I've had a "reverse evolution" theory for some years now. It's not very politically correct, and I haven't really had any strong objections or arguments against it when presenting it to various people. So, I thought I would run it by this group and see what you think.

First off, I believe that "natural selection/survival of the fittest" stopped being a factor in the human ability to reproduce a long time ago. In our advanced society, there is no longer anadvantage to be of a certain intellegence or to be in any kind of physical condition to find a mate and have your offspring survive. There may be an advantage as far as the quality of mate you may attract, but not in the ability to have offspring. We will assume this as a fact. If you disagree, please let me know why.

Now is where it gets politically incorrect. I believe that we are currently witnessing an era in human history in which (in general) the most intellegent humans are purposefully limiting the amount of offspring that they produce for various reasons, including: career demands, environmental concerns, choice of "quality over quantity", they are more "responsible" in general so are less likely to have an accidental pregnancy etc.

Then you have the less intellegent/responsible members of our species. Let's start out with the real zinger-they are more likely to hold fundamental religious beliefs which are influencing them to have more offspring. They are going to be less responsible and more likely to have accidental pregnancies (may also be less likely to get an abortion due to their religious beliefs). I feel that there is a tendancy for the less intellegent to percieve less "meaning" in their life and are trying to fill this void with children. Some (not all) may be taking advantage of our welfare system. I could list more, but I'm already feeling "dirty" for this last paragraph, so I won't go on.
Please realize that I realize that I am making many broad generalizations in these assumptions/claims. I know there are many exceptions.
However, I will not back down from my claim that there is a generalized trend for the less intellegently fit/mentally unstable members of our society to reproduce at a faster rate than the more "fit" members. After a few generations, if this trend continues-it could theoretically snowball with unpredictable and unhealthy consequences.
So there it is in a nutshell. Am I ignorant, nuts, classist, racist, right on, stating the obivious(and thinking that I'm coming up with an original thought when I'm not)?
What do you think?
I'm not easily offended, so let me hear it.

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Replies to This Discussion

Based on the views you've expressed in this discussion, I'm sure you'll love it. I'd be interested to hear your review.
There is evidence for the heritability of intelligence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ showing that something over 50% of variance in IQ is genetic, which for anyone who understands statistics and R-squared is a large effect size (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect_size). There is also evidence that those with higher IQ are reproducing less than those with lower: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertility_and_intelligence I realize that Wikipedia is not a perfect source but there are references in all of these articles. So yes, those with lower intelligence are reproducing more.

What is also of concern to me is the appeals of religious groups to have "full quivers"; e.g., http://www.quiverfull.com/ Pumping out babies in the name of the lord. Of course these groups are not necessarily of lower intelligence. But it is unlikely that the children of such groups are exposed to the teachings of other religions as Dennett espouses and that they are effectively indoctrinated into their particular cult furthering its ignorant aims.
So is this a case of education vs indoctrination? Facts vs fictions.

I still remain unconvinced that intelligence is immediate danger of disappearing. While there are some interesting ideas there, the research there still admits that there is no specific gene for intelligence. At the top they outright say the research it is still considered controversial vis-à-vis the "Heritability of IQ"
I don't think that's how evolution works. Your calling it reverse evolution presumes that there's an endgame for the process, and we know that isn't the case. Really, you've been watching too much Idiocracy. And while Dysgenics is a valid fear, it's unlikely to happen.
Random thoughts:
1) As has been noted, evolution can't go backward. It can start selecting out traits it once selected in, which I gather is your point/concern.
2) You are, I think, ignoring the sexual selection part of evolution. Sexual selection is a huge component of evolution and it continues to this day.
3) You are making a fundamental assumption, I believe, that intelligence and responsibility are of paramount value to being a successful human being in today's society. While they don't hurt, if you look at the most successful human beings in today's society, I think you'll find that they have other, more important, characteristics that made them that way.
4) In many ways, the human species physical evolution has been superceded by the evolution of our memes. The child of a Stone Age tribesperson can integrate fully into modern society (c.f. The Third Chimpanzee), physically we aren't noticeably different from what we were 20000 years ago. But our memes, our ideas, have evolved at a frenetic pace and it is those ideas that must continue to evolve/improve for us to survive.
3) You are making a fundamental assumption, I believe, that intelligence and responsibility are of paramount value to being a successful human being in today's society. While they don't hurt, if you look at the most successful human beings in today's society, I think you'll find that they have other, more important, characteristics that made them that way.


David, I think you need to read my original post again. What I was trying to say is that intellegence and responsibility are of no value in today's society and thus the un-intellegent and irresponsible have no selective forces acting against their reproductive success and are for various reasons reproducing at a faster rate.
What do you mean by "sexual selection"?
Thanks for the reply.
Scott
True enough, I didn't read that carefully enough. The core of the point I was trying to make is that you seem to have decided that intelligence and responsibility are good, and perhaps even the best, traits. Society appears to disagree with you, at least in terms of how highly you value those traits. That doesn't make you wrong, but it does mean that you aren't in the majority.

One of the key drivers of evolution for most species, including ours, is how females choose which males to mate with, which is called sexual selection. In the theory of evolution, to propagate your genes you need three things to happen: a) you need to survive long enough to mate, b) you need to be physically capable of mating and passing on your genes and c) you need to actually mate. For most species, c) involves being accepted by the female.

For peacocks, sexual selection involves the male with the largest and most beautiful tail. A peacock who is strong, resourceful, intelligent and has a small, ugly tail likely won't get to mate. A modern human analog would be an ugly genius with no social skills to speak of who ends up a hermit.
Interesting post. Mary Pride obviously doesn't seem to think that the large majority of Americans self identify as Christian already. Isn't in the degree of 80%? I guess she only means real Christians, I.E home-schooled fundamentalists. Is she taking into account that any children may reject her religion or religion in general? This seems to be a trend these days, at least in Canada. I also wonder if these people stop to think where they'd be scientifically, medically, technologically if they practically drive out anyone but home-schooled fundamentalists
I do not believe that you are any of your nutshell terms. Perhaps you are being a bit blunter than you need to be, but then I suspect that it might be quite difficult to attract attention without the bluntness. I would like to tell the tale of two children, both obviously university bound from before they started going to elementary school. The elder, my daughter, while going to a church young people's group at the age of 12 asked my if religion was anything other than a crutch for weak people. I was amazed at her insight in that we had never discussed religion in our household. My son, when he was 16 and in high school, as I was driving him to school one day casually remarked that he and his girlfriend had "been saved" the night before. I was shocked to the point where I blurted out "From What?" He was quite hurt by my remark. To the best of my knowledge we managed to raise a daughter fully capable of rational thought of a very high order, and a son whose physics and mathematics scores on SAT were in the top 10% in North America who seems totally incapable of rational thought as far a a deity is concerned. He is now a fundamentalist Christian pastor who considers his holy text to be without error and any argument against it to be the work of Satan.

Neither of my children falls into your categories. Considering that their initial upbringing was in a house where there was rarely any mention of religion and they were not encouraged to go to church (or dragged to church for that matter), and there is no question of their mental capacities as children, it would seem that my son, at least as a teenager must have found satisfaction for his emotional needs in church while the rest of his family did not.
Your point, I assume, is that intelligence and belief in a deity are not incompatible. On an individual basis, I would agree with you, but on a widespread statistical basis, I believe you are wrong, the more intelligent a person is (and yes, judging intelligence raises its own difficulties), the more educated a person is, the less likely they are to believe in the existence of deities. And, as noted earlier by others, there existence a similar correlation between intelligence and lower numbers of offspring. So your anecdotal evidence notwithstanding, I think the original author's point is still valid, although, as I noted earlier, somewhat flawed.

H.L. Mencken would say that your son's case, typical of our species, is one of rejecting what is true but unpleasant and embracing what is obviously false but comforting.
I believe that we each solve the problem of teen-age angst in our own ways. I can remember as a teenager driving a car at high speed and aiming at bridge abutments, and calling myself a coward for turning away. I grew out of my problems and managed not to kill myself. In my opinion, my son met his own bridge abutment and his only escape was to kill his mind. I have lost hope that he might be able to recover from his decision. It is a terrible thing to see a mind lost.
We are all harder on our own children than the world is in general. In all likelihood, his mind is not entirely lost, he is probably still very intelligent. Its just that, in this one area of his life, he has chosen, for whatever reason, not to listen to his mind. In other areas of his life, he likely still listens to reason and uses his intellectual capabilities.

For example, I have friends who are fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is a sports team that is about as pathetic as it gets, and yet they remain dedicated to it. Clearly they have shut off their mind in this area of their life. They remain intelligent people in all the other areas of their lives, its only in this area that they don't use their brains. It causes them no particularly adverse affects and its certainly no reason to write them off as human beings.

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