evolution

Jim Jaszewski ab975 at main.freenet.hamilton.on.ca
Wed Jun 28 00:58:52 MDT 1995


On Tue, 27 Jun 1995, Ron Press wrote:

> I thought that if the environment changes and the organism adapts
> to these changes and it's offspring inherits them this was
> evolution?

	if you're talking about a single organism passing any changes
along in its lifetime, that is the ESSENCE of *Lamarckism* -- and what has
been ABSOLUTELY TABU in the West for many decades...

	If you're talking 'organism' in a more abstract group, chosen by
selective pressure over time, THIS is Darwinian Natural Selection.
Natural Selection is very real, and is not being seriously debated. What
IS being debated is the FURTHER effect of supposed Lamarcism...


> In the case of the blacksmith perhaps the muscles are not
> inherited because they are not sufficiently important for the
> survival of the species.

	Insofar as they put bread on the smith's family's table, they are
indeed an important factor in the transmission of his genes to his
offspring. The question is: are _his_ muscles any more important than the
muscles of anyone else? Offhand I'd say only trivially so (in historical
perspective. So many people today do not use their muscles NEARLY as much,
I'd say it would quickly become a relatively more important one).


 I wonder however about for example
> tallness. People are generally getting taller as I understand. Or
> brain size which we talked about before.

	It seems tallness has a lot more to do with environmental stress
in youth than was formerly believed. I have recently learned (if someone
could provide the magazine(?) source, I'd be MOST grateful!) that peasants
in the middle ages were, on average, taller than we are!! (this might be
the _late_ middle ages).

	I've always been led to believe that, in fact, WE (homo
industrialis) are the pinnacle of the human form (pun intended), but then,
I've often found out that I've been lied to by those in postions of power,
so I'm eager to kick one more crutch out from under the intellectual
edifice that supports capitalism...

	As well, our hunter-gatherer ancestors roaming the plains of the
Ice Age appear to have been much larger, more robust, on average, than we
are... We are the result of 10000 years of 'civilization', i.e., 10000
years of constant warfare, oppression and social engineering/cattle
breeding...


> Are there not significant differences in all these cases? But also
> these differences are not necessarily watertight. Do they not
> overlap at the edges?

	There are so many factors, only rigorous analysis could sort out
all the relations...


> I saw some discussion of the idea that evolution in Homo Sapiens
> is not taking place so much in physical characteristics but in the
> organization and ability of the brain to comprehend the world.

	I think it's pretty much the case that our brains are not growing
at all in size. I'd say we've reached an evolutionary plateau regarding
our relationship with the planet. We created technology 1000000+ years ago
(when did we discover fire??), and have only really been realizing the
same basic ideer thru all those millenia. Our brains have grown to
encompass the new organizational levels entailed, but that doesn't seem to
be qualitatively different on such a gross physical scale for 100000 years
now. But, now it's reached an overwhelming level for the _first_ time in
ALL history, the 'feedback mechanism' approaching the runaway level which
is dangerous to even ALL other life on the planet!! We are being
'selected', but on the scale of societies more and more. It doesn't matter
how smart a Beothuk or Creek Indian you were, how smart a citizen of
Carthage, of Hiroshima -- you got weeded out.  Permanently.

	What appears to be more important now is how 'smart' your
'society' is (thus, we are DOOMED!!!!!  :)

	How individual intelligence matters here in more than a
statistical sense, I don't know (it matters to each of us!!)


> Certainly mental attitudes and approaches are handed down from
> generation to generation. Is  this "inherited characteristics?"

	This is hard to say which. Nuture is a lot of 'attitude'. It's
vital to the survival of ALL mammals and birds (less so other
vertibrates...) I am certain there is a feedback circuit from what is
learned to what develops in the genes.


> Has human evolution become the evolution of society?

	I wouldn't fixate on the society angle solely. It 's the old
'forest for the trees' dichotomy all over again..!!



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   Jim Jaszewski   <jazz at freenet.hamilton.on.ca>

   WWW homepage:   <http://www.freenet.hamilton.on.ca/~ab975/Profile.html>

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