino acid, was recently confirmed to be present on comet 81P/Wild-2 from samples returned by NASA’s Stardust spacecraft. Impacts of icy bodies (such as comets) onto rocky surfaces, and, equally, impacts of rocky bodies onto icy surfaces (such as the jovian and saturnian satellites), could have been responsible for the manufacture of these complex organic molecules through a process of shock synthesis. Here we present laboratory experiments in which we shocked ice mixtures analogous to those found in a comet with a steel projectile fired at high velocities in a light gas gun to test whether amino acids could be produced. We found that the hypervelocity impact shock of a typical comet ice mixture produced several amino acids after hydrolysis. These include equal amounts of D- and L-alanine, and the non-protein amino acids α-aminoisobutyric acid and isovaline as well as their precursors. Our findings suggest a pathway for the synthetic production of the components of proteins within our Solar System, and thus a potential pathway towards life through icy impacts.

Full Article here

....a relatively simple way to create basic building blocks of life without needing UV rays, lightning bolts, primordial soups. Although the references show some work's been done looking a high velocity impacts into just that.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
Nov 14, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
David Christian at TED...

was on Steven Colbert this week talking about his Big History project...

Entropy. Second Law of Thermo. Evolution. Reality vs. Perception of Reality. Reality vs. Representation of Reality. The Scientific Story. Meaning of Life.



Alas, a lot of folks didn't grow up with physics, chemistry and evolutionary history as a basis of biology - particularly long enough to imprint on them - so it's pretty easy to see WHY they don't view the world around them including their own lives in this context.

Internet and social media (Big History to Cosmos 2014, etc.) are changing everything though.

For many it's less to do with facts now, I think, and more to do with attitude.

Not that anyone asked but I'd say the meaning of life, or purpose of life, is to eat, survive, reproduce... and, above these basics, for Man, to actualize, to do, and by all means try to get in some fun along the way. :)
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
Nov 14, 2013 - 08:38pm PT
re: our mechanistic nature

I have acquired an increasing sneaking suspicion that our mellowing, saddening and such with age is every bit as programmed in our makeup - by evolution and genetics - as (a) our reaching puberty and its effects or (b) other temporal hallmarks (graying, menopause, e.g.). Like clockwork. Though we like to think it's imparted by education, experience, wisdom or rational thought. Or due to breakdown, or breakdowns. But I'd bet, in large part, it is effect or output of clockwork laid down over eons by evolution and mediated in real time by genetic metabolism. All part of the Grand Balance (of dynamic equilibria) we can see operating across nature, human nature and general nature. Can't prove it though.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
Dec 5, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
7 Reasons Why It's Easier for Humans to Believe in God Than Evolution

I like Chris Mooney. These are seven good reasons. Another is just as basic, I think.

(8) Lack of life experience in nature investigation or lack of life experience in science.

Just as not everyone has a passion for rock climbing, not everyone has a passion for nature investigation or a passion for science.

Something we have to live with, I guess.
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